On and after 18 October 2018, all public procurement communication and information exchange must be conducted electronically. This means that for all contracting authorities it will be mandatory to advertise, submit and receive all procurement documents electronically. This requirement applies to all procurements as of 18 October 2018 and to all procurements ongoing as of 18 October 2018 i.e. any communication on and after that date will have to be electronic.
There are some exceptions to the use of electronic communications and submissions such as:
- if specific tools or devices are required to ensure the use of electronic communication due to the specialised nature of the procurement;
- there may be a risk of a security breach; or
- if the information is particularly sensitive.
The reason for not using electronic communication must be reported in the Regulation 84 report.
A further step is due to be introduced by 18 April 2019 whereby Irish public bodies must be able to receive and process electronic invoices, with sub-central Government having the option to postpone until April 2020. This is in keeping with the requirements of the European Directive on eInvoicing (2014/55/EU). While public bodies must be able to accept e-invoices by the April 2019 deadline, there is no requirement on suppliers in Ireland to send electronic invoices to Irish public bodies.
It is envisaged that the use of e-procurement will lead to greater transparency and also streamline the procurement process, encourage savings, greater innovation and easier access for suppliers. The steps towards e-procurement included the introduction of the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) and the use of E-CERTIS which assists in identifying different procurement requirements across the EU.
It is expected that mandatory e-procurement will increase the use of the dynamic purchasing system (DPS), which by its nature, is a completely electronic process. The DPS is recommended for use for commonly used purchases. It is similar to a framework in that candidates qualify for admittance onto the system by meeting minimum suitability criteria, however it is an evolving arrangement. Candidates may apply to be admitted at any time to the DPS over the lifetime of the system and the number of candidates is unlimited. The period of validity of the DPS is indicated by the Contracting Authority. The DPS has the potential to allow for greater flexibility in the area of procurement for both contracting authorities and suppliers.