The Government of Canada spends billions of dollars a year on the procurement of goods and services. The government has a responsibility to maintain the confidence of the vendor community and the Canadian public in the procurement system, by conducting procurement in an accountable, ethical and transparent manner.
The Code of Conduct for Procurement provides all those involved in the procurement process – public servants and vendors alike – with a clear statement of mutual expectations to ensure a common basic understanding among all participants in procurement.
The Code reflects the policy of the Government of Canada and is framed by the principles set out in the Financial Administration Act and the Federal Accountability Act. It consolidates the federal government's measures on conflict of interest and anti-corruption as well as other legislative and policy requirements relating specifically to procurement. This Code is intended to summarize existing law; it does not change the law or its interpretation.
By providing a single point of reference to key responsibilities and obligations, the government is making the measures easier to find and understand in light of an overall commitment to the highest standards of ethical conduct. The Code will be reviewed as necessary to ensure it continues to meet this objective.
The government expects that all those involved in the procurement process will abide by the provisions of this Code.
In Canada, fairness, openness and transparency are assured through compliance with the Financial Administration Act, the Government Contracts Regulations and Canada's international and national trade agreements, the World Trade Organization-Agreement on Government Procurement (www), the North American Free Trade Agreement (www), the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement, the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and the Agreement on Internal Trade. In addition, the government's procurement activities are also governed by land claims agreements with Canada's Aboriginal peoples.
In addition to the legal provisions, the tenets of fairness, openness and transparency are further assured by Treasury Board policies, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) procurement policies and the internal procedures adopted by individual government departments and agencies.
A list of key relevant legislation and policies is included at the end of this Code.
The Code of Conduct for Procurement applies to all transactions entered into by PWGSC either for their own procurements or on behalf of a client department.
Public servants and vendors each have responsibilities in the contracting process.
Public servants serve the Canadian public by acquiring goods and services, including construction services, required to achieve the objectives approved by the government. In performing these activities, including defining requirements and evaluating bids/offers/arrangements, they adhere to the laws, regulations and policies established by the government. As public servants, they commit to uphold the democratic, professional, ethical and people values of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector. At the time of signing and accepting their offer of employment, public servants acknowledge that compliance with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector is a condition of employment.
Public servants connected with the collection, management or disbursement of public money are required, under the Financial Administration Act, to report in writing to a superior officer any knowledge or information related to 1) the contravention of, or 2) fraud committed by any person against Her Majesty, under the Financial Administration Act or regulations or any revenue law.
Public servants must perform their duties and arrange their private affairs so that public confidence and trust in the integrity, objectivity and impartiality of government are conserved and enhanced. Public servants must comply with the requirements of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment and with any additional departmental guidelines. The following elements of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment are of particular relevance in procurement.
A public servant maintains public confidence in the objectivity of the public service by preventing and avoiding situations that could give the appearance of a conflict of interest, result in a potential conflict of interest or result in an actual conflict of interest.
All public servants have a responsibility to minimize the possibility of real, apparent or potential conflict of interest between their most recent responsibilities within the federal public service and their subsequent employment outside the public service. Former public servants in executive positions or positions of risk for post-employment conflict of interest, for a period of one year after leaving office, shall not:
Vendors must respond to the government's solicitations in an honest, fair and comprehensive manner, accurately reflect their capacity to satisfy the requirements stipulated in the bid/offer/arrangement or contract documents, and submit bids/offers/arrangements and enter into contracts only if they will fulfill all obligations of the contract.
Vendors are obliged to alert the contracting authority to any factual errors that they discover in bid solicitations.
All contracts subject to the requirements of this Code, and all solicitation and other documents relating to the formation of those contracts will incorporate clauses:
A vendor bidding on a competitive solicitation or awarded a non-competitive contract must certify that it meets the requirements of the above provisions. After contract award, these solicitation conditions are carried forward as a contractual obligation.
To help ensure that the entire procurement process conforms to the highest standards of ethical conduct, vendors should avoid any action that would jeopardize current or former public servants' ability to respect their obligations under the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment.
Vendors will not offer or give public servants gifts, hospitality or other benefits that may have a real or apparent influence on their objectivity in carrying out their official duties or that may place them under obligation to the donor. This includes free or discounted admission to sporting and cultural events arising out of an actual or potential business relationship directly related to the public servants' official duties.
Vendors will not employ public servants in activities that might subject public servants to demands incompatible with their official duties or cast doubt on their ability to perform their duties objectively.
Vendors will not hire directly, or through a third party, former public servants during their one-year cooling-off period where this would constitute a violation of post-employment measures under the the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment that complements the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.
It will be a condition of all contracts that the vendor has read and agrees to be bound by the terms of this Code of Conduct for Procurement.
The Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) has jurisdiction to conduct inquiries into complaints by potential vendors concerning procurement by the federal government that is covered by the Trade Agreements. Vendors may challenge federal government procurement decisions that they believe have not been made in accordance with the requirements of the Trade Agreements. Any potential vendors who believe they may have been unfairly treated during the solicitation or evaluation of bids/offers/arrangements, or in the awarding of contracts subject to the Trade Agreements, may lodge a formal complaint with the CITT. The CITT, which has the powers of a Court of Record, may review all aspects of a procurement action up to and including contract award.
The Office of the Procurement Ombudsman (OPO) is an independent organization included in the portfolio of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, but operates at an arms length from the department. The Office's overall objective is to strengthen the fairness, openness and transparency of federal procurement. It reviews complaints from suppliers with the objective of solving them quickly and efficiently and possibly resulting in immediate relief to the supplier. More specifically, the Procurement Ombudsman's mandate is to:
At present, Public Works and Government Services Canada provides for resolution of contract disputes through PWGSC's Business Dispute Management Program, such as Conflict Coaching, Facilitated Discussion and Mediation. For many complex procurements, the government engages independent fairness monitors to provide assurance that the process is conducted in a fair, open transparent and compliant manner.
Under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, any public servant who witnesses or has knowledge of wrongdoing in the public sector workplace may refer the matter for review, investigation and for recommendation of corrective action to the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. Public servants may also report the matter in confidence and without fear of reprisal to the Senior Officer in their organization designated for this purpose. A member of the public may also bring a public sector wrongdoing to the attention of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner who would then decide whether to investigate. Public servants are prohibited from retaliating against contractors because they reported government wrongdoing to the Commissioner.
Failure to comply with any of the legislation or policies referred to in this Code is subject to the penalties provided for in the applicable legislation or policy.
Acquisitions Program Policy Directorate
means any person or other legal entity who has submitted a bid/offer/arrangement or may submit a bid/offer/arrangement or who has been awarded a contract:
This includes subcontractors, owners, directors, officers, employees, agents, or any affiliated body corporate (as defined in the Canada Business Corporations Act, to the extent that any of these is responsible for the performance under a contract.
"may submit an offer" means taking any steps to submit an offer in response to a bid solicitation, including making inquiries in respect of it to a public servant or other government official who has official dealings with that bid solicitation.