New prisons built under public-private partnerships: striving towards better management of DBFM contracts

general assembly on June 21, 2023

At Parliament's request, the Belgian Court of Audit has examined all phases of the public-private partnerships (PPPs) for building new prisons managed by the Régie des bâtiments/Regie der gebouwen (property manager for the Belgian Federal State) and the Belgian Ministry of Justice. Because of prison overcrowding, the dilapidated state of some prisons and limited budgetary margins, the federal government decided in 2008 to favour funding from private partners. Five prisons have been built and three new projects are underway. Although experience gained has improved the management of PPPs, human resources needed to manage these complex contracts are still inadequate and the support by consultants is further of essential importance. In addition, the Régie has not yet made a prior quantitative assessment comparing the costs and benefits of PPPs with conventional procurement contracts to justify the decision to use PPPs.