1386. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the date on which alleged procurement irregularities involving the Irish Prison Service and a company (details supplied) was first drawn to the attention of the Secretary General of her Department; the action which was taken on foot of same; the dates of the action; if contracts and work outside of a tender or procurement process continued to be awarded to the company following the matter being brought to her Department’s attention; if any irregularities have been confirmed on foot of same; if so, the nature and extent of same; if an external report is completed or pending on the matter, if drafts of the report have been completed; the cost of the report; and when it will be published. [18367/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I would like to inform the Deputy that correspondence was received on 13 September 2019 in relation to alleged procurement irregularities involving the Irish Prison Service and a named company. The correspondence was forwarded to my Department’s Internal Audit Unit for examination. I am informed that following examination and communication with the correspondent, an investigation in relation to the complaint commenced in March 2020.
I understand that the contract in question was awarded following an EU-wide tender competition conducted in 2013/2014 for the provision of a facilities management service to the Irish Prison Service. I further understand that in November 2017, in advance of the expiration of the contract, the Irish Prison Service engaged with the Office of Government Procurement to conduct a new tender competition for the provision of facilities management across the prison estate for a period of 5 years, with the option of an extension for a further two years. The Invitation to Tender and Contract as awarded acknowledged that the scope of service required could not be fully defined due to the demand-led nature of the service sought, and due to potential legislative, regulatory and other changes that might occur over the contract period.
I am informed that this was a complex and lengthy tender process involving protracted engagement with a number of parties including the Office of Government Procurement, the Chief State Solicitor's Office and technical consultants in order to finalise the new contract award in 2020.
Due to the protracted and complex nature of the tender evaluation process, I understand that the contract continued in operation up to date of the new contract award in 2020. This was in order to ensure continuity of service provision for the prison estate and involved works ranging from commissioning and maintenance of mechanical and electrical and associated plant and systems, repairs, renewals and upgrades, general, reactive and planned preventative maintenance etc.
I am informed that the independent investigation into the allegations has not yet been completed, however, it is understood to be at an advanced stage and is expected to be finalised later this year. I understand that the complainant has been provided with relevant updates in relation to the investigation.