Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Department of Finance
Public Service Contracts
Question 119: To ask the Minister for Finance if he will carry out an immediate review of the pre-qualification process required from building contractors in the tender process for public projects; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that due to the present system a number of contractors are not being considered for works in their own area even though these companies had already successfully completed public projects in the past; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16812/09]
Standard forms for Suitability Assessment for Works Contractors have been developed in compliance with EU procurement rules and health and safety legislation. Suitability assessment procedures involve inviting applicants to submit information in response to a customised standard questionnaire. This questionnaire was developed in response to difficulties which had been experienced by firms, especially those in the small and medium-sized sector, arising from widespread use of various types of questionnaires across the public sector.
Individual public bodies use the information set out in response to the questionnaire to determine which applicants (under a restricted procedure) or which tenderers (under an open procedure) meet the suitability standards and which do not. The standard approach to suitability assessment is intended to ensure that only those works contractors who qualify against certain objective criteria that are transparent, non-discriminatory, proportionate and fair are permitted to progress to the next stage of the procurement procedure for publicly funded works projects. The setting of minimum standards in questionnaires is left to individual contracting authorities on the basis that each is best placed to decide what is appropriate to meet its own requirements. These requirements and the corresponding minimum standards will vary not only between individual cases but also over time. Accordingly, it is not proposed to review the pre-qualification process.