A ‘Robust’ Tendering Process

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From top: Denis O’Brien; Catherine Murphy and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy raised the National Broadband Plan with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and claimed there will be no competitive tendering for the plan as there is only one bidder up for the contract – a consortium which includes Denis O’Brien-owned Actavo, formerly known as Siteserv.

Ms Murphy didn’t name Mr O’Brien.

But she reminded Mr Varadkar how it was a Fine Gael Government which awarded Siteserv a contract in respect of Irish Water – with the sale of Siteserv from IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, to Mr O’Brien now the subject of a commission of investigation.

And she reminded him how it was a Fine Gael Government which awarded a mobile phone licence to Denis O’Brien’s Esat in the 1990s – a matter which became the subject of the subsequent Moriarty Tribunal.

Mr Varadkar said it wasn’t true to say there was no competitive tendering for the contract, saying there were many bidders but that it’s now down to one.

He said due diligence will be carried out.

He went on to speak about the importance of the National Broadband Plan but didn’t respond directly to Ms Murphy’s comments about Fine Gael.

She said:

“Just last week the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission was scathing about the potential monopoly within the waste sector. Yet, here we are, in this process, with only one bidder.

“And even that one remaining bidding consortium has changed so fundamentally from the initial bid, it’s almost unrecognisable from the entity which first entered the process. We had Eir and Siro exit the process while Enet remained on as the leader of the remaining consortium.

“In July of this year, SSE pulled out of the consortium. Enet replaced SSE with a State-backed Irish infrastructure fund. Yet, the consortium continued to morph and just last month, it emerged that Enet is no longer leading the consortium but is a partner, alongside other companies including Actavo, formerly known as Siteserv.

So Enet, the original bidder, is now only part of the consortium which is now led by a private investment firm called Granahan McCourt.

Taoiseach, surely you have concerns regarding the process and a substantial changes that have occurred within the bidding process since it was first launched.

You must surely be concerned with the links that will inevitably be drawn between previous controversial contracts being awarded and some of the same personnel involved in this consortium.

After all, it was Fine Gael in Government, when the Irish Water contracts were awarded to a subsidiary of Siteserv which is now the subject to a commission of investigation.

“It was Fine Gael who were in Government when the second mobile phone licence was awarded to Esat which then became the subject of the Moriarty Tribunal.

And it is looking like Fine Gael will be in Government when the National Broadband Plan contract is awarded to a consortium within which the same high-profile business people are involved.

Taoiseach it is vital that this process, for awarding the tender, is above reproach. Would it not be better and more pertinent to ask the questions now before any contract is awarded to make sure that there is absolute public confidence in both the process and the outcome.

My questions are: are you satisfied that the bidding process, where there’s only one bidder involved, it will deliver broadband and best value for money?

Do you have concerns regarding the sustainability of the remaining consortium given that it has changed so much since it entered the process and who’s stable will that be into the future.

And are you satisfied that the money spent thus far, in the process have achieved the desired outcomes?”

Mr Varadkar said he was satisfied that the tendering process had been “robust”.

Previously: ‘Too Often In Ireland We Ask The Pertinent Questions After The Fact’

Previously: ‘543,000 Families And Businesses Do Not Care What Name Is On The Side Of The Van’

30 thoughts on “A ‘Robust’ Tendering Process

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      You beat me to it.

      The woman has more integrity in her little finger than the entire DOB party combined.

    2. millie st murderlark

      Say it louder for the lads down the back.

      Catherine Murphy is an absolute legend.

  1. andy

    If you’ve only one bidder left then your options are (i) go with that bidder if the price is right, (ii) don’t go with that bidder. That’s about it.

    The hilarious thing is, most of the other bidders pulled out because it wasn’t economic. So would Catherine Murphy prefer the govt pay more for this contract so they can give it to someone else?

    I’m confused.

    1. phil

      ‘wasn’t economic’ sure , thats true now, but once the bidder in locked in, they will be back to the well citing ‘unexpected costs’ and the final price will be double the original , if we a lucky…

      When finished it will be the most expensive internet in the galaxy for the end user.

    2. giggidygoo

      “In a statement, Eir cited complexity in the tender process, together with growing uncertainty on a range of regulatory and pricing issues outside of the NBP process, as its reason for withdrawing.”
      SSE pulled out also, but didn’t give reasons.
      Funny how things are never complex for the likes of Actavo?

    3. giggidygoo

      Except that the last bidder isn’t actually the same as when they were passed to bid on the tender. Similar to the Sammon school building debacle, we will find that Due Diligence will be jettisoned in favour of getting the ‘right’ people in. That’s the FG way.

  2. If there's one thing I know

    I dont understand the ins and outs of these things but confusingly enough, given that there’s to be (future tense) a tendering process for this broadband roll out, why then have there been men in vans – decked out in Actavo livery – busy for months fitting and fixing high speed broadband cables around the country already! Maybe I missed the memo!

    1. giggidygoo

      And you’ll see new names appearing on vans too. Great we have so many service companies involved I suppose. Worth digging though.

  3. Frilly Keane

    tis fierce hard to really test this
    isn’t it?

    like it was an open tender process
    well published and very well covered
    everywhere
    from Government Buildings to the EU press corps

    in the end only one bidder was ar sed

    I suppose it might be worthwhile to interview the other consortiums (is that right – it feels like it should be consortia)
    to get a better picture of their draft bids
    and why they pulled out

    like if it was purely unfeasible then fair enough
    but if t’was ’cause they felt they were only wasting their time
    because of ye know yerselves
    then there’s sum’ting

        1. millie st murderlark

          And what’s more I coined it as a term of endearment… I have a bad feeling it’s going to accumulate negative connotations.

          1. bertie blenkinsop

            As always….There are people on here who could take the good out of a Lotto win if you were foolish enough to pay them any heed.

            Thankfully you’re here to brighten my days :)

    1. giggidygoo

      Or have the other, pulled-out tenderers, other government contracts and obligations that might come under threat if they didn’t toe the line. I remember some contributer on politics.ie actually called this out many months ago once the first tenderer pulled out as a deal, as being set up for the man himself. The FG lads has a field day slagging him off as far as I remember.

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