Follow-Up Report 2011-2012 Procurement Practice Reviews
Table of Contents
- Annex A - OPO Recommendations and Departmental Responses
What We Reviewed
Why It's Important
- There are three main reasons why reporting on progress made in response to the Procurement Ombudsman’s recommendations is important. First, it informs interested stakeholders of specific actions organizations have taken to improve their procurement practices. Second, by sharing information on changes being implemented by the organizations whose practices were reviewed, OPO facilitates other federal organization’s ability to introduce similar improvements where applicable. Lastly, the information on the nature and extent of responses to the recommendations provides an indication of the usefulness of OPO’s reviews.
What We Found
- With respect to the review of PS Online, PWGSC has addressed the recommendations in the review. PWGSC advised that PS Online has been replaced by the ProServices contracting vehicle. Through the Professional Services National Procurement Strategy, PWGSC has made it easier for departments to use the procurement tools for professional services and reduce overlap for seven Methods of Supply, including ProServices. PWGSC is also using the results of an assessment of departmental contract files, which resulted in harmonized online training for professional services. In addition, a consultative process was undertaken, as part of PWGSC’s National Procurement Strategy, with suppliers and departments and as a result performance indicators were established for ProServices.
- The Office published the following reports in June and December of 2011:
- Review of Procurement Practices related to Selected Advance Contract Award Notices (ACANs); and,
- Professional Services Online (PS Online)
- OPO expected the organizations to have introduced changes to improve their procurement practices, with or without formal action plans.
Scope, Methodology and Timing of the Follow-up
- The approach used for this follow-up exercise differs from our procurement practices reviews. The assessment of progress made against recommendations was compiled from organizational self-assessments and assertions regarding departmental plans and actions. For each of the recommendations, OPO reviewed the information provided for overall reasonableness and credibility. This was done by:
- verifying whether any contradiction existed between organizational progress report statements and other available information such as the publicly accessible information found on the internet and information in the review;
- analyzing the organizations’ responses to understand how their actions address the recommendations and whether they plan to monitor the results or effectiveness of these actions or changes; and
- seeking clarification, as required, to ensure a clear understanding of the information provided by the organizations.
- This report consists of an overview of the organizations’ assertions regarding progress in implementing changes in response to the recommendations cited in the reviews. The information from the organizations provides a basis on which to assess the usefulness of OPO reviews and allows OPO to report on the progress made by the organizations to enhance the fairness, openness and transparency of their procurement practices.
Assessment of Implementation of Organizational Actions
Review of Procurement Practices related to Selected Advance Contract Award Notices (ACANs)
Controls have been implemented to ensure ACANs are being monitored
Summary of the 2011-2012 Review Findings
- The recommendations in the review were that the PSC:
- seek Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat direction as to whether retroactively obtaining approval for these directed contracts was warranted;
- develop a plan for fulfilling long-term requirements such as those for the IAAC external members and ensure the requirements are executed in compliance with applicable acts, trade agreements, regulations and policies;
- undertake a review of directed contracting practices, including use of ACANs, to ensure procurement decisions are well documented and can withstand public scrutiny;
- have its Contract Review Board (CRB) review all requests for directed contracts proposing the ACAN instrument to ensure they are consistent with relevant policies and properly documented;
- consider providing senior management and other personnel involved in procurement with refresher training on the key acts, regulations and policies, relating to procurement.
Summary of Responses to OPO Recommendations
- Finally, the PSC indicated that all senior managers who exercise delegated authorities must complete a knowledge assessment every five years for validation, which includes a procurement chapter. PSC managers that do not complete the refresher training following the expiry of the five year validation period have their authorities suspended until such a time it is completed.
Conclusion on Follow-up to Selected Advance Contract Award Notices (ACANs) Review
- The PSC stated it has taken action to address the recommendations made in the review noted above. These actions include implementing controls to ensure procurement activities comply with regulations, policies and procedures. Specifically, the CRB oversight ensures that professional services contracts, including those where an ACAN is being used, are awarded in accordance with applicable policies and directives.
Review of Procurement Practices related to Professional Services (PS) Online
Improvements have been made for procuring professional services
Summary of the 2011-2012 Review Findings
- The review recommended PWGSC should:
- continue with its plans to update the systems supporting PS Online in order to make it easier for departments to use the tool; continue in its efforts to minimize the overlap regarding the methods of supply that may be used for professional services, and consult with suppliers and the departmental procurement community as they make changes to the PS Online tool;
- optimize the benefits of its assessments of departmental PS Online files by: summarizing the results; communicating overall results to departmental management; and making appropriate refinements to its training of departmental users;
- set guidelines for PS Online processing time; include indicators to assess PS Online performance; and assist departmental users in improving compliance.
Summary of Responses to OPO Recommendations
- The PWGSC response stated it has taken action on the three recommendations.
Updating the systems and minimizing overlap
- PWGSC also indicated that consultations with suppliers and clients occurred between June 2012 and February 2013. These consultations were based on the results of the 2011 consultations for the Professional Services National Procurement Strategy and the feedback received for ProServices.
Optimizing benefits of assessments
- PWGSC stated they performed an assessment of departmental contract files awarded in 2011-2012. The final report on these files was provided to the PWGSC Office of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. The Report was also presented to members of the Professional Services Steering Committee, which is responsible for decisions on professional services. The report identified possible refinements to training material and an assessment process for all professional services in a single ePortal. The online harmonized training for professional services is available on the PWGSC website.
Setting guidelines for processing time and performance indicators
- PWGSC indicated they have set guidelines for PS Online and completed an analysis of processing times. For PS Online for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, non-competitive contracts were awarded within seven days from completing a search within PS Online, which is close to the stated standard of five days. Further, the throughput time for competitive contracts of 41 days was well below the stated average of 80 days. The performance indicators established through the consultative process completed for the Professional Services National Procurement Strategy were communicated as part of the Canada-wide consultations for Pro Services.
Conclusion on Follow-up to Professional Services Online
- PWGSC stated it has addressed the recommendations made in the review noted above. These actions include consulting with departments and suppliers and reducing overlap of the professional services procurement tools. PWGSC has also summarized their assessments to strengthen decision making and set guidelines for processing time and performance indicators.
- OPO appreciates the extent of cooperation received during this follow-up exercise and is satisfied with the progress made by participating organizations in improving the fairness, openness and transparency of the assessed procurement practices.
Annex A OPO Recommendations and Departmental Responses
Selected Advance Contract Award Notices (ACANs)
Professional Services Online
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