The Department, through a dedicated Procurement Co-ordination Unit with responsibility at Principal Officer level, ensures that there is an appropriate focus on procurement best practice. There are a range of formal procedures and control mechanisms in place to try to ensure compliance with all relevant national and EU procurement guidelines. The Department, where possible, will try to avail of various centralised procurement frameworks put in place by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) as well as utilising the e-Tenders website and advertising in the EU Journal where applicable.
It is the case however, that each year a small number of contracts will be awarded without being able to conduct a competitive process. Reasons for this typically include instances involving sole suppliers, timing issues between the expiry of an existing contract and a new contract being available through the OGP or where a critical and urgent need for service provision arises, such as the purchase of laptops to enable staff to work from home during COVID-19 restrictions.
Under the Department of Finance Circular 40/2002 all Departments are required to provide a Report annually to the Comptroller & Auditor General and to the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform indicating continued expenditure on contracts valued above €25k excluding VAT, which have been awarded without holding a competitive process.
In 2019 my Department and its Offices awarded 4 contracts to 3 companies with a value of €25k or more without entering into a competitive tendering process. The overall amount of these awards was €615k inclusive of VAT. The companies awarded these contracts in 2019 were:
- Oracle EMEA, two contracts with a total value of €422k for software licences and maintenance. The original license purchases were by way of competitive tender and the maintenance contracts in question can only be provided by Oracle.
- Microsoft Ireland with a contract with a total value of €82k for software licences which are not provided by any other service provider.
- The Sword Group with a contract with a total value of €111k for IT licensing and systems maintenance support for the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland IT system. It relates to a proprietary software system developed by Sword and therefore cannot be maintained or developed by a third party. The original contract for the supply of the system which Sword won, was competitively tendered.
For 2020 to the end October, 2020 my Department and its Offices has awarded 7 contracts to 5 companies with a value of €25k or more without undertaking a competitive tendering process. The overall amount of these contracts is €982k inclusive of VAT. The companies awarded these contracts were:
- Evros Technology Group with two contracts and a total value of €131k for critical and urgent purchase of laptops to enable staff to work remotely during COVID-19 restrictions.
- Oracle EMEA with two contracts with a total value of €528k for software licences and maintenance support. As previously indicated the original license purchases were by way of competitive tender and the maintenance contracts in question can only be provided by Oracle.
- Arkphire with a contract extension totalling €50k. This Citrix remote access licencing contract was extended for one additional year due to the critical importance of remote access during COVID-19 restrictions.
- McCann Fitzgerald with a contract value of €133k for legal services in respect of the COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme. The awarding of the contract without undertaking a competitive process was in compliance with the OGP information note on ‘ Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and Public Procurement’.
- The Sword Group with a contract value of €139k for IT licensing and systems maintenance support for the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland. As previously stated this is a proprietary software developed by Sword and therefore cannot be maintained or developed by a third party.