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Step-by-Step Guide for Federal Department Users

Table of Contents:

General Information

What is Professional Services Online (PS Online)?

PS Online is an automated purchasing tool, which enables suppliers from across Canada to qualify in a database used by Federal Government Departments and Agencies to identify potential pre-qualified suppliers for government professional services requirements whose value is under the NAFTA threshold.

Suppliers who pre-qualified in PS Online sign a Trading Partner Agreement which is a form of a Supply Arrangement. Since April 2005, the use of Standing Offers and Supply Arrangements have been mandatory, which includes PS Online.

As in the case for all Supply Arrangements, users are responsible for obtaining the necessary approval(s) within their department to use PS Online and users will enter into contracts pursuant to the delegated authority of their own responsible ministers.

Who can use the PS Online method of supply?

Any Federal Government Department employee can access the PS Online system if they:

  • are in a "term" or "indeterminate" position; and
  • have attended a PS Online training session.

Note: It is recommended that users of this method of supply have a procurement background.

Want to use the PS Online method of supply?

To enroll, you must fill in the email enrollment form found in the Enrollment Process section in the home page and send it to the PS Online Team.

Upon receipt of an enrollment request, it is the responsibility of PWGSC to obtain approval from the applicant's manager by sending an email with some questions to be answered. PWGSC will not proceed with the request until a response to our email is received.

To obtain a user name and password, you are required to attend a one and a half hour training session.

If you are leaving your department, you must notify the PS Online Team as soon as possible.

Should you require access to PS Online with your new department, you must enroll for a new account, as your old account will be deactivated. However, you will not be required to attend another training session. Should you no longer require access to PS Online your account will be deleted.

Note: It is strongly recommended that upon receiving your User ID and Password, that you do NOT share it with anyone. If someone is replacing you and does not have an account, they will have enroll via the enrollment process to be trained by PWGSC and will be subsequently assigned a separate User ID.

When can I use PS Online?

PS Online can be used:

  • to obtain the services of a consultant valued at up to the NAFTA threshold (currently $78,500 and is subject to change in January 2014), including GST, HST, travel expenses and all amendments;
  • for projects with a start and end date; and
  • when there is not a position or when the workload is such that additional people are required

Note: PS Online is not to be used for staffing or for Temporary Help Services (THS) requirements.

What information do I need from my client to start?

Examples of information needed for your search include, but are not limited to:

  1. A copy of the Statement of Work (SOW) that clearly describes the work required.
  2. What kind of experience/knowledge must the consultant have acquired?
    Note: Keep to a minimum and not too restrictive to ensure fairness.
  3. Number of resources required?
  4. What is the start and end date - duration required?
  5. What are the category and skills required?
    Note: your requirement must reflect your SOW therefore your search must be done in accordance with your SOW.
  6. What is the estimated contract value?
  7. What security clearance is required, if any?
  8. What is the language requirement? (English, French or bilingual)
  9. Is there any travel and living expenses required?
  10. What is the justification for sole sourcing or directing the contract (if applicable).

I've completed my search, now what do I do?

It is time to send your requirement to the pre-qualified suppliers with the lowest rate!

As a minimum, you must invite the 3 lowest priced suppliers that resulted from your search within PS Online. If you wish to invite the seventh ranked supplier that resulted from your search, you must invite the lowest six also. PWGSC is responsible for qualifying suppliers at a corporate level only. You must qualify the consultant and negotiate their rates.

If you do a "competitive" search and it returns only two potential resources, the procurement is still considered competitive.

If you do a "competitive" search that results in the return of only a single resource that meets the search criteria then it can be used as a basis for substantiating a non-competitive procurement.

For more information: Procurement Guidelines

What documents do I need to print when I do a search?

There are 3 documents you must print when doing a search. They are:

  • Search results (mandatory for competitive and sole source requirements)
  • Supplier information (mandatory for sole source requirements)
  • Consultant information (mandatory for sole source requirements)

Is the security clearance of consultants in PS Online up to date?

The security information for each consultant and company in the PS Online system may not be up to date. Therefore, you must verify the validity of the security clearance of each consultant offered and the company being considered for award (if applicable) prior to contract award by contacting your Department Security Officer. The contract file must be documented appropriately.

What should be included in my RFP?

Competitive solicitation documents shall include, but are not limited to, the following information:

  1. A copy of the SOW
  2. Mandatory evaluation criteria (inclusion of point rated evaluation criteria is recommended but not required)
  3. Selection criteria
  4. Security Requirement Checklist (SRCL)
  5. The Trading Partner Agreement (TPA) clause (see below)
  6. Security Requirements
  7. Contract period
  8. Contact information for the contracting authority
  9. Travel and living expenses (if applicable)
  10. Indicate deadline for the supplier to submit a bid (closing date and time)

For more information, please refer to the RFP Checklist.

Note: THE FOLLOWING CLAUSE IS MANDATORY IN DOCUMENTS ISSUED THROUGH PS ONLINE.

PS Online – Trading Partner Agreement
The General Conditions, Supplemental General Conditions applicable to this requirement and Clauses of General application set out in the Trading Partner Agreement shall form part of this Request for Proposal.

How long do I post my RFP for?

Competitive Requirements - Solicitation documents sent to bidders electronically (by facsimile or by email) must have a minimum bidding period of five (5) working days. Solicitation documents sent to bidders by mail or courier must have a minimum bidding period of ten (10) working days.

Can the rates in the PS Online system be negotiated?

The rates in the PS Online system are daily, ceiling rates and can be negotiated downwards.

Can the per diem rate offered be different than the per diem rate listed in the PS Online system?

Companies can change the per diem rates shown in the system at any time. Therefore, if your search was completed prior to the issuance of the solicitation document (RFP), it is recommended that, on the date that the solicitation document is issued, you redo your search. If you redo the search, a copy of the search results must be printed and placed on file.

If the per diem rate changes after the solicitation date, the supplier must honor the rate that was in the system on the date the solicitation was issued.

If the per diem rate changed prior to date the solicitation was issued, you must either accept the rate offered or attempt to negotiate a lower rate. However, the company is not obligated to accept a lower per diem rate.

What should be included in my contract?

The contract shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

  1. A copy of the SOW
  2. Security Requirement Checklist (SRCL)
  3. The Trading Partner Agreement (TPA) clause (see below)
  4. Priority of documents
  5. Contract period
  6. Name of each consultant who will be performing the work
  7. Per diem rate for each consultant performing the work
  8. Basis of payment
  9. Method of payment
  10. Contact information for the Contracting Authority
  11. Contact information for the Technical Authority
  12. Inspection requirements
  13. Travel and living expenses (if applicable)

For more information, please refer to the Contract Checklist.

Note: THE FOLLOWING CLAUSE IS MANDATORY IN DOCUMENTS ISSUED THROUGH PS ONLINE.

PS Online - Trading Partner Agreement
The General Conditions, Supplemental General Conditions applicable to this requirement and Clauses of General application set out in the Trading Partner Agreement shall form part of this Contract.

When should I amend a contract?

Examples of when a contract can be amended include, but are not limited to:

  • You need to change the name of the consultant;
  • When additional days are required to complete the work;
  • When the period of the contract needs to be extended;
  • You need to change the starting date of the work; and
  • You need to revise the SOW to reflect changes to the work required.

Note: The rationale for each amendment must be documented and placed on file. This is especially true in cases where either the period of the contract is being extended or the SOW is being revised.

What should be included in my amendment?

The contract amendment shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  1. Tombstone data (for example-contract value, amendment value, finance codes);
  2. Summary of what is being amended; and
  3. Actual changes
    • change to SOW
    • change to number of days
    • change in resource/consultant
    • change in cost
    • change to the contract end date

Do consultants get paid for statutory holidays or sick leave?

No. Canada will not accept any charges for statutory holidays, annual leave or sick leave incurred by the Offeror as a consequence of satisfying the terms of the resulting contract.

Will Assessments be conducted on PS Online contracts?

Yes. The Office of the Auditor General has stated that PWGSC must ensure that users of the PS Online tool:

  • Follow the rules governing the use of the PS Online tool;
  • Follow Treasury Board Contracting Policy; and
  • Do not use the PS Online tool to circumvent Canada's obligations under the various trade agreements.

What is required when an assessment is being conducted?

The PWGSC Online Services Division (OSD) Representative is looking for all the documentation necessary to confirm that the procurement has followed all the applicable policies. The documentation required is described in the Procurement Guidelines document.

What happens when closure or evacuation happens?

Where consultants of the Supplier are providing services on government premises pursuant to a contract issued by a designated user and the said premises become non accessible due to evacuation or closure of government offices, the supplier shall be paid at the applicable regular rates as shown in the contract provided that the supplier submits with its invoice a certification, countersigned by the affected consultant (s), stating that:

  • the consultant(s) named in the contract could not be re-assigned;
  • the supplier has not received any other payment from any other client, including the government, during the period of the closure; and
  • the affected consultant (s) has (or have) been or will be paid at the rates such consultant(s) is (or are) entitled to be paid have the services been provided as required in the contract.

What happens when the services are not acceptable?

All services performed are subject to the acceptance by the Department Project /Technical Authority. The services shall be performed in accordance with the Statement of Work, the terms of the contract, any general or supplemental terms and conditions documents that have been identified in the contract and to the satisfaction of the Department Project /Technical Authority.

If the services provided by a consultant are not acceptable to the Department Project /Technical Authority or if milestone dates specified in the contract are not met, the Department Contracting Authority must consult with their legal council regarding the steps to be taken.

In such situations, the Department Project/Technical Authority and the Contracting Authority must keep records of the non-performance in order to support their case.

At any time there is a non-performance of work by a supplier, PWGSC - PS Online Team is to be advised by e-mail. The email must include all supporting documentation.