The Tender Advisory Service (TAS) was launched in December 2014 by the Minister of State with special responsibility for Public Procurement, Mr Simon Harris, T.D. The purpose of the service was to provide an informal outlet for potential suppliers to raise concerns in relation to a particular live tender process carried out by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) or other Public Sector contracting bodies. The service became operational with effect from 1 February 2015 and is managed by the OGP.

The service accorded with the commitment made by the OGP in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2014 to pilot informal procedures for engagement between tenderers and contracting authorities to provide clarity and advice in relation to criteria included in tendering notices. It also provides an important channel for companies, in particular SMEs, to raise issues during the bidding process and have these concerns addressed. Suppliers availing of the service must have exhausted the normal clarification process provided for in the public tendering process. The scheme does not impede the rights of suppliers to pursue their rights formally under the Remedies legislation.

The OGP has conducted a review of the first year of operation.  The report concludes by recommending that the service should be continued for another year and that efforts should be made to increase awareness amongst both suppliers and buyers.  Initial feedback from industry representative bodies has generally been positive.  The Programme for Government provides for an external review of TAS.  This will be undertaken in the New Year and will provide an opportunity for both industry representatives and Government to consider the review arrangements currently in place for public tenders such as the clarification process, TAS, and the remedies directives.  The question of whether additional review mechanisms are necessary in an Irish context will also be considered balancing the need for appropriate review mechanisms with the need to deliver projects on the ground.

An external review, as provided for in the Programme for Government, was conducted by Research Matters and completed in 2017. The aim of the review was to provide an assessment of the contribution of TAS to the public procurement process, and to evaluate whether the current design and operation of the TAS is sufficient, appropriate and proportionate in the context of similar type services elsewhere. The Report concluded that while the numbers engaging with the TAS are small, the service’s approach to dealing with queries arising within its remit have been successful and the TAS Service has had an overall positive impact on public procurement. The short term recommendations have largely been adopted. The medium term recommendations deal with wider issues and will require further consideration as part of the Public Procurement Reform Programme. The Report was presented to the SME Advisory Group in December 2017 and, following a period of consultation, the TAS Service was relaunched in July.

TAS Review 2015-2016

External TAS Review Report 2017-2018

External TAS Review Executive Summary 2017 – 2018