EU takes Ireland to task on postcode tendering

The European Commission has described Ireland’s response to its findings on the flawed Eircode tendering process as “unclear” and “not satisfactory”.

The commission had ruled that the State wrongly excluded small and medium enterprises from competing for the contract to provide Ireland’s new postcodes by imposing a turnover limit on companies eligible to tender for the project.

While the commission did not impose any sanctions on the State or ask that the Department of Communications rerun the tender, it did ask that the department would introduce measures to ensure similar mistakes are avoided in the future.

However, Gary Delaney, CEO of Loc8 Code, complainedabout the turnover limit to the commission, has revealed the commission is not satisfied with the State’s response to its demands.

“The Irish authorities’ reply is not satisfactory, as it gives a partial and unclear answer to the issues at stake,” a legal officer with the commission told Mr Delaney in an email.

Mr Delaney disclosed the correspondence as part of an open letter to Communications Minister Alex White, in which he claims that department officials have made statements on the matter that “appear to dismiss and cover up the facts with an apparent view to deliberately frustrating the truth as recorded in the Oireachtas and in the broader public domain”.

In the letter, Mr Delaney claims that a media report published prior to the opening of the tendering process in 2011 appeared to discount the use of Loc8 Code as a suitable design for the national postcode and that the article seemed “to suggest that your officials and contracted consultants were pre-judging the outcome of a public procurement process which was supposed to be fair and transparent”.

Mr Delaney told Mr White he was issuing the open letter “because previous related correspondence and requests for engagement by you on this matter have not been responded to”.

In a statement, the department said it was aware of the points raised by Mr Delaney and that he would receive a response in due course.

The department also said that, according to its latest information, its response to Europe’s concerns arising from the tender process is being considered by the commission. “The commission has asked the Irish authorities for further clarification in relation to language used in some of the tender documentation,” read the statement. “The department subsequently informed the commission in October 2014 of measures that the Irish authorities have put in place in relation to this issue.”

In a separate development, members of the Freight Transport Association of Ireland — including companies such as FedEx, UPS and DHL — have said they are dissatisfied with the department’s response to its complaints on the design of Eircode and say they will not use it.

The FTAI claims the design of the code was structured to meet the requirements of An Post, “to the exclusion of its competitors”.

It sent its strongly worded analysis of a report on the code’s design to members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications and said that “spurious, inaccurate, bogus, unsupported and in some cases, simply fabricated reasoning” was used to reject the use of the design used in the US and UK that would, they claim, make it easier to give directions to locations by reading the code by sight.

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