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Supplier Advisory Committee Meetings

Record of Discussion
Supplier Advisory Committee

February 16, 2016
1:00 pm—4:30 pm


  • Randal Cripps, Assistant Deputy Minister, Procurement
  • Hicham Adra, President, Ardan Fitzroy Enterprises Inc.
  • Cassandra Dorrington, President, Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council
  • Susanna Cluff-Clyburne, Director, Parliamentary Affairs, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
  • Louis-Martin Parent, Director, Canadian Federation of Independent Business 
  • Mary Anderson, Executive Director, WBE Canada
  • Jac Van Beek, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Canadian Association of Management Consultants
  • Dorothy Milburn-Smith, CEO of Perfortics Consulting Inc.
  • Iain Christie, Executive Vice President (EVP), Aerospace Industries Association of Canada
  • Janet Thorsteinson, VP, Government Relations, Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries
  • Kelly Hutchinson, VP, Government Relations and Policy, Information Technology Association of Canada
  • Caroline Landry, A/Director General, Office of Small and Medium Enterprises and Strategic Engagement

Welcome and remarks

Randal Cripps welcomed everyone and the Co-Chairs thanked everyone for their participation despite the poor weather. The record from the previous meeting had been approved secretarially and was published on the committee's web site.

Supplier performance management

Brenda Constantine, the Director General of the Policy, Risk, Integrity and Strategic Management Sector and Matthew Sreter, Senior Director of Risk, Quality and Integrity Management, presented the new initiative on Supplier Performance Management, which seeks to manage vendor performance over the full contract life cycle and focuses on relationships with suppliers. They explained that Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) aims to work collaboratively to develop a holistic approach to performance management, which would include engagement and consultations, strong governance, a sound legal and policy foundation and effective tools, processes and systems.

Members suggested the team should speak to some private sectors companies (not necessarily suppliers) which have developed modern and effective systems, often referred to as supply chain management, and Matthew agreed to follow up. Members also asked the department to work closely with Shared Services Canada, which is undertaking similar work, to avoid duplication of efforts. They cautioned against trying to have a one-size-fits-all model and it was confirmed that there would be an overarching principle within the policy framework, but that there could be customization within the individual commodities. Members highlighted the need for a robust appeals process if the central repository of performance data was made accessible. It was agreed it was worth investing time and resources to do this right to avoid burdening suppliers, and Matthew confirmed that industry would be given opportunities to validate findings and proposed approaches before implementation.

Electronic procurement system

Vicki Ghadban, the Director General of the Acquisitions Program Transformation Sector, presented an update to the committee on the procurement of the Electronic Procurement System (EPS). She explained that this was one of the pillars of the modernization of procurement, and that the Request for Proposals would be posted in March 2016 with a contract award planned for June.

Members urged PWGSC to lobby Treasury Board Secretariat, where the necessary authority lies, to make this new system mandatory across government, in order to create a unified procurement environment for suppliers as they don't differentiate between federal buyers. Randal confirmed that this was the intent, and that the federal/provincial/territorial initiative was also part of this effort. When asked about the impact of the mandatory use of credit cards for purchases up to $10K off e-catalogues, members specified that the positive impact on timely payment outweighed the new credit card fees, but that anything the government could do to alleviate the new burden (fees), especially on small businesses, would be appreciated. Vicki confirmed that there was also an intent to move to electronic payment as an option once supplier registration provided banking information. Members emphasized that the new system should allow more sophisticated tracking of usage broken down by supplier, which would in turn provide data to enable supplier diversity. Members highlighted the importance of the engagement and communication needed to make this change, to ensure all players understand and prepare for the impacts.

Trilateral meeting with the United States and the United Kingdom & Federal/provincial/territorial initiative

Caroline Landry explained that the first commodity PWGSC offered to the provinces and territories is Office Supplies. Laboratory Supplies, Tires, All-Terrain Vehicle's (ATV) and Snowmobiles are slated to follow shortly. She explained that two provinces were on board for the pilot. Following work with the provinces, the current office supply Standing Offer will expand from 1,500 to approximately 2,500 core items and come into effect May 1, 2016. She explained that the pilot would establish standard clauses to be used by provinces and territories and the municipal/academic/school/hospital (MASH) sectors. As well, she explained that the office supply Standing Offer would be a multiple awards instrument, on which suppliers can bid on specific regions without having to bid nationally, allowing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who do not have a national presence to compete on an equal footing with larger national suppliers.

Members had many questions about the standing offers and impacts of the provinces' use of PWGSC's tools. They also wanted to know about the criteria to be used to assess the pilot and timelines for the next commodities. They cautioned that CEOs of firms would need to make important business decisions due to these changes. Many had questions about the impact of the new e-procurement system's capability that would allow provincial and territorial partners to select local suppliers off a national standing offer, and asked about the department's ability to track and assess usage data. It was suggested that the system could have a pop up capability that would require a justification when choosing a vendor based on socio-economic factors instead of just lowest price. Caroline committed to coming back to the next meeting in June with more information.

Supplier action plan

Lori Kibbee, the Senior Director for Supplier Engagement and Regional Coordination, provided an update on the work to date on the Supplier Action Plan, much of which will be captured under the modernization efforts and which is likely to be rebranded. She spoke of the results to date, including a 12% reduction of the backlog on security clearances, progress against the procurement of the new electronic procurement solution, improvements to, improvements to the Build in Canada Innovation Program, and the launch of the pilot of the federal/provincial/territorial initiative (office supplies Request for Standing Offer (RFSO)). Members highlighted that with regard to security clearances, addressing the issue of portability of a clearance between departments remained one of their main pain points.

Supplier Advisory Committee governance

A presentation deck containing summaries of the progress of each sub-committee and working group was circulated prior to the meeting, and the Director General leads provided a quick update at the meeting. It was confirmed that new members could be proposed for consideration and all membership lists would be circulated to the full committee. Members clarified the role of their representatives on these committees (i.e. whether or not they were authorized to speak for the association), which varied by association. Members highlighted the good work done on the Commodities Grouping/Risk Re-balancing exercise, and suggested another good example is the costing and profit policy review underway.

Members expressed a preference for fewer presentations at the meeting, and more targeted requests for advice. Material should be distributed in advance, not necessarily presented or discussed at the meeting. A two week cut-off for material was proposed.

Improvements to

Caroline Landry provided an update on the improvements to, including the new Interested Supplier List. She explained that as a result of the urgency of the Syrian refugee tenders, the site now had a capacity to refresh its feed hourly, and other potential uses for this capability were being studied. She explained that 3.0 would be launched in April 2016, with improved mobile accessibility. She informed members that the site had been recognized internationally as a gold standard for open data.

Members asked whether the new EPS would replace, and if so expressed concern about losing the significant investments made in Vicki Ghadban confirmed that would still be the landing page/entry point for suppliers when accessing the new tool and all previous advancements and investments would be leveraged in support of the new EPS.

Meet the new Minister

The new Minister, the Honourable Judy M. Foote, spoke to the group about her mandate, which includes the modernization of procurement. She was glad to have the opportunity to meet those with a stake in it but who also were well placed to help. When asked how she would define success, she explained that she wanted to cut red tape and have a more inviting, user friendly process where people don't get bogged down. Members explained that they stood ready to help, and needed only a solid understanding of the metrics she proposed to measure her success to allow them to target their efforts. She encourage members to stay in touch, as she views the committee as an advisory body for her as well.

Members raised a number of points, such as their satisfaction at the progress on the cost-profit review and risk re-balancing, which they felt would greatly benefit all players in the procurement process, the need to engage the Treasury Board Secretariat in much of the improvements under consideration, and certain issues with procurement of services, such as the focus on lowest price on such a complex buy and problems with certifications. They also expressed their pleasure at the diversity focus in her mandate and the new data on suppliers which the EPS will permit to inform decision making in this area. They asked that she focus on high-growth entrepreneurs, and suggested that the EPS was a solution to many issues faced by small and medium enterprises looking to do business with the government. Members suggested she review the Jenkins report to find suggestions about building up key Canadian industries through procurement. Members highlighted the Supplier Advisory Committee as an excellent mechanism both to provide advice but also to be better informed for their members.

Forward agenda and roundtable

The forward agenda for the upcoming meeting will include a comprehensive presentation on the way forward for the modernization of procurement (realizing the Minister's mandate), which will clarify the various pieces of the change, as well as the linkages with other initiatives across town. Also, the agenda will include contract bundling, more information on the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Initiative and an update on PWGSC's trilateral meeting with the United States and the United Kingdom. Members were reminded to communicate with Hicham Adra should they have additional items to propose.

Next steps

The secretariat will provide options for consideration by the co-chairs for revisions to the governance, including a consent agenda. Membership lists for all the sub-committees and working groups will be circulated to all members.

The draft record of the meeting will be circulated in March for member approval. The next meeting will be in June and will be via teleconference.