OECD study on procurement in Ireland published

An OECD report, ‘Procurement for better value – a case study of Ireland: measuring the impact of centralised purchasing’, which was commissioned by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) has been published. The report outlines how effective public procurement can support the delivery of critical public services and value for money in the face of supply chain challenges, heightened global uncertainty and rising prices.

It also highlights how the focus of public procurement has expanded in recent years and now includes not only ensuring a level playing field and value for money but also supporting broader governmental policy objectives.

In the report, which been has welcomed by The Minister for Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, it is highlighted how the OGP, in partnership with stakeholders, can further influence the efficiency and effectiveness of public procurement in Ireland.

The report demonstartes how public procurement is a crucial pillar of service delivery for governments and a strategic tool for achieving key policy objectives: from budget accountability, to spending efficiency, to buying green and improving societal outcomes, and promoting social responsibility in global supply chains. The report also highlights the need for public bodies to leverage available data and for more comprehensive data collection, analysis and measurement to inform strategic procurement.

Commenting on the report, Minister Donohoe said: “I welcome the report published today which highlights the benefits of strategic, centralised procurement. Ireland’s Programme for Government makes a number of commitments related to the use of strategic public procurement, including evaluating and managing the environmental, economic and social impacts of public sector procurement strategies.

“Thanks to its broad mandate, ranging from aggregating needs under framework agreements to developing procurement policies and supporting professional capabilities, the OGP can influence the efficiency and effectiveness of the full public procurement ecosystem. Through engagement with the public procurement system, the wider public sector can drive the achievement of Government policies and ambitions.”

Minister of State with responsibility for Public Procurement and eGovernment Ossian Smyth TD also welcomed the initiative, saying: “Centralised procurement arrangements enable us to speak to the market with one voice, offering a platform to help the government effectively pursue its climate change objectives. Ireland has made progress in using public procurement to advance its climate goals. However, achieving ambitious environmental goals will require a whole of government approach and commitment from stakeholders across the public sector.”

The OECD highlighted the role of enhanced digitalisation in strategic procurement and specified the GPP Criteria Search tool as an example of such an enhancement. This online tool allows users to find, select and download GPP criteria relevant to a specific procurement project. The report highlighted that platforms such as eTenders, Ireland’s national tendering platform, could support enhancements in data collection and measurement, though such enhancements would require shared consensus and collective effort among relevant stakeholders.

OECD Director for Public Governance, and Director for Public Affairs and Communications, Elsa Pilichowski, also welcomed the publication of the report: “The OECD is pleased to have worked closely with Ireland’s Office of Government Procurement in producing this report. Evolving challenges require the public sector to innovate and adapt quickly in order to build trust that public institutions will be up to the task. In the last decade, Ireland’s procurement reforms have developed its capacity and capability to deliver strategic procurement.

“Centralised strategic procurement can help governments transition to greater social and environmental sustainability, including by more clearly and consistently signalling its buying needs to supply markets. This also enables businesses to invest with confidence in new technologies.”

The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) was established in 2013 and began operating in 2014, with the goal of maximising value for money and operational efficiency through the central management of public procurement in Ireland. The OGP works with partner Centralised Purchasing Bodies (CPBs) in the health, education, local government and defence sectors to deliver the government’s procurement reform programme. The OGP also plays an important role in coordinating procurement policy and activity across the public sector.

The OGP commissioned the OECD to conduct this study on procurement in Ireland. It is part of a broader project investigating the relationships between centralised public procurement and the use of procurement to achieve strategic policy goals. Previous case studies have examined centralised purchasing in Chile, Finland and New Zealand. This work supports the implementation of the OECD Recommendation on Public Procurement, the overarching OECD guiding principle that promotes the strategic and holistic use of public procurement.

To support better Green Public Procurement, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), published updated Green Public Procurement (GPP) Criteria for ten sectors, along with guidance on green public procurement in September 2021. The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) led the development of the GPP Criteria Search, which is available at GPPCriteria.gov.ie. The online search tool allows users to find, select and download Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria relevant to a specific procurement project.

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