From left:  Minister for Health Simon Harris, Vice-President Andrew McDowell of the European Investment Bank, the President of the EIB, Mr Werner Hoyer, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe , and  Taoiseach Leo Varadkar look at a model before the signing of documents for the European Investment Bank (EIB) loan for the new Childrens’ Hospital in December, 2017

“We have a real concern that some companies have been low-balling, coming in with very low tender prices to get the contract and then coming back with claims thereafter,” Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil in answer to Opposition questions about the children’s hospital costs.

“There are one or two contractors who, quite frankly, I would not like to see get a public contract again in this State,” Mr Varadkar added.

Later, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe declined to say if the Government believed this had happened with the hospital contract.

“It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on that because a decision has now been made on the tender and who is doing the work,” he said.

State to examine if unrealistically low bids submitted to win contracts (irish Times)

Yesterday: The Eye Of Soaring



48 thoughts on “Low Balls

  1. Northern Pole Cats

    Idiots just keep spending more of our money.

    If they had real-world jobs they’d all have been fired long before now for incompetence.

  2. Anomanomanom

    The promo footage of what the hospital will look like sums up the government’s attitude to spending money. Millions extra spent on aesthetics, it looks state of the art but is it really needed. Building a bloody square hideous looking building that costs a fraction of the price and use the money to actually have state of the art equipment, instead of just looking state of the art.

    1. Cian

      Exhibit A: The Department of Health’s “Hawkins House” on Poolbeg Street.

      Personally, I would like to see some money spent on aesthetics or we end up with more eyesores like that. A certain percentage of money spent on our roads must go towards an art installation – and this (IMO) is good.

      You have to feed the soul as well as the body.

  3. Spaghetti Hoop

    When Rachael English asked who was responsible, Donohue admitted it was he and Simon Harris – but said the latter apologised to the Dáil yesterday and he (Donohue) was apologising now on air.

    Apologies. Is that enough? I would expect resignations.

        1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          Sing it with me:
          I can see clearly now the rain has gone
          I can see all obstacles in my way
          (Hothouse Flowers verj, obvs)

  4. Daisy Chainsaw

    If a builder signs a contract saying they can deliver for X amount, why should it be my responsibility to pay three times the amount because they lowballed? Is it not on them to build what was agreed for the amount agreed?

    1. Dr.Fart MD

      with every contract job, the end cost is higher than the quote. But people who have actual experience in this, add in a clause that it can’t exceed the quote by X amount. It’s not clear that the gov. didn’t do that. Leaving the contractor to balloon the price to whatever they please. It’s straight-up ineptitude. This government have yet to do something right. Some people say repealing the 8th amendment, but they had very little to do with that, and they were majoritively all against it for a long while until they saw the shift in support for it. They are an incredibly incompetent government.

          1. SOQ

            A little known fact is that Luas was designed and half built by CIE and that the remainder was managed by ex CIE employees.

            From portacabins in the glamorous location of the bottom end of the car park at the back of Heuston station no less.

    2. Hansel

      The problem is likely that “what was agreed” was badly defined.

      A contract can say “a room 4x4m”, one contractor can quote for an insulated concrete structure, another can quote for a prefab, another for some plywood walls with no ceiling.
      Poor scope definition in my industry is often down to inexperience, laziness and lack of resources. We’ll usually try to help our customer to fully define the scope before we quote, alerting them to areas where we could technically quote for the minimum. Some of our competitors won’t waste their own time and will just go ahead and quote for the minimum. If they get the job they’ll clarify the scope at that point. And that’s when the price comes up.

      1. SOQ

        Absolutely. It’s not what you include in a tender but what you miss which will trip you up but at this scale, the responsibility lies with the client, not the contractor.

        Also, under EU procurement rules, if one bidder requests a clarification, in the interests of transparency, all must be notified of the response.

        So it is reasonable to assume whatever the causes of the overrun are, they were not flagged up by any of the bidders during that process.

  5. Dr.Fart MD

    Varadkar saying he “wouldn’t want to see” some of those contractors don’t get state contracts again. Just hopes. No action. Doesn’t say “they won’t get state contracts again” .. he just hopes they don’t. Like can he even pretend he ever does any work, or will do some work. That for me, is the main problem with FG. They’re all about optics, and how they’re perceived. They never knuckle down and do actual work. If they did, the optics would take care of themselves. They are the party of inaction.

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      Exactly this. Twas better in the bad old days––at least FF got things done. Though they were equally as self-serving. Apparently a lot of senior civil servants are despairing of this lot and their inability to make one decision without phoning Ms Prone.

      1. Dr.Fart MD

        FF completely destroyed the country for generations to come. Yet FG somehow manage to be even worse at the helm than them. I’m still willing to give SF a crack of the whip. We’ve given every other major party a go, may as well do a clean sweep on ’em.

          1. Dr.Fart MD

            well i used to vote labour, and they turned out very .. not laboury. FF ruined the shop, and FG continued their work. Leaving only SF. Now, I like the Social Dems but they dont have a person in my area. I can’t bring myself to vote FF/FG/LAB after what they’ve done, so fupp it, may as well give SF a shot. Literally nothing to lose anymore.

  6. Gobbledegook

    It was the contractors fault for putting in a low bid.
    It was the contractors fault for the bad cervical tests.
    It was the contractors fault we can’t build any houses.
    It was the banks fault we couldn’t regulate the economy.
    It was the guards fault.
    It was the nuns fault.

    All we can say definitively is… IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT… but it’s not ours either.
    Grand job.

  7. millie st murderlark

    Scrabbling for excuses and to point the finger of blame, but anyone with eyes can see that it’s serious mismanagement and ineptitude on the part of our public servants who are massively ill equipped to deal with this.

  8. ollie

    The Tender defines the criteria for award. Lowest price always wins and this is down to the tender issuer, not the winner.
    therefore, Vradkar blaming contractors is total deflection.
    If a claim for increased costs is received it’s up to the project team to accept or chellenge the claims.

    The Tender was issued by The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board.

    But it’s ok:
    ‘I have acknowledged I personally made mistakes and one of the things I’ve learned is the need to cultivate an environment where people feel freer to acknowledge their mistakes.’

  9. Ian-O

    We could get the Burj Khalifa and then some for the cost of this hospital and looking at the plans, we might need to go quite high to ensure a reasonable amount of parking for staff, visitors etc.

      1. Ian-O

        Yeah, I know, it was more a pop at the location (and the alleged lack of access, parking etc) than anything else.

        For the record, I wouldn’t set foot in places like the UAE, ‘Saudi’ Arabia for their human rights records.

    1. Cian

      “It probably comes as no surprise that workers received extremely low pay in return for risking their lives to build the $1.5 billion USD tower. Around 10,000-12,000 workers, mostly poor migrants from South Asia, built the Burj. With no laws governing minimum wages in the United Arab Emirates, some workers reported making less than $10 USD a day, according to a Human Rights Watch Study. It is also common practice for employers in Dubai to confiscate workers’ passports so they won’t leave the country before they’ve completed their duties.”

  10. Johnny

    The new hospital could have and should have been used to anchor a new hi tech town on outskirts Dublin,complete with affordable housing.
    The costs in many ways are incalculable as this fiasco has eroded the public’s confidence in govt projects,which can be a catalyst for growth.
    I’ve no idea why there was a bias for this location,but using bad numbers prevented the irish state from accurately reviewing ALL the options,including a new hi tech town/city anchored by state art medical facilities,housing.
    Continuing to utilize bad numbers,preventing debate and pursuing a ‘bad’ project is negligent,incompetent and an abuse of public trust.
    Paschal’s bi**h was let of his leash again yesterday,and went all “Trump” with schoolyard nicknames and insults,is it any wonder this project is a fiasco with advisors like this !

      1. Johnny

        The misogyny is breathtaking -Mrs Angry !
        This is a senior advisor on a public forum,no wonder they can’t build an extension.

          1. Johnny

            -wasn’t going touch that Eoin;)
            I’d say its fair assume Brophy was instructed to have a ‘go’ he’s not really renowned for his courage and bravery shall we say…………

  11. Eoin

    “There are one or two contractors who, quite frankly, I would not like to see get a public contract again in this State” says Leo


    And if Leo won’t do that, using his Dail privilege, the Opposition should be able to wheedle it out of him. “Can the Taoiseach confirm that he was referring to contactor X and Y when he made that statement”.

    Stop treating people like mushrooms.

  12. Ron

    The political filth will do and say anything to protect themselves.

    The thick Irish Paddys who vote for these goons lap it up..

    Banana republic and the laughing stock of the world. When did the Irish become so stupid.

  13. Fergus the magic postman

    Just a moment prior to that photo being taken, a tiny little man in the window of one of the miniature buildings shouted out:
    “Hey Leo, based on your image, you seem very down to earth, & I as a normal person feel I can relate to you.”

  14. Giggidygoo

    So, back in 2017 Vacron signed for a loan from the ECB? For how much? Does he have to go back and look for a top up now in 2019,seeing as himself, Daffy and the boy Harris made a hames of this? Marching orders are what these boyos need.

  15. Jonner

    what about incomelete tender documents? why is it always the dirty contractors fault?

    surely the engineering consultants, architects and quantity surveyors have a part to play in this farce.

    the contractors will price whats put in front of them. if the contract is ambiguous they are entitled to take a view on what is being asked of them.

    if that ambiguity is too risky, at least one of the tenderers would have sought clarification at tender stage to which all tenderers receive the reply.

    Ill informed and under prepared client side project team!

    1. SOQ

      Why are they so reluctant to state where the overruns have occurred?

      Leo crying into a tissue and pointing at the big bad contractors doesn’t cut it because they’re all big and bad when there is money involved.

      That is why so many clients hire ex contractor PM’s, because know all the strokes and more importantly, they know how to block them.

  16. gorugeen

    400+million euro overrun and it’s the contractors gouging? Does the client not employ the services of a QS or three?

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