Report into Coast Guard spending shows weaknesses in public procurement

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Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell has said that a special report into €1.4 million worth of spending by the Coast Guard has highlighted a number of weaknesses in the procurement process.

The Coast Guard, which operates as a unit within the Department of Transport, signed a contract for the delivery of 18 vehicles between 2016 and 2020.

Concerns were then raised that they were not fit for purpose and could not be operated legally due to limitations on the weight they could carry, said the Galway TD.

Deputy Farrell welcomed the report by the the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) as it again underscores the need to tighten up how we do procurement in this state.

“The report highlighted a number of weaknesses: as part of the tendering process it wasn’t specified why the vehicles were needed operationally; the number, type and functionality required; or how procurement would be accommodated within budget and over what time frame,” said Deputy Farrell.

“It also noted that there was no evidence that the views of the members of the rescue teams were sought.”

Deputy Farrell said that the report goes on to say how the Department did not specify a required vehicle carrying capacity (payload), or indicate the weight, dimensions or nature of the equipment to be carried.

She said that surely if you are in the business of rescuing people, and you are going to need staff and equipment to do that, then the specifications for the type of vehicle you require should be a pretty big consideration?

“This isn’t to single the Department of Transport out, we’ve seen plenty of other public procurement failures in recent times, especially with the purchase of faulty ventilators, PPE and other products,” said the Sinn Féin TD.

“Minister McGrath quietly announced the establishment of an interim Procurement Reform Board, it important that it treats the reform of public procurement seriously.”