75. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has requested a report from the Garda Commissioner into payments to a company (details supplied) which breached public procurement guidelines; if the report will examine the relationship with the company and An Garda Síochána since 2009; the person or body that is conducting the report; if a timeframe for completion has been indicated; his plans to request the Comptroller and Auditor General to conduct such an exercise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5670/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will appreciate that the allocation and management of the Garda ICT budget is the responsibility of the acting Garda Commissioner as the Accounting Officer for An Garda Síochána and, as Minister, I have no function in relation to the matter.
In this context, the Commissioner is fully accountable to the Public Accounts Committee and the Comptroller and Auditor General in relation to expenditure from the Garda Vote. An Garda Síochána is also subject to the European Procurement Directives and National Public Procurement Guidelines.
I am advised that an annual "40/02" return is prepared by each public Vote Holding Body, including An Garda Síochána, for submission to the Comptroller and Auditor General in respect of spends on goods and services over €25,000 to a single supplier where there was no public procurement exercise, or where the items concerned are proprietary, or are covered by security exemptions.
I am informed that tender exercises have been completed or are underway to address the recurring contracts referred to in An Garda Síochána's 2016 return.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that, specifically, a tender process is underway in respect of the ICT skilled resource requirement following receipt in late 2017 of the required sanction from the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) and tender documentation is now being prepared for submission to the Office of Government Procurement (OGP). The sanction authorised the use of the OGP External ICT Resources Framework, which has only been available since August 2017) to meet the future requirement for skilled resources.
In addition, OGCIO sanction was recently sought to run tenders, utilising the OGP Framework, to cover IT operations and IT skilled resources. The sanction requests include a proposal to utilise the Framework to meet the requirement for external ICT support services.
Once the procurement process for these tenders has concluded, details of contracts will continue to be maintained by Garda Procurement and details published on the e-Tenders website. The process includes a built-in reminder system in relation to contract expiry thus facilitating notification to the business owners that a contract is due to be re-tendered.
I understand that an Internal Audit report in August 2017 raised some concerns and made a number of recommendations in relation to the procurement of certain services from the company concerned and that action is being taken to ensure that these recommendations are implemented.
I am satisfied that Garda management is acutely aware of the need to utilise the resources being made available to them in the most efficient and effective manner to deliver on the Garda ICT strategy, consistent with public procurement procedures.