Future equipment priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment priorities planning process. The principal aim over the period of the White Paper will be to replace and upgrade, as required, existing capabilities in order to retain a flexible response for a wide range of operational requirements, including response to security risks and other emergencies, both at home and overseas.
In accordance with the National Development Plan, the capital allocation for Defence has been increased to €106 million for 2019, an increase of €29 million. The National Development Plan provides for a total of €541 million for Defence over the period 2018-2022. This level of capital funding will allow the Defence Organisation to undertake a programme of sustained equipment replacement and infrastructural development across the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service as identified and prioritised in the Defence White Paper and builds on the significant investment programme over recent years.
The Department’s Contracts Branch manages overall procurement policy within the Defence Organisation, reflecting the specialised nature of the equipment profile and works on major projects in conjunction with various units within the Defence Forces. Contracts Branch, which has a staffing complement of nine, has a range of functions within the procurement area ranging from the direct management of procurement activities for defensive equipment and materials including ammunition, the contract management of major capital equipment programmes as set out in the White Paper on Defence, the disposal of obsolete equipment and corporate governance issues. The Branch engages with the Office of Government Procurement and provides procurement advice to other Branches of the Defence Organisation.
In addition, procurement procedures are in place in the Defence Organisation to provide a joint civil and military forum for oversight and approval of expenditure and to ensure that expenditure is profiled and monitored on an ongoing basis. In this regard a High Level Planning and Procurement Group (HLPPG) comprising of senior civil and military management of the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces, and an associated Working Group meet on a monthly basis. The Group also develops and implements multi annual plans for the Defence Forces for equipment procurement and for infrastructural development based on policy priorities in the White Paper.
I am advised that procurement of major State infrastructure projects are kept under constant review to support good procurement practice, project management and good corporate governance, and to ensure that the tender processes are carried out in an appropriate manner.