Ireland Announces Winners of EUR 5m Language Services Contract

Ireland is spending EUR 5m to build up translation of government documents and manage translation projects across the public sector.

The Office of Government Procurement issued the call for tender in August 2016 to establish framework agreements with language service providers (LSPs) and individual translators who can provide the required translation services. The framework will run for two years and can be extended for another two years.

In early August 2017, the office reported that 26 framework contracts have been awarded to 13 LSPs and individual translators from Ireland and the UK.

The project is divided into three lots — Lot 1 is for the provision of managed Irish language translation services, Lot 2 is for the provision of high-level specialized translation, and Lot 3 is for the provision of standard level translation. Fifteen tenders were received for the three lots in the open competition.  

Lot 1 is for “Framework Clients who do not have the resources to manage individual translators and who wish to manage translation assignments through a specialist translation agency,” according to the tender documentation, while Lots 2 and 3 are for buyers “who wish to access the services of individual translators.”

A framework contract is not a guarantee of a public procurement for the services specified, but projects may be awarded to the winners of the competitive tendering process throughout the duration of the agreement, which is 24 months.

According to the OGP, public sector organizations that need translation include the “ministers of the government of Ireland, central government departments, contracting authorities in the health and education sectors, the police, prison services and defense forces.”

Materials that are usually translated include (but not limited to) “press releases, content of application forms, questionnaires, personal identification documents, correspondences, annual reports, audit reports, application forms, information leaflets, newspaper articles and media content.”

Highly specialized translations are needed for “primary and secondary legislation, statutory instruments, as well as economy, technical, medical, and financial documents.”

Criteria for the competitive tendering are fairly lenient. For Lot 1, LSPs must have successfully delivered at least three contracts for managed services and must have translated at least 500,000 words in the last two years, i.e. about the output of a single translator.

Winners of this lot include three Ireland-based LSPs — Language Training & Translation Ltd., STAR Translation Services, and WordPerfect Translations — and one based in the UK: Stealth Translations.

For Lots 2 and 3, individual or freelance translators submitting tenders must have an annual turnover of at least EUR 25,000 and must have delivered at least three contracts for high-level or standard translation with at least 15,000 words for the same period.

While contracts in these two lots are geared towards freelance translators, most of the contracts were still awarded to LSPs, including the winners in Lot 1.

Other LSPs who secured contracts in the two lots include Cead Mile Focal, Central Translations Ltd., Europus, Ling, Snasta, and TMG Translation Services. Meanwhile, only three freelance translators secured contracts from this call for tender — Colm Breathnach and two other unnamed self-employed persons from Louth, Ireland.

In May 2015, the OGP has put in place a whole-of-government framework in place for multi-language translation services. It said the goal is to generate savings “via a national aggregated approach” and to “standardize and strengthen the quality of translation services provided.”

To deliver on the contracts, the vendors will have to compete with the European Union, which, after granting Irish the status as an official language struggled to find enough linguists.