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Oireachtas says TDs still set for tablet computers despite hitch

The Oireachtas cancelled a tender looking for 300 tablet computers – saying a better deal can be reached through other means.

Enda Kenny and Lucinda Creighton launch a Fiscal Compact website using an iPad. Oireachtas plans to supply a tablet machine to every TD have been stalled over procurement technicalities.
Enda Kenny and Lucinda Creighton launch a Fiscal Compact website using an iPad. Oireachtas plans to supply a tablet machine to every TD have been stalled over procurement technicalities.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated, 13:58

OIREACHTAS AUTHORITIES have said every TD and Senator is still in line to be given an iPad or similar tablet computer before the end of the year, despite having had to cancel a tender seeking suppliers for the machines.

A tender notice asking suppliers to name their price for 300 tablet machines was cancelled last night, owing to a technicality surrounding new procurement rules – with interested parties told that the Oireachtas had to work under a separate deal for mobile and data services established by the Department of Public Expenditure only last year.

The Oireachtas’ tender notice had expressed interest from several parties, and a clarification of the awarding criteria had been issued to interested parties only three days ago – but this afternoon Leinster House authorities said they still planned to press ahead with the plans.

“After our request for tenders was published, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform concluded a framework agreement under which these devices can now be purchased,” the Oireachtas said in a statement.

“We still expect to complete a tendering process using the framework, before the end of 2012.”

The statement explained that the framework agreement established by the Department of Public Expenditure would “leverage bulk buying power and use smaller, faster tendering processes, with a restricted group of pre-qualified bidders”.

Authorities hope to buy about 300 tablet machines – one for each of the 226 politicians, and others for support staff who help to organise parliamentary affairs. At their retail price, 300 entry-level 16GB iPad 3 machines would cost €143,700 including VAT.

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The plans to get tablet machines for every member were announced only in July, when authorities said the plan would be “cost neutral” given how much they could cut from their printing bills.

“The provision of tablet devices to members is part of a larger project aimed at reducing the annual cost of parliamentary printing and will be another step towards achieving a paperless operation,” the Oireachtas said.

TheJournal.ie revealed, however, that a stock of 25 tablet-style machines had been bought for use by TDs six years ago – but were collectively used just over 250 times, or an average of 13 times per machine.

iLawmakers: TDs and Senators to get tablet devices from Oireachtas

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Gavan Reilly

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