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Tuesday 16 September 2014

EU raps State over tendering for new postcodes

Shane Phelan, Public Affairs Editor

Published 11/08/2014 | 02:30

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Postcodes: Irish authorities should avoid errors in the future.
Postcodes: Irish authorities should avoid errors in the future.

THE Government has been criticised by EU authorities after a mistake excluded smaller companies from tendering for the contract to design the country’s new €24m postcode system.

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However, despite the error, Irish authorities have escaped with a slap on the wrist and the tender process will not have to be rerun.

The European Commission made the finding after a complaint from Cork businessman Gary Delaney, who runs a GPS technology firm.

He was unable to compete for the project because  his company’s turnover was deemed too low.

As part of the competition, bidding firms had to have an annual turnover of at least €40m.

The commission found that there should have been an allowance for smaller firms to bid as part of consortiums, so they could rely on the combined turnover of consortium members.

A letter sent to the Government by the commission, which has been seen by the Irish Independent, warned that Irish authorities should “avoid similar errors in future” and asked for measures to be put in place to avoid a repeat of the situation, but it did not impose any sanctions. The 10-year contract to manage Eircode was won by professional services company Capita Ireland in January. It is being supported in the project by consultancy firms BearingPoint and Autoaddress.

Despite finding the error, the commission said that it “could not establish any violation of EU public procurement law that would justify the opening of an infringement procedure”.

Meanwhile, the Freight Transport Association of Ireland, an umbrella body which represents 200 firms including parcel delivery giants UPS and FedEx, has written to Communications Minister Alex White expressing concern about the new postcode system, Eircode, which is being rolled out next spring.

Under the plan 2.2m addresses will get a seven-digit code.

The first three digits will be a routing key, which will be shared by many properties in the same area and is aimed at helping in the sorting of mail.

But the last four digits in each code will be random, meaning they will not be sequential for homes which are side by side.

The letter argues that “a sequenced postcode is needed to allow for the more efficient loading of vehicles as well as delivery times”.

It said the planned system will not give consumers improved delivery times nor cheaper delivery costs.

Irish Independent

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