Welcome to the Keystone Column. This week: procurement rules and how they are applied! We see some cases of what happens when the rules are not followed. And what procurement rules will apply for those selling into Brexit UK? As usual, we conclude with our weekly list of current Irish public tenders.
Learning to play by the procurement rules
This week saw the Irish university sector come under scrutiny for its financial governance. The Irish Times reported that several universities have tens of millions of euro in private trusts and foundations which they have resisted declaring in their accounts, despite pressure from regulators and the Government. Furthermore, audits have also revealed a range of governance issues, including:
- Salary payments to staff over and above their public salaries in several institutions.
- Widespread non-compliance across most higher education institutions with public procurement rules for computer equipment or services worth millions of euro.
In a statement, the HEA’s chief executive, Dr Graham Love, said he was satisfied that progress was being made on addressing non-compliance with both national procurement rules and the guidelines on additional payments. In addition, all colleges have pledged to either consolidate their accounts or make full disclosures on private trusts and foundations within their overall financial statements.
Brexit: EU considers models for future EU-UK public procurement relationship
As we noted previously, The World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement on government procurement (GPA) may prove a starting point for a future EU-UK public procurement model. A new report for the European Parliament also takes this view.
The WTO’s GPA has been used by the EU in trading with other countries which are not party to the GPA itself, and could therefore be used as a model for an EU-UK agreement, particularly in the event that the UK continues to reject the movement of people and the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union. The report notes there would be some differences with the current procurement framework.
“The GPA covers the key requirements on transparency, advertising and competition similar to the EU principles,” said public procurement expert Caroline Ramsay of Pinsent Masons. “The rules on transparency, however, are not as strong as in the EU rules.”
Reassuringly the current procurement rules are likely to remain in place for some time. “Regardless of the model finally adopted, the rules on public procurement will not be cast aside. It is also important to remember that until the withdrawal agreement takes its full effect, and for some time after that, the current set of UK procurement rules remains applicable as it is” notes Ramsey.
Smart procurement in a digital world
We’ve seen above how the EU is considering how procurement might work post-Brexit. The UK too has begun to consider how procurement might look. Diginomica.com takes a look at an analysis by GUIDE Consultancy on how the UK government can use digital procurement to protect the future interests of Britain.
Put simply, the innovative use of digital procurement could stimulate growth in certain industries, encourage social value investments by private companies and also further develop the UK’s SME tech community. Whats interesting to note is that the many of these principles could also be used under the current EU Procurement Directives by the Irish government.
Writing in Diginomica.com,:
- Encouraging investment: Government spending influences what the UK economy sells inside and outside of Whitehall. The UK’s annual procurement spend is part of its ability to support the UK economy post-Brexit should it need to do so.
- Social value: The criteria applied to digital procurement the potential to improve people’s digital skills, users’ digital confidence and the public’s understanding of why using the internet can be relevant and helpful. Unfortunately there is little evidence to date of such criteria being considered. ( – the same is true in Ireland)
- Commitment to SMEs: increasing the value of digital contracts secured with and through SMEs would encourage more digital start-ups to launch in the UK . This would make expansion of the digital tax base more likely – as more companies would be incorporating and paying their taxes within the UK.
Procurement rules provide a lot of scope for economic strategy beyond simply obtaining value for money. With over €12bn spent annually on good and services, the Irish government could make a big impact with the money it already spends! Food for thought.
New public procurement tenders this week
Visit the Keystone website to view our take on the 500+ active public procurement opportunities with more than five days until their deadline. There are a vast range of services, supplies and construction related to public procurement opportunities in the following sectors (there are many more sectors than the sample list below):
- Construction and related trades,
- Professional & Advisory Services,
- PR, Media, Advertising and related,
- ICT supplies and services,
- Property & facilities management,
- Vehicle & automotive,
- Catering and related services,
- Cleaning and related services,
- Waste Management,
- Maintenance and related services,
- Horticultural supplies & services,
- Research & environmental monitoring,
- Printing, office supplies and related services,
- Medical and scientific research, supplies and services,
- A vast range of other services and supplies.
Businesses interested in any of these strategic procurement opportunities that are unsure of how they can follow-up on these tenders can contact Keystone at any stage. We would be happy to discuss your needs and where they may fit with your business growth plans. These public procurement opportunities are sources of business growth and innovation for companies across the country.
Please note, e-tenders often has public procurement opportunities incorrectly categorised so people relying on e-tender alerts could easily miss out on opportunities if they are dependent on it. E-tenders is only as reliable as the people inputting tenders and mistakes are made very frequently. The Keystone Column includes all live tenders posted on e-tenders that have five or more days until their deadline as at May 18th 2017.