Procurement Ombudsman reports on perceived favouritism in federal contracts

For Immediate Release

OTTAWA, March 12, 2013 – Federal Procurement Ombudsman Frank Brunetta has released a report on the results of a review of procurement activities at the Canada School of the Public Service (the School). The review was launched following concerns brought to the attention of the Ombudsman regarding the award of contracts by the School for temporary help services.

In his report submitted to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Mr. Brunetta found sufficient evidence to suggest favouritism occurred in the awarding of certain contracts. Although the School appeared to have the appropriate policy framework in place to ensure fair, open and transparent procurement, it did not follow the framework for the contracts reviewed by OPO, allowing:

  • Favoured suppliers to be awarded contracts;
  • Suppliers to be awarded contracts despite not meeting solicitation requirements.

“This does not appear to be a case of deficiencies with the School's procurement policy framework, but rather a case of key controls being circumvented for specific contracts” stated the Ombudsman. “But I am encouraged with the swift and decisive measures taken to address the identified procurement shortcomings once they were brought to light.”

Despite the report's findings, the Ombudsman is pleased that the School took the findings seriously and is taking steps to ensure the right processes are in place moving forward.

This report can be found on OPO's Website.

Media enquiries:
Office of the Procurement Ombudsman
Telephone: 613-947-9755
media@opo-boa.gc.ca

Backgrounder

  • In April 2012, the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman (OPO) received information regarding a number of contracts issued by the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS). It was alleged that the CSPS had shown favouritism in that repetitive contracts had been awarded to two particular consultants.
  • The act and regulations governing the Procurement Ombudsman provide the authority to review the procurement practices of departments and organizations to assess their fairness, openness and transparency if there are reasonable grounds to do so. After considering the information provided, the Procurement Ombudsman determined there were reasonable grounds to conduct this review.
  • Specifically, the information led OPO to review the procurement files of CSPS contracts awarded for the services of two consultants. OPO sought to determine whether the CSPS procurement practices used for temporary help service contracts highlighted by the complainant were consistent with government policies and conducted in a fair, open and transparent manner.
  • OPO reviewed six contracts in question awarded by the CSPS between July 2010 and April 2012. The report details the findings of the review.
  • Established in 2008 as part of the Federal Accountability Act, OPO is an independent organization with a government-wide mandate to strengthen the fairness, openness and transparency in federal procurement.