Thursday, 10 September 2020

Ceisteanna (108)

John McGuinness


108. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the fact that some schools have had to return PPE due to poor standard of the product; if the procurement section of her Department will conduct an audit of same; and if an investigation will be conducted. [23039/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As set out in the Roadmap for the Full Return to School, to ensure access for schools, on a value for money basis, to a secure supply chain for any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Consumables and Equipment associated with COVID-19 Response Plans, the Department has established, following a procurement process, a multi-supplier arrangement from which schools can choose suppliers and products which best suit their needs.   That procurement process, which commenced in mid-June 2020 and concluded at the end of July, was led by the Education Procurement Service (EPS).  The Education Procurement Service is the Department of Education sector sourcing hub under the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) model.  EPS provides a sustainable, value for money, professional and compliant procurement sourcing service through the employment of whole life cycle cost and a commitment to the customer in the delivery of its services.

 All PPE, consumables and equipment requirements of schools under the Roadmap and with schools COVID-19 Response Plans, and in line with the public health advice, will be available through the Supply Arrangement including:

- Hand sanitiser dispensers;

- Hand sanitiser liquid;

- Hand soap;

- Disposable Paper Towels;

- Wipes;

- Gloves;

- Face masks

- Face coverings

- Face visors;

- Aprons; and

- Detergents etc.

 The Supply arrangement provides a list of eleven suppliers who can meet the needs of the schools across the above suite of PPE items. The suppliers are ranked in order of best price on a basket of items. The sourcing agreement also includes 4 suppliers who can meet the needs of the schools for alcohol free solutions where the need arises.

The arrangement allows each school to select the products that meet their specific requirements from suppliers who have been ranked through a stringent evaluation process to ensure they meet the best in quality and delivery timelines. This allows schools to make a local decision within the framework to get the highest standard of PPE available from the market place at the best price from the preferred supplier for a particular school within the value for money and safety standards of the framework.”

An information pack has been emailed directly to all schools, including a User Guide, which sets out the steps schools should follow when purchasing goods from suppliers under the Supply Arrangement. Further guidance documents for Primary School/Special Schools and Post Primary School on on PPE, Consumables and Equipment was also published on the on August 7th 2020.  This included guidance to schools in identifying the potential volumes of PPE and consumables which they may require in line with their COVID-19 Response Plan.

 More than €30 million of capitation supports has been made available to primary and post primary schools to fund its PPE/Hand Sanitiser requirements up to the end of the year.

This capitation grant rate up to the end of 2020, reflects the fact that there are a number of once off type costs which schools face in implementing COVID-19 Response Plans (i.e. installation of sanitiser units, signage/posters etc.) which will be incurred upfront.  The COVID-19 Capitation Grant for 2021 up to the remainder of the school year, will be confirmed in December following review/monitor of usage in schools in the period up to the end of the year.  It is important to note that the COVID-19 Capitation Grant is specifically provided to support schools in minimising the risk of spread of infection of COVID-19. This COVID-19 Capitation Grant for PPE, Consumables and Equipment is ring-fenced funding provided to schools for the purchase of appropriate PPE, consumables and equipment required by schools in minimising the risk of spread of infection of COVID-19 in line with the Roadmap, public health advice, Return to Work Safely Protocol and their COVID-19 Response Plan and should only be used for that purpose. This includes PPE and consumables which may have been purchased by schools from sources outside of the Supply Arrangement established by the Department

By way of context in advance of school’s reopening, over 4,500 deliveries of PPE orders were made to schools over a 2 week period by suppliers under the Multi-Supplier arrangements.  A small number of schools have highlighted difficulties directly to the Department through the reopening school helpline of delayed deliveries or products not meeting their expectations in a very small number of cases. Such matters are raised directly with the suppliers in question to ensure such concerns are addressed in the continued provision of PPE/hand sanitiser directly to schools on an ongoing basis.