"Intelligence services are more sensitive to protecting procurement-related information that can harm intelligence operations, assets or capacities."
As governments spend billions on procurement every year, the risks posed by poor management, corruption, and waste are significant. To mitigate these risks, democracies subject public procurement processes to a set of fundamental principles, such as transparency, fair competition, and non-discrimination. Nevertheless, specific exceptions exist – for example, procurement in the security and defence sector or in crisis or emergency situations – where, in the interests of national security, these public procurement principles may be limited or circumvented. This is particularly the case for intelligence procurement as intelligence services are more sensitive to protecting procurement-related information that can harm intelligence operations, assets or capacities. Democracies therefore face the challenge of balancing adherence to a set of fundamental guiding principles on the one hand, and meeting national security requirements (protecting sensitive information) on the other.
While this issue has been discussed extensively with respect to defence and emergency procurement, intelligence procurement has received significantly less attention. Recognizing this paradox, states have sought to develop models aimed at balancing these competing demands, in part by subjecting intelligence procurement to specific forms of internal and external oversight. Based on a qualitative comparative analysis, this Thematic Brief will focus on four such models employed in Germany, France, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
The Brief is divided into five sections. It begins by providing an overview of key concepts and definitions related to intelligence procurement. It then outlines regulatory frameworks for intelligence procurement, and describes the conditions under which procurements made by intelligence services may limit or circumvent the application of public procurement principles. It goes on to detail internal and external oversight mechanisms applied to intelligence procurement, before providing recommendations on how to strengthen intelligence procurement systems