Contracting authorities are allowed to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency in exceptional circumstances under the Public Contract Regulations 2015 using a direct award of a contract without a competitive tender process. The great majority of personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts let by the Department – including that for Medpro Ltd - were direct awards.
Suppliers are evaluated by Departmental officials on their financial standing, compliance with minimum product specifications and ability to perform the contract. Contracts are awarded by the appropriate Departmental accounting officer in line with Departmental policy and procedures. All contracts have clauses in them that allow the Department to seek redress if the company supplies faulty products or misses delivery dates.
The Department assesses the market conditions for procuring supplies related to any procurement, including those relating to COVID-19, in accordance with procurement guidance and regulations. Where any procurement meets the tests for the use of a direct award then that approach will be used. Where it does not, other approaches will be considered.