The Vatican has introduced a new law aimed at boosting transparency in tenders and cutting costs through competitive bidding.
The legislation, which was published on Monday, is the result of four years of work led by Pope Francis, bringing the Holy See in line with international standards.
The Argentine pontiff, who was elected in 2013, has placed an emphasis on putting the Vatican’s finances in order, but has met resistance from certain ministries reluctant to relinquish control over funds or shine a light on internal workings.
“[The new law] puts an end to the firmly established Vatican habit … of entrusting external contracts to relatives and friends of friends,” Vatican expert Iacopo Scaramuzzi said on Twitter.
The changes will “significantly reduce the danger of corruption”, Francis said in his written introduction to the law.
The new standards of “transparency, control and competition in the procedures for awarding public contracts” will centralise expenditures, currently very fragmented, under two administrative bodies.
As well as excluding people convicted of ties to organised crime groups from bids, the law says the Vatican’s selection process for tenders must comply with ethical principles and avoid conflicts of interest.
Giuseppe Pignatone, a leading Italian anti-mafia expert appointed by the pope in October to head up the Vatican’s court, said the law aimed to achieve “significant savings” through competitive bidding.
“The theme of cutting expenses is very topical and important at this time – unfortunately destined to continue – of serious economic difficulties for the whole world, but also for the Holy See and the Vatican City State,” he said.