Acquisition of Project Manager Services by Pacific Economic Development Canada

March 2024

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The complaint

1. On September 22, 2023, the Office of the Procurement Ombud (OPO) received a written complaint from a supplier (the Complainant) regarding a contract awarded by Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan). The contract was for a Project Manager to implement an independent departmental financial management system and was awarded as a contract under the ProServices supply arrangement no. E60ZT-180027. The contract was awarded on September 6, 2023 and was valued at $95,120.00 (taxes excluded).

2. The Complainant contacted OPO stating it believed that PacifiCan evaluators improperly evaluated its bid because references it provided had not responded to PacifiCan in time. The Complainant also contended that evaluators overlooked information in its bid related to government project experience and did not appropriately evaluate its proposed resource’s financial systems experience. The Complainant also asserted that PacifiCan failed to clearly explain in its debriefing how many points its bid lost, the reasons for these deductions or the criteria these deductions applied to. The Complainant noted its proposal was less expensive than the announced contract value and it believes it should have been awarded the contract.

3. This complaint raised the following issues:

4. On September 22, 2023, OPO confirmed the complaint met the requirements of the Procurement Ombudsman Regulations (the Regulations) and it was considered filed.

Mandate

5. This review of complaint was conducted under the authority of paragraph 22.1(3)(b) of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act and sections 7 to 14 of the Regulations.

6. Pursuant to subsection 9(2) of the Regulations, the Procurement Ombud requested PacifiCan provide all departmental records associated with the procurement and the award of the contract in question, as well as PacifiCan’s procurement policies and guidelines in effect at the time of the solicitation. The Procurement Ombud also requested the Complainant provide additional information not submitted as part of the complaint.

7. PacifiCan requested the use of the expanded review process. OPO granted the request and the expanded review process was used. In accordance with subsection 11(2) and following of the Regulations, the Government organization is given 25 working days to comment on the complaint. These comments are then shared with the Complainant, which then has 10 working days to respond to the comments. If the Complainant raises new arguments or evidence in its response, the Government organization then has another 10 working days to provide additional information.

8. The chronology of events and the findings in this report are based on the records provided by the Complainant and PacifiCan, as well as relevant publicly available information. The failure by either the Complainant or PacifiCan to disclose any relevant records or information could impact the findings of this report.

Chronology of events

9. On July 19, 2023, PacifiCan invited 7 companies, including the Complainant, to submit bids on PacifiCan’s requirement for a Project Manager to implement GX, a departmental financial management software used to manage departmental operations. At least 2 suppliers, including the Complainant, submitted bids by the solicitation’s listed closing date of July 31, 2023.

10. The contract was awarded on September 6, 2023. On September 7, 2023, PacifiCan advised the Complainant of the results of the evaluation.

11. The Complainant requested a debriefing, which took place between the Complainant and PacifiCan on September 14, 2023.

12. On September 22, 2023, the Complainant filed its complaint with OPO.

13.On October 10, 2023, OPO advised PacifiCan and the Complainant that it was launching a review of the complaint.

14. On October 27, 2023, the Complainant submitted additional information, expanding its explanation of how it believed PacifiCan erred in the evaluation of its bid.

15. The expanded complaint review process was followed in accordance with the process detailed in paragraph 7.

Analysis of issues and findings

Issue 1—Did PacifiCan properly evaluate the Complainant’s bid?

(a) The references had not responded in time

16. The Complainant stated:

“Based on my conversation with the Contracting Authority and the points as to why we lost, we feel very strongly to investigate the results of this solicitation further. […] points were lost because the references provided didn’t respond in time. There was, however, no request from us to provide an alternative reference. […] seems like the only reason to reach out to the reference was to validate the soft skillset rather than be confident on the technical part. The Contracting Authority agreed that it should have been the case for us to be aware and be given a chance to provide an alternative references, as people move, and it’s a holiday season on top if it. One of the references did reply apparently but after the decision has been made. The evaluation team was feeling rushed.”

17. The Department’s first response to OPO:

“A process for replacement references was not outlined in the Bid Solicitation nor was a deadline set for when references needed to respond by; however, multiple attempts were made to contact the references provided by the complainant. […] it was considered unfair to other bidders if replacement references were to be accepted, as doing so would have constituted bid repair. Soft skills are an important part of project management; however, the purpose of the references was for validation of the projects presented by the bidders in their technical bid. The Contracting Authority did not express agreement with the complainant’s concerns regarding references, but rather listened to them and took them under advisement. Both references provided by the complainant eventually responded; however, this was not until many days after the contract had been awarded. It would not have been fair to accept a reference after evaluations had been conducted and the contract awarded. The complainant was informed during a phone call on the date of Bid Closing that PacifiCan had a requirement to award the contract quickly to meet the timelines of the project. This may have been repeated or similarly mentioned during the debrief.”

18. The Complainant stated in response:

“In the meeting it was mentioned that only one email was sent and there was no time to wait. Has there been a time limit set to the references as to by when they need to respond by? […]

19. In its final response to OPO, the Department stated:

“[…] no deadline was set for when references needed to respond by […] attempts were made to contact the references provided by the complainant […] It was the Complainant's responsibility to ensure that the references provided would be available to respond after bid closing.

[…]

Both references provided by the complainant eventually responded; one responded the day after the contract was awarded and the other many days after the contract was awarded. As was done with references provided by other bidders, Reference #1 was contacted by email on August 29, 2023, with no response. Reference #1 was again contacted by email on August 31, 2023, and finally replied on September 18, 2023. Reference #2 (in case Reference #1 did not reply) was contacted by email August 31, 2023, and replied on September 7, 2023. PacifiCan had no obligation to await receipt of responses from the references provided before it could proceed with contract award.

[…]

(re: validation of soft skillset, claim Contracting Authority expressed agreement and Complainant informed of PacifiCan’s need to award contract quickly to meet timelines) No further response.”

Analysis—Issue 1(a)

20. On May 13, 2021, Treasury Board’s Directive on the Management of Procurement (DMP), which replaced the Treasury Board Contracting Policy, came into effect and was applicable at the time of this procurement. The DMP states the following regarding evaluation criteria during the solicitation and bid evaluation process:

4.5 Contracting Authorities are responsible for the following:

[…]

4.5.7 designing and conducting the bid evaluation process, financial assessment and due diligence.

21. As part of the normal process of launching a review of a complaint, the Ombud asks both Parties to provide all information related to the contract at issue. One of the documents specifically requested was PacifiCan’s procurement policy in effect at the time the contract was awarded. PacifiCan stated it does not yet have its own policy and, so, it follows the Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) policies and guidelines as set out in PSPC’s comprehensive Supply Manual.

22. The Supply Manual does not specifically address the reference verification process as contemplated in the solicitation, but it does include the following related to the evaluation and selection of contractors:

5.35 Evaluating the bids

d. Bids must be evaluated in accordance with the evaluation criteria established in the bid solicitation. Even though the onus is on bidders to submit clear and well-organized bids, bids must be reviewed with diligence and thoroughness to ensure that no essential information is missed. The evaluators must not use criteria or factors not included in the bid solicitation or derive conclusions from information contained in bids that may prove wrong.

23. The solicitation’s point-rated evaluation criterion TR 04 contained the sole mention of references:

Overview of Evaluation criterion TR 04
Team Management Experience Points Score Bid Reference
N/A
TR 04 References: Up to 10 pts per reference

Minimum: 16
Maximum: 20

   

24. As written, this criterion does not clearly state how points are to be allocated. The Complainant’s bid was awarded 10 out of a possible 20 points to this criterion but the evaluation document provided to OPO does not explain the reasoning for the partial point allocation. Based on the responses from PacifiCan, the Complainant’s bid lost some points because its references did not respond in time. Given this, it appears that PacifiCan’s intention was not to only award points merely for the inclusion of references in the bid but also to award points based on information received from those references. However, this was not reflected in the criterion. Further the documentation provided to OPO from PacifiCan detailing the evaluation of the Complainant’s proposal did not include any evaluator comments which makes it impossible to know PacifiCan’s basis for awarding points to this criterion.

25. The Complainant included 3 references for TR 04. The criterion, while stating the maximum value of each reference (up to 10 points) and the maximum number of points available (20 points), did not state a maximum number of references to be provided and checked. Bidders, like the Complainant, could therefore submit more than 2 references to obtain those 20 points.

26. Based on PacifiCan’s submissions to OPO, it appears PacifiCan only contacted 2 of the 3 references. PacifiCan stated “…[b]oth references provided by the complainant eventually responded…” (emphasis added by OPO) and PacifiCan described these individuals as “Reference #1” and “Reference #2”. PacifiCan did not mention the third reference provided in the Complainant’s bid or identify which of those 3 references had been designated Reference #1 or Reference #2. Again, the lack of clarity around process and scoring made it unclear to bidders how best to respond to this rated criteria.

27. OPO notes PacifiCan stated it had not set a deadline for the references to respond. PacifiCan should have indicated a deadline in the solicitation for exactly the circumstances found in this complaint, that is, bidders could have advised their references of the need to expeditiously respond to PacifiCan’s requests for information and been made aware of the consequences for not doing so. There was no language in the bid solicitation document describing the process of evaluation of the named references (if any), the nature of the information being sought from the references and how points would be allocated based on the disclosure of this information. This underscores that the process, purpose and scoring of the references was unclear, making it impossible for bidders to properly address this rated criteria in their proposals and evaluators to score the criteria.

28. In response to OPO’s requests for information, PacifiCan provided OPO with its written responses to the Complainant’s grounds of complaint and a document, with 2 tables, encapsulating the results and breakdown of its evaluation of the Complainant’s proposal. However, these results were limited to a listing of the scores achieved by the Complainant and did not include an explanation as to how PacifiCan arrived at those scores. Therefore, other than PacifiCan’s statements, OPO cannot verify what occurred. For example, PacifiCan stated the 2 references had, in fact, ultimately responded, albeit after the contract had been awarded. PacifiCan did not provide OPO with these responses, nor what was included in the original requests for information or verification of the “multiple attempts” it made to contact the Complainant’s references. OPO cannot confirm what information was requested; when the responses were received; or, what information those responses contained.

Finding – Issue 1(a)

29. The Ombud finds that PacifiCan could not properly evaluate the Complainant’s or any other bid with respect to point-rated criterion TR 04 due to the lack of detail and clarity on the process, purpose and scoring associated with the criterion.

(b) 1(b) The evaluators had not noticed the Complainant’s government project experience

30. The Complainant stated:

“Based on my conversation with the Contracting Authority and the points as to why we lost, we feel very strongly to investigate the results of this solicitation further.

[…]

We lost some points because the evaluation team didn’t notice any government projects, however they were certainly in the proposal. And actually we couldn’t even lose points there because it was a mandatory criteria, and according to the regret letter, we did meet all mandatory criteria. So, I am not exactly sure how this could be a comment.”

31. The Department’s first response to OPO:

“The evaluation team did notice government projects in the complainant’s proposal, but noted that those projects included limited work with federal government departments and the complainant was scored accordingly based on the projects presented in its technical bid. The complainant met the mandatory requirement (B) by having experience managing projects for the public service; and in fact, was scored favourably for the projects described as part of its response to point-rated criteria TR 02 and TR 03.”

32. The Complainant stated in response:

“We were told in the debriefing meeting that we lost points because there were no government

projects. We would like to understand what defines limited work. It is either there, or not,

according to how the criteria is worded. This contradicts with the previous statement. How many points were scored by (the Complainant)?”

33. In its final response to OPO, the Department stated:

“Evaluators had discretion to consider relevant aspects of the projects submitted by bidders, such as the amount of work performed for federal departments. There is no contradiction here. Mandatory Requirement B required experience managing projects for the Public Service. For the purpose of this requirement, provincial, municipal and federal Public Service projects were all acceptable. However, for the purpose of evaluating point-rated criteria TR-02 and TR-03, evaluators had discretion to consider relevant aspects of the projects submitted by bidders, such as the amount of work performed for federal departments.”

(c) 1(c) The proposed resource did not have experience with the financial system, GX, to be used by PacifiCan

34. The Complainant stated:

“Based on my conversation with the Contracting Authority and the points as to why we lost, we feel very strongly to investigate the results of this solicitation further.

[…]

[…] The evaluation team didn’t like the experience of our consultant being with a certain system, GX, whereas our consultant had something similar but not the same. The problem is that there was no mention in the matrix of any specific system. The idea was to show the experience with Financial System Projects. Therefore, we don’t believe that we should have lost any points there either.”

35. The Department’s first response to OPO:

“The evaluators noted the complainant’s bid contained experience with financial systems and was scored appropriately. A specific system was not mentioned in the evaluation criteria so as to not create bias. The complainant scored favourably based on the projects presented in its technical bid.”

36. The Complainant stated in response:

“We were provided a different information in the debriefing meeting. What does appropriately mean? How many points were scored by (the Complainant)?

37. In its final response to OPO, the Department stated:

“Evaluators had discretion to consider relevant aspects of the projects submitted by bidders, such as the system the proposed consultant had experience with. See attached detailed score breakdown.”

Analysis—Issue 1(b)(c)

38. Section 4.3.1 of the DMP states that “[c]ontracting authorities are responsible for […] [c]onducting procurements on behalf of the department or agency, and establishing contracts and contractual arrangements based on sound procurement principles, including fairness, openness and transparency to obtain best value.”

39. The DMP also emphasizes the importance of maintaining complete and accurate procurement records:

4.10 Contracting Authorities are responsible for the following:

[…]

4.10.1 Ensuring that accurate and comprehensive procurement records applicable to the contract file are created and maintained to facilitate management oversight and audit, including but not limited to:

[…]

4.10.1.2 A record of individual assessments, consensus evaluation, relevant decisions, approvals, communications and dates;

40. As noted under Issue 1(a), above, the Supply Manual includes the following related to the evaluation and selection of contractors:

5.35 Evaluating the bids

d. Bids must be evaluated in accordance with the evaluation criteria established in the bid solicitation. Even though the onus is on bidders to submit clear and well-organized bids, bids must be reviewed with diligence and thoroughness to ensure that no essential information is missed. The evaluators must not use criteria or factors not included in the bid solicitation or derive conclusions from information contained in bids that may prove wrong.

41. Bid solicitation technical evaluation criteria implicated in issues 1(b) and 1(c) are:

(a) The failure to meet either mandatory technical criterion B or D would have resulted in the disqualification of the Complainant’s bid:

Overview of mandatory technical evaluation criteria
Mandatory Requirements PASS / FAIL Location in Bid (Page & Paragraph)
B Managing Projects in the Public Service: List examples, and which departments they were with.    
C N/A  
D Minimum 5 Years Experience    

Financial Systems experience including integration with other software applications / systems.

Minimum of 2 projects.

   
N/A    

(b) Rated technical criteria TR 02 and TR 03 both listed a minimum number of points which had to be obtained. Failure to do so would render the bidder ineligible to proceed to the next step of the evaluation:

Overview of Rated technical criteria TR 02 and TR 03
Team Management Experience Points Score Bid Reference
N/A
TR 02

Financial Systems Projects:
2 points per project

Minimum: 4
Maximum: 10

TR 03

Describe Two Financial Systems
Projects: Up to 20 point per project

Minimum: 20
Maximum: 40

 …

42. According to PacifiCan’s response to this complaint, and subject to OPO’s findings regarding Issue 2, it appears the evaluators agreed that the projects described in the Complainant's bid met the requirements of mandatory criteria 'B' and 'D' and that PacifiCan assessed them as "financial systems projects" for purposes of point rated criteria TR 02 and TR 03:

  1. As noted in the regret letter sent to the Complainant on September 7, 2023, the Complainant’s bid was found to be responsive to the mandatory requirements of the solicitation—meaning it met Mandatory requirements B and D.
  2. As noted in the Tables provided to OPO on January 5, 2024, the Complainant was awarded scores for TR 02 and TR 03 which would indicate that not only did PacifiCan take notice of the Complainant’s government project experience, it recognized the degree of comparability between that experience and the GX financial system.

43. However, PacifiCan’s responses to the complaint appear to indicate that criteria that was not specifically mentioned in the solicitation’s rated criteria may have been considered as part of the evaluation process. The Complainant’s bid obtained the maximum points for TR 02 but was awarded partial points for TR 03 (36 out of a maximum 40 points). This criterion asked bidders to “Describe Two Financial Systems Projects” for which they would receive “up to 20 points per project”. In response to the complaint, PacifiCan noted that evaluators “had discretion to consider relevant aspects of the projects submitted by bidders, such as the system the proposed consultant had experience with” and “the amount of work performed for federal departments”. Given this response, it appears evaluators may have deducted points to TR 03 based on these considerations. However, TR 03 did not include these elements as a basis for point allocation and their consideration in the evaluation would amount to the application of undisclosed criteria. As previously noted, the documentation provided to OPO from PacifiCan detailing the evaluation of the Complainant’s proposal did not include any evaluator comments. As such, it is impossible to know PacifiCan’s basis for awarding points to this criterion. Bidders must have clear criteria in order to prepare responsive bids and evaluators must also have clear criteria to allow for consistent evaluation.

Finding – Issue 1(b) and 1(c)

44. The Ombud finds that during the evaluation PacifiCan did notice and consider the Complainant’s government project experience and experience with financial systems projects set out in the Complainant’s proposal.

45. However, OPO notes the Complainant scored less than the maximum number of points available for TR 03, but there is insufficient documentation of that evaluation to explain why the Complainant did not obtain the available maximum of 40 points. This lack of documentation impacts the Ombud’s ability to conclude that PacifiCan’s solicitation process was fair and transparent.

46. Therefore, based on the Ombud's findings regarding sub-issues 1(a), 1(b) and 1(c), the Ombud finds that PacifiCan did not properly evaluate the Complainant's bid as it failed to disclose evaluation criteria.

Issue 2—Did PacifiCan provide the Complainant with an adequate debriefing?

47. The Complainant stated:

“We also didn't receive any details as to where and how many points were lost, so it is that much

harder to accept the results of this solicitation.”

48. The Department’s first response to OPO:

“To date, PacifiCan has not received a request from the complainant for a written detailed score breakdown.”

49. The Complainant stated in response:

“This information is usually provided in the debriefing meeting, and there is a presence of someone from the evaluation team. We were surprised to see only the Contracting authority present, who of course wouldn’t know the details of the evaluation, and didn’t have any document handy to provide details on the points. We now formally would like to request a detailed score breakdown.”

50. In its final response to OPO, the Department stated:

“Detailed score breakdown attached.”

Analysis—Issue 2

51. As noted under Issues 1(b)(c) above, the Directive on the Management states the following regarding the maintenance of an audit trail:

4.10 Contracting Authorities are responsible for the following:

[…]

4.10.1 Ensuring that accurate and comprehensive procurement records applicable to the contract file are created and maintained to facilitate management oversight and audit, including but not limited to:

[…]

4.10.1.2 A record of individual assessments, consensus evaluation, relevant decisions, approvals, communications and dates;

52. Section 7.40 PSPC’s Supply Manual states the following regarding debriefings:

7.40 Debriefing and feedback session to bidders/offerors/suppliers

  1. Debriefing
    1. The purpose of a debriefing is to explain to unsuccessful bidders/offerors/suppliers why their bid/offer/arrangement was not accepted, allowing them to improve their future documents. A debriefing demonstrates the fairness, openness, and transparency of the federal government contracting process. Also, contracting officers can improve future solicitations by using the comments and suggestions provided by bidders/offerors/suppliers.
    2. Following the award of a contract or issuance of a standing offer (SO)/supply arrangement (SA), a debriefing will be provided upon request. A written debriefing is usually done in the form of a regret letter that is sent out to each unsuccessful bidder/offeror/supplier. See samples of regret letters in Annex 7.1 Samples of regret letters.
    3. Within the limits expressed at section 7.45 Disclosure of information, a debriefing will include the following, as applicable:
      1. The name(s) of the successful bidder(s)/offeror(s)/supplier(s);
      2. The total estimated cost of the contract(s);
      3. The total evaluated price of the successful bidder(s) and the total score, if applicable;
      4. Very general information on the relative strengths of the successful bid(s)/offer(s)/arrangement(s), ensuring that confidential and commercial information is not divulged;
      5. An outline of the reasons the bid/offer/arrangement of the bidder/offeror/supplier being debriefed was not successful according to the evaluation criteria and selection methodology; and
      6. Scores achieved on all rated criteria of the bid/offer/arrangement, will be provided with sufficient detail for the bidder/offeror/supplier to understand why those scores were assigned.

53. As already noted, OPO’s complaint review process requests documentation from both Parties. Initially, the Complainant must provide certain information required by the Regulations in order for its complaint to be considered filed. In this case, the Complainant filled out an on-line form OPO has to assist suppliers in this matter and provided a copy of the Bid Solicitation document.

54 Upon the launch of the complaint review, the Ombud requests information from both parties:

  1. From the Complainant “… all records, not already provided to my Office, of communications between you and any representatives of PacifiCan concerning this procurement process…”
  2. From the government agency “…all records related to this procurement. More specifically, all records pertaining to:
    • The “program file”, which typically contains records related to any review and/or approval by internal oversight groups, project approvals, determination of the procurement strategy, drafting of statements of work, preparing the evaluation criteria and selection method or other technical aspects of the procurement; and
    • The procurement policies, standards, guidelines, and instructions which were in effect at the time the solicitation was issued, governing PacifiCan’s procurements....”

55. The Complainant provided an expanded explanation of its grounds of complaint, which were shared with PacifiCan. OPO subsequently went back to the Complainant and requested “… a copy of the bid you submitted in response to that solicitation, as well as any other documents, for example, e-mails, you may have exchanged with [PacifiCan] prior to filing your complaint with OPO…”. The Complainant provided a copy of the technical portion of its bid. Other than this, the only additional information provided by the Complainant is limited to its comments on PacifiCan’s response to the complaint.

56. PacifiCan provided OPO with its point-by-point reply to the grounds of complaint and advised OPO it followed PSPC’s Supply Manual. PacifiCan was provided a further opportunity to submit any of the information OPO requested in its launch letter. In addition to the above-noted response to the complaint, PacifiCan further responded to the Complainant’s reply and provided 2 tables listing the Complainant’s scores.

57. On September 7, 2023, PacifiCan sent a regret letter to the Complainant and then provided a debriefing on September 14, 2023. Other than a copy of the regret letter and the Tables with the Complainant’s raw scores, OPO did not receive any documentation from PacifiCan regarding the evaluation process or results. Therefore, OPO is left with the conflicting statements about what was said during that debriefing session.

58. As noted in section 7.40.a.i of the Supply Manual, the purpose of a debriefing is to allow the supplier to improve its future documents, i.e., to submit a superior proposal the next time it bids on a solicitation. What OPO can determine is, if the results of the bid evaluation are what PacifiCan described to OPO in its response to this complaint, that was not what had been previously shared with, or understood by, the Complainant. The regret letter and the debriefing failed to provide the Complainant clarity as to why it’s bid was not successful.

59. This appears to be supported, in part, by PacifiCan’s response that it had not received a request from the Complainant for a written detailed score breakdown. This implies PacifiCan believes there to be at least 2 levels of debriefing, or else it would already have provided that scoring breakdown in the regret letter or debriefing. OPO finds, at the very least, PacifiCan’s debriefing/regret letter did not address item 7.40.a.v.F. that is, “[s]cores achieved on all rated criteria of the bid/offer/arrangement, will be provided with sufficient detail for the bidder/offeror/supplier to understand why those scores were assigned”.

60. OPO reviewed the regret letter, which advised the Complainant “…although your bid was found to be responsive to the mandatory requirements of the solicitation, it did not achieve the highest-ranking under the evaluation methodology described in the solicitation …” and included the following table:

Technical score table provided by PacifiCan to the complainant in the regret letter
Comparison Technical Score
Successful bid 80
Your bid 66

61. Section 4.2 of the solicitation states the bid must: (a) comply with all requirements of the bid solicitation; (b) meet all mandatory technical evaluation criteria; and, (c) obtain the minimum points for the technical evaluation criteria which are subject to point rating. It further states “The responsive bid with the highest number of points will be recommended for award of a contract, provided that the total evaluated price does not exceed the budget available for this requirement”. According to PacifiCan, neither the Complainant nor the winning proposal exceeded the available budget.

62. If the scores were accurately portrayed in the regret letter, then it would follow that the winning bidder, with 80 points compared to the Complainant’s 66 points, should be awarded the contract. However, the Complainant’s score of 66 points is not possible, given PacifiCan’s statements and records, thus calling into question the veracity of all scoring.

63. The solicitation contained the following regarding the point-rated evaluation criteria

Point-rated criteria for team management experience
Section Minimum Points Maximum Points Score

Team Management Experience

40

80

 
Summary of point-rated criteria for team management experience
Team Management Experience Points Score Bid Reference

TR 01

Years of Experience:
5 to 7 years = 5 points;
7+ years 10 points

Minimum: 5
Maximum: 10

 

Comments:

TR 02

Financial Systems Projects:
2 points per project

Minimum: 4
Maximum: 10

   

Comments:

TR 03

Describe Two Financial Systems
Projects: Up to 20 point per project

Minimum: 20
Maximum: 40

 

Comments:

TR 04

References: Up to 10 pts per reference

Minimum: 16
Maximum: 20

   

Comments:

64. According to the above table, the maximum score a bidder could achieve is 80 points. PacifiCan advised OPO “…[b]oth references provided by the complainant eventually responded; however, this was not until many days after the contract had been awarded”. This was subsequently clarified to be the day after the contract was awarded (Reference #2) and 12 days after the contract was awarded (Reference #1). According to contract information published on the Government of Canada website (open.canada.ca) where information regarding federals contracts valued above $10,000 is made public, this contract was awarded on September 6, 2023. The regret letter was dated September 7, 2023, so it remains unclear how any points were awarded for criterion TR 04, as the Complainant’s references had not yet responded. In addition, a score of “0” for TR 04 means the maximum number of points the Complainant could have been awarded was 60, yet the regret letter stated its score was 66. The Tables provided in PacifiCan’s January 5, 2024 submission to OPO also state the Complainant received 10 points for TR 04.

Finding—Issue 2

65. The Ombud finds that PacifiCan did not provide the Complainant with an adequate debriefing as the debrief was lacking in required information, and relevant documentation was not shared with the Complainant.

Conclusion

66. Regarding Issue 1, the Procurement Ombud found that PacifiCan did not properly evaluate the Complainant’s bid.

67. Regarding Issue 1(a), the Procurement Ombud found PacifiCan could not properly evaluate the Complainant’s proposal due to the lack of process, purpose and scoring around references.

68. Regarding Issues 1(b) and 1(c), the Procurement Ombud found that PacifiCan did take into account the government project experience and financial systems projects set out in the Complainant’s proposal using an undisclosed evaluation process. While respecting the right of the technical evaluators to conduct technical evaluations, the lack of documentation provided to OPO, and the lack of information provided to the Complainant to explain why the complainant lost points, compromised the fairness and transparency of PacifiCan’s solicitation process.

69. Regarding Issue 2, the Procurement Ombud found that PacifiCan did not provide the Complainant with an adequate debriefing. PacifiCan must, at a minimum, maintain accurate and consistent records detailing why bidders are found non-compliant and should, as a general practice, provide bidders more detailed explanations respecting scoring on rated criteria or when determinations of non-compliance are made to enhance understanding, demonstrate a commitment to fairness and potentially avoid complaints.

70. Given the above, the Procurement Ombud recommends PacifiCan compensate the Complainant for the costs it incurred in preparing its proposal. The Complainant expended time and effort to respond to the solicitation document, with the expectation of participating in a fair and transparent process where its proposal would be properly evaluated.

Compensation

71. In order to recommend the payment of compensation to the Complainant, subsection 13(2) of the Regulations requires the following:

If a competitive process was held, the complainant must have submitted a bid in respect of the contract to which the complaint relates, unless it was prevented from doing so because of the actions of the contracting department.

72. As a competitive process was held and the Complainant submitted a bid, the Ombud may recommend payment of compensation in accordance with subsection 13(1) of the Regulations.

73. At OPO’s request, the Complainant provided the costs it incurred in preparing its bid to respond to the July 2023 Bid Solicitation, in the amount of $8,850.00.

Recommendation

74. In accordance with sub-paragraph 13(1)(b) of the Regulations, the Procurement Ombud recommends PacifiCan pay compensation to the Complainant in the amount of $8,850.00, for costs incurred in preparing its bid.

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