Lack of procurement for ISS building extension works annoyed companies

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A rendition of the new ISS building in Tallinn. Source: Internal Security Service

Nordecon AS will begin carrying out the extension and reconstruction works of the Internal Security Service (ISS) building in Tallinn, but according to the Association of Construction Entrepreneurs, a public procurement should have been organized for the project.

Although the association's appeal is marked as classified information in the Ministry of the Interior's document registry, association chair Indrek Peterson was open to sharing the appeal's content to ERR. Peterson said there are many other companies that could develop the building and the lack of a public procurement confused them.

He added that many companies also have permissions to process and access state secrets, as does Nordecon. "We made a proposal that this procurement could be carried out in two phases. At first, it would be seen if the companies meet the requirements and then all who meet the requirements would have been eligible to participate in procurements. We felt that this group was too small," Peterson noted.

The association stated that the proposal's content is for all companies to be able to participate in the first phase of procurements - the qualification phase, when there is still no need to process data that has been marked as state secrets.

And only companies that meet the qualification requirements could participate in the second bidding phase. The association claims this would also make it possible to rule out state secrets becoming available to those who do not have the right to process them.

Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani responded by saying that just because a company has employees with permission to access state secrets, this does not mean the company would hold a legitimate expectation to participate in all procurements related to state secrets or national security interests.

"Works related to the extension of the ISS building are important in terms of state security and that set limitations on the construction procurement. Therefore, there was no possibility to disclose all information connected to the procurement to companies holding state secret permits," the minister wrote.

Jaani added that the procurement has followed both the internal procedure regulations and the Public Procurement Act.

Procurements could be in two phases going forward

Peterson explained that the association and the ministry met in the beginning of May and the two-phase procurement proposal was taken into consideration. At the same time, the ISS construction procurement caused quite a lot of dismay among construction companies.

"In actuality, we cannot assess how much a secret can be disclosed or not, how many current procurements are justified or not," Peterson said.

Kristian Jaani said the proposal was forwarded to Riigi Kinnisvara AS, the state real estate company. "Compared to other interior ministry areas of governance, only information on ISS property and buildings are state secrets on a confidential level, the disclosure of which would endanger the authority's security and performance. We do not currently see any more procurements on this level coming up," Jaani explained.

Nordecon will build the ISS a new building complex with an underground car park and garage, they will also renovate the already existing buildings on Toompuiestee 3 and Endla tänav 2. Including VAT, the cost of the contract is €50.76 million and works are scheduled to be completed in December of 2023.

A rendition of the new ISS building in Tallinn. Source: Internal Security Service

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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