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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 78-92
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts
 Header Item Office of Public Works
 Header Item Flood Relief Schemes
 Header Item Coastal Erosion
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts
 Header Item European Council Meetings
 Header Item Office of Public Works
 Header Item Capital Expenditure Programme
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts
 Header Item Public Expenditure Policy

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1004 No. 6
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 74 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 78-92

Public Procurement Contracts

 78. Deputy Mairéad Farrell Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath further to Parliamentary Question No. 61 of 25 November 2020, if further details of a number of contracts by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer that have been concluded on foot of drawdowns from ICT procurement frameworks, which are established centrally by the Office of Government Procurement and inherit the social clauses relating to green energy efficiency requirements included therein, will be provided; in particular the value of each of these contracts; and the nature of the contract work carried out and a description of the social clauses used therein in tabular form. [10788/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath As the Deputy is aware the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer have entered into a number of contracts via centrally established Office of Government Procurement Frameworks that have social clauses relating to green/energy efficiency requirements.

   Details of the Framework, the nature of the work carried out, the value of the contract and a description of the social clauses used within are listed below in tabular form.

Framework Name Nature of work carried out Description of the social clauses used Value (contracts)
Multi Supplier Framework for the Provision of Managed Print Services Managed Print Services Managed Print Services reduces the number of print devices in an organisation, reduces paper usage through default double sided pages, reduces energy consumption and uses less printer toner and associated consumables. €79,000.00
NAGF for the provision of Notebook/Tablet Hybrid Computers Supply of Hybrid Devices This framework ensures that only suppliers with valid, current certification for WEE and Repak can participate. In addition all equipment is certified to EnergyStar 7, EPEAT Gold or TCO Certified 2019 standards, as well as displaying the relevant CE mark and RoHS standard. All equipment is provided with energy consumption ratings and environmentally friendly end-of-life treatment is catered for. €121,500.00
       
       
€810 Per device ( 150 unit max drawdown)      
Framework Agreement for the provision of desktop and notebook Computers and associated services Supply of Laptop Devices This framework ensures that only suppliers with valid, current certification for WEE and Repak can participate. In addition all equipment is certified to EnergyStar 7, EPEAT Gold or TCO Certified 2019 standards, as well as displaying the relevant CE mark and RoHS standard. All equipment is provided with energy consumption ratings and environmentally friendly end-of-life treatment is catered for. €758,950.00
Framework Agreement (Lot 3) for the Supply of Windows Tablet & Hybrid Computers and associated services Supply of Hybrid Devices Devices considered on the framework meet industry energy standard and therefore further clauses not required. €432,500.00
Framework Agreement (Lot 1) for the Supply of Personal & Notebook computers and associated services Supply of Laptop Devices Devices considered on the framework meet industry energy standard and therefore further clauses not required. €113,842.00
Multi Supplier Framework for the provision of Mobile Voice and Data Communications and associated Products and Services Mobile Voice Goods and Services N/A €295,920.00

Office of Public Works

 79. Deputy Gary Gannon Information on Gary Gannon Zoom on Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if the OPW will provide additional public restroom facilities within the Phoenix Park; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10945/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Patrick O'Donovan): Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan The restroom facilities in the Phoenix Park have been developed where there is suitable water and waste water infrastructure. The locations suitable for these facilities are currently at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, the Tea Rooms close to Dublin Zoo and also Farmleigh Estate.

   The Park is primarily a green space and the network of waste water is, as you can appreciate, limited to certain areas. Therefore, it is not possible to install additional facilities at multiple locations.

  In addition, the Office of Public Works carried out minor upgrade works to the toilets located at the Tea Kiosk in quarter 4 of 2020. Upgrade works to the public facilities at the Phoenix Park Visitor’s Centre are planned for this year.

Flood Relief Schemes

 80. Deputy Thomas Gould Information on Thomas Gould Zoom on Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the status of the Blackpool flood relief scheme. [11049/21]

 82. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the current status of the Blackpool flood relief scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10765/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Patrick O'Donovan): Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan I propose to take Questions Nos. 80 and 82 together.

The Blackpool Flood Relief Scheme commenced in 2013 when the Office of Public Works, in conjunction with Cork City Council, appointed consultants to develop proposals to deal with the flood risk that existed in Cork City. Following extensive engineering and environmental analysis, public consultation, and a formal Public Exhibition, the proposed scheme for Blackpool was submitted to the Department for Public Expenditure and Reform for Ministerial Confirmation.

The Scheme and the associated environmental assessments have been reviewed by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform as part of the Confirmation process under the Arterial Drainage Acts as required following the transposition into Irish law of EU Directive 2014/EU/52 by way of the European Union (Environmental Assessment) (Arterial Drainage) Regulations 2019. The Department has written to the OPW on the process outlining the conditions under which the scheme may be Confirmed by the Minister under the Arterial Drainage Acts. That correspondence is currently being considered by the OPW and a reply will issue shortly. Should the Minister subsequently Confirm the Scheme, a tender competition will then be held to appoint a works contractor, which should lead to a contractor being appointed before the end of the year to undertake the first phase of works.

Coastal Erosion

 81. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if his attention has been drawn to the serious coastal erosion at North Beach, Arklow, County Wicklow; the studies or reports that have been carried out by the Office of Public Works on the issue; and if funding will be made available to address same. [10626/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Patrick O'Donovan): Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan I am advised that Irish Rail, in partnership with Wicklow County Council, commissioned consultants to undertake the East Coast Erosion Study, which included an assessment at North Beach in Arklow. While the OPW was consulted on the technical assessment methodology in respect of this work, my Office is not in receipt of the most current study report which I understand is now complete.

  It is a matter for Local Authorities in the first instance to assess and address problems of coastal erosion in their areas. Where necessary, Local Authorities may put forward proposals to relevant central Government Departments, including the Office of Public Works, for funding of appropriate measures depending on the infrastructure or assets under threat.

  There is no application on hand for the location mentioned in the Deputy’s question. Under the OPW Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme, applications are considered for projects that are estimated to cost not more than €750,000 in each instance. Funding of up to 90% of the cost is available for approved projects. Applications are assessed by the OPW having regard to the specific economic, social and environmental criteria of the scheme, including a cost benefit ratio and having regard to the availability of funding for flood risk management. Full details of this scheme are available on www.opw.ie.

  Question No. 82 answered with Question No. 80.

Public Procurement Contracts

 83. Deputy Mairéad Farrell Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the number and value of procurement contracts for Covid-19-related spending in 2020 and 2021 that took place via negotiated procedure without prior publication in his Department. [10771/21]

 84. Deputy Mairéad Farrell Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the breakdown of procurement contracts for Covid-19-related spending in 2020 and 2021 that took place via negotiated procedure without prior publication by his Department, by goods and service type in tabular form. [10772/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 and 84 together.

  I wish to advise the Deputy that the procurement processes for all contracts in my Department were carried out in accordance with the Office of Government Procurement’s (OGP) Public Procurement Guidelines for Goods and Services which aim to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers the best value for money.

  The EU Procurement Directives provide for procurement by way of negotiated procedure without prior competition in respect of contracts valued in excess of the EU threshold of €139,000. I can confirm that no such procurements were undertaken in respect of Covid-19 related spending by my Department during 2020 or to date in 2021.

  As set out in the table below, three procurement processes valued over €25,000 (excluding VAT) were undertaken in the period in question, under the terms of Article 32 of the Public Sector Procurement Directive (2004/18/EC), due to the operational impacts of Covid-19. This Article provides for the awarding of contracts without the use of a competitive procedure in certain circumstances, including, for example: where no suitable tenders have been submitted in response to an open or restricted procedure; where competition is absent for technical reasons; and for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by unforeseeable events.

  Details of all contracts / purchases of more than €25,000 (exclusive of VAT) undertaken without a competitive process, and the reasons for doing so, are notified to the Comptroller and Auditor General when preparing the Annual Appropriation Accounts and published in that context.

   Contracts over €25,000 approved without a Competitive Tender process

Year Contract Awarded to Purpose of Contract Value of Contract Goods / Services
2020 AwS Provision of IT Cloud Services to facilitate increased demand for Gov.ie services that have arisen in the context of Covid-19 €100,000 Services
2020 Eir (Security Services) Provision of IT Security Services to enhance malware detection and prevention systems in response to a National Cyber Security Centre alert on heightened threat levels arising from Covid-19 €123,000 Services
2020 McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors Provision of legal advices on advisory notes and legal agreements for use with standard form Capital Works Management Framework contracts in response to Covid-19 measures €29,520 Services

Public Procurement Contracts

 85. Deputy Mairéad Farrell Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the average time for publishing contract award notices for contracts above €25,000 excluding VAT in 2019, 2020 and 2021. [10773/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath The data analysed for calculating the average time for publishing contract award notices greater than €25,000 by Irish contracting authorities comes solely from the national eTenders platform. While the tendering process is facilitated through this platform, the complete data on public contracts is held by the contracting authority concerned. The accuracy of data is dependent on that entered by public sector buyers.

  It is normal to have a significant period of time between the publication of a tender notice on eTenders and a contract award notice due to the steps required to complete a procurement process. In addition to the average, the median (middle value) is also provided as it is a better measure of the typical duration for the publication of award notices than the average as a low number of complex procurement contracts skew the average time.

  The table below provides the average and median days between the tender notice publication and the tender award publication for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Year Volume of Awards >€25,000 Average Days Median Days
2019 2542 255 171
2020 2518 248 173
2021 469 248 185

Public Procurement Contracts

 86. Deputy Mairéad Farrell Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the number and value of contracts above €25,000, excluding VAT, awarded without a competitive process in 2019, 2020 and 2021. [10774/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath Public Procurement is governed by EU and National rules. The aim of these rules is to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers best value for money. It is a basic principle of public procurement that competitive tendering should be used except in justifiably exceptional circumstances. The EU Directives acknowledge that there can be legitimate reasons for awarding contracts without the use of a competitive process, such as extreme urgency brought about by unforeseeable events or where there is a single supplier to perform the contract. Consequently, a procurement without a competitive process can be compliant with procurement rules.

  Department of Finance Circular 40/2002 places the obligation on Government Departments and Offices to report all contracts above €25,000 (exclusive of VAT) awarded without a competitive process to the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) by 31 March of the following year. The C&AG publishes this information in the Appropriation Accounts. These reports are copied to the Office of Government Procurement.

  The justification for using non-competitive procurement is a matter for each contracting authority. Individual Accounting Officers in their 40/2002 returns certify that the appropriate national and EU procedures were followed and that contract prices were fair and reasonable and represented best value for money. Circular 40/2002 further states that contracts awarded without a competitive process should be subject to an internal review, preferably by the Internal Audit Unit or alternatively by an appropriate senior officer who is not part of the procurement process.

  The Comptroller and Auditor General is responsible for auditing and reporting on the accounts of Government Departments including procurement. The OGP does not have a regulatory function but supports public bodies by providing procurement solutions, advice, guidance and systems for public bodies, promoting good practice and proactive engagement with our sourcing partners in the Health, Education, Defence and Local Government Sectors through the Procurement Executive.

  The number and value of contracts above €25,000 awarded without a competitive process for 2019 as reported by Government Departments, in accordance with Circular 40/2002, are set out in the following table. As previously stated, a procurement without a competitive process can be compliant with procurement rules.

Total No. of Contracts 2019 Total Value of Contracts 2019
729 €192,298,872


  My Department does not currently hold details for 2020 or 2021.

European Council Meetings

 87. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the number of formal and informal Council of the European Union meetings that have been held since 27 June 2020 under the remit of his Department; and the number of formal and informal meetings, respectively, held virtually. [10821/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath The General Affairs Council for Cohesion Ministers falls within the remit of my Department. No formal or informal meetings have taken place at council level since 27 June 2020 either virtually or physically.

Office of Public Works

 88. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the process for carry-over of leave for Office of Public Works operatives (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10852/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Patrick O'Donovan): Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan On the 20th January 2021, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) issued an official statement which was communicated to all operational staff regarding the carryover of annual leave. In it, DPER has authorised that all staff will remain in their current leave year for the 2021/2022 cycle.

  For example:

  - If currently in year 1 in 2020/2021, the staff member will remain in year 1 in 2021/2022.

  - If currently in year 2 in 2020/2021, the staff member will remain in year 2 in 2021/2022.

  - If currently in year 3 in 2020/2021, the staff member will remain in year 3 in 2021/2022.

  - If a member of staff has used their full entitlement during the current leave year and has no leave to carry over, they will automatically revert to year 1 at the end of their current leave year as normal.

  All operational staff, without exception, must take their statutory leave allowance before the 31 March 2021. Only annual leave in excess of the minimum statutory leave can be carried forward in accordance with the Department of Finance Circular 27/03.

Capital Expenditure Programme

 89. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the extent to which he hopes to be in a position to ensure that capital expenditure proposals remain on target throughout 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10891/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I should first explain that as Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform I am responsible for the annual Estimates of Expenditure, and for the multi-year capital envelopes, which set the overall capital allocations across Departments; and for the ongoing monitoring of expenditure, both current and capital, that takes place across the Departments. Responsibility for the management and delivery of the Departmental capital expenditure programmes, and of individual investment projects, within these agreed allocations is the responsibility of the individual Department in each case.

In addition to the regular monthly reporting of progress on current and capital expenditure, my Department publishes a major capital projects tracker, which sets out details of the key projects and programmes being implemented under the National Development Plan , including the location of the projects where possible. While the capital tracker does not provide an exhaustive list of all capital expenditure, the list of projects serves to highlight the diverse range of infrastructural investments being delivered across the country.

Public Procurement Contracts

 90. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath if he had discussions with the appropriate authorities involved in procurement with a view to ensuring the best value for money while meeting contractual assessment and commitments in the shortest possible time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10892/21]

 91. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the extent to which any refinement of the procurement system is required in order to eliminate delays and improve procedures, thereby maximising value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10893/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 and 91 together.

Public Procurement is governed by EU and national rules. The aim of these rules is to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers best value for money.

The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) has responsibility for the National Public Procurement Policy Framework which sets the overarching policy framework for public procurement in Ireland. This framework enables a more consistent approach to public procurement across the public sector.

Individual Accounting Officers are responsible for ensuring that their public procurement functions are discharged in line with the standard accounting and procurement rules and procedures and that contract prices are fair and reasonable and represent best value for money.

The OGP has published the Public Procurement Guidelines for Goods and Services on its website www.ogp.gov.ie. The Guidelines provide a comprehensive interpretation of the public procurement regulations designed to improve consistency and promote best practice in the application of the public procurement rules to deliver best value for money. In addition, the OGP's Key Account Managers are in regular contact with Procurement Officers in Government Departments and public bodies to assist and support them in fulfilling their obligations in relation to public procurement.

With regard to eliminating delays and improved procedures, minimum time limits are set down in the Procurement Regulations for the different stages of a contact award procedure for tenders above EU Thresholds. The Regulations also provide for an accelerated procedure in certain circumstances. For procurement below the EU Threshold, there are no prescribed time limits. However, sufficient time must be permitted for preparation and submission of responses by suppliers to allow for genuine competition and for SMEs to participate in the tender process. Contracting authorities are asked to consider the complexity of a contract when setting time limits for receipt of tenders.

Public Expenditure Policy

 92. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the extent to which all Departments and subsidiary agencies continue to observe, in letter and in spirit, the principles of reform as a means of reducing costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10894/21]

 94. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the Departments in respect of which greatest emphasis is placed on reform as a means of achieving efficient and effective use of public funds while at the same time meeting requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10896/21]

 97. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the extent to which he has kept under observation Departments or bodies under their aegis that have a tendency to overspend; if particular action is needed in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10899/21]

 98. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath the extent to which he remains satisfied that public expenditure remains within acceptable guidelines; if corrective measures are needed at this stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10900/21]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Michael McGrath): Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I propose to take Questions Nos. 92, 94, 97 and 98 together.

An overall Government Expenditure Ceiling of €87.8 billion was outlined in the Revised Estimates for Public Services (REV) for 2021. Nearly €82.4 billion of this has been allocated at a departmental level, with €5.4 billion set aside in reserve to respond to the impacts of Brexit and Covid-19 as required. It is a key responsibility of every Department and Minister to manage expenditure within their respective allocations. This is the case for all public expenditure, including core expenditure as well as additional expenditure allocated as part of the response to Covid-19.

My Department is in regular contact with all other Departments and offices to ensure that expenditure is being managed within the overall fiscal parameters and there is regular reporting to Government on expenditure levels. The drawdown of funds from the Exchequer is reported on each month against expenditure profiles in the Fiscal Monitor published by the Department of Finance.

A range of budgetary reforms have been implemented in the last number of years to improve transparency and accountability around the Budget process and focus attention on achieving value for money. This includes initiatives such as Performance Budgeting, which seeks to shift focus away from simply looking at the quantum of spend towards examining what is being delivered through public expenditure and equality budgeting as a way of approaching and understanding the budget as a process that embodies long-standing societal choices about how resources are used, rather than simply a neutral process of resource allocation.

These reforms also include publications such as the Summer Economic Statement and the Mid-Year Expenditure Report. Further to this, a new three year cycle of spending reviews began last year and my Department will continue to engage with a range of Departments on the Spending Review process to reinforce a systematic analysis of existing spending programmes, focusing on an assessment of efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability.

Looking forward, the Programme for Government commits to continuing reform and improvement of the Budgetary process and proposes that each Minister will be required to produce service improvement and reform plans in conjunction with my Department, within an overall context of an enhanced focus across Government on issues of well-being. In implementing this reform, my Department will look to build on the budgetary reforms already in place and the significant work on public service reform already completed.

Adopting this approach will ensure stronger dialogue in this House on key elements of budgetary policy and will help to facilitate the continued development of budgetary decisions, consistent with the maintenance of stable public finances.


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