The EU Regulations governing the LEADER Programme stipulate that national procurement requirements must be followed when funding is awarded to project applicants.
The national public procurement requirements developed by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) apply to LEADER projects where the total public funding awarded represents more than 50% of the project costs. For example in relation to a ‘Works contract’ of less than €50,000, the applicant must seek written quotations from at least 5 firms or follow the eTenders process. ‘Works contracts’ over €50,000 must be published on the eTenders website.
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 the case of a ‘Works contract’ under the more flexible LEADER specific rules, the applicant must seek:
- two written quotations for costs up to €10,000;
- three written quotations for costs between €10,000 and €100,000;
- five written quotations for costs above €100,000.
My Department has worked with the OGP to substantially clarify and streamline the procurement requirements for LEADER, and to provide template documents to assist potential applicants. In addition, works related LEADER projects can now be approved in principle in advance of undertaking the procurement process; this ensures that community groups have greater certainty before they commit time and resources to completing the procurement process.
My Department is also providing procurement training to staff in the Local Development Companies and the Local Authorities administering the LEADER programme. This one-day training course will equip project officers and other relevant personnel with the skills to assist project applicants in navigating the national public procurement requirements. It is envisaged that up to 200 people will receive this training between April and June 2019.
My Department's officials also have regular and ongoing engagement with the OGP with a view to simplifying the approach for community applicants obtaining LEADER funding. My Department wrote to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on 28 March 2019, suggesting that community-based groups applying for LEADER funding should be treated more flexibly under procurement rules.
My Department will continue to explore this matter with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the OGP, as appropriate.