I propose to take Questions Nos. 162 and 164 together.
Public procurement is governed by EU and national rules, the aim of which is to ensure that procurement transactions and decisions are open and transparent, fair, equitable and achieve value for money. Similarly, good governance results in more efficient use of resources and promotes better informed decision making. Contracting authorities have a responsibility to implement good corporate governance, of which a Corporate Procurement Plan is an important component. Completion of these plans will assist contracting authorities in this and in managing their public procurement activities.
It is a matter for individual contracting authorities to ensure that their public procurement activities are discharged in line with procurement rules and procedures. The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) supports contracting authorities in this regard by making them aware of their legal and policy obligations in respect to public procurement. In January 2019, OGP published an Information Note on Corporate Procurement Plans. The note is an initiative under the National Public Procurement Policy Framework which sets out the overarching policy framework for public procurement in Ireland. For contracting authorities that are already producing Corporate Procurement Plans the information note will help in the development of future iterations of these.
The European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) plays a crucial role in the digital transformation of public procurement and makes it easier to participate in this market. All public bodies must now issue and accept the ESPD form for all procurement exercises above the EU (OJEU) threshold. It is optional for contracting authorities to use the ESPD service for below threshold competitions. Under EU public procurement directives, ESPD should be provided exclusively in electronic form (eESPD).
In January 2019, OGP published guidance for contracting authorities and suppliers, and an information note, on how ESPD is to be used. The integrated eESPD service, available on eTenders since 28 January 2019, allows buyers to issue an ESPD request form as part of an above threshold procedure and enables suppliers to submit an ESPD response in a fully digitised format.
Since the launch of the service, 73% of OJEU procedures published by Central Government Departments and their agencies have used an eESPD. For all public sector contracting authorities including semi-state and grant funded bodies, 51% of all OJEU procedures have used an eESPD. Suppliers have submitted 3,320 eESPD responses as part of their tender submission for OJEU procedures since January 2019.