Frequently Asked Questions

What is Procurement?

Procurement is the process of obtaining goods, services and construction services from suppliers. The procurement process involves four phases:

  • The pre-contractual phase, which includes activities related to requirement definition and procurement planning;
  • The contracting phase, which includes all activities from bid solicitation to contract award;
  • The contract administration phase, which includes activities such as issuing contract amendments, monitoring progress, following up on delivery, payment action; and,
  • The post-contractual phase, which includes final actions on the file (e.g. client satisfaction, contractor agreement to final claim, final contract amendment, completion of financial audits, proof of delivery, return of performance bonds) and close-out (e.g. completeness and accuracy of file documentation and adherence to file documentation standards).

What is an Ombudsman?

Typically, an Ombudsman is an independent, objective investigator of people's complaints against government and/or private sector organizations. After a fair and thorough review, an Ombudsman decides if the complaint is valid and makes recommendations in order to resolve the problem.

The two most common kinds of Ombudsman in Canada are:

  • Legislative (or Classical) Ombudsman who is established by statute and can report findings and recommendations to ministers of the Crown, to the provincial legislature or to Parliament
  • Executive Ombudsman who reports to the head of the organization whom they investigate, such as government departments or Crown corporations, universities/colleges or businesses

The Procurement Ombudsman is a legislative ombudsman given his mandate is provided for in the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act.

What is the Procurement Ombudsman's mandate?

As set out in the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, the mandate of the Procurement Ombudsman is to:

  • Review the practices of federal departments for acquiring materiel and services to assess their fairness, openness and transparency and make any appropriate recommendations to the relevant department for the improvement of those practices;
  • Review any complaint respecting the award of a contract for the acquisition of goods below the value of $25,000 and services below the value of $100,000 where the criteria of Canada's Agreement on Internal Trade would apply;
  • Review any complaint respecting the administration of a contract for the acquisition of materiel or services by a department, regardless of dollar value;
  • Ensure that an alternative dispute resolution process is provided, if both parties to the contract agree to participate.

The Procurement Ombudsman must also perform any other duty or function respecting the practices of departments for acquiring goods and services that may be assigned to the Procurement Ombudsman by order of the Governor in Council or the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Which government departments are subject to the Procurement Ombudsman's mandate?

The Procurement Ombudsman's mandate applies to all federal entities listed in sections I, I.1 and II of the Financial Administration Act. However, the Procurement Ombudsman Regulations state that both the Canadian Security Intelligence Office and the staff of the Senate and House of Commons are excluded from the Procurement Ombudsman's mandate.

Who is the Procurement Ombudsman?

Mr. Lorenzo Ieraci has been reappointed Interim Procurement Ombudsman until a new Procurement Ombudsman is named.

To whom does the Procurement Ombudsman report?

The Procurement Ombudsman reports to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement. The Procurement Ombudsman submits an annual report to the Minister who is required to table it in Parliament. The Minister does not get involved in the day-to-day operations of the Office or in the content of the Office's reports.

Is the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman part of Public Services and Procurement Canada?

The Office of the Procurement Ombudsman is part of the portfolio of the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and operates at arm's length from Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC). As the Procurement Ombudsman has a mandate legislated by Parliament, measures have been put in place to safeguard his independence. The Office reviews the practices of departments, including PSPC, and publicly reports on the results.

How will the Procurement Ombudsman help to improve the procurement process?

The Office of the Procurement Ombudsman works with suppliers and federal departments to clarify and address procurement issues.

The Office helps preserve the integrity of the federal procurement process by reviewing complaints from suppliers about the award or administration of a contract and making balanced recommendations.

OPO also helps facilitate the resolution of contract disputes through alternative dispute resolution (ADR). For disputes about terms and conditions of a contract, the Office can provide an ADR service if both parties to the contract (supplier and federal department) agree to participate. The goal is to get people talking, arrive at solutions, preserve business relationships and avoid costly litigation.

For recurring or systemic procurement issues, the Office may undertake a review of procurement practices in one or across a number of federal departments. Reviews provide the Procurement Ombudsman with the opportunity to make recommendations to help strengthen fairness, openness and transparency in federal procurement practices.

The Office also shares information on effective practices identified in the federal government and other jurisdictions to highlight leadership and reinforce positive initiatives in the field of procurement.

How does the Procurement Ombudsman report on the results of his work?

When dealing with complaints about contract award or contract administration, the Procurement Ombudsman will provide each party to the dispute with a report containing his findings. A summary of the report is then posted on our website.

For all reviews of the procurement practices of federal organizations, the final report is posted on our website where it is accessible by departments and agencies, procurement officials, suppliers and the general public. The Procurement Ombudsman also provides the final review report to the Deputy Heads of the federal organizations subject to the review.

Finally, the Procurement Ombudsman produces an annual report in which he reports on all activities carried out by his office throughout the year. The Minister of Public Services and Procurement tables this report in Parliament.

What can a federal organization expect from the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman regarding a procurement practice review?

Procurement practice reviews are independent and objective examinations of federal procurement practices to assess their fairness, openness and transparency.  Among other things, OPO considers the consistency of the practices with applicable laws, policies, guidelines and standards in the course of its assessment. Practice reviews may cover one or multiple federal organizations. Please refer to OPO’s What to Expect: Procurement Practice Review Guide for more information on what a federal official can expect from OPO’s procurement practice review process.

What is the CFTA and how does it affect the work of the Procurement Ombudsman?

The Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) is an intergovernmental trade agreement, taking effect on July 1, 2017. It introduces changes to Canada’s internal trade framework that will enhance the flow of goods and services, investment and labour mobility, eliminate technical barriers to trade, expand procurement coverage and promote regulatory cooperation within Canada. The CFTA replaces the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT).

When enacted, the CFTA will affect the provisions of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act that relate to the Procurement Ombudsman’s mandate and Regulations. Until then, the current Regulations remain in effect.