‘Quality in Public Procurement' Bill passes final stage in the Seanad

Pmb Green Graphic
Pmb Green Graphic

Bill aims to deliver better results from the almost €20 billion Ireland spends each year on public procurement by placing quality at the heart of the process.

 Speaking after last night's Seanad debate Senator Higgins said:

 “In 2021 the Irish State spent almost €20 billion on public procurement. This Bill is about spending better. We need to know that the public money we are spending is giving us the best possible results in terms of sustainability, the environment, employment, social impact, quality and delivery. My Bill would require public bodies to consider both quality and price when spending public money or to provide an explanation as to why not. In other words, think about quality or explain why you’re not thinking about quality.”

"Controversy after controversy has shown that when we cut corners on procurement, we pay a greater price in the long run.  Cervical Check is one example of a contract awarded solely on the basis of lowest price with no weighting for quality. My Bill would limit the use of this 'price only' approach and instead press Public Bodies to base their decisions on a 'price:quality ratio" approach where proper consideration is given to both price and quality. Similar legislation introduced in the Netherlands in 2016 has proven to achieve better outcomes and timely delivery at little or no additional cost.

 "When it comes to major national infrastructure, the stakes are even higher, which is why this Bill sets a minimum target of 50% quality criteria in awards for public works contracts over €5.38 million. This increased weighting for quality would also reflect the recommendations in the 2014 Review of the Performance of the Public Works Contracts that all projects in excess of €2m be awarded with a significant weighting for quality in order to deter both unsustainable pricing and to obtain higher quality."

 "The contract for our National Children’s Hospital was awarded 75% on price and only 25% on quality and as we know, almost €500 million worth of additional contractor claims have since been lodged. This Bill would go a long way towards tackling problems like unrealistic 'low-ball' bids, by ensuring that the procurement process can instead recognise and reward companies, including small and medium sized firms across Ireland, with high standards, innovation and a good record of delivery.”

 “This is about a culture shift. The procurement model needs improving. We cannot put inertia and convenience over the purpose we should all have, which is getting the best genuinely advantageous value from how we spend our public money by ensuring it delivers for us in terms of quality.”

 The Bill also requires the Minister to publish guidelines on how environmental, employment and social policy commitments might be reflected in the design of calls for tender and requires Public  Bodies to report on how they have applied the Public Duty on Equality and Human Rights in their procurement.

 “Most importantly, this legislation seeks better results for the public, not only in terms of long-term value for money, but also in terms of the actual quality of the collective goods, services and infrastructure that many of us will rely on and which can make such a difference in the daily lives of individuals, families and communities."

 The Bill has received wide political support and is supported by a range of stakeholders. It will now progress to Dáil Éireann in the New Year.


 For further information or to speak with Senator Alice-Mary Higgins contact Ciara Gaynor 086 8131326 or Sárán Fogarty 083 1840496

 Quality in Public Procurement (Contract Preparation and Award Criteria) Bill 2021 – No. 32 of 2021 – Houses of the Oireachtas

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