Data-driven and digital procurement governance: Revisiting two well-known elephant tales

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This paper takes the dearth of quality procurement data as an empirical point of departure to assess emerging regulatory trends in data-driven and digital public procurement governance and, in particular, the European Commission’s ambition for the single digital procurement market. It resorts to two well-known elephant tales to send a message of caution. It first appeals to the image of medieval bestiary elephants to stress the need to develop a better data architecture that reveals the real state of the procurement landscape, and for the European Commission to stop relying on bad data in the Single Market Scoreboard. The paper then assesses the promises of blockchain and smart contracts for procurement governance and raises the prospect that these may be new white elephants that do not offer significant advantages over existing sophisticated databases, or beyond narrow back-office applications—which leaves a number of unanswered questions regarding the desirability of their implementation. The paper concludes by advocating for EU policymakers to concentrate on developing an adequate data architecture to enable digital procurement governance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-170
Number of pages14
JournalCommunications Law - Journal of Computer, Media and Telecommunications Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2019

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Global Law and Innovation


  • Big data
  • RegTech
  • GovTech
  • indicators
  • data insufficiency
  • public procurement 4.0
  • public procurement
  • governance
  • data architecture
  • algorithmic screens
  • machine learning


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