COMMITTEE FOR FINANCE AND PERSONNEL
TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR A SCRUTINY OF PUBLIC PROCUREMENT PRACTICE IN NORTHERN IRELAND
1. The Committee for Finance and Personnel has undertaken some initial consideration of public procurement policy and practice and, arising from this work, has identified a range of concerns. These include, for example, issues regarding: the robustness of the process; compliance with legal requirements; the extent to which government contracts make provision for social clauses; the scope for increasing the capacity of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Social Economy Enterprises (SEEs) to compete for public contracts; and on the consequences of undue delays in progressing procurement contracts, especially in terms of the impact on the construction sector of delays in planned capital expenditure.
2. As a result of its initial work, the Committee will undertake a focused scrutiny of public procurement policy and practice in Northern Ireland which will:
- examine the experience of SMEs and SEEs in tendering for and delivering public contracts;
- consider the nature, extent and application of social clauses within public contracts;
- identify issues to be addressed and which are within the remit of Department Finance Personnel (DFP);
- assess progress by DFP in achieving associated objectives and targets, including those contained in the Programme for Government and related Public Service Agreements; and
- make recommendations to DFP for improvements to public procurement policies and processes, aimed at increasing access to opportunities for SMEs and SEEs and maximising the economic and social benefits for the local community, whilst taking account of the principles governing public procurement.