Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (262)

Carol Nolan

Question:

262. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Finance the details of contracts of €25,000 or more than have been awarded by his Department or bodies under the aegis of his Department that were found to be non-compliant with procurement guidelines from 1 January 2019 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37797/20]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The National Public Procurement Policy Framework 2019 issued by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) sets out the procurement procedures to be followed by government departments and state bodies under EU rules and national guidelines. In addition, the Department of Finance has its own internal policy and guidance documents to assist staff to comply with all regulations in regard to procurement.

In accordance with Department of Finance Circular 40/02, Departments are required, on an annual basis, to return a report to the Comptroller and Auditor General, in respect of contracts awarded above the €25,000 threshold (exclusive of VAT) that were awarded without a competitive process.

The following table provides all instances of contracts, greater than €25,000 (exclusive of VAT), awarded from 01 January 2019 by the Department of Finance that were found to be non-compliant with procurement guidelines. One of these payments (Eurotext) was listed on the Department's Circular 40/02 annual report to the C&AG for 2019 and the remaining payments will be listed on the Department’s annual report for 2020.

Year(s)

Contractor

Details

Contract Value (excl. VAT)

2019

Eurotext

Foreign Language translation service required in respect of European Court legal documents. Contract signed in 2019.

€75,579.49(Cumulative value of payments from 2016 to June 2020)

2019

2020

Lilley Ventures t/a Workproducts Inc.

Matterspace Software Tool Licence renewal.

12 months unlimited software usage and maintenance.

The renewal of the software licence was critical in connection with the document searches for the IBRC Commission of Investigation.

2019

€8,736.03

2020

€17,928.88

Cumulative total €26,644.91

2020

McCann Fitzgerald

Assistance was sought directly from this firm who are currently on the Department’s panel of legal advisers. However, a mini-competitive process is still required before a particular firm is engaged from the panel but this part did not take place in circumstances where legal advice was required by the Department as a matter of urgency (and the firm had previously been appointed, following a procurement process, to provide related advices in respect of the same matter.)

Fee estimate: €24,500-26,500

No Fees discharged to date

There are seventeen bodies under the aegis of my Department. Fourteen of these bodies have not awarded a contract of €25,000 or more (exclusive of VAT) that has been found to be non-compliant in any of the given years. These are:

The Central Bank of Ireland, the Credit Review Office, the Credit Union Advisory Committee, the Credit Union Restructuring Board, the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, Home Building Finance Ireland, the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, the Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, the Investor Compensation Company DAC, the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, the National Treasury Management Agency, the National Asset Management Agency and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland.

The remaining 3 bodies have provided the following details:

Body

Year(s)

Details

Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman

2019

The FSPO complied with all procurement guidelines with the exception of the following supply arrangements. These exceptions are contained within the 2019 financial statements with those pertaining to the current year to be outlined in the 2020 financial statements which are to be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

One supply arrangement to the value of €189,865 where a pre-existing contract for ICT operations, support and maintenance was concluded in 2019.

An instance with expenditure of €79,134 where the rapid expansion in staff numbers necessitated immediate reconfiguration of the physical office space to accommodate additional staff numbers while at the same time improving accessibility for customers. The services of the existing general maintenance contractor were employed.

An instance with expenditure of €25,167 whereby a contract for business support services was continued in order to ensure that relevant experience was retained in a number of areas pending recruitment of roles in these areas.

Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman

2020

Two supply arrangements through pre-existing framework agreements now expired, for external drafting services, to the value of €49,901 and €48,103. The procurement process to establish a new framework agreement is underway, with the intention to conclude procurement in January 2021. One instance with expenditure of €25,142 whereby a contract for support for the management and administration of the FSPO’s employee pension schemes was also utilised to secure technical information concerning pensions.

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

2019

The Office of the Revenue Commissioners complied with national guidelines and EU regulations with the exception of the listed items. The total of those payments deemed non-compliant with procurement guidelines in 2019 (approx. €754k), represents less than 0.8% of the expenditure on compliant payments. These payments are listed on Revenue’s Statement of Internal Financial Control, (SIFC), for 2019.

Revenue have not yet determined if any payments during 2020 are non-compliant whereby this process is done in conjunction with the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General after year end.

€26,380 for the essential delivery of sensitive legal documents related to Court proceedings. This service will be tendered for to address future requirements.

€34,452 in relation to transportation and assembly of furniture to facilitate office fit outs during 2019. There was a very urgent demand for new accommodation and furniture during 2019 to facilitate new staff recruited for Brexit to meet the original departure dates in March and October. Revenue is currently preparing a tender to address future requirements.

€43,803 relating to the use of stenography services. The service provider is on the OGP framework for both stenography and transcription services setup in 2019. However, a formal tendering exercise to procure the services of this stenographer from this framework was not carried out. This service will be tendered for to address future requirements.

€480,336 in respect of mobile telephony. This relates to the rollover of the existing mobile contract (previously tendered for) while a competition was run. Following a mini competition in conjunction with the OGP, a new mobile telephony contract was awarded in March 2020.

€168,913 relating to long standing contracts for telephonist services. Revenue ceased all such contracts with effect from 30 September 2019. The amount shown is in respect of 2019 expenditure up to that date.

Tax Appeals Commission

2020

Contract Value €39,360 - A business analyst was urgently required to identify the technical specifications required for a new case management system to be built to progress the significant backlog of appeals on hand amounting to approximately €4.2 billion.

The necessary requisition of these services was based on advice from the Office of the Chief Government Information Officer (OGCIO) and the Revenue Commissioners. Three companies on the OGP framework were approached for the provision of a quotation for a contract up to €25,000, which resulted in a nil response. The option of re-advertising under the Government Framework for a higher value contract would have taken considerable time and additional resources but may not have elicited any further responses.

The TAC were availing of Deloitte’s services in relation to another project for automation under the Single Supplier Framework where the prospective engagement was related and integrated into the existing project. The firm were therefore engaged on the basis of prudent risk management regarding consideration of both projects simultaneously, value for money, and efficiency of the service engagement.