Regulation and control of public procurement constitute a crucial field for the application of governance ideals and practices. This study explores the public procurement reform process in Turkey with reference to the implementation of governance as part of an ongoing neoliberal discourse and practice. Turkey's public procurement system was reformed in 2002 in line with governance principles of transparency, anti-corruption, securing competition and by establishing an independent regulatory institution. A decade after this reform, our analysis shows that political will, economic forces in the procurement market and problems in the institutional-organizational setting are factors that play a role in the relapses from governance ideals and practices. Points for practitioners Reforms aimed at achieving good governance in public procurements are hard to sustain. The specific institutional traditions of local contexts, interventions of political authorities and powerful economic interests play an important role in the success of reforms. Persistent ad hoc modifications of public procurement laws erode the regulatory scope, change the composition and political autonomy of board membership, and undermine the principles of transparency, accountability and competitiveness. There is a need to actively ensure sustainability of governance principles through strong defense mechanisms which should be institutionalized within local social dynamics.