When awarding contracts, we must abide by EU and national laws, and follow relevant guidelines issued from time to time by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
This means that procurement must be open and fair and it must strive to obtain the best value for public money. We must be cost effective, efficient in our use of resources, and we must demonstrate the highest standards of fairness and integrity whenever we award a contract.
Procurement practices are scrutinised and audited by both internal audit and the Comptroller and Auditor General. Accounting officers are accountable to the Oireachtas for compliance with all relevant EU and national procurement regulations.
Beyond that, the awarding of public contracts is monitored by the EU Commission who may, if it finds that a state has disobeyed the rules, take action in the European Court of Justice.
If a contract is awarded that does not comply with the rules, it may be challenged in the Irish courts. Under the EU Remedies Regulations, the Irish courts can now set aside improperly awarded contracts. The courts also have the power to fine contracting authorities who breach procurement regulations by up to 10% of the value of the contract, in addition to any payment of damages that the court imposes.
We are committed to adhering to the rules surrounding public procurement and we are fully committed to transparency, fairness and accountability in all our purchasing activities. We only buy goods and services that have been subjected to a proper competitive process, except in certain limited exceptional circumstances.
Who is responsible?
Revised EU Thresholds with effect from 1st January 2020
The Regulations amending the EU thresholds for the Directives 2014/23/EU, 2014/24/EU, 2014/25/EU, 2009/81/EC have now been published by the EU Commission. The revised Thresholds (exclusive of VAT) above which advertising of contracts in the Official Journal of the EU is obligatory, are applicable from 1st January 2020.
Purchasing is the responsibility of our business units in Ireland and of individual Missions overseas, although it is subject to general oversight by our Corporate Services Division, which includes a dedicated Procurement Section.
All purchasing of goods and services must be subject to a competitive process, except in certain exceptional circumstances.
We use the following tendering methods, depending on the estimated value of the contract:
Less than €5,000
Quotes are sought from a minimum of three competitive suppliers and the most suitable option is selected.
Between €5,000 and €25,000
Specifications and requests for written quotes are emailed to at least three providers. Offers are evaluated objectively against the specified requirements and the most suitable offer is selected.
Between €25,000 and €139,000
For purchases in this range, the tender process is normally advertised on e-tenders, the Irish Government Public Procurement Portal. This is intended to give SMEs throughout the island of Ireland the opportunity to tender. However, exceptional or urgent circumstances may require us to invite tenders directly from a number of selected operators without advertising.
At this level, calls for tenders are published on the eTenders website and in the Official Journal of the EU. Contracts above this threshold are awarded according to EU Directive 2014/24/EU as transposed into Irish law by the European Communities (Award of Public Authorities’ Contracts) 2016 (S.I. 284 of 2016).
The Office of Government Procurement (OGP)
We use certain goods and services from mandatory OGP pan-government framework contracts. These include:
- Natural gas
- Stationery and paper
We also use a number of collaborative frameworks, which are open to Government Departments and public bodies generally including frameworks for photography services and translation services. You can find out more about these arrangements on the OGP website.
Communications and ICT equipment and services
We have ongoing requirements for a wide range of ICT hardware and software as well as ICT and telecommunications support services. Details are published on the etenders website as and when specific requirements arise.
Our ICT Unit makes use of Centralised Framework Agreements put in place by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for the purchase of desktop computers, laptops, printers, and mobile phone services. It also makes use of the OGP Central Contract for ICT Consumables.
We recently bought an automated passport production system, with state-of-the-art security features including biometrics. The Passport Office will have ongoing requirements in this area and is always interested to hear from providers with new and cost-effective technologies.
We also need passport application forms, passport booklets (with a range of inbuilt security features) and polycarbonate datapages (for storage of biometric information). These requirements were publicly tendered for in 2012 and new multi-annual contracts are being put in place.
Travel and relocation services
We always need travel and relocation services. Air travel booking services are procured centrally by the Office of Government Procurement and the current contract is held by Club Travel.
We use a competitive multi-supplier framework agreement for removal services for the belongings of officers who are relocating. We expect this framework to remain in place until 2022, at which point a fresh tender process will be held.
We occasionally need high-quality chauffeur and ancillary transport services for State and high-level official visits to Ireland. We have a multi-supplier framework in place for these services, which runs until 2022.
We recently conducted an advertised tender for this requirement and a new multi-annual contract is due to be put in place shortly.
We (and in particular Irish Aid) occasionally need management consultancy services to provide advice or expertise that is not otherwise available to us in relation to our strategic decision making and high-level policy goals. Details of our requirements are advertised on the eTenders website as and when they arise.
Printing, stationery, office consumables, uniforms, and furniture are generally procured on the basis of centralised draw-down contracts tendered for by the Office of Government Procurement. Specific requirements may be purchased separately from time to time.
Office cleaning, security services
Office cleaning and security services are now procured centrally by the Office of Government Procurement.
Read here about our Prompt Payment obligations to suppliers and view quarterly statistics on the length of time taken to pay suppliers.
Prompt payment procedures
We are committed to making every effort to pay our suppliers promptly. And you can help by ensuring that you provide:
- Correct invoices
- Accurate bank account details
- By ensuring that your Tax Clearance status with the Irish Revenue Commissioners is up to date
For public sector contracts worth €10,000 (inclusive of VAT) or more within any 12-month period, the contractor (and agent or sub-contractor as appropriate) will be required to produce either a valid tax clearance certificate or a C2 certificate. This is a mandatory. You can find full details on tax clearance procedures on the Revenue website.
Prompt payment of accounts legislation
Payment of invoices is governed by the Prompt Payment of Accounts Act, 1997 as amended by the Statutory Instrument 580 of 2012, which took effect on 16 March 2013 and transposes EU Directive 2011/7/EU on Combating Late Payment in Commercial Transactions. It revoked the previous Statutory Instrument 388 of 2002.
The legislation allows that if the date or period for payment is not fixed in the contract, the creditor is entitled to interest for late payment upon the expiry of any of the following time-limits:
- 30 calendar days following the date of receipt of the invoice or an equivalent request for payment
- If the date of the receipt of the invoice or the equivalent request for payment is uncertain, 30 calendar days after the date of receipt of the goods or services
- Public Authorities will have to pay as a general rule, within 30 days
Payment of interest cannot be waived by the supplier and must be included with the amount payable for the goods or services without the supplier demanding its payment.
Since 16 March 2013, the applicable reference rate (rate applied by the ECB) plus the statutory interest for late payments is 8%. Small amounts of interest for late payment can be charged. You can check the ECB rate on the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland website or on the European Central Bank website.
There is no minimum interest payment applicable. In addition to receiving interest on late payment the supplier is also entitled to automatic compensation (without the need to issue a reminder) of a minimum of €40 if the invoice is less than €1,000. There is a scale of compensation detailed in the Schedule to the Statutory Instrument. The Schedule provides for the Amount of compensation payable under Regulation 9 as follows:
|Not exceeding €1000||€40|
|Exceeding €1,000 but not exceeding €10,000||€70|
In addition, acceptance and verification procedure in public authorities to business (PA2B) must be provided by the contract. The maximum duration should not exceed 30 calendar days from the date of receipt of the goods/services unless otherwise expressly agreed in the contract and tender document and provided it is not grossly unfair to the creditor.
We have 10 working days to return an incorrect invoice and we must enclose a written statement identifying the alleged defects that prevent payment being made. Following our acceptance of the corrected invoice, we will do our best to issue payment within 15 days.
The legislation does not oblige us to pay a supplier who has failed or refused to comply with a request to produce a tax clearance certificate and it expressly extends the statutory time limit for payment where there are delays in furnishing a tax clearance certificate. Also, the Act does not affect the deduction of withholding tax from any payment to a supplier.
15-day payment requirement
The Government introduced a further non-statutory requirement in June 2009 to reduce the payment period by Central Government Departments to their suppliers from 30 to 15 days. Every effort, consistent with proper financial procedures, is being made to ensure that all suppliers are paid within this timeframe.
We are obliged to publish quarterly statistical reports showing our performance in relation to prompt payments. Download these reports:
- Period: 1 January 2010 to 31 March 2010
- Period: 1 July 2010 to 30 September 2010
- Period: 1 October 2010 to 31 December 2010
- Period: 1 January 2011 to 31 March 2011
- Period: 1 April 2011 to 30 June 2011
- Period: 1 July to 30 September 2011
- Period: 1 October 2011 to 31 December 2011
- Period: 1 January 2012 to 31 March 2012
- Period: 1 April to 30 June 2012
- Period :1 July to 30 September 2012
- Period :1 October to 31 December 2012
- Period: 1 January 2013 to 31 March 2013
- Period: 1 April 2013 to 30 June 2013
- Period: 1 July 2013 to 30 September 2013
- Period: 1 October 2013 to 31 December 2013
- Period: 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2014
- Period: 1 April 2014 to 30 June 2014
- Period: 1 July 2014 to 30 September 2014
- Period: 1 October 2014 to 31 December 2014
- Period: 1 January 2015 to 31 March 2015
- Period: 1 April 2015 to 30 June 2015
- Period: 1 July 2015 to 30 September 2015
- Period: 1 October 2015 to 31 December 2015
- Period: 1 January 2016 to 31 March 2016
- Period: 1 April 2016 to 30 June 2016
- Period: 1 July 2016 to 30 September 2016
- Period: 1 October 2016 to 31 December 2016
- Period: 1 January 2017 to 31 March 2017
- Period: 1 April 2017 to 30 June 2017
- Period: 1 July 2017 to 30 September 2017
- Period: 1 October 2017 to 31 December 2017
- Period: 1 January 2018 to 31 March 2018
- Period: 1 April 2018 to 30 June 2018
- Period: 1 July 2018 to 30 September 2018
- Period: 1 October 2018 to 31 December 2018
In keeping with the commitment in the “More Effective Financial Scrutiny” section of the Programme for Government, this Department publishes details of payments made for goods and services valued at €20,000 or more. This information will be published quarterly in arrears and can be found by clicking on the links below.
- Quarter 1: 1 January 2012 to 31 March 2012
- Quarter 2: 1 April 2012 to 30 June 2012
- Quarter 3: 1 July 2012 to 30 September 2012
- Quarter 4: 1 October 2012 to 31 December 2012
- Quarter 1: 1 January 2013 to 31 March 2013
- Quarter 2: 1 April 2013 to 30 June 2013
- Quarter 3: 1 July 2013 to 30 September 2013
- Quarter 4: 1 October 2013 to 31 December 2013
- Quarter 1: 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2014
- Quarter 2: 1 April 2014 to 30 June 2014
- Quarter 3: 1 July 2014 to 30 September 2014
- Quarter 4: 1 October 2014 to 31 December 2014
- Quarter 1: 1 January 2015 to 31 March 2015
- Quarter 2: 1 April 2015 to 30 June 2015
- Quarter 3: 1 July 2015 to 30 September 2015
- Quarter 4: 1 October 2015 to 31 December 2015
- Quarter 2: 1 April 2016 to 30 June 2016
- Quarter 3: 1 July 2016 to 30 September 2016
- Quarter 4: 1 October 2016 to 31 December 2016
- Quarter 1: 1 January 2017 to 31 March 2017
- Quarter 2: 1 April 2017 to 30 June 2017
- Quarter 3: 1 July 2017 to 30 September 2017
- Quarter 4: 1 October 2017 to 31 December 2017
- Quarter 1: 1 January 2018 to 31 March 2018
- Quarter 2: 1 April 2018 to 30 June 2018
- Quarter 3: 1 July 2018 to 30 September 2018
- Quarter 4: 1 October 2018 to 31 December 2018
Visit the Government’s public procurement website eTenders