General

The first step for all procurement requirements is to fill in a Procurement Support Request (PSR) form and send to OGP Customer Support (support@ogp.gov.ie). OGP customer support receives all PSRs for all areas of category spend and sorts them by category. PSRs are forwarded to the relevant Category Manager so that a procurement decision can be made about the requirement; be it using an existing arrangement i.e. running a mini competition off a framework agreement, running a bespoke competition, providing triage support or advising the customer to self-procure.

The Category Manager with responsibility for the sourcing process decision will then communicate the decision back through the OGP Support channel. For requirements that EPS manage directly, the Buyer responsible will inform the OGP Customer Support team of the EPS project reference, project timelines, expected completion date of the process.

Note: The EPS may need to contact the public sector body Procurement and Contracts Office and/or the budget holder/end user for any requirement in order to gather more information about the project requirement in order to make a more informed decision about what the most suitable arrangement would be for any given requirement. Refer to Sourcing Strategy Toolkit

E-Tenders is the electronic portal through which all electronic public sector tendering is managed in Ireland. Tenderers (Suppliers) interested in tendering for Irish public sector procurement requirements should firstly register as a supplier on E-Tenders

It is advised that tenderers/suppliers also familiarise themselves with EU Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV) codes. This is the EU-wide standard classification coding system used by public sector bodies to best describe the nature of goods and services being procured for every contract requirement.

When registering, suppliers should select those CPV codes which best reflects their nature of business. This will ensure that they receive a customised daily tender update that reflects requirements in their industry/area of expertise that they may subsequently tender for. See attached SIMAP-CPV link breaking down the CPV coding classification system.

Customer

They apply to procurement by all public sector bodies, such as Government Departments/Offices, local and regional authorities, health authorities, commercial and non-commercial State bodies. Also, most works and related services contracts awarded by a private entity, which are subsidised 50% or more by a public body, are covered by the EU Directives if they exceed the EU thresholds. Contracts below the EU thresholds which are funded or part-funded from public funds, awarded by private sector entities, should, as far as possible, be awarded in accordance with the national guidelines.

The basic principle of public procurement is that there should be a competitive documented process. The type of process will depend on the value and nature of the requirement.  There is a legal obligation to engage in a competitive process for contracts above EU thresholds and award them in accordance with procedures set out in EU public procurement Directives.

There is a legal obligation to advertise contracts above the EU thresholds in the OJEU. All public contracts above €25,000 should be published on www.etenders.gov.ie. Etenders web site is the main point of reference for entities interested in Irish public sector contracts.

Advertising contracts above €25,000 on etenders is a requirement of Department of Finance Circular 10/2010 & OGP Circular 10/14. They were introduced to provide accessibility to public contracts for the SME sector.

A sample RFT can be viewed on www.etenders.gov.ie Contract notices on the website will also have tender documentation attached which can be viewed for guidance. New  template RFT’s for supplies and services frameworks and contracts, along with supporting contract documents, are updated regularly.

Public Procurement Directives are EU rules which impose legal obligations on public bodies (contracting authorities) in member states to advertise contracts for works, supplies and services, above certain thresholds, in the Official Journal of the EU. The directives set out procedures for awarding contracts designed to ensure open, transparent and fair competition.

The relevant values (exclusive of VAT) applicable from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2019, above which advertising of contracts in the Official Journal of the EU is obligatory are:

Works

Contract Notice – €5,548,000 threshold applies to Government Departments and Offices, Local and Regional Authorities and other Public Bodies.

Supplies and Services

Contract Notice – €144,000 threshold applies to Government Departments and Offices. Contract Notice – €221,000 threshold applies to Local and Regional Authorities and Public Bodies outside the Utilities Sector. 

Utilities 

Works Contracts / Prior Indicative Notice – €5,548,000 applies to entities in Utilities Sectors covered by GPA (Government Procurement Agreement).

Supplies and Services contracts – € 443,000 applies to entities in Utilities Sectors covered by GPA.

The vast majority of public contracts above the relevant thresholds are subject to the provisions of the EU public procurement directives. There are very limited exceptions, for example in the areas of Defence and State security. Some services, annexed to the directives and listed in Appendix IIB of the Competitive Process Guidelines, are not subject to the full provisions of the directive and advertising in the OJEU is not obligatory. However, it is national policy to advertise such contracts of significant value as part of a competitive process. They must also be awarded in accordance with EU Treaty principles of transparency (this implies appropriate advertising), non-discrimination on the grounds of nationality, freedom to provide services, freedom of establishment.

Under the revised directives, publication of a PIN is not mandatory. However, where estimated annual requirements are in excess of €750,000 for similar categories of supplies or services, publication is encouraged as an aid to transparency and as a means of enabling suppliers and service providers to prepare in advance to tender for upcoming contracts. Contracting authorities who publish a PIN with the required amount of information can avail of shortened minimum times for submitting expressions of interest or tenders. A “purchaser profile” with the necessary amount of information published on a website and notified via a brief notice in the OJEU fulfils the same function as a PIN published in the OJEU.

Estimates of costs must be realistic and it is advisable to take a conservative approach.  If tenders received are priced above EU thresholds, a contracting authority must be able to justify its original estimate if it awards a contract without OJEU advertising.

The directives make provisions for awarding a contract (without advertising) and for accelerating an advertised procedure in urgent and exceptional circumstances.  However, ‘urgency’ and ‘exceptional circumstances’ are very narrowly interpreted by the European Court and the EU Commission. The instances where resort to these provisions is justified will be very rare and maximum care must be taken before availing of them. The exceptional circumstances / urgency must have been unforeseeable and must not have arisen due to any action or inaction on the part of the contracting authority.

Post – tender negotiation is prohibited under EU rules as it diminishes transparency and can give rise to abuses in the tendering process. The system is designed to operate on the basis that tenderers submit their most competitive bid in response to the specifications set out in an RFT. Where contracting authorities cannot specify requirements precisely enough to allow the submission of priced tenders, the rules permit the use of a negotiated procedure. Negotiation must be carried out on a fair basis with the highest possible degree of transparency.

It is possible to extend contracts in certain circumstances. The circumstances in which extensions to contracts may be negotiated are set out in the EU Directives. As a general rule the provisions confine extensions to 50% of the original value of contracts. Therefore contracting authorities should be prudent and anticipate, as far as possible, all potential requirements before advertising.

The GPA (Government Procurement Agreement) is a formal agreement concluded by a number of member States of the World Trade Organisation, including the EU, to observe an open and non – discriminatory public procurement policy and practice among its signatories. The provisions of the EU Directives and the GPA are closely harmonized. Almost all public contracts are covered by the GPA. The principal exceptions are service contracts of public bodies for research and development and contracts placed by entities in certain utility sectors (i.e. gas, heat, oil and railways), which are covered by the EU Directives only. The slight variation in coverage gives rise to the application of different thresholds, as indicated in Appendix I of the Competitive Process Guidelines.

Supplier/Tenderer

For contracts below the EU thresholds there are no prescribed time limits. Sufficient time must be allowed for suppliers to prepare tenders. The complexity of a project/contract should be taken into account when deciding the response duration to a competition. For contracts above EU threshold the procurement directive advertising rules apply.

Contracting authorities are strongly advised to complete and publish their notices online via ww.etenders.gov.ie or the EU public procurement website http://SIMAP.eu.int. There is guidance for users in completing online publication on both websites.

The ‘Common Procurement Vocabulary’ (CPV) is a code for describing works, supplies and services to be advertised in the OJEU. It is available on http://simap.ted.europa.eu/. It can be best viewed or downloaded in ‘Excel’. (There is a link to the EU site on www.etenders.gov.ie).

The Irish Regulations (implementing the Remedies Directive) provide for a minimum standstill period of fourteen (14) days where notification in compliance with the Irish Regulations is sent by fax or electronically and a minimum standstill period of sixteen (16) days where notification is by any other means.  The standstill period starts of the day after the day on which the notification is sent.  The purpose of a standstill period is to allow for effective pre contract remedy to disappointed tenderers and the contracting authority may not conclude a contract with an identified preferred bidder during this time.

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