Purchasing opportunities are primarily carried out by Contracts Branch, a dedicated unit in the Department and various units within the Defence Forces. Contracts Branch is based at the Department of Defence, Station Road, Newbridge County Kildare.
Contracts Branch is responsible for the overall procurement policy within the Defence Organisation and for the procurement of defensive equipment. The Defence Forces also purchase a wide range of non-capital goods and services directly. These include items associated with day-to-day operations, e.g. food, clothing, transport and the maintenance of equipment and premises.
When awarding contracts, we must abide by EU and National laws, and follow relevant guidelines issued from time to time by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Office of Government Procurement.
This means that procurement must be open and fair and it must strive to obtain the best value for public money. We must be cost effective, efficient in our use of resources, and we must demonstrate the highest standards of fairness and integrity whenever we award a contract.
Procurement practices are scrutinised and audited by both the Department's Internal Audit Section and the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General. Accounting Officers are accountable to the Oireachtas for compliance with all relevant EU and National procurement regulations.
Beyond that, the awarding of public contracts is monitored by the EU Commission who may, if it finds that a state has disobeyed the rules, take action in the European Court of Justice.
If a contract is awarded that does not comply with the rules, it may be challenged in the Irish Courts. Under the EU Remedies Regulations, the Irish Courts can now set aside improperly awarded contracts. The Courts also have the power to fine contracting authorities who breach procurement regulations by up to 10% of the value of the contract, in addition to any payment of damages that the Court imposes.
We take the rules around public procurement very seriously, and we are fully committed to transparency, fairness and accountability in all our purchasing activities. We only buy goods and services that have been subjected to a proper competitive process, except in certain limited exceptional circumstances.