Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) - Frequently Asked Questions

What is alternative dispute resolution?

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a confidential and voluntary process in which a neutral third person assists parties involved in a dispute to resolve issues. ADR provides an alternative to litigation that is both less costly and time consuming. As ADR is also non-confrontational, it can restore and help preserve business relationships.

The Office of the Procurement Ombudsman offers ADR services for contractual disputes regarding the interpretation or application of a contract's terms and conditions.

Who can request OPO ADR services?

According to the Procurement Ombudsman Regulations, a party to a contract - the supplier or the federal government organization - can make a request for an ADR process.

Are there costs associated with OPO ADR services?

There are no costs associated with OPO providing ADR services. In instances where OPO is asked to provide services outside of the office, there might be expenses related to travel, conference/meeting room rentals, or other miscellaneous costs. In this case, the parties to the contract are responsible for these expenses.

How can I submit a request for OPO ADR services?

OPO encourages suppliers and federal organizations to contact us, by calling our toll-free number at 1-866-734-5169 or via email at, prior to submitting a request.

OPO always encourages the parties to try to resolve their issues themselves. If the parties cannot resolve the dispute and wish to participate in a dispute resolution process, a request must be provided in writing to OPO. To access an ADR request form, please visit the Request for Alternative Dispute Resolution-Overview page. You can submit a request for ADR online, by fax at 613-947-9800 or by mail or in person at the following address:

Office of the Procurement Ombudsman
Constitution Square
340 Albert St., Suite 1150
Ottawa, Ontario
K1R 7Y6

What happens after I submit a request for ADR services?

Once a written request for ADR services is received, the request and supporting documentation are reviewed. The Office has ten working days to determine if the request falls within OPO's mandate to provide ADR and, if it does, to invite the other party to the contract to participate in an ADR process. Please note a copy of your request and any supporting documents submitted will be provided to the other party at this time.

The other party then has ten working days to respond. If the other party agrees to participate, the Office will prepare a proposal for an ADR process. The ADR proposal will outline what participants can expect from the process and include such information as the logistics (place, time, etc.), the parties to the dispute and the issues in dispute. OPO will then send the proposal to both parties for approval.

Once all parties agree on the proposal, OPO sets-up a meeting where facilitation/mediation services will be provided.

If one of the parties does not agree to participate, the Office cannot proceed as this is a voluntary process.

How does the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman conduct ADR?

Once both parties agree to participate in an ADR process regarding the interpretation or application of a contract's terms and conditions, the Office provides independent ADR services. Taking into consideration all elements of the dispute, OPO will offer the parties an ADR process that is best suited to their needs. Both facilitation and mediation services are offered by OPO's professionally trained and certified ADR facilitators and mediators. These services are available with no charge to the parties and whenever possible the process is conducted on-site at OPO's office.

OPO's dispute resolution services offer an opportunity for parties to come together in a neutral setting to participate in open and constructive dialogue facilitated or mediated by an unbiased OPO certified staff. During facilitation or mediation, both parties to the contract are given an opportunity to explain their view of the situation and discuss their dispute, issues and interests. The goal is to allow the parties to generate options to reach a mutually-agreeable solution; if an agreement is reached, both parties sign a legally binding agreement.

Discussions are without-prejudice and participation is voluntary, meaning both parties have to agree to participate and parties can end their participation at anytime. Accordingly, there is no risk involved in participating in an ADR process.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call us, toll free, at 1-866-734-5169.