Dáil Éireann - Volume 500 - 09 February, 1999

Written Answers - Defence Forces Equipment.

110. Ms Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Defence if he has received representations concerning his Department's proposal to limit the tender competition for the supply of armoured personnel carriers to two companies; if so, if he will provide details of these representations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3179/99]

[154] 111. Ms Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Defence if he has satisfied himself that his Department can provide meaningful explanations for the proposal to limit the second stage of the competition for the supply of armoured personnel carriers to two companies particularly having regard to the worldwide reputation and track record of those companies which it is proposed to exclude from the second stage, the need to clearly demonstrate that value for money will be assured if only two companies tender and to be seen to comply with the highest public procurement standards internationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3180/99]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): I propose to take Questions Nos. 110 and 111 together.

Defensive equipment for the Defence Forces is acquired in accordance with procedures approved by Government relating to public procurement. Central to those procedures is the requirement to allow fair competition between suppliers through the submission of tenders which are assessed on the basis of obtaining best value for money by the Department. The current competition to procure armoured personel carriers, APCs, organised by the Department, was conducted in strict compliance with Government procurement procedures the objective of which is the achievement of the highest standards of impartiality, objectivity and transparency. Tenderers were afforded equal opportunity in their submissions and in providing such further information as was necessary to ensure their proposals were fully presented to the Department.

More than 30 prospective suppliers world-wide expressed interest in the APC procurement programme. They were provided with the technical specification and invited to submit proposals. Proposals were received from 12 companies and were evaluated and assessed by a civilian-military project team which has been established to manage the procurement process through all stages to ensure value for money is obtained for the expenditure involved.

Two vehicles have been selected to go forward to the next stage of the competition having complied fully with the initial technical specification in which protection of troops was given high priority. The successful proposals were submitted by Mowag of Switzerland which manufactures the Piranha APC and Steyr-Daimler-Puch of Austria which manufactures the Pandur APC. The two suppliers selected will shortly be asked to prepare formal tenders on the basis of a more detailed specification. The evaluation process will include trials in Ireland of both vehicles by the Defence Forces. The aim of these trials will be to assess from a technical and user perspective the suitability of the vehicles against agreed criteria.

The ten firms which were unsuccessful in the first part of the competition were notified as to the areas of non-compliance by their vehicles with essential elements of the specification. Representations were made by three of these firms [155] regarding aspects of their proposals which they felt the project team had not fully appreciated. The letters were fully considered and detailed responses were issued last month.

It is hoped that a contract will be in place later this year for the supply of up to 40 APCs over five years, with the first APC expected to be delivered next year.