Collusion and Anticompetitive Conduct Following the COVID-19 Pandemic
In the wake of devastation caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Federal agencies will be working with state and local government agencies to solicit competitive bids for relief and recovery contracts. Collusion and anticompetitive conduct that subvert the competitive bidding process include:
- Bid rigging: Two or more firms agree to bid in such a way that a designated firm submits the winning bid.
- Price fixing: Two or more competing sellers agree on what prices to charge, such as by agreeing that they will increase prices a certain amount or that they won't sell below a certain price.
- Customer or market allocation: Two or more firms agree to split up customers, such as by geographic area, to reduce or eliminate competition.
These agreements are generally secret, and the participants defraud customers by holding themselves out as competitors despite their agreement not to compete. They harm consumers and taxpayers by causing them to pay more for products and services and by depriving them of other byproducts of true competition.
Related document: Preventing and Detecting Bid Rigging, Price Fixing, and Market Allocation in Post-Disaster Rebuilding Projects
The Procurement Collusion Strike Force’s Role in Pandemic Recovery Efforts
The Department of Justice’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force is committed to working with Federal, state, and local government agencies in the wake of the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to deter, detect, investigate, and prosecute violations of criminal antitrust laws, such as bid rigging and collusion in the competitive bidding process.
Training: Strike Force attorneys and agents are available to provide training to other law enforcement agents, auditors, and procurement personnel to assist them in identifying and preventing collusion and fraud in the competitive bidding process.
Enforcement: If collusive conduct is discovered, the Strike Force stands ready to investigate and criminally prosecute the individuals and corporations seeking to unjustly profit from these tragedies.
Related page: DOJ Coronavirus, for further information about the Department of Justice’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.