Mr Simon Harris T.D., Minister of State responsible for Public Procurement today [Wednesday, 5 November] opened the Public Affairs Ireland Public Procurement Conference in the Westin Hotel, Dublin. Minister Harris provided the Keynote Address on the Government’s plans for public procurement in Ireland at the half-day conference.
The PAI public procurement conference is an annual event, which brings together practitioners and those closely involved in public procurement to exchange views on the operation of current best practice and the future orientation of the procurement regime. The implementation of new EU public procurement rules for the public sector was a key focus of this year’s event.
The new public procurement rules are a development and an extension of the existing procurement regime. They also break new ground on aspects of procurement processes and procedures. Speaking at the event, Minister of State Harris said:
“In broad economic terms, the changes in the new Directives are intended to achieve better value for money outcomes from procurement. The reforms also seek to facilitate greater SME participation in the public procurement market across Europe by improving access to public procurement opportunities. In anticipation of these reforms, Ireland has already introduced new guidance to public procurers, which accelerate some of the key business-friendly initiatives in the new Directives.”
Speaking at the event, Minister of State Harris said: “Greater SME access to public procurement opportunities ensures that public procurement can have real and tangible benefits for the domestic economy as a whole. Facilitating SMEs to access public procurement opportunities is an on-going priority for Government.”
Last week [Friday, 31 October], Minister of State Harris launched a public consultation on the implementation of the new EU public procurement rules for the public sector. The consultation process runs until 12 December this year.
Notes for Editor
Ireland is required to transpose a suite of three new procurement Directives (Public Procurement, Utilities and Concessions) into national law by 17 April 2016. In Ireland, this is by means of a Statutory Instrument. The new Directives are:
· Public Procurement: Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement, which will repeal Directive 2004/18/EC
· Utilities: Directive 2014/25/EU on procurement by entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors, which will repeal Directive 2004/17/EC and
· Concessions: Directive 2014/23/EU on the award of Concession Contracts, which does not directly replace any previous Directive.
The new Directives contains a mixture of updated features which build upon aspects of the existing regime and newly-introduced elements reflecting the 2014 procurement environment. In general terms the new Directives feature:
o A less rigid approach to procedural matters while promoting the full use of electronic procurement.
o The scope for more strategic use of public procurement in support of environmental and social policy objectives;
o Better access to the lucrative public procurement market by SMEs and start-ups
o Deadlines for public tender submissions reduced by an average of 30%
o A reduction in documentation requirements
Ireland has already introduced reforms (Circular 10/14: Initiatives to assist SMEs in Public Procurement of April 2014) to the operation of the public procurement regime which anticipate many of the key changes in the new Directives.
The public consultation process on the new Directives runs from 31 October to 12 December, 2014. The consultation document is available on www.procurement.ie and responses to the set of specific questions posed in the document can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org The submissions received will be published on www.procurement.ie.