IRELAND - The Department of Social Protection has announced details of a tender that will see it enter framework agreements with as many as 70 consultants regarding the implementation of Ireland's National Pensions Framework (NPF).

Under the framework agreement, consultants would be asked to provide the government with advice on a number of issues outlined in the NPF, published in 2010 by the previous administration and including the potential introduction of auto-enrolment.

Areas to be addressed include fund administration, as well as scheme design and management. The department will also consult on issues of behavioural economics.

A spokeswoman said the tender was put out on behalf of an implementation group, chaired by the Department of Social Protection, but with members from other government departments including finance, as well as members of the Pensions Board.

She added: "It is likely the implementation group will need to engage particular expertise from time to time as the implementation phase progresses. It was therefore decided to establish a panel of consultants."

While the initial framework agreement would only run for three years, contracts may be renewed for an additional 12 months.

The spokeswoman added that, due to the number of issues to be addressed - which range from developing a new defined benefit scheme framework, as well as the potential introduction of auto-enrolment in the country from 2014 - it was decided that releasing a tender outlining seven distinct areas of interest was the most "efficient" way to proceed.

"Although the implementation date for auto-enrolment is being kept under review, work on the implementation of all elements of the National Pensions Framework (including auto-enrolment) is ongoing," she said.

In addition to changes proposed by the NPF, changes to the state pension system have been mandated following the country's recent financial crisis.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding, which forms the basis of Ireland's recent bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the country must increase the state pension age to 67 over the next decade and raise it to 68 by 2028, legislating for these changes by the end of June.

Expressions of interest for the framework agreement should be made to the department by 29 June.