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Public Procurement in Costa Rica

Supporting Costa Rica in Reforming the Public Procurement System

Public procurement is a crucial pillar of service delivery for governments. In Costa Rica, public procurement represents 12.5% of GDP in 2018, which is slightly above the OECD average (11.8% in 2017). Aware of the strategic role that it plays, Costa Rica started the process of reforming its public procurement system to align it with the OECD and international good practices. The public procurement reform was also considered furthermore essential in 2015 when the OECD started the discussions of the accession process with Costa Rica. (*)

Since 2017, the OECD has been collaborating with Costa Rica in supporting its public procurement reform with the financial support of the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Costa Rica, through the following three-phase project:

Phase 1 (September 2017-March 2018): Strengthening transparency in Costa Rica by reviewing exceptions to competitive tenders

Phase 2 (October 2018-May 2019): Reviewing thresholds in the procurement regulatory framework: a comparative analysis across OECD countries

Phase 3 (September 2019 - July 2020): Assessment of key issues to enhance the public procurement system- Supporting Costa Rica in preparing an action plan

 

(*) On May 2020, the OECD invited Costa Rica to become an OECD Member.

Fast Facts

©Marvdrock/Nounproject 

Country: Costa Rica

©Adrien Coquet/The noun project Timeframe: September 2017 – July 2020

Phase 1: September 2017 – March 2018

Phase 2: October 2018 – May 2019

Phase 3: September 2019 - July 2020

©Shashank Singh/ The Noun project

Counterparts:

  • Comptroller General Office of the Republic of Costa Rica (CGR)
©The Icon Hero/Noun Project

Areas of focus:

List of Deliverables

  • Report “Enhancing the Use of Competitive Tendering in Costa Rica's Public Procurement System: Streamlining the exceptions and redesigning the threshold system” (Phase 1 and 2)
  • Report “Towards a new vision for Costa Rica’s Public Procurement System: Assessment of key challenges for the establishment of an action plan” (Phase 3)
  • Workshops with stakeholders including policy makers, contracting authorities, civil society organisations and the private sector (Phase 1, 2 and 3)
  • OECD survey with different stakeholders including contracting authorities, private sector organisations and civil society organisations (Phase 3)
  • Webinar to launch the second report with policy makers and the public (Phase 3)

Timeline

Phase 1

  • September 2017: Started the analysis.
  • February 2018: Finalised the report.
  • March 2018: Workshop in San Jose.

Phase 2

  • October 2019: Started the analysis. Report for Phase 1 and 2 published.
  • April 2019: Finalised the report.
  • May 2019: Workshop in San Jose.

Phase 3

  • September 2019: Started the analysis.
  • December 2019: Drafted a short diagnostic report.
  • February 2020: Launch and distribution of the OECD survey to stakeholders (contracting authorities, private sector organisations and civil society organisations).
  • June 2020: Finalised the analysis of the survey responses.
  • July 2020: Updated the diagnostic report based on the latest draft of the new Public Procurement Law available only in July 2020. Organised a virtual workshop with key stakeholders and an open webinar to share the main findings of the analysis with the presence of high-level representatives from Costa Rica, the OECD, the UK and more than 350 participants coming from all spectrum of the public procurement ecosystem.
  • Autumn 2020: Launch and publication of report for Phase 3.

Content of the project

Costa Rica has been on the process of reforming the regulatory framework of public procurement.

As highlighted in the 2015 OECD Recommendation of the Council on Public Procurement, ensuring broad access to the public procurement market is essential to achieve value for money, as it promotes competition and creates a level playing field.

During the Phase 1 and 2, the OECD supported Costa Rica in analysing two technical elements of the regulatory framework that affect the competition level of a procurement system: i) the exceptions to competitive tendering, and ii) the threshold system in place. The OECD report, Enhancing the Use of Competitive Tendering in Costa Rica's Public Procurement System: Streamlining the exceptions and redesigning the threshold system, provided the options that Costa Rica could consider to reform the regulatory framework related to its exceptions and threshold system. It was used as a key input to prepare the draft of the new public procurement regulatory framework during the regulatory reform process.

In the Phase 3, the OECD supported Costa Rica in preparing the action plan for the following priority areas, identified by the different stakeholders as the most important for a sustainable public procurement system in the future:

  • The institutional framework of the public procurement system;
  • The strategic use of public procurement including green public procurement, SMEs development, innovation, and RBC;
  • The professionalisation of the public procurement workforce; 
  • The participation of civil society in the public procurement system and;
  • The control of the public procurement system with a focus on the ex-post controls operated by the CGR.

The OECD carried out the analysis based on the current public procurement regulatory framework and the draft of the new public procurement law, as well as the results of a survey carried out by the OECD, in February 2020, with different stakeholders (contracting authorities, private sector organisations and civil society organisations). The OECD also organised an open webinar on July 24, 2020, in which 500 people (the maximum capacity of the webinar) made registration.  The OECD analysis provides key recommendations that Costa Rica could consider in preparing action plans to enhance public procurement system in the future.

Outputs and resources

Towards a New Vision of Costa Rica’s Public Procurement System

 Procurement Costa Rica Webinar Phase 3

 

Webinar: Hacia un sistema resiliente de contratación pública: Temas clave para un futuro modelo (Working towards more resilient Public Procurement : Key points for a future framework)

 

Enhancing the Use of Competitive Tendering in Costa Rica’s Public Procurement System

 Cover Recommendation Public Procurement

OECD Recommendation on Public Procurement