Saturday, May 23, 2009

IADT response

IADT is clearly concerned about the response to their decision to send €162,351.00 abroad and so out of the Irish print and design industries, so concerned that they're effectively sending defensive press releases to half-assed blogs.

On Tuesday, May 19th, I posted about the IADT tender, and on Friday evening, May 22nd, IADT posted their response here as a comment. (I'm assuming it's genuine - it certainly reads like an official response.) Here it is in full:

IADT, as a public service organisation, must tender at EU level for any contracts with a value in excess of Euro 50k and uses the Government eTenders portal for that purpose. On this occasion, IADT was seeking a package of services, including design, print management, volume printing and delivery and was looking for the best solution overall as well as a competitive price. The contract was for services over the next three years. The details of the tender and of the criteria for selection can be viewed at:

http://www.e-tenders.gov.ie/search/show/search_view.aspx?ID=MAY117835

More than 49 bidders expressed an interest and following a rigorous shortlisting and evaluation process, a preferred bidder emerged.

That a Danish company would come out on top reflects the quality of their overall proposal and is not a comment on the standard and quality of design available in Ireland. Many quality Irish design companies compete for business internationally and they can boast some success. IADT also works with Irish design companies, some employers of our own graduates. However, for all jobs, big and small, we must seek quotations and must obtain both quality and value for money.

IADT offers a BA degree in Visual Communications that benchmarks very well internationally. We prepare our graduates for employment at home and internationally - and they do very well. We have no fear of putting ourselves out on the international stage as a college and we have developed links with first class colleges in a number of European countries. Design Communications is an international business.

When we appoint the design/print contract, we will require the company to engage with staff, students and graduates to ensure that our print and other communications are clear and engaging and that we in turn can benefit from the experience of working with them.

22 May, 2009 17:30



Let's take a quick look at that: it's a fine exercise in missing the point in that it makes some nice noises but doesn't actually address the criticisms made.

IADT, as a public service organisation, must tender at EU level for any contracts with a value in excess of Euro 50k
Yes, but my original post noted that it is possible to break contracts down into separate components and thereby ensure that the value of each component does not exceed Euro 50K. Had IADT chosen to do that then the requirement to tender at EU level would not have applied. IADT chose to put the contract together in such a way that EU level tendering was required. That was their decision and they should have the courage to stand over it rather than seeking to give the impression, as this response does, that they had no choice in the matter.

That a Danish company would come out on top reflects the quality of their overall proposal and is not a comment on the standard and quality of design available in Ireland.
This is PR-doublespeak at its finest. It's patently nonsensical but sounds nice. To put it in context, it is preceded by IADT noting that they were "looking for the best solution overall as well as a competitive price", and that they followed "a rigorous shortlisting and evaluation process". So, the Danish company came out on top from a rigorous shortlisting and evaluation process that identified the bidder offering the best overall solution at a competitive price, and yet we're asked to accept that that isn't "a comment on the standard and quality of design available in Ireland". It is, and to suggest otherwise is nonsensical, particularly in relation to a tender that was most heavily weighted towards "Design Capability" (as can be seen on the page helpfully linked to from the IADT's own comment).

IADT also works with Irish design companies, some employers of our own graduates.
And anyone who knows the design scene in Dublin will be able to tell you in pretty plain language which companies have worked with IADT and have made people redundant in recent months. I'm sure the cash that's heading for Denmark would have been useful to those Irish companies.

However, for all jobs, big and small, we must seek quotations and must obtain both quality and value for money.
Blah. You must seek quotations, but you have the power to decide what route to take for those quotations. You only hit the Euro 50k limit if you want to: IADT wanted to. Let's say it yet again: they could have divided the contract up but they chose not to.

IADT offers a BA degree in Visual Communications that benchmarks very well internationally. We prepare our graduates for employment at home and internationally - and they do very well. We have no fear of putting ourselves out on the international stage as a college and we have developed links with first class colleges in a number of European countries.
This is a particularly slithery passage of self-justificatory, aspirational mission-statement-ese. IADT grads are ready for emigration if they want or need (the latter increasingly likely) to go overseas to work in, say, Denmark. The "We have no fear" is particularly good: it tries to cast IADT as a noble and admirable institution rising above the petty insular nationalism of Irish people expressing concern for Irish jobs and industries. It's also a good example of how you can seek to deflect criticism by defending yourself against an accusation that was never made. The question is, however, not about the quality of IADT's graduates or about the internationalism of its aspirations, it's about its decision not to support an Irish industry with which it has (or ought to have) close links.

Design Communications is an international business.

Perhaps if IADT ever seeks donations or other funding, expert advice, professional tutors, external assessors or examiners, or anything of that sort from the Irish print or design industries they will be told to think more internationally. From the online discussions of this whole shambles it seems that at least some IADT graduates will be reluctant to make donations to the college in future.

When we appoint the design/print contract, we will require the company to engage with staff, students and graduates to ensure that our print and other communications are clear and engaging and that we in turn can benefit from the experience of working with them.
And that could be the case whether the contract had been awarded to an Irish or a Danish company. IADT might say that they'd prefer the internationalism of contact with a Danish company, but that would of course not be a comment on the quality of the Irish companies. No, no, not at all...

If the comment left on this blog came from IADT and was intended to address the concerns raised here and on creativeireland's forums then it really hasn't succeeded in doing that. Instead, it has managed to miss the point, contradict itself, and serve it all up with a padding of insipid faux-nobility and the sort of blandly evasive PR-blither that always suggests someone on the defensive but not entirely convinced by their own defence.

Let's be clear - IADT has done nothing illegal. The procedures they followed are all strictly correct. However, they are on dubious moral ground. There are arguments and statements that they might make to defend themselves more effectively, but the comment they've left here is not one of those statements and doesn't make those arguments.

Frankly, it just makes IADT look worse.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

While I have great sympathy for someone losing out on a tender in these difficult economic times, it is important to note that you are incorrect in one of your central points.

It is EXPLICITLY against the rules to break tenders down into different lots for the purpose of undershooting the relevant thresholds*. If this was allowed then it would be possible to avoid tendering in nearly all instances.

All similar services must be aggregated into a single tender unless rebuttable evidence exists that justifies their separation.

* In relation to the threshold, the 50k refers to our national rules not EU law. The threshold for EU law (I am simplifying a bit) is 294K.

(dont work for any IADT by the way!)

Good luck in furture tenders!

The Skanger said...

http://printpackforum.wordpress.com/2009/05/21/irish-design-college-sends-design-to-denmark/