Canada Student Loans Program

Fairness monitor final report, January 8, 2016

Addendum to final report, July 12, 2016

Submitted to Director, Fairness Monitoring Program

Submitted by Knowles Consultancy Services Inc. and Hill International Inc. in Joint Venture

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Background and introduction

As Fairness Monitor (FM), Knowles Consultancy Services Inc. and Hill International Inc. in Joint Venture (hereafter referred to as the Fairness Monitor) hereby submits its Fairness Monitor Contractor’s Final Report (FM Final Report) pertaining to the competitive procurement process for the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP). This competitive process was undertaken by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) through Letter of Interest (LOI) solicitation number G7514-120001/B, LOI solicitation number G7514-120001/C and request for proposal (RFP) solicitation number G7514-120001/D.

Knowles Consultancy Services Inc. and Hill International Inc. in Joint Venture is an independent third party with respect to this activity.

This Final Report covers the activities of the FM chronologically from November 13, 2012 through the LOI Industry Consultation phase, the RFP phase, the evaluation of proposals and the selection of the recommended bidder.

This report includes our attestation of assurance, a summary of the scope and objectives of our assignment, the methodologies applied, and details of our activities, including any relevant findings from the activities undertaken.

Project requirement

The CSLP was established in 1964 to promote access to post-secondary education and currently provides loans, grants and repayment assistance to students attending public and private educational institutions.

The Government of Canada has identified a requirement for Contractor provided support to ESDC through re-procurement of the CSLP administration. A contractor is currently providing the required financial and administrative services and the contract will potentially expire in March 2018. As a result of the re-procurement process it is intended to award a contract to a Contractor which will administer all aspects of the delivery of the CSLP on behalf of ESDC, including the administration of client services related to loan and grant disbursement, loan maintenance, loan repayment, repayment assistance, and other financial assistance provisions for federal and integrated provincial programs.

Attestation of assurance

The Fairness Monitor (FM) hereby provides the unqualified assurance statement which follows concerning the competitive procurement process for Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP).

It is the professional opinion of the FM that the competitive procurement process for the CSLP was carried out in a fair, open and transparent manner.

Note: For all references in this report concerning fairness related comments being provided to project officials, it is confirmed that, as necessary, project officials provided clarification to the FM or took appropriate action to address the comments, and as a result no fairness deficiencies were recorded.

Original signed by
Roger Bridges
President
Knowles Consultancy Services Inc.
FM Contractor’s Representative

Original signed by
Peter Woods
FM Team Leader

Original signed by
Bruce Maynard P. Eng.
FM Specialist

Objectives of the fairness monitor assignment and methodology

The overall objective was to provide independent observation of the process and to submit fairness related comments to project officials for the procurement, as early as possible, so that appropriate action could be taken to address the comments before fairness was impacted. The Director Fairness Monitoring would be advised of any fairness related concerns that were not addressed promptly. At the conclusion of the procurement process an assurance statement as to its fairness would be provided.

To accomplish the objective we undertook the following activities and, where applicable, provided fairness related comments to the Contracting Authority:

  • became familiar with the project governance structure and background information
  • reviewed the LOIs and RFP in draft and final form
  • observed one-on-one meetings with potential bidders
  • reviewed all amendments to the LOIs and RFP as well as questions submitted by bidders and answers provided
  • reviewed the procedures to be used for the evaluation of responses and solution demonstrations, and the guidance provided to the evaluation teams
  • observed the evaluation of responses to the RFP and solution demonstrations to ensure that the specified bid evaluation and contractor selection procedures and departmental policy were followed and consistently applied during the evaluation and selection process
  • observed the debriefing of bidders. (This activity will be reported on in an addendum to this report after any debriefings.)

Fairness monitor specific activities and findings

Fairness monitor activities and findings during the letter of interest industry consultation phase

On November 21 and 22, 2012 we reviewed an LOI that had been previously published on the Government Electronic Tendering Service (GETS) on Augus 20, 2012 (Document 1). No fairness related deficiencies were identified. On November 28, 2013 we observed an Industry Day consultation meeting during which an overview of the CSLP program, including the proposed business model and procurement process, was presented to interested companies. No fairness related deficiencies were identified. We reviewed Amendments 1 and 2 to the LOI (Documents 2 and 3) that were released to GETS on December 2 and December 6, 2012 respectively. No fairness deficiencies were identified. The LOI closed on April 5, 2013.

On April 29, 2013 a second LOI was published on GETS (Document 4) inviting interested companies to participate in Working Group meetings to discuss the CSLP proposed business model and the provisions of the draft RFP taking account of the information gathered during one-on-one meetings. The second LOI closed on December 31, 2013.

During the period January 21, 2013 to June 9, 2014, we observed one-on-one industry consultation meetings concerning the CSLP business model and the planned provisions of the RFP. Fairness related comments were provided as necessary concerning the one-on-one meetings and appropriate action was taken by project officials.

During the period June 20, 2013 to January 23, 2014, we observed industry engagement Working Group meetings during which the CSLP business model and the planned provisions of the RFP were discussed. Fairness related comments were provided as necessary concerning the Working Group meetings and appropriate action was taken by project officials.

During the period April 4, 2014 to August 29, 2014, we reviewed draft versions of the RFP and provided fairness related comments. Appropriate action was taken by project officials.

Fairness monitor activities and findings during the request for proposal phase

On September 11 and 12, 2014 we reviewed the RFP that had been released to BuyandSell on September 11, 2014 (Document 1). No fairness related deficiencies were identified. During the period October 2, 2014 to January 7, 2015 we reviewed, in draft and final versions, Questions and Answers and Amendments 1 to 22 to the RFP (Documents 6 to 27) that were released to BuyandSell during the period October 9, 2014 to January 7, 2015. Fairness related comments were provided and appropriate action was taken by project officials. The RFP closed on January 13, 2015.

Fairness monitor activities and findings on the evaluation phase

On January 11 and 12, 2015 we reviewed the draft and final versions respectively of the Evaluation Plan document and no fairness deficiencies were identified. On January 13, 2015 we observed the Evaluator Training session. On January 27, 2015 we observed the consensus evaluation of the mandatory technical criteria and no fairness deficiencies were identified. On January 28, 2015 we reviewed the proposed Reference Check process and no fairness deficiencies were identified.

During the period February 10 to July 8, 2015 we observed the consensus evaluation of the responses to the rated technical criteria and provided fairness related comments. The fairness related comments were addressed appropriately by project officials.

On July 27, 2015 we reviewed the Evaluator Training documents for the Solution Demonstration phase and no fairness deficiencies were identified. On July 23, 2015 we observed the training of the evaluators for the Solution Demonstration phase and no fairness deficiencies were identified.

On August 10 and 11, 2015, we observed the Solution Demonstration provided by one qualified bidder and no fairness deficiencies were identified. On August 12 and 13, 2015, we observed the consensus evaluation of the Solution Demonstration by the qualified bidder and no fairness deficiencies were identified.

On August 17 and 18, 2015, we observed the Solution Demonstration provided by a second qualified bidder and no fairness deficiencies were identified. On August 19 and 20, 2015, we observed the consensus evaluation of the Solution Demonstration by the second qualified bidder and no fairness deficiencies were identified.

On December 26 and 27, 2015 we reviewed the CSLP draft Final Report which included the financial evaluation and the application of the basis of selection of the recommended contractor. On December 29, 2015 the contracting authority advised us that all calculations concerning the evaluation of bids and the selection of the recommended contractor had been carried out by the contracting authority and had been independently double checked by a second procurement officer and the results obtained were the same. No fairness deficiencies were identified.

Reference documents

The following documents are referenced by number in the attached report. These documents are available through the CSLP project office.

Table summary

The following table includes a list of documents referred to in the report such as the request for proposal (RFP), amendments, clarification letters, debriefing letters, etc. Each row is numbered, followed by the document title, then a document identifier such as a date or document number.

No. Document Additional information
1 First Letter of Interest (LOI) Released to GETS August 20, 2012
2 Amendment 1 to LOI Released to GETS December 2, 2012
3 Amendment 2 to LOI Released to GETS December 6, 2012
4 Second Letter of Interest (LOI) Released to GETS April 29, 2013
5 RFP Released to BuyandSell September 11, 2014
6 Amendment 1 to RFP Released to BuyandSell October 10, 2014
7 Amendment 2 to RFP Released to BuyandSell October 21, 2014
8 Amendment 3 to RFP Released to BuyandSell October 24, 2014
9 Amendment 4 to RFP Released to BuyandSell October 28, 2014
10 Amendment 5 to RFP Released to BuyandSell October 30, 2014
11 Amendment 6 to RFP Released to BuyandSell November 5, 2014
12 Amendment 7 to RFP Released to BuyandSell November 7, 2014
13 Amendment 8 to RFP Released to BuyandSell November 14, 2014
14 Amendment 9 to RFP Released to BuyandSell November 20, 2014
15 Amendment 10 to RFP Released to BuyandSell November 25, 2014
16 Amendment 11 to RFP Released to BuyandSell November 28, 2014
17 Amendment 12 to RFP Released to BuyandSell December 1, 2014
18 Amendment 13 to RFP Released to BuyandSell December 1, 2014
19 Amendment 14 to RFP Released to BuyandSell December 3, 2014
20 Amendment 15 to RFP Released to BuyandSell December 11, 2014
21 Amendment 16 to RFP Released to BuyandSell December 19, 2014
22 Amendment 17 to RFP Released to BuyandSell December 24, 2014
23 Amendment 18 to RFP Released to BuyandSell December 24, 2014
24 Amendment 19 to RFP Released to BuyandSell January 5, 2015
25 Amendment 20 to RFP Released to BuyandSell January 6, 2015
26 Amendment 21 to RFP Released to BuyandSell January 7, 2015
27 Amendment 22 to RFP Released to BuyandSell January 7, 2015

Addendum to the final report, July 12, 2016

Addendum to the fairness monitor final report dated January 8, 2016, concerning the Canada Student Loans Program

This addendum to the fairness monitor final report covers the period following the conclusion of the evaluation phase and the debriefings of bidders.

It is noted that project officials neglected to provide draft or final regret letters to us prior to sending them to unsuccessful bidders on April 4, 2016. However, on April 8, 2016 we reviewed the regret letters. The regret letters provided information on any mandatory requirements which the bidder had failed, the technical and financial scores and overall rating achieved by all responsive bidders. No fairness deficiencies were identified.

Project officials decided to provide complete detail to compliant bidders on the consensus evaluation of their bids. The consensus score for each criterion was provided to each bidder along with the consensus notes supporting the score assigned. No fairness deficiencies were identified.

Two bidders requested face-to-face debriefings. On May 16, 2016 we observed a face-to-face debriefing provided to one of the bidders. The second bidder subsequently advised that it did not wish to proceed with the face-to-face debriefing and the debriefing was cancelled. No fairness deficiencies were identified.

Fairness monitor attestation of assurance

It is the professional opinion of the Fairness Monitor that the post evaluation activities, including the debriefings, were carried out in a fair, open and transparent manner.

Original signed by
Roger Bridges
President
Knowles Consultancy Services Inc.
FM Contractor’s Representative

Original signed by
Peter Woods
FM Team Leader

Original signed by
Bruce Maynard P. Eng.
FM Specialist

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