Partnership for Competitive Purchasing
Legal > Antitrust

Observation to the Partnership for Competitive Purchasing

What observations should public purchasers submit?

Generally, any bidder behavior or bid result that strikes a public official or procurement professional as odd, unexpected, or otherwise unexplained by the conditions in the marketplace is of interest to the Attorney General’s Antitrust Section. While any given observation may not be particularly conclusive, there is strength in numbers. If multiple entities report the same observations, or if a given purchaser reports a similar phenomenon several years in a row, we know we may need to dig deeper to determine if vendors may be engaged in anticompetitive activity.

We urge public purchasers to report:

Unexpected pricing events:

This category includes sudden spikes in the price of a product or service that don’t seem to make sense in light of what you know about the current market, as well as any situation in which you learn that prices for the same product or service paid by another public entity or in another geographic area are unusually higher than the price you are paying. Any price-related occurrences that seem illogical or strange are events we hope you will report.

Bid anomalies:

If you observe something unusual about the way a bid submission looks or about the amount of the bid with respect to other bidders, please let us know what you have observed. For example, in a physical bid, if handwriting, letterhead or unusual font is identical or similar across competing bids, or if you see erasures or other last-minute changes, we encourage you to report those observations. The gaps between the bidders’ bid amounts – if unusual – can also be important.

Unusual behavior by competitors:

Procurement officials occasionally observe unusual changes in how many (and which) bidders are bidding on their contracts. If a solicitation has drawn 3 or 4 bidders every year for the past 5 years, for example, and suddenly draws only 1 bid, we urge you to submit that observation here. Or if eligible and seemingly interested bidders decide not to bid, or bid and withdraw, please submit that observation as well.

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