I propose to take Questions Nos. 365 and 367 together.
Public procurement is the acquisition, whether under formal contract or not, of works, supplies and services by public bodies. Public procurement in Ireland is governed by legal requirements, rules and guidelines set both at national and EU level. The general requirements are set out in the Public Procurement Guidelines - Competitive Process 2004 (revised). This guidance incorporates key elements of EU legislation that have been transposed into Irish law and is complemented by circulars and guidance issued by my Department and the National Procurement Service.
The full range of regulations, circulars, guidelines and relevant template documents (e.g. standard forms of contract, model tender documentation) are available on the Government’s eTenders website at: www.etenders.gov.ie/guides/guides_main.aspx
Public procurement rules apply to: Central Government Departments and bodies under their aegis; Commercial or non-commercial state bodies; Local and regional authorities; and, entities that are substantially state-funded (over 50 per cent).
Certain categories of contracts are excluded from the scope of the general EU public procurement Directive (EU Directive 2004/18/EC). These categories include:
- contracts covered by the utilities rules (there is a specific regime for entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors - EU Directive 2004/17/EC);
- property transactions;
- employment contracts;
- public service concession contracts; and,
- contracts dealing with defence.
The utilities sector has a more flexible regime as entities operating in these sectors are more likely to be in direct competition with private sector suppliers.
The aim of European and national rules is to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers best value for money.