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Reflecting on the past two years progress, Declan McCormack, programme manager, eInvoicing Ireland at the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) tracks the Irish eInvoicing journey so far.  

The eInvoicing Ireland journey started in earnest just two years ago, with the launch of the European Standard on electronic invoicing and now over 85% of Central Government bodies have become eInvoicing enabled, are compliant with the EU Directive and support the European Standard. This move to digital has been facilitated and enabled by the OGP’s national framework agreement for the provision of eInvoicing systems and services. The Framework is available to access on the Buyers Zone at ogp.gov.ie

The European Directive 2014/55/EU on electronic invoicing ‘eInvoicing Directive’ was transposed into Irish legislation earlier this year, allowing Sub Central Government until 18 April 2020 to reach compliance with the Directive. eInvoicing Ireland are working with Sub Central Government sector partners in Health, Education and Local Government to support them in their preparations to achieve compliance with the eInvoicing Directive. Enabling all Government bodies to be eInvoicing compliant signifies a real commitment to the greater use of digital to do business with the public service, the third of six high-level outcomes set out in ‘Our Public Service 2020’ strategy.

A key component of Ireland’s transition to eInvoicing is PEPPOL – the network (akin to a mobile phone network) that connects businesses to governments, and businesses to businesses, for the electronic exchange of procurement documents including eInvoices. Since Ireland became an Authority member 18 months ago, joining 19 other European countries on the network, PEPPOL has expanded beyond its European reach. Singapore has become a driving force, in South-East Asia, for PEPPOL based eInvoicing, joining as an Open PEPPOL Authority earlier this year. In February the Australian and New Zealand governments jointly announced their intention to adopt PEPPOL for eInvoicing business transactions in both countries. From Pan-European to global network, this means that any Irish business, by connecting once to the PEPPOL network, can send eInvoices to anyone on the network – very quickly breaking down traditional barriers to trade and opening up the world through digitisation.

The second stage, on the journey to digital transformation, for Central and Sub-Central Government and the shared services and co-ordinating facilities who are already receiving eInvoices, is to raise awareness among suppliers that this digital option is available when doing business with the public sector. Encouraging suppliers to issue eInvoices will support eInvoicing in becoming the main method of invoice processing in public procurement. eInvoicing Ireland supports the promotion of supplier eInvoicing adoption, in accordance with the European Directive and national eInvoicing approach, so as to realise the associated benefits.

In addition to reducing the administrative burden on both the private and public sectors and the environmental benefits, there are also data gathering and mining benefits to eInvoicing. The true value of transparent data is still to be fully realised though, as explained by Roberto Viola, European Commission Director General, DG Connect

“This future will be built on data, and is increasingly becoming the foundation of our economy. The European data economy, can bring us benefits in terms of the development of new technologies and the emergence of ecosystems around data“. (November 2018)

The invoice links data in every step of the procure-to-pay lifecycle. eInvoicing allows access to that data in a digital format that can be analysed and better understood. Accessing and interrogating such data supports public bodies to make more informed decisions with regard to expenditure, helping to achieve better outcomes for the public and business.

eInvoicing Ireland provides information materials and tools to support Government becoming eInvoicing enabled – available at www.opg.gov.ie/eInvoicing.

For further information on eInvoicing please email einvoicing@ogp.gov.ie

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