The Department of Foreign Affairs is responsible for two Votes - Vote 27 (International Cooperation) and Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs). Overall expenditure under both Votes for consultancy firms, accountancy firms, legal firms, project management firms and IT firms which have been engaged by my Department in 2018, 2019 and to date in 2020 are set out in the attached schedules. No disputes over costs have arisen and no contracts are subject to legal challenge or mediation.
My Department commissions external expertise in line with national and EU procurement rules when it is clear the skills are adding value to the wide range of skills already available in the Department and in particular where independent appraisal and evaluation of policies and projects is necessary. Such external expertise may involve the provision of expert reports, expert analysis or expert services to the Department. External expertise has informed, and continues to inform, my Department's strategies and policies and the effective delivery of our services to our citizens in a transparent and accountable manner.
At both EU and national level, public procurement is governed by a comprehensive regulatory and policy framework. My Department adheres to the principle of competitive tendering in respect of its contracting for services at home and our Missions follow appropriate guidelines for local procurement. The applicable law and guidance is set out in the Public Sector Procurement Regulations published in 2016 under S.I. 284 of 2016, which implemented the European Directive (2014/18/EC) as well as the Circulars and Guidelines issued by Government. Implementation of these policies and principles ensures the Department gets best value for money and ensures that in general, a competitive process is carried out in an open, objective and transparent manner.