13 October 2008 | Jake Kanter
The Irish Prison Service (IPS) spent ?18.6 million (£14.7 million) on contracts without competitive tenders in 2007, according to a report.
The study by the Comptroller and Auditor General's office found 60 examples where deals, worth ?25,000 (£19,860) or more, failed to comply with government rules on competition. It added "control in this area was deficient".
More than a third of the deals, totalling ?7.6 million (£6 million), were rolled over and the existing supplier retained the business. The IPS said the other contracts were uncontested as there was a limited pool of vendors to choose from. They included purchases of medical products and emergency goods and services.
The report noted the IPS had taken action to strengthen its purchasing processes. The organisation established a central procurement department in March with an "extended remit to procure services and goods and to develop and promote best practice".
The department has also issued a document to all staff on the procedures involved in awarding contracts without competitive tendering. It states buyers should ensure all such deals are audited by an internal senior officer and are documented on a register.
The IPS did not respond to SM's request for comment.