Tuesday 25 October 2016

Government Procurement Office has serious questions to answer over shambles

Published 18/09/2015 | 02:30

Aer Arann
Aer Arann

The debacle over the Aran Islands air service contract does not reflect well on the much-vaunted Office of Government Procurement (OGP).

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The office was established last year to manage public spending on goods and services and save money for taxpayers. But in the case of the air service contract, it has presided over a shambles.

The contract is a big deal. More than 38,000 passengers flew in an out of the islands last year.

But it now appears OGP made a fundamental mistake from the outset when it invited tenders to operate the service.

Executive Helicopters' successful bid was based on operating out of Galway Airport. But no one consulted Galway City Council and Galway County Council, the owners of the airport, about the availability of the facility before the helicopter company was selected.

If they had, they would have been told the current operators of the airport only have a lease until the end of the year and no decision has been made on the future use of facility.

The OGP has been far from accountable and has refused to answer basic questions about the procurement process.

It will not say who was involved in the assessment and whether or not they have any aviation knowledge or experience. Nor will they say if anyone from the islands was consulted or whether the scoring system used to pick the preferred bidder will be made public.

Islanders are now faced with the threat of having no air service come October 1, while the taxpayer could be exposed to hefty legal costs if, as expected, the matter ends up in the High Court.

Irish Independent

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