Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Rural and Community Development
Public Procurement Contracts
358. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the steps she plans taking to reduce the amount of bureaucracy and cost associated with tenders for projects under €200,000 which are sought by her Department or by agencies on behalf of her Department; the discussions she or her Department have had with the Office of Public Procurement on this matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30380/21]
My Development mostly utilises its budget to provide grant funding to local authorities, state agencies and other external bodies such as community and voluntary organisations. It undertakes very limited direct procurement, with the exception of the procurement of transport services for the Islands. All procurement takes place in line with national and EU guidance and requirements, and it is Department policy to utilise Office of Government Procurement framework agreements wherever possible. Where other bodies are provided grant funding by my Department, and this grant funding is to be used for the procurement of goods or services, the grantee is also obliged to follow national and EU guidance where the grant funding constitutes the main funding source.
The LEADER programme would be the most significant programme in terms of grantees undertaking procurement with tenders for projects under €200,000. In line with the EU Regulations by which it is governed, that programme stipulates that national procurement guidelines must be followed before funding is awarded by the Local Action Groups (LAGs). In cases where the total public funding awarded represents more than 50% of the project costs, the national public procurement requirements developed by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) apply. However, where the public funding awarded represents 50% or less of the project costs, the project applicant can follow more flexible LEADER specific procurement rules developed by my Department. In circumstances such as these, written quotations must be sought on the various threshold amounts and there is no requirement to follow national procurement guidelines. My Department’s officials have previously engaged with the OGP with a view to simplifying the procurement process for community applicant type projects, which are grant aided through programmes such as LEADER. My Department will continue to explore this matter with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the OGP, as appropriate.
The agencies under the remit of my Department are Water Safety Ireland, the Western Development Commission, the Charities Regulator and POBAL who are obliged to follow EU and National public procurement rules and procedures. In the case of Pobal the vast majority of their tenders are above €200,000. Where a tender process is below this value Pobal complies with OGP guidelines. To reduce any bureaucracy associated with a below threshold tender Pobal only require a single document for tender responses. This document clearly outlines where tenderers are required to input. Proof of qualifying criteria is only required for the successful tenderer. For procurement processes below €25,000 Pobal uses a simplified quote document.
It is worth noting that there are a number of guidance documents and model form contracts aimed at facilitating public bodies in carrying out public works contracts. This information can be found on the construction procurement website www.constructionprocurement.gov.ie. These new public procurement guidelines will be kept under review in light of the impact on operational efficiency, value for money and accessibility to business opportunities.