Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform | Improving the public procurement system to make a more efficient and speedy system of placing contracts in the coming years
To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure; National Development Plan Delivery and Reform the extent to which he anticipates the degree to which he can improve the public procurement system in the coming years, with particular reference to a more efficient and speedy system of placing contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Public procurement is governed by EU legislation and national regulations with the aim of promoting an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime that delivers the best value for money for the State. All Irish public bodies are obliged to spend or invest public funds with care, and to obtain optimal value for money in accordance with the Public Spending Code.
For contracts above the EU thresholds, minimum time-limits are set down for the different stages of the particular contract award procedure chosen in the 2016 Regulations. Under the 2016 Regulations, the statutory minimum time limits for suppliers to respond to advertised procurements and submit tender documents have been reduced by approximately one third when compared with the previous rules. This flexibility speeds up simpler or off-the-shelf procurements, but still permits longer timescales for complex procurements where more detailed responses are necessary. Contracting authorities should take into account the complexity of the tender and the volume or complexity of information that the tenderers are required to submit when setting any time limits. The timelines for the different procurement procedures can be found in Appendix V of the above mentioned Procurement Guidelines.
The introduction of centralised procurement in earlier phases of reform continues to be embedded in the delivery of services to clients and customers. To assist contracting authorities in their procurement of common goods and services and to get value for money promptly, efficiently and without delay, contracting authorities are encouraged to check the Office of Government Procurement website for existing or planned procurement arrangements which may meet their needs.
In line with the Programme for Government: Our Shared Future, the focus now is to develop further the potential of strategic procurement, with an emphasis on sustainability and social considerations, public works reform and innovation. While value for money remains a key consideration, the strategic use of public procurement will support green, social and innovation policies strategic objectives in line with the Programme for Government, international developments and EU priorities such as the Green Deal and digitalisation.
To support best practice and the timely delivery of public procurement procedures, a number of approaches are being implemented. The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) recently launched a new website in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency that allows contracting authorities to search for Green Public Procurement (GPP) Criteria for their competitions. The online search tool allows users to rapidly find, select and download GPP criteria relevant to a specific procurement project.
The OGP is responsible for the implementation of updated digital procurement notices, known as e-forms, which are central to the digital transformation of public procurement nationally and across the EU. Introduced by Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1780, implementing the new e-forms will support best practice, improve the accuracy of information included on procurement notices, increase transparency in public procurement and make it easier for suppliers to find and identify relevant notices. All of which will contribute to the timely delivery of procurement procedures.
My Department continues to actively explore new areas and mechanisms to further embed reforms and efficiencies that will enhance the cost-effectiveness of public services; for example, through greater use of opportunities presented through digitalisation, innovation and the implementation of new ways of working and service design.
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