He has asked public sector organisations to build stronger relationships with the Government’s job creation agency, Enterprise Ireland, to improve their procurement practices and get a better grasp of the indigenous enterprise landscape.
Enterprise Ireland is now working closely with targeted public contracting authorities nationally and at local government level where the agency has secured executive buy-in from procurement managers in boosting the participation of small businesses in tender opportunities.
The agency has already connected over 70 of its client firms with public bodies developing a number of programmes that will improve service delivery.
The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), for example, is developing a number of technology-led solutions which will help improve passenger experiences as they transit through terminals.
The DAA is engaging with a number of Enterprise Ireland high-potential technology firms as part of that process.
Meanwhile, a cluster of Enterprise Ireland clients are engaged around opportunities for the design, build and management of infrastructure supporting the ESB’s rollout of electric cars.
Minister O’Keeffe said it was vital that small Irish businesses were fully aware of public sector procurement opportunities.
‘It is important that public sector organisations develop relationships with Enterprise Ireland so that they have a strong knowledge of the indigenous enterprise landscape.
‘Public sector organisations should be aware of the economic impact their procurement spend can have on small Irish businesses and, in particular, the implications for job creation in local communities.
‘Irish firms themselves should be given every help to fully engage with the public procurement process so that they can pitch successfully for business opportunities,’ said Minister O’Keeffe.
The chief executive of Enterprise Ireland, Frank Ryan, said many of the agency’s client companies have innovative solutions that can bring value and efficiencies to public sector bodies.
‘We are delighted to work with contracting authorities that are taking positive actions in engaging with Irish small and medium-sized enterprises for increased tender participation.
‘Winning reference sites in Ireland is of great importance to our client companies, both in terms of the value of the contracts won and as they seek to internationalise their solutions for export growth.
‘We welcome the opportunities which these current engagements are giving and look forward to their conversion into business wins’, he said.
A working group established by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is at present examining if changes in data protection law are necessary to deal with such data breaches.
In the public sector, recent guidance from the Department of Finance on data security advises departments and agencies to report data breaches immediately to this Office. The guidance issued today by the Commissioner recommends that the same approach be followed by all organisations.
Commenting on the Guidelines, the Commissioner said: "we have seen a welcome trend towards organisations seeking our advice when they suffer a data breach. Our main focus is on preventing such loss of personal data and the distress it can cause to individuals. But we recognise that mistakes do happen and it is vital that organisations are ready to react. That means having plans in place to trace and secure the data that has been compromised, to prevent further security breaches and to warn those affected by the data security breach. It means allocating responsibility for the key decisions that have to be made in such circumstances. By these means organisations will prevent a bad situation from deteriorating further."