Patrick O’Donovan T.D. was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment. He was in Limerick today (Tuesday) to host a regional Public Procurement Briefing, and for the regional launch of the new Public Procurement guidelines and template tender documents from the Office of Government Procurement.
The objectives of the regional procurement briefings are to set out the rationale behind the Procurement Reform Programme, outline the significant measures already in place to facilitate SME access to procurement opportunities, and to listen to and understand local concerns. The Limerick briefing is the latest in a series of local briefings; other briefings have taken place in Cork, Galway, Cootehill and Dundalk and more are being planned, including for Sligo and Donegal.
The Minister and the Government are keenly aware of the potential of rural communities. Indeed, improving the lives of those living and working in rural communities is a priority of the Government’s Programme for a Partnership Government, with the objective of ensuring the success of rural communities across Ireland.
The Public Procurement Guidelines will also be of use to the contracting authorities, including the Office of Government Procurement (OGP), the four key sectors (Health, Education, Local Government and Defence), individual Departments, Offices, commercial and non-commercial State bodies, and private entities which are subsidised 50% or more by a public body, when awarding contracts for goods and services.
Minister O’Donovan said ‘I am delighted to be in Limerick today for the regional launch of the Public Procurement Guidelines. I want to ensure that public procurement is conducted in a manner that makes it easier for local businesses to engage with public procurement. These new guidelines are a further step towards increasing the modernisation and professionalisation of public procurement and ensuring a consistent application across the public sector. The guidelines and templates form part of the National Procurement Policy Framework. I trust that they will promote and reinforce improved best practice, standardisation and consistency of approach among public procurement practitioners.’
He added: “the publication of these guidelines and templates is in line with new EU procurement rules which have been transposed into Irish law. These rules envisage procurement as an important policy instrument to promote and support the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth by increasing the efficiency of public spending, reducing red tape, facilitating the participation of SMEs, improving the conditions for business to innovate and keeping procurement markets open EU-wide.”
Over the four years of the Procurement reform programme (2013-2016), some €300 million of savings have been enabled for the State through increasing efficiencies. The OGP was established to drive the procurement reform programme and has regional offices in Limerick, Cork, Trim and Sligo. With the annual procurement spend in the order of €12 billion on goods, services and works, it is important that the public sector operates in a coordinated manner to leverage the State’s spending power, while also taking into account the impact on SMEs and the local economy. The reform programme has also provided for greater openness and transparency in terms of where public money is being spent, due to better data-gathering and analysis being carried out by the OGP.
Minister O’Donovan further highlighted that the State spends in the order of €9 billion on goods and services annually, and “therefore, it is essential that we spend this money in a way that achieves maximum value for money and a sustainable delivery of public services for the taxpayer. It is above all important that public procurement is seen to be conducted in a manner which is fair and transparent and ensures equality of treatment for all suppliers. I welcome the opportunity to proactively engage with local and regional interests to understand and address their concerns. I and the OGP, in consultation with our Sectoral Partners (Health, Education, Defence and Local Government), Industry Representatives, EU Commission and International colleagues will continue to review the implementation of the Procurement Reform Programme with a view to refining the model taking account of lessons learned and international best practice.”