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Procurement of Professional Services Sub-committee – December 8, 2014

Record of Discussion and Decision

December 8, 2014, 13:00-14:30
Place du Portage, Phase III, 7C1-100



  • Normand Masse, Director General, Services and Technology Acquisition Management Sector, PWGSC;
  • Janice MacDonald, Senior Director, Professional Services Procurement Directorate


*: Denotes participants on teleconference

  • Dorothy Milburn-Smith, CEO of Perfortics Consulting Inc. (for Certified Management Consultants CMC)
  • Scott Ryckman, Account Executive, CGI; for the Information Technology Association of Canada
  • Louis-Martin Parent*, Director, President's Office, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
  • Ema Dantas*, President and CEO, Language Marketplace Inc. (for WEConnect)
  • Normand Masse, Director General,  Services And Technology Acquisition Management Sector, PWGSC
  • Janice MacDonald, Senior Director, Professional Services Procurement Directorate, PWGSC
  • Debbie Sears, Manager, Online Services Division - ZT, PSPD, STAMS, PWGSC
  • Michele Charette, Manager, Informatics Methods of Supply, Informatics and Telecommunications Systems Procurement Directorate, STAMS
  • Rachelle Dean, Policy Advisor, Supplier Engagement, Office Of Small and Medium Enterprises and Strategic Engagement, PWGSC
  • Aura deWitt, Manager, Services Procurement-Instruments Management Division, PSPD, STAMS, PWGSC
  • Melissa Gail Cabigon, Supply Specialist, Services Procurement-Instruments Management Division, PSPD, STAMS, PWGSC

Official Welcome

Normand Masse welcomed members to the meeting. Normand indicated that there is no major issue that needs to be raised at the larger committee. However, this Subcommittee should prepare a debriefing for the next meeting and the work in the sub-subcommittees should begin.

Review and Vote to Accept 04 June 2014 Record of Decision

Aura deWitt reviewed the Record of Decision for the last Subcommittee meeting including: the decision to seek client representatives as guest presenters to the Subcommittee rather than as permanent members; the teams and group leaders assigned to each item on the Action Log, and the decision to keep the Action Log as a standing item on the agenda; and the circulation of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce report and client user data regarding professional services from the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises at PWGSC.

A vote was taken on this Record of Decision, and it was accepted by Dorothy Milburn-Smith and seconded by Louis-Martin Parent. As other members remained silent, this silence was deemed as consent and the Record of Decision was accepted by the Subcommittee.

Presentations from Leads on Top Priority Supplier Issues (as per Action Log)

Delay between close of solicitation period and contract award

As one of the leads for this item, Dorothy indicated that she has undertaken research on this issue. She found several references to the need for having some kind of standard to address this issue in the procurement documents used by Australia, the United Kingdom and within Industry, but did not find any actual specific guidelines. So far, the only standard that exists appears to be used by Task-Based Informatics Professional Services (TBIPS).

Normand suggested that the next step should not focus so much on finding a standard, but to establish one by looking at how this could be applied to different types of procurement or requirement size. Moving to the next step will also require speaking to Clients, so that any proposed standard could be tested with Clients.

Scott Ryckman also suggested that this issue could also involve changes to evaluation criteria, as there is currently a massive amount of data submitted in response to solicitations, which contribute to the delays for contract award. To this extent the new Task and Solutions Professional Services (TSPS) Availability Confirmation Forms (ACF), spearheaded by Rose Spirito’s group, could help to streamline the Statement of Work preparation and to an easier evaluation process.

Price vs. Quality of Resources

Louis indicated that while he and Scott have discussed this issue extensively, they would like to have more information regarding how government organizations draft evaluation criteria to ensure that they acquire resources with the right qualifications. The issue involves addressing how government can assess the approach a given firm has towards a project, and how to assess the expertise of this firm and its resources. While it is very difficult and subjective to assess the approach of a firm, the current methods only require firms to fill in a grid for experience, which means that there is no ability to assess whether Canada is receiving quality resources, or whether the firm just knows how to respond to an RFP.

Dorothy suggested the use of interviews in the evaluation process, which could be used to assess shortlisted suppliers who have passed the stage used to evaluate the experience of their firm and resources. This method has been used by other jurisdictions. Provided that Canada has good subject matter experts who know what kind of questions to ask, this kind of interview process can still be objective. These interviews can be done in person or by video-conference, the emphasis being on the face-to-face interaction.

Normand suggested that the next step is to consider how to apply this kind of evaluation strategy and to which types of procurements or what sizes of requirements. For greater clarity, Debbie Sears pointed out that the effectiveness and value of this evaluation strategy would have to be considered for requirements below the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) threshold, for those above the NAFTA threshold and below $2M, and for those above $2M.

For requirements above $2M, Normand mused that interviews may be a good idea, but for requirements below this threshold, it is better to keep the process simple for the benefit of Clients. This strategy would also have to be packaged into a formula that is palatable to Clients and easy for them to use.

Ema Dantas spoke briefly about the example of the 2015 PanAm Games, which used interviews in its procurement strategy. She also offered to share and circulate information regarding this example to Subcommittee members.

The issue requires the determination of a methodology, and following steps to be taken to obtain feedback from Clients. It was also determined that a PWGSC representative should be assigned to work with the current Industry leads, and that a Client representative should also be found to offer feedback.

Recycled Procurement

The Draft Availability Confirmation Form (ACF) from Rose’s group could go a long way to resolving this issue, as it makes it easier for Clients to create RFPs and match evaluation criteria with the requirements in the Statement of Work.

However, more work needs to be done on this issue. Scott indicated that he may no longer be able to work on this item, but that both he and Dorothy will search for replacements in their respective organizations.

Encouraging Diversity

Ema indicated that there is more work to be done on this, since the objective and scope of this item are not necessarily clear. She also read a statement written by the President of WEConnect, which articulated the goal to have women, Aboriginal and minority-owned businesses represented and acknowledged as such by PWGSC, to facilitate Canada’s ability to target procurements to these particular groups of suppliers.

Some consideration must also be given to what could be done at the various stages of procurement, both by PWGSC and Clients, to take diversity into account, or whether there are particular types of requirements to which these measures could be applied.

Ema also provided the United Nations RFPs as an example of an organization that creates databases on these types of suppliers in order to meet quotas for procuring services from women, Aboriginal and minority-owned businesses.

The Office of Small and Medium Enterprises (OSME) will help to coordinate a dialogue between Industry and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) to better understand the background regarding Aboriginal set-asides.

Major Projects

This issue is about raising awareness in Industry about upcoming projects to minimize the scramble in preparing Industry responses to major projects. Some Clients, like DND and RCMP, do publish information regarding their major projects, and the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) also maintains a list of such projects. This issue is partially a matter of Industry doing the appropriate research, like looking at Treasury Board’s Plans and Priorities.

OSME has been looking at creating and maintaining a list for upcoming engagements with Industry, though not for major projects specifically. However, as engagements and major projects normally go together, this list would still be helpful.

OSME will tentatively serve as lead, as they are in the process of completing work related to this item. Janet Thorsteinson will also tentatively lead this item.


During the last meeting, Dorothy indicated that she had access to a paper that dealt with this issue. Upon closer examination, this paper is too specific to CMC to be relevant to the purposes of the Subcommittee. She will, however, see if a more generic version of this paper is available and share this with members.

There is also some difficulty in finding equivalency information for certifications; information is only readily available for equivalencies for university degrees obtained abroad. CMC is working, internally, on a comparison between certifications, and a list of certifications appears to have existed around 2005, but it is uncertain how widely distributed is this list or whether it is vetted. This list also does not provide equivalencies.

The goal for this item is to determine something of a guide for equivalencies of certifications, to increase awareness and knowledge of what competencies these certifications include and how they compare to one another.

Janet Macdonald volunteered to be the PWGSC lead on this issue, alongside Dorothy. Together, they will approach the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) concerning this item, and Dorothy will consult with an ISO expert within CMC.

Security Clearances

Debbie Sears made a short presentation concerning the delays at the Canadian Industrial Security Directorate (CISD). CISD has now officially acknowledged that it has a problem in processes and dealing with security clearances and has identified several corrective measures. However, these measures have yet to be implemented, and CISD is still in the early stages of moving towards a solution to this problem.

As one of the more immediate measures taken, CISD will now do more quality control on the information submitted, so improperly completed information or forms will be sent back and CISD can focus on those files that contain complete information. Industry is advised to ensure that forms are filled out correctly, as CISD does not do follow ups.

Debbie will continue to monitor this issue and provide feedback, as required. Clients should also be advised not to overdo their security requirements and request clearances that are unduly onerous on suppliers to obtain from CISD.

Identification of Quick Win Top Suppliers Issues

Rose’s ACF work could be a solution to the item regarding Recycled Procurement.

Normand acknowledged that there still appears to be a lot of thinking, research and work to be done on most issues, so that no real quick wins could be readily identified.

Next Steps Developing and testing solutions

As all items still seem to require additional thought, research and scoping, so no development or testing of solutions were be discussed.  Janice suggested that this item be carried forward to a future meeting.

Roundtable suggestions for potential Client participation

Some suggestions included a demonstration of the ACF tool by Rose’s team, representatives from the Client Advisory Board, or representatives from other organizations that successfully or unsuccessfully used alternative evaluation strategies. Other suggestions included reaching out to Clients in the other working groups, while Scott said he would look at engaging some end user Clients.

Record of Decisions

  • It was agreed that the 2015 Panam Games and use of interviews in its procurement strategy be further discussed at a next meeting in the context of Price vs. Quality of Resources working Group. Ema Dantes will circulate information to the group on this item;
  • Janice Macdonald will lead the Certifications Working Group;
  • Scott and Dorothy will find replacements for their work on the Recycled Procurement Working Group;
  • Rachelle Dean will research what OSME can provide regarding a list of upcoming major project engagements in the context of the Major Project Working Group. OSME will tentatively serve as lead for this working group;
  • It was decided that a PWGSC representative should be assigned to work with the current Industry leads and that a Client representative should also be found to offer feedback on Price vs. Quality of Resources Working Group.
  • It was agreed that clients would be invited to participate when required in the context of specific agenda items and issues; and
  • It was agreed that the subcommittee would provide an update on progress on working group’s items by end of January for Normand and the planned Supplier Advisory Committee (SAC) executive meeting.

Next Meeting: Topics & Date

The next meeting will take place during the first 2 weeks of April 2015.