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Procurement

The Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) currently spends approximately £5 million annually on the purchase of goods and supplies and approximately £11 million on services contracts.

It should be noted that current expenditure is no guarantee of future spend. The Prison Service reserves the right to add, delete or delay the issue of any contract.

How do we do business?

To ensure fair and open competition and to meet European Community rules most of our business is conducted via contracts. These are let from short term contracts up to a maximum of 5 years.

Advertising of tenders

  • Below £1,000 – 2 written quotations;
  • Below £10,000 – 3 written quotations;
  • Below £30,000 – 4 tenders;
  • Below £90,318 – Publicly advertised tender;
  • Above £90,318 – Tender regulated under Public Contracts (Supplies or Services) Regulations, Works Contracts subject to higher levels.

Unregulated tenders may be advertised in:

  • The Irish News, News Letter and Belfast Telegraph
  • Government Opportunities,
  • Contracts & Tenders &
  • Tendering Services Ireland.
  • Regulated contracts are advertised in the above plus the OJEC.

It is necessary for businesses wishing to supply the Agency to formally tender against these statements of need. Potential suppliers should note that tenders are evaluated against pre-determined published criteria and how suppliers address the full range of requirements. The cheapest tender will not necessarily be accepted.

The Central Procurement Directorate in general, lets our contracts on our behalf. They ensure that the whole process is carried out in a fair and equal manner ensuring the best Value for Money (VFM) and service is obtained for the public purse.

Prompt payment initiative

The NIPS is committed to prompt payment of all supplier non-disputed invoices within the credit terms normally contracted with each supplier. The service monitors its performance closely to ensure in all its operations that suppliers are paid correctly and within the agreed terms of business payment arrangements.

Methods of payment

The NIPS has a preference to pay all Suppliers via the Bankers' Automated Clearing Service (BACS). On the successful award of a contract, suppliers will be asked to register their bank and payment details for BACS payments.

Government procurement card (GPC)

NIPS currently uses the GPC card, a Visa type arrangement. It is intended for use in multiple low value transactions to reduce staff processing time on behalf of the supplier and the NIPS. It is our longer term strategy to introduce it into operation with many of our contracts ensuring prompt payment to the participating supplier within 2-4 days of the dispatch of goods for all transactions.

E-commerce

The NIPS is evaluating its procurement procedures to ensure the best value for money. The service will adopt the most efficient means of procurement where it attains and achieves the most economic and efficient return on its investment. It is committed to the use of all means of electronic communication including fax, telephone, E-mail and the use of the Internet to achieve this objective.

Further Information

Central Procurement Directorate