Announcing a new Tender Advisory Service (TAS) Simon Harris, T.D., Minister of State with special responsibility for Public Procurement stated, given the 8 billion spent annually by Government on goods and services, we must ensure suppliers engaging with contracting authorities are treated in a fair, transparent and professional manner.
The piloting of this service aims to better communicate with suppliers, particularly SMEs, and exact a more consistent approach to the carrying out of procurement processes across the public service.
The Minister added that, the new service will allow potential suppliers to informally raise concerns about a particular live tender process. It will cover procurement processes carried out by the OGP or other public sector contracting bodies as outlined in the scheme.
Experience to date suggests that the majority of queries will be routine and are likely to be resolved via telephone or e-mail channels. It is envisaged that services carried out under this pilot scheme should take no more than 3 working days. In a small number of instances involving tenders of greater complexity clarifications may take longer.
The pilot service is operational since February and will be reviewed after twelve months. All communications under the scheme will be carried out in an impartial and transparent manner.
The service will be an informal one and in no way impede the rights of individuals to pursue their rights formally under the Remedies legislation.
Welcoming this initiative Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D. noted that, the scheme meets the OGP commitment in this years Action Plan for Jobs to provide more clarity and better advice to assist suppliers with tendering notice criteria. The TAS, together with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commissions guidance on Consortium Bidding issued yesterday, demonstrates a whole of Government commitment to increase access for SMEs to public procurement opportunities.