Both suppliers and government officials have identified an issue with the inconsistent approach across government departments in dealing with underperforming suppliers.
In its 2009-2010 study, A Management Approach to Vendor Performance, the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman (OPO) identified effective practices to assist organizations in implementing vendor performance programs. These include: performance clauses in contracts; tools and automated systems for monitoring; evaluation and reporting of performance results; and corrective measures for poorly performing vendors.
Prior to the creation of the Office, there were limited recourses available to suppliers who had concerns with government contracts.
Since OPO's creation in 2008:
Businesses can have their complaints regarding contract award or administration reviewed by a neutral and independent organization; and,
No-fee dispute resolution services are available to federal contract holders.
The Ombudsman offers dispute resolution services when suppliers become entangled in contract disputes with federal departments.
There is no fee for this service and any agreement stemming from the process is voluntary, confidential and legally binding. For more information on OPO's Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services, please visit Resolving Contract Disputes.
The Procurement Ombudsman considers several factors when deciding whether to recommend compensation to a supplier who has brought forward a complaint regarding the award of a contract, including:
whether the complainant submitted a bid or was prevented from doing so;
the likelihood that the complainant would have been awarded the contract if it were not for the actions of the department; and
the degree to which the complainant was prejudiced during the bidding process.
Businesses may question whether it is worth the time and effort to contact OPO when issues arise with federal contracts.
Businesses may wonder: "Am I going to be wasting my time? Should I just "chalk it up" to the cost of doing business?"
Before you decide to simply walk away from a contractual dispute or chalk it up to the cost of doing business, give OPO a call and find out how we can help. You can reach us at 1-866-734-5169.
OPO is a neutral and independent organization, neither a lobbyist for suppliers nor an apologist for government.
OPO helps stimulate dialogue and preserve business relationships between companies and federal departments. If you have a contracting question, concern or complaint, contact us – we are here to help.
OPO helps reconnect lines of communication between businesses and federal departments so that a healthy business relationship can be maintained, rather than consuming valuable time and money going head-to-head in court.
OPO's dispute resolution service is confidential, quick, and inexpensive. The objective is to level the playing field, stimulate productive dialogue and develop a voluntary and legally binding agreement that is satisfactory to both parties. To read more, please visit Resolving Contract Disputes.
One of the Procurement Ombudsman's most important objectives is listening to Canadian companies about federal contracting issues.
If you think you have a complaint regarding the award of a contract, contact us.
Did you know OPO conducts follow-up reviews two to three years after the release of a report to identify departmental actions in response to OPO recommendations?
Follow-up reviews provide an opportunity to share information on improvements being made in federal contracting, which other federal departments and agencies could emulate. These follow-up reviews also provide the Office with an indicator of the usefulness and relevance of its recommendations. To read more, please visit our Reports and Publications section.
OPO wants to meet Canadian businesses. Sharing and gathering information by attending events across the country is a key part of the Office's outreach approach.
In 2012/13, OPO participated in events from Vancouver to Moncton, meeting chambers of commerce, boards of trade and numerous Canadian companies, while doubling its outreach participation from the previous year. This trend will continue in 2013/14 with a priority on raising awareness of OPO's services and hearing from Canadian companies about federal contracting issues. Would you like to invite OPO to your event?
In 2012/13, suppliers identified the top five federal procurement issues as:
Evaluation and Selection Plan (e.g. restrictive criteria or biased rating method)
Evaluation of Bids (e.g. unfair evaluation process)
Procurement Strategy (e.g. non-competitive)
Statement of Work or Specifications (e.g. unclear or biased)
Contract Execution (e.g. altering the contract)
Did you know that the federal government issues over 300,000 contracts each year worth $15 to $20 billion?
The Government of Canada purchases a wide variety of goods and services and of the 300,000 contracts, approximately 90% are low dollar value (e.g. below $25,000)
In promoting fairness, openness and transparency in federal procurement, OPO focuses 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
Examining procurement issues through review and investigation.
In 2011-12, an evaluation was carried out on the effectiveness of the Office during its first three years of operation.
An independent third-party contractor was engaged to carry out an evidence-based formative evaluation, which included obtaining the views of both Canadian companies and federal departments. An external advisory committee of senior officials was also consulted to ensure the evaluation approach was thorough. The report concluded that there is an ongoing strong need for OPO's services, and suggested the Office investigate whether departments should be able to decline participation in OPO's voluntary Alternative Dispute Resolution service. To read more on the results, visit the Formative Evaluation of the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman report and the Management Action Plan.