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Centralisation of local authority procurement could worsen two-tier economy - Tóibín

23 June, 2015

Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín has today sought a Dáil debate on the centralisation of local authority procurement by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) and the impact this will have on local economies and jobs.

The Sinn Féin Jobs Spokesperson said:

“As part of the OGPs Procurement Reform Programme, a significant centralisation of common goods and services across all public bodies is underway.

“Plant hire and minor building and civil engineering works usually purchased locally by individual local authorities will be now be secured centrally by the Local Government Operational Procurement Centre (LGOPC) hosted by Kerry County Council.

“In addition eight common categories of spend across all public bodies for example ICT & office equipment, professional services and marketing, print & stationery are procured by the OGP.

“Migration to this new centralised system of procurement is currently underway yet no hard data has been gathered on the impact on local economies of the withdrawal of local procurement by local authorities.  In fact there is not even a county by county breakdown of the goods and services transitioning to the new centralised procurement model.

“Concern has been raised that the total spend lost to local companies is worth millions in each local authority, and that local businesses have not had a sufficient lead in time to prepare this change in procurement processes. This will happen at a time when any recovery that is happening is in a small geographic area in the mid-east.

“There is a genuine fear that larger businesses used to the OGPs tendering and frameworks are likely to roll up smaller service contracts to secure contracts for multiple county panels.

“Whilst the OPG believes that the subdividing of contracts into lots and breaking of framework agreements into lots on the basis of geography will address these concerns Councillors and local businesses have yet to be convinced.

“There is a natural rub between the objectives of centralising the purchasing of goods and services and ensuring local areas, particularly outside of the large cities, benefit from this desperately needed economic stimulus. There is a geographical two-tier economy in this state and this decision could add to the dysfunction.    

“We are talking about contracts for goods and services worth hundreds of millions of euro to rural Ireland yet there has been no county by county assessment completed on the impact of the OGPs Procurement Reform Programme.” 

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