Public Procurement in Perspective #1 — To the moon!

By Bertrand Maltaverne


In parallel to the series “Procurement in perspective…”, here is a new series that will focus exclusively on Public Procurement with the aim of highlighting some of the specificities, challenges, & realities of Public Procurement.


Public Procurement is equivalent, in stacked one-dollar bill, to 4 times the distance between the earth and the moon!


Here is the calculation:

“Public procurement accounts for around one-fifth of global gross domestic product (GDP).” —World Bank in “Benchmarking Public Procurement 2016: Assessing public procurement systems in 77 economies.”

The global GDP is approx. $78,000,000,000,000 according to data from the World Bank.

A one-dollar bill is approx. 0.1 mm thick and the distance to the moon approx. 400,000 km. (source)

So, the calculation is:

Public Procurement in $ = 1 / 5 x $78,000,000,000,000 = $15,600,000,000,000.

Public Procurement in one-dollar bills = 1,560,000,000,000 mm = 1,560,000 km.

Public Procurement = 4 x distance earth-moon


Yes, I know…

  • the distance between the earth and the moon changes,
  • you also have to take into account radiuses,
  • the thickness of a one-dollar bill may not be exactly 0.1mm.

The point is not to be accurate to the 3rd decimal, but to represent a large number visually as we, humans, cannot really “understand” such numbers.


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