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Procurement of Professional Services Sub-committee –
June 4, 2014

Record of Discussion and Decision

June 4, 2014, 13:30 – 16:30pm
Place du Portage, Phase III, 10B1-205



  • Normand Masse, Director General, Services and Technology Acquisition Management Sector, PWGSC ;
  • Pascale Archambault, A/Senior Director, Professional Services Procurement Directorate


*: Denotes participants at June 04 meeting
**: Denotes participants on teleconference

  • Susanna Cluff-Clyburne*, Director, Parliamentary Affairs, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
  • Ema Dantas**, President and CEO, Language Marketplace Inc. (for WEConnect)
  • 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
  • Philip Ducharme**, Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council
  • Louis-Martin Parent**, Director, President's Office, Canadian Federation of Independent Business
  • Normand Masse*, Director General, Services And Technology Acquisition Management Sector, PWGSC;
  • Pascale Archambault*, A/Senior Director, Professional Services Procurement Directorate;
  • Debbie Sears*, Manager, Online Services Division - ZT, PSPD, STAMS, PWGSC
  • Rose Spirito*, Manager, Procurement Strategies Division - ZT, PSPD, STAMS, PWGSC
  • Sylvie LaFrance*, Manager, Informatics Methods of Supply, Informatics and Telecommunications Systems Procurement Directorate, STAMS
  • Levent Ozmutlu, Senior Director, Informatics and Telecommunications Systems Procurement Directorate, PSPD, STAMS, PWGSC
  • Lori Kibbee, A/Director, Supplier Engagement and Regional Coordination Directorate, Office Of Small and Medium Enterprises and Strategic Engagement, PWGSC
  • 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*, Intern Officer, Services Procurement-Instruments Management Division, PSPD, STAMS, PWGSC

Official Welcome & Introduction of Attending Members

Normand Masse, STAMS Director General welcomed participants to the meeting. A round table introduction of participants was undertaken. As Normand could not attend the entire meeting, it was agreed that the agenda topic, “Measuring Success for the Supplier Advisory Committee”, would be addressed prior to the agenda topic, “Introduction of Supplier Issues”.

The main goal of the meeting was to discuss supplier issues, which will allow the Committee to establish goal posts and determine when the Committee has been successful in meeting its objectives. It was agreed that draft of this sub-committee s Terms of Reference be distributed shortly.

There was a brief discussion and review of the Organizational Chart, which was not attached to the 27 March 2014 Record of Decision. In light of the decision to use the third option for structuring the Committee at the 27 March 2014 meeting, Normand explained that the solid line connecting the Professional Services Sub-Committee to the already existing Advisory Committee on Professional Services (ACPS), the Temporary Help Services Advisory Committee (THSAC); and the Information Technology Services Advisory committee (ITSAC) was changed to a dotted line. This Professional Services Sub-Committee would not oversee these 3 committees; and that the dotted line reflected the informational nature of the link between this Sub-Committee and the ACPS, THSAC and the Informatics Professional Services Advisory Committee (IPSAC). The revised Organizational Chart will be attached to the Terms of Reference.

The ACPS has yet to be created. However, it was suggested that this committee be given a more specific name, to more accurately reflect the specific tools and goals which it would represent.

Review of 27 March 2014 Record of Decision

The 27 March 2014 Record of Decision was accepted by the Committee. However, as a full version of the Terms of Reference for the Committee had not been distributed with the foregoing Record of Decision, the Committee agreed to vote on the Terms of Reference at the next meeting.

Measuring Success for the Supplier Advisory Committee

Normand led a discussion concerning the success measures for the Committee, suggesting an initial list of seven measures, which were circulated among the in-person Committee members.

In the ensuing discussion, members raised concerns as to the meaning of having consensus and quorum among Committee members. Given that some members represent government and some represent private industry, concerns of proportionality between these 2 sectors were also raised, especially since some members who had initially agreed to participate in the Committee have not yet attended the meetings. Members agreed that the various organizations should be prepared to send backup representatives to the Committee meetings in order to ensure all organizations are consistently represented.

Members agreed that without a formal definition of quorum, the notion of consensus among Committee members would be relegated to reaching an agreement among those present at a given meeting. In the case where numerous members were absent, major decisions would be deferred to meetings where a greater number of the members were present. Members also agreed that it would be beneficial to add representatives of the end users of the supply tools to the Committee. This change would need to be reflected in the Terms of Reference and may also need to be reflected in the success measures.

Members also agreed that the Committee is not a decision-making body, but more concerned with facilitating discussion, reporting and the flow of information. This particular role must be clearly reflected in the Terms of Reference.

The process for determining and implementing changes would begin at the working group level, which would then feed issues up to the Committee level. The Committee would then discuss these issues and their potential solutions, and discuss these with PWGSC and communicate with Industry. Any changes would then be implemented at the refresh of the appropriate supply tools. The impact on contracting officers would have to be discussed prior to implementation, but managing this challenge would largely be internal to PWGSC. The impact on industry would also need to be measured, but could be determined by having Industry organizations survey their members.

The members agreed to the following five success measures; the ordering did not represent any particular order of importance.

  1. Implementation of approved changes as a result of the work of the Sub-Committee in PWGSC supply methods, tools and practices, including the integration into PWGSC Digital Transformation.
  2. Sustained level of engagement of the members to meet the mandate.
  3. Maintenance of an up to date action item log, with timelines, to monitor progress.
  4. Agreement to the objectives, key priority issues and deliverables of the Sub-Committee.
  5. Demonstrable progress and tangible results through industry association surveys or feedback.

Introduction of Supplier Issues

During the roundtable discussion, representatives of industry organizations each shared some of the main supplier issues articulated by their respective members.

Information Technology Association of Canada

  • Delays between the close of the solicitation period and the award of the Contract;
  • Difficulty in obtaining Federal Security Clearance;
  • Vendor of Record concerns;
  • Lack of information concerning upcoming or ongoing major projects;
  • Quarterly usage reporting requirements for Task-Based Informatics Professional Services (TBIPS) and Task and Solutions Professional Services (TSPS) supply arrangements too onerous on SMEs;
  • Few solution based RFPs;
  • Use of mandatory requirements that are not necessary for the project or engagement;
  • Greater focus on the price of resources over the quality of resources; and
  • Increased reliance on creating department-specific “capacity on demand” vehicles.

Certified Management Consultants

  • Overuse or overemphasis on the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification, and the absence of an equivalence for this Certification
  • Commoditization of certain streams
  • Overemphasis on having bidders fit into boxes, or repeat the particular wording of the evaluation criteria in order to win contracts; reduces bidding to a creative writing exercise

Canadian Federation of Independent Business

  • Facilitate access for small businesses
  • Inability to provide innovative solutions in response to RFPs
  • Greater focus on the price of resources over the quality of resources


  • Greater emphasis on women-owned businesses
  • Delays between the close of the solicitation period and the award of the Contract
  • Difficulty in obtaining Federal Security Clearance
  • Vendor of Record concerns

Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council

  • Overuse of Lowest Price Compliant Bid
  • Lack of feedback on RFP submission
  • Overemphasis on having bidders fit into boxes; no room for flexibility and demonstrating innovation in bidder proposals

Following a discussion which identified common concerns across these organizations, Committee members agreed to group these issues into the following seven Supplier issues, in no particular order.

  1. Delays between the close of the solicitation period and the award of a contract:
    • These delays force suppliers to engage in “bait and switch” tactics
    • Could commit to award contracts within 30 days of bid closing, while suppliers commit to keep specific resources available (DND uses this measure for certain contracts under 400K)
    • Supply tools do include mechanisms for dealing with this issue
  2. Price of Resources vs. Quality of Resources:
    • Could include median rate strategy to reduce low-balling by suppliers
    • Need for more realistic requirements, rather than vanilla requirements; focus less on making resources fit into narrow categories and evaluation criteria, and greater emphasis on allowing suppliers to offer innovative solutions
    • Use of corporate qualifications to ensure the company itself has the required expertise and can support its resources
    • Issue still requires greater definition, as the potential solutions may be different for different types of requirements and projects, and the notion of quality may be different across different types of services
    • This is a larger issue, requiring an ongoing discussion, and is tied into other issues
  3. Recycled Procurement:
    • Making suppliers “tick little boxes” in order win contracts; apparently lack of thinking involved in creating requirements; avoid the creative writing exercise
    • Also an issue of educating users on how to structure and articulate their requirements
  4. Encouraging women, Aboriginal and minority-owned businesses:
    • More information required to address this issue; may also need to involve and discuss with other federal government organizations
    • Potential issues with obligations under the trade agreements
  5. Providing more information about major projects:
    • Need to improve communication for major projects and increase awareness among suppliers
    • PWGSC already trying to engage suppliers earlier in the procurement process
    • While PWGSC does provide information concerning its own major projects, it does not bear the responsibility for providing information concerning the major projects of other federal government departments
  6. Lack of equivalency and appropriateness of certifications
  7. Difficulties in obtaining Security Clearance:
    • May be an issue that must be addressed by another committee
    • Too many issues involved, and nothing can be resolved without talking to the Canadian Industrial Security Directorate (CISD)
    • Need for baseline communication on security clearance or lack of communication generally concerning security clearance

Review of Decision Items

  • It was agreed that the Committee will adhere to five Measures of Success.
  • It was agreed that the list of Supplier Issues will begin with seven main issues, and that these must be organized into an Action Item Log to define these issues, record potential solutions, and track the implementation of solutions.
  • It was agreed that representatives of end users and clients should form part of the Committee, and that members will consider potential members who could contribute to the Committee
  • It was agreed that the committee's formal Terms of Reference and org chart would be sent to members.
  • It was agreed that this committee's minutes be distributed within a week and that minutes of its sister committees would also be shared with their brief updates at the next meeting; and
  • Members agreed to distribute materials to be discussed at the meeting ahead of the meeting.

Next meeting: Topics & Date

The next meeting will take place in September, after the Labour Day long weekend. The meeting will last 3 hours, spanning from 13:00-16:00, with the exact date to be determined.

The main purpose of the next meeting will be to review the Action Item Log addressing the seven Supplier Issues identified. A vote will also be taken on the Terms of Reference for the Committee.