A wide range of non-capital goods and services are procured directly by the Defence Forces. These include items associated with day to day operations such as food, clothing, transport, utilities and the maintenance of equipment. The services of the Office of Government Procurement and centralised framework agreements are also used to acquire items that may be in common demand by a number of Departments.
I am advised by the military authorities that the Office of Government Procurement has put framework contract arrangements in place for major food procurements for the Defence Forces and other public services bodies, including the Irish Prison Service. The centralised framework contract arrangements allow for the procurement of fish, dairy, frozen foods, meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables, bread and eggs.
Defence Force personnel are entitled to avail of daily meals "rations" in certain circumstances which include personnel engaged in security duties, approved training courses, on operational exercises and single personnel living in barracks. I am advised by the military authorities that the daily ration rate equates to €4.20 per day, while the overall budget for food expenditure by the Defence Forces was €4 million in 2019. I am assured by the military authorities that the food procured under the Office of Government Procurement's centralised framework arrangements is to an acceptable standard.
The Deputy will be aware that the daily food budget per prisoner is a matter for my colleague, Mr. Charles Flanagan, T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality and I am not in a position to comment. I am satisfied that the procurement of food by the Defence Forces using the centralised framework arrangements sourcing model is consistent with Government procurement policy and is designed to achieve better value for money and there are no plans to change this.