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Supplier Advisory Committee Meetings

Record of Discussion
Supplier Advisory Committee

November 4, 2016
10:00 am to 12:00 pm


  • Randal Cripps, Assistant Deputy Minister, Procurement
  • Hicham Adra, President, Ardan Fitzroy Enterprises Inc.
  • Susanna Cluff-Clyburne, Director, Parliamentary Affairs, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
  • Louis-Martin Parent, Director, Canadian Federation of Independent Business 
  • Mary Anderson, President, WBE Canada
  • Jac Van Beek, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Canadian Association of Management Consultants (CMC)
  • Sandy Moir, Managing Partner of GGI Ottawa office (for CMC)
  • Iain Christie, Executive Vice President (VP), 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
  • Desmond Gray, Director General, Office of Small and Medium Enterprises and Stakeholder Engagement

Welcome and remarks

The chairs welcomed everyone and Randal reiterated the interest of the Minister of Public Services and Procurement (PSPC) in the committee’s activities and feedback received from discussions.  Randal expressed PSPC’s commitment to leverage procurement to support socio-economic objectives.  He mentioned as an example, looking at greenhouse gas emissions and working with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to build capacity for the indigenous communities.  The record from the June 2016 meeting was also approved under the Consent Agenda.

Procurement modernization—integration

Sarah Paquet, Assistant Deputy Minister, Procurement Modernization Integration Team, outlined a Government of Canada (GOC) wide approach to simplifying and modernizing procurement that has been supported by senior government officials including from deputy ministers at a meeting of the Public Service Management Advisory Committee (PSMAC).  Benefits of this integrated approach for suppliers and government were outlined with a call to action to simplify procurement, to have modern comptrollership through renewed Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) policy, and to leverage procurements for socio-economic benefits (innovators, green procurement, aboriginal businesses, women owned businesses, social enterprises). 

Sarah explained that an integrated approach is needed given the current procurement landscape; although PSPC accounts for 80% of the value of the contracts issued, the majority of contracts are issued by federal government departments other than PSPC.  Furthermore, with procurement being an inherently complex function, the focus of PSPC procurement modernization activities is at the policy and process level where impact can best be achieved.  An integrated approach requires achieving goals through the right initiatives, ensuring alignment across government, seeking buy-in from all levels of government departments and organizations as well as industry, and a solid strategy for managing change.  Furthermore, stakeholder engagement and the planning and monitoring of specific measurable performance indicators is key.  The presentation was completed with an invitation to industry to contribute their ideas coupled with a commitment to keep suppliers informed on progress and obtaining their input through Supplier Advisory Committee (SAC) working groups and ad hoc consultations.

Other points were made in the ensuing discussion.  Most notably, the Government of Canada should be as similar as possible to other clients (companies or other governments) in their procurement processes and to consider their best practices to make the procurement process more aligned and simplified for suppliers.  Industry expressed that they are currently incurring human resources costs to deal with unique GOC requirements. To that effect, members voiced that current industrial security policies remain one of the most problematic areas and they need to be addressed as part of the procurement modernization initiative. In response, GOC representatives clarified that this issue would be looked at through several of the initiatives, such as the risk management modernization initiative and the policy suite reset.

Industry representatives also had questions regarding low dollar value procurement processes, including whether the limits for sole source procurement would be reviewed as part of the procurement modernization. With respect to low dollar value procurement, Randal confirmed that it is on the list of initiatives to be looked at and, in fact, should form an update item for the next meeting of the SAC.

Finally, members questioned when and how the success of the procurement modernization will be measured and communicated.  With regards to performance measurement, Sarah indicated that measurement is incorporated in the design phase of each initiative with all initiatives feeding into the comprehensive procurement modernization logic model with the intent being to report back by theme and by the overarching procurement modernization initiative. Subsequently, Sarah acknowledged that mind set and culture change can take time and are part of the long-term vision for the procurement modernization. She also underlined the need for a comprehensive change management strategy at all levels to deliver the procurement modernization agenda.

Industry voiced that they would be very interested in providing feedback and asked whether there would be any external consultations. They asked for reassurance that their feedback is taken into account when shaping procurement policies and processes.  Randal reiterated that industry is key in shaping procurement policy.

Overall, industry appreciated that the procurement modernization efforts did reflect better values for Canadians noting that success in one jurisdiction reinforces change in others.

Electronic procurement system

A brief announcement was made by Randal that, as the EPS Request for Proposals was currently active with a number of questions being received, a more fulsome update would be given at the next meeting.

Procurement modernization—initiatives overview

Carolyne Blain, the Director General of the Strategic Policy Sector, provided a high level update on the multiple initiatives that are underway to support procurement modernization ensuring alignment with the procurement modernization integration team, TBS, and policies of other government departments. Key initiatives moving forward at this time include the phased bid compliance process, risk management modernization, and contract simplification.

Phased bid compliance process

David Reid, from the Strategic Policy Sector, presented an overview of the phased bid compliance process and highlighted potential recommendations for a policy on its use going forward. The phased bid compliance process provides bidders with an opportunity to provide additional or different information within a specified time after bid closing, with a view to demonstrating that their bid complies with mandatory criteria.  Under the standard procurement process, a bid that does not comply with mandatory requirements at bid closing is immediately rejected.  To date, the Acquisitions Program has included this process in a limited number of solicitations for which it anticipated receiving a limited number of bids.

Members expressed strong support for the process and were of the opinion that it should be applied government wide in the interests of fairness to all potential suppliers. Concerns were expressed that bidders may abuse the process by deliberately omitting information in their bids and that an initially compliant but unsuccessful bidder may challenge the process. It was also noted that the process must treat all bidders equally and not allow a bidder to improve their score on a rated requirement. Finally, committee members representing suppliers from the information technology, aerospace and defence sectors requested that they be given an opportunity to provide more detailed input.

PSPC indicated that it had requested legal opinion on the risks associated with the process and is continuing to consult with stakeholders, with a view to implementing a policy in early 2017.

Build in Canada Innovation Program

Desmond Gray provided an update on the Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP) with a focus on BCIP activities to support the government’s innovation agenda. He outlined how BCIP has been working with Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) to implement improvements to maximize the program’s value to Canadian industry and to determine how government can better leverage procurement to support the growth and commercialization efforts of Canadian companies. The scope of work includes development of approaches/tools to enable procurement of innovation through PSPC’s procurement modernization initiative and a review of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program in the United States, as a potential model.

Members praised the BCIP as a stellar program and expressed interest in informing government about their experience with SBIR.  A suggestion was put forth to form an advisory committee of businesses who have dealt with the SBIR program to provide input.  Members also voiced the need for an increased marketing/awareness campaign about the BCIP and its benefits.  In particular, members felt that the recent program enhancements (continuous intake of submissions, additional sales option) should be further publicized as well as the BCIP’s benefit as a useful tool for companies to get to the export market.  Finally, there was a healthy discussion as to what would be the best platform for a department to utilize to describe their requirements to industry under a possible SBIR-style demand based component (Requests for Information, crowd sourcing, Ignite method of 5 minutes/20 slide presentation were all mentioned as potential avenues).

Forward agenda and roundtable

The topic of subcommittee and working group memberships was raised by a member as an item for review.  The SAC secretariat will coordinate an update on subcommittee and working group memberships and provide updated membership lists to all members for their review and potential changes. 

Randal informed the membership that he would not be the presiding Assistant Deputy Minister, Procurement for the next meeting and that the department would be naming a new replacement shortly. 

The forward items include procurement modernization (standing item), supplier relationship performance management, federal provincial and territorial initiatives, business analytics, and price negotiations as well as updates on the e-procurement solution, and the risk management working group.

The meeting closed with members expressing their appreciation for the session’s format which allowed for deeper two-way dialogue on a select number of topics.

Next steps

The draft record of the meeting will be circulated in December for member review. The next meeting will be in February/March 2017 and will be held in person.