OPO Perspectives e-Newsletter Spring 2014 Edition

Perspectives

On the Ombudsman's Desk

Last March, I attended the Bangor University Institute for Competition and Procurement Studies (ICPS) Procurement Week in Cardiff, Wales. This annual conference brought together more than 400 representatives from 20 different countries to discuss global procurement issues. At this year's conference, two things in particular resonated with me. First, it was fascinating to see the significant interest among delegates in the concept of a Procurement Ombudsman, a position which is unique to Canada. Secondly, there are a number of interesting commonalities between public sector procurement in Canada and the United Kingdom, particularly as it concerns small and medium enterprises (SMEs). A recent report (PDF 2.6MB) by the UK Prime Minister's adviser on enterprise, for example, highlighted the potential for government procurement to create significant business and growth opportunities for SMEs. The report also acknowledged some of the challenges SMEs experience when doing business in the UK public sector, many of which were familiar to me through conversations with Canadian businesses. In the end, I walked away realizing the issues we hear about in speaking with Canadian suppliers are not unique to our procurement system. I also walked away understanding that governments around the world face the similar challenge of how to best deal with those issues.

Now that the fiscal year has ended, I am preparing my Annual Report where I will be taking stock of  issues raised with my office that pose a threat to fairness, openness and transparency of federal procurement. Do you have a federal procurement issue you feel should be considered? If so, contact us or share your thoughts on federal procurement through our convenient online form.

OPO Encourages a Department to Re-evaluate a Bid

OPO received a complaint regarding a request for standing offer (RFSO) and the evaluation by a federal department of the bid. The complainant had issues with the evaluation of the bid, poor quality of the French version of the RFSO and the conduct of the debriefing. Since the issues were not related to the award of a specific contract, it fell outside of OPO's jurisdiction to investigate. However, with the permission of the complainant, OPO contacted the department in playing our Ombudsman role. The department agreed to cooperate and provided OPO with documentation of the bid evaluation. OPO determined the weighting of criteria was not clear and suggested the department review the bid again based on OPO's comments. After reviewing the bid a second time, the department concluded the bid was in fact compliant and the complainant was awarded a standing offer agreement.

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