Raise your awareness of bid-rigging

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November 14, 2022 - Ottawa - This year, November 13-19, 2022 marks International Fraud Awareness Week, a global effort to minimize the impact of fraud by promoting anti-fraud awareness and education.

As the Government of Canada’s main buyer, and one of Canada’s largest purchasers of goods and services, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has a key role to play in helping fight fraud. Part of this role is to help raise awareness among current and potential federal government suppliers on the pitfalls of contracting fraud and collusion. As a business owner, you can protect yourself by being aware of the conduct to avoid, and knowing how to report suspicious behaviour.

One collusive scheme that business owners should be particularly mindful of is bid-rigging. Bid-rigging occurs when businesses secretly arrange amongst themselves who will win a particular contract, in advance of submitting a bid, instead of competing against each other.

People may be surprised to learn that a simple agreement between friendly competitors to organize a winning bid could be considered bid-rigging. But bid-rigging is a serious crime. This is why raising awareness of the pitfalls of the practice is critical in helping businesses steer clear.

Pitfalls to avoid when preparing to bid

  • Don’t make agreements with competitors on:
    • how to price/write your bids
    • what type of contracts each business should “win”
    • the order in which contracts should be “won”
  • Don’t agree with a competitor to withdraw a bid or avoid bidding so that certain competitors win contracts in certain areas, product markets, or with certain customers
  • Don’t intentionally submit a non-competitive or incomplete bid so another business can win

Although these actions may seem innocent enough, bid-rigging is a serious crime that, on conviction, can result in severe penalties in addition to impacting a supplier’s ability to conduct business with the Government of Canada. It reduces or eliminates competition among suppliers and results in higher costs for governments and taxpayers. Bid-rigging also affects business owners, as those who are playing by the rules may have a more difficult time winning contracts, and it can negatively impact an industry’s reputation.

Reporting bid-rigging

Business owners are in a key position to report suspected bid-rigging occurring in their industries and help level the playing field for everyone. Due to the concealed nature of collusive activity, bid-rigging is difficult to detect; you may be the only person ‘in-the-know” — your tip could make all the difference, and you can submit a tip anonymously.

During International Fraud Awareness Week – and every week – if you see something wrong, do something right: report it.

Resources to learn more about bid-rigging and other types of cheating:

Additional resource:

Procurement Assistance Canada (PAC) offers free seminars to businesses interested in learning about the procurement process and how to sell goods and services to the Government of Canada.

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