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The Oireachtas awarded another contract for printing worth €2 million this month

The amount spent by the Oireachtas on the controversial printing press is under the scrutiny of the Public Accounts Committee.
Nov 28th 2019, 10:02 PM 30,424 82

shutterstock_542620015 File photo. Leinster House. Source: Shutterstock/EQRoy

THE HOUSES OF the Oireachtas this month awarded a tender worth over €2 million for parliamentary publishing and printing services – separate to the over €1 million already spent on a massive printing press and associated structural works needed to make it fit into a building.

There are three types of printing done at Leinster House – printing for members in their roles as TDs and Senators, corporate printing such as leaflets and booklets, and the printing of order papers, memorandums and bills. 

The Komori printing press which has been the source of controversy was ordered to fulfil these printing needs but it has yet to be used due to talks with unions as staff require training to use it.

Oireachtas printing jobs have traditionally mostly been done in-house, but the tender awarded this month is for an outsourced solution for the printing of order papers, memorandums and bills. 

The specific tender in question came with an original estimated value of €3 million. Only one company tendered for the project and it was awarded to a north Dublin-based firm on a contract worth €2,066,818.85.

Printing press

The topic of Oireachtas printing has hit the headlines all week after the Irish Times first published details on Saturday about the €800,000 printing press made by Komori that didn’t fit correctly into the room it was supposed to which required over €200,000 of structural works to fix.

komori The printer in the Oireachtas is similar to this model from Komori. Source: Komori

The printer originally arrived in September 2018 but wasn’t able to be installed until September this year.

In the meantime, the printer went into storage at Ballymount Industrial Estate in south Dublin where it remained at a cost of €2,000 per month before being installed in September this year. Issues remain, however, as staff say they need to be trained before they can use it. 

A report from Clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan this week found that the requirements of the building and other regulations in relation to “head height” were neither “understood nor examined at the critical early stages of the project”.

His report also suggested that “significant structural adaptations” would have been required to the building “in any event” given the requirements laid out in the original tender documents.

The affair is now under the scrutiny of the Public Accounts Committee, which wants to know more about the project which eventually cost in excess of €1 million. 

New tender

The Komori printing press was replacing two older printers that had been in operation, an Oireachtas spokesperson told TheJournal.ie.

It is not yet being used due to the staff training requirement but, when fully operational, it is expected to handle an average of at least 2,300 print jobs a year.

It is expected to handle the three forms of printing in the Oireachtas. 

The clerk said in his report: “The use of the facility encompasses all matters relating to the houses, representation of constituents and others, and includes, for example, communication with/to constituents on diverse matters such as local or general public interest issues, government policies and legislation.

Throughout the period 2016-2019, an average of 90% of the work was carried out on behalf of elected members and political parties with the remaining 10% completed for the houses of the oireachtas service.

The spokesperson said that at particular periods, the service becomes so busy that outsourcing printing works is required. 

A separate contract covers the outsourcing for printing for members in their roles as TDs and Senators but the €2 million contract awarded this month covers the printing and publishing of the likes of order papers, committee reports, bills and other official oireachtas documents.

The tender specification emphasises how important it is for a smoothly run printing service to operate for the Oireachtas, with outsourcing required to plug gaps when needed.

“For the avoidance of doubt, these services are imperative to the functioning of parliament and for ensuring that all legislative and other parliamentary papers are available for members of the houses when needed,” it said. 

bills to be published

The contract was awarded for a minimum of 12 months, with the option of a maximum of two extensions. 

TheJournal.ie understands there will be an infrequent need for the outsourcing specified under this tender, which means the contract may not end up costing as much as the €2 million value. 

As for the Komori printer, irate PAC members labelled that procurement process a “mess from start to finish” at the committee yesterday.

“This has been a total pig’s ear,” Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry said. “There are no tangible sanctions when we have blatant incompetence.”

His party colleague Bobby Aylward said: “Someone has to be held accountable.”

With reporting from Christina Finn

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