In April 2006, the Government introduced the Federal Accountability Act (2006) and its associated action plan, which included the appointment of a Procurement Ombudsman. The Office of the Procurement Ombudsman was created through an amendment to the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (1996). The Office became fully operational in May 2008 with the passing of the Procurement Ombudsman Regulations (2008), which provide specifics on how its authority is to be exercised.
Regarding contracting between Canadian businesses and the federal government, the Procurement Ombudsman's mandate is to:
- Review any complaint with respect to the award of a contract for the acquisition of goods below $25,000 and services below $100,000;
- Review any complaint with respect to the administration of a contract, regardless of dollar value;
- Review the practices of departments for acquiring goods and services to assess their fairness, openness and transparency and make recommendations to improve those practices; and
- Ensure that an alternative dispute resolution process is provided, if requested and agreed to by both parties.
The Office of the Procurement Ombudsman is committed to being:
- Independent- Autonomous and operating at arm's-length from other federal organizations;
- Neutral- Approaching all issues that are brought to our attention objectively while acting as neither a lobbyist for suppliers nor an apologist for federal organizations;
- Knowledgeable- Developing and maintaining a high level of understanding and expertise of procurement policies, procedures, trends, and good practices;
- Responsive- Reacting appropriately and promptly to supplier and federal procurement issues;
- Helpful- sharing best practices and demystifying the federal procurement process;
- Part of the solution- identifying systemic concerns, and making recommendations to strengthen federal procurement activities.
Strategy - The Three Pillars
To achieve its mission, OPO's strategic objectives focus on three areas:
- Raising awareness of procurement issues and exchanging information through education;
- De-escalating potential disputes and helping resolve issues whenever possible through facilitation; and
- Reviewing of procurement issues through investigation.
These three strategic pillars are the corner-stones of the Office's interactions with stakeholders, and they act as guides for staff contacted by suppliers, federal departments and agencies, and others interested in federal procurement.
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