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Procurement of Professional Services Sub-committee –
September 11, 2014

Record of Discussion and Decision

September 11, 2014, 13:00-15:30
Place du Portage, Phase III, 10B1-205



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


*: Denotes participants on teleconference

  • Susanna Cluff-Clyburne, Director, Parliamentary Affairs, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
  • 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
  • Janice MacDonald, Senior Director, Professional Services Procurement Directorate, PWGSC
  • Pascale Archambault, 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
  • 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

Guest attendee:

  • Desmond Gray, Director General, the Office of Small and Medium Enterprise and Strategic Engagement, PWGSC.

Official Welcome, Introduction of members attending & Introduction of Janice MacDonald

Normand Masse welcomed members to the meeting and an introduction of members around the table and on teleconference was undertaken. Normand also introduced Janice MacDonald as incoming Senior Director for Professional Services Procurement Directorate (PSPD), STAMS, and thanked Pascale Archambault for her time and services as Acting Senior Director of PSPD. Special guest at the meeting: Desmond Gray, Director General, Office of Small and Medium Enterprise and Strategic Engagement at PWGSC was introduced to the sub-committee.

Review and Vote to Accept 04 June 2014 Record of Discussion and Decision (ROD)

The ROD was reviewed including the 5 measures of success for the Professional Services Subcommittee, as well as the 7 issues identified by suppliers and included in the ROD. Members indicated that the Terms of Reference (ToR), which were circulated with the 04 June 2014 ROD, should be amended to emphasize that this Subcommittee does not oversee the other Advisory Committees and does not make decisions. As the discussion progressed, it was determined that the ToR should not explicitly indicate that this Subcommittee is charged with providing advice to the Supplier Advisory Committee (SAC), and that the ToR should be amended to stress the advisory role of the Subcommittee, and that it will make recommendations on major issues. No vote on the 04 June 2014 ROD was taken.

Discussion and Vote to Pass the Subcommittee's Terms of Reference (ToR)

Each section of the ToR was reviewed and some revisions were made. No vote on the ToR was taken.

  • At the section for Scope, members agreed to remove the phrase, “procurements of all large values”
  • Regarding Quorum, it was agreed that the phrase, “major decisions” should be amended to, “major recommendations” and that quorum would be determined through both in-person attendance and attendance through teleconference.
  • The Chairperson will be changed from Pascale Archambault to Janice MacDonald, the new Director for PSPD, STAMS.

Accessibility to Procurement Process for SME Companies –Feedback from Small High-Growth Entrepreneurs

Ms. Cluff-Clyburne presented findings from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce's (CCC) recently completed roundtables with 70 high-growth companies across Canada. Ms. Cluff-Clyburne indicated that companies were frustrated with the federal procurement process. She communicated that:

  • Companies felt there is a bias against small and medium Canadian enterprises in federal procurements, that they need to prove themselves outside of Canada before being able to do business with the federal government; and that they are subject to different risk insurance requirements than larger suppliers.
  • Suppliers would like a single point of access for small and medium enterprises for government procurement, and feel they are adversely affected by delays between the end of solicitation period and contract award.

Members discussed the roundtable findings. Ms. Cluff-Clyburne indicated her presentation of these findings provided context to the environment in which companies operate, and stated she would be happy to share the broader document (findings) with the group.

Roundtable Suggestions for Potential Client Sub-Committee Members

Supplier members indicated that they had identified potential new members from client departments at high levels. Discussion ensured around the value of having clients as actual members when there are already client department representatives on other advisory committees and that without a client department representative, an important voice or perspective would be lacking. It was agreed that clients (specifically from the technical side) would be invited to the sub-committee on a regular or possibly rotational basis to present concerns and provide context but would not become full-fledged members. It was agreed that the ToR would be adjusted accordingly.

PWGSC offered to provide data on major users of Professional Services to enable the Sub-committee to engage departments or organizations using professional services methods of supply frequently. Members agreed to look for individuals at the Director level in client departments to participate.

Review and Discussion of Top Priority Supplier Issues Action Log

Through the ensuing discussion, members agreed on leads or owners for 6 of the 7 items on the Action Log, and embarked on additional discussions to precisely define and describe the 7 items.

Issue #1: Delay between close of solicitation period and contract award

  • The Task-Based Informatics Professional Services (TBIPS) RFP template includes a clause whereby suppliers commit to keep their proposed resources available for 30 days, while the contracting entity agrees to award a contract within 30 days of the close of the solicitation period.
  • Industry members indicated that 30 days is still too long a delay between close of solicitation and contract award for many firms, especially in cases of independent subcontractors and small businesses.
  • Discussion on applying the clause ensued.

Issue #2: Price vs Quality of Resource

  • It was agreed that this issue requires a lot of scoping and definition, but appears to be related to the inability of suppliers to provide innovative solutions to government requirements. There is a common belief in the private sector that “lowest price wins”, which creates a race to the bottom in terms of quality, and is also untenable from a small business point of view. Members noted that the issue may be partly caused by poor SOWs and Evaluation Criteria produced by client departments, which could be remedied by better tools and education provided to client departments. A PWGSC member emphasized that this issue could partly be remedied by more early engagement with suppliers, and more effective application of Smart Procurement to PWGSC contracting instruments.

Issue #3: Recycled Procurement

  • A PWGSC member indicated that they had been doing some work related to this issue and would circulate this work secretarially so that members may then review it and discuss. Supplier members indicated that they would go back to their Industry members to gain a better understanding of what could be done towards resolving this issue.

Issue #4: Encouraging women, Aboriginal and minority-owned businesses

  • Discussion on this item was limited, but leads were established to further define and develop the issues and solutions.

Issue #5: More information about major projects

  • This issue centered on alerting industry about upcoming major projects, to encourage more of a dialogue between client departments and suppliers, who may be able to offer innovative solutions to meet the needs of major projects. Again, members emphasized the need for early engagement, but also suggested that the other advisory committee could be used as a communication tool. However, industry members emphasized there still needs to be some kind of media tool to increase public awareness of these projects.

Item #6: Lack of equivalency and appropriateness of certifications

  • One member indicated that a CMC Sub-committee is working on this issue and recently produced a paper about it. She agreed to provide a copy of this paper to the Sub-committee. Members indicated that this issue may also be linked to the need for better tools and education for clients.

Item #7: Difficulties obtaining Security clearances

  • One member stated that: “The Canadian Industrial Security Directorate (CISD) appears to have an interim solution to the issue, where by the security clearances need not be transferred to other firms, but only duplicated under the firm bidding them for a specific requirement. CISD's more permanent solution lies in allowing firms to register directly with CISD, an option that now appears to be open to independent contractors.“
  • Members agreed that CISD could be brought into this discussion, but that this issue is also being discussed and dealt with at the SAC level.

Finally, as members established leads for these issues, each of these leads agreed they would determine a target date for completion for their respective issues, which will be reflected in the updated Action Log.

Review of Decision Items

  • The Terms of Reference will be amended to reflect the changes discussed at this 11 September 2014 meeting of the Sub-committee and circulated secretarially for approval.
  • News supplier issues and the Action Log will remain a standing agenda item for the Sub-committee to be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis, as a living document.
  • The findings from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce's recent round table with entrepreneurs will be circulated to the group; (To be circulated secretarially.)
  • PWGSC will provide data concerning user client departments' use of Professional Services tools and procurements services to inform the sub-committee's search for a client department representative. (To be circulated secretarially.)
  • Members agreed to look for Director-level client representatives to participate special guests/presenters to the Sub-committee.
  • Leads were assigned to each of the issues on the Action Log from the membership. Leads agreed to further define, research and determine target dates for completion of their respective issues; updating the Action Log by mid-November before the next meeting. (Action Log to be circulated secretarially.)

Next Meeting: Topics & Date

The next meeting will take place in early December; the exact day and time to be determined.