Wednesday, 21 April 2021
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Public Procurement Contracts
94. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on the perceived regulatory weaknesses in Ireland’s public procurement regime which have been brought to the fore during Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20540/21]
EU public procurement rules apply across all Member States within the European Union. Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement (goods, services and works) has been transposed into Irish Law in the form of corresponding Regulations under SI No. 284 of 2016 which form the legal basis for the national rules governing public procurement. Accordingly, the legislative basis for the public procurement in Ireland remains fully aligned with procurement regulations throughout the EU.
Under EU law, public contracts above a certain value must be advertised EU-wide and awarded to the most competitive tender in an open and objective process. These rules aim to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers best value for money.
The procurement regulations include provisions allowing contracting authorities to enable the continuation of much needed services at time of extreme urgency such as those brought about by COVID-19. The pandemic had the dual effect of putting pressure on the supply of contracted goods and services while giving rise to new, previously unforeseen but highly sought after requirements. The Regulations acknowledge that there can be legitimate reasons for awarding contracts without the use of a competitive process, such as extreme urgency brought about by unforeseeable events. In such cases, the rules provide for options to directly award, use accelerated timescales or to extend or modify a contract during its term.
The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) published an Information Note in March 2020 to support contracting authorities in managing procurements where urgency arising from Covid-19 was required. Where procurement is unaffected by Covid-19 related issues, contracting authorities are required to ensure that their procurements continue to use competitive processes to obtain value for money, transparency and equal treatment, as detailed in our national public procurement guidelines.