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May 13, 2008

Record of Decisions

Government Office Furniture Advisory Committee Meeting (GOFAC)
Record of Decisions
May 13, 2008
11A1, Room 101
Gatineau, Québec

In Attendance

  • Ray Townsley - The Global Group
  • Jean Barbeau - Artopex-Plus Inc.
  • Robert Axam - Haworth Inc.
  • Gary Fawcett - Fawcett Files & Storage Systems
  • David Swire - Teknion Furniture Systems
  • André Clément - Asokan
  • Carol Blotniuk (RPS)
  • Judi Murtough (RPS)
  • Howard Dudley (Industry Canada)
  • Sue MacKenzie - OSME
  • Pierre Tremblay - PWGSC
  • Raymond Paquette - PWGSC
  • Josianne Despres - PWGSC
  • Pauline Blanchard - PWGSC
  • William Dubroy - PWGSC
  • Jill Biesenthal - PWGSC


  • Eli Gilbert - Canadian Atlas Furniture
  • Sean Macey - Basics Office Products
  • Cedric Pilon - Canadian Heritage
  • Bruce Parratt - replaced by Ray Townsley
  • Greg Rapier - replaced by Robert Axam


Item 1 - Welcome and Introductions

Pierre Tremblay opened the meeting with a round table introduction of all members present.

Item 2 - Acceptance of the Minutes of April 29, 2008

The minutes of the previous meeting held April 29th, 2008 were accepted with no changes.

André Clement requested an additional agenda item.

  • Add to Agenda: Audit Canada - Scope of the Audit of Aboriginal Firms

Item 3 - Review of Outstanding Items from April 29th meeting

The listing of alternate members will not be published at this time, due to the fact that not all members have provided their alternates.

No revised methodology for determining the median was submitted, however PWGSC is open to reviewing other options if and when they are proposed.

The cabinet standing offers were posted on the departmental Standing Offer web site, which is accessible to federal government employees. The furniture component of e-Purchasing will be updated to incorporate cabinets no later than early summer.

Technical clauses were amended in accordance with the discussions from the April 29th meeting.

As suggested by industry members, a decision was taken by PWGSC to replace the future option to allow companies to self certify to ISO 14001, with the requirement for third party certification to ISO 14001. This initiated a lengthy discussion on the removal of svalue-added"s criteria from the Government's proposed procurement strategy. Industry felt that this strategy would drive the procurement process to an evaluation of price only. Various industry members used the results from the recent cabinet NMSO program as an example of clients losing the choice to procure product with the inherent "value-added" criteria. Some industry members stated that if the government continues with this approach, it may in turn lead to suppliers offering a lesser quality product in any resultant solicitation.

Industry requested that PWGSC follow a process requiring all suppliers to meet the minimum performance stated in the purchase description and those suppliers with additional value-added criteria be recognized in the procurement process. It was suggested that PWGSC consider utilizing their current tool - e-Purchasing - as the means for companies to offer additional environmental criteria to the government. Examples of this criteria are certification to ISO 14001, testing of products offering low emissions to various standards etc. Suppliers felt that there is a good balance between price and function/value-added criteria in the current standing offer programs which use e-Purchasing as the means to promote the value added.

It was discussed and decided that PWGSC should use the current ANSI/BIFMA standard on furniture emissions to fill any gaps in environmental criteria for the upcoming freestanding furniture solicitations, but that a sub-committee should be established to review environmental attributes for future programs. The following members volunteered to be on this sub-committee: André Clement, Judi Murtough, BIFMA representative (to be determined), Global representative (to be determined), Sue MacKenzie, Jean Barbeau, OGGO representative (to be determined).

Members were informed on how they could obtain the technically approved CGSB standard for freestanding desk products and components

  • Members to submit their alternates to Raymond Paquette.
  • PWGSC will review the current strategy in light of committee discussions.
  • PWGSC will approach OGGO to chair and participate in an environmental sub-committee.
  • PWGSC will disseminate information on obtaining C**/CGSB-44.227.

Item 4 - Discuss and Finalize Procurement Strategy for Freestanding Furniture

As there was not an in-depth discussion on the proposed procurement strategy for freestanding furniture at the previous meeting, some issues previously brought up were discussed in more detail.

Industry re-iterated their concern of having to maintain a price list and in some cases a unique computer system for the federal government for numerous years and more specifically for the option years of the standing offer period. PWGSC explained that because these are competitive standing offers and only suppliers who are within +10 % of the median will obtain a standing offer, firm prices couldn't change as this may impact the median. Thus the price list must remain constant, but discounts can change.Industry members expressed their apprehension on meeting the tight time frames for completing the performance tests, if the Request for Standing Offer were to close in the summer months, as previously mentioned by PWGSC. PWGSC suggested that performance tests could be submitted at a later date specified in the solicitation. There was also an issue with this solution, as industry felt that the closing dates for bids and the receipt of test reports should be the same in the event that the product offered had to be amended due to performance issues.

There was some discussion on limiting the number of series to a maximum of two per category and the definition of what a series would entail. It was mentioned by the customers that they wish to simplify the process and to buy product with a common "look and feel", so that products could be purchased from different suppliers, hence the decision to limit certain criteria/series number etc i.e. edge shapes.

The committee questioned the reason for assessing the proposals received based upon the median + 10%. It was suggested that the initial rationale for this assessment methodology allowed the government to obtain the best price while at the same time provided a means for companies to offer product with added value. At the time the decision was taken, the committee was under the impression that e-procurement was not an option for future procurement. There was some confusion whether the previous decision was median price +10% or the median price +/- 10%.

PWGSC re-iterated that two (2) of their goals were to reduce the number of items offered and to reduce the number of Standing Offers. It was noted by PWGSC that basing the median +10%, on a per item basis versus the total basket of goods had an impact on the overall outcome for the cabinet NMSO's; hence the decision to base the price evaluation on the full basket of goods for freestanding furniture. Industry questioned the potential impact of the median +10% on the freestanding furniture commodity

  • PWGSC will close the solicitation, including the requirement for all supporting documentation (i.e. test reports etc.) at the end of October.
  • PWGSC will send a definition of "series" for review by the committee.
  • PWGSC will determine the impact of the median +10% on the four categories of freestanding furniture and report back to the committee with the finalized procurement strategy.

Item 5 - Discuss and Finalize Procurement Strategy for Desking Systems

Initially the discussion centred on the relevance of continuing a standing offer program for the commodity grouping, given the overall expenditure on the part of the government However, one of the committee members stated that it was the fastest growing commodity type within their organization and that desking appeared to be the trend in other countries. With the decision made to continue with this program the discussions centred around the issues previously addressed in the procurement strategy for freestanding furniture i.e. the option years, the time frames for testing, the median +10% pricing evaluation.

  • PWGSC to notify all suppliers on the performance requirements.
  • PWGSC to review the procurement strategy and finalize it at the next meeting.

Item 6 - Review Desking Systems Purchase Description and Basket of Goods

PWGSC requested committee members to review the purchase description and the basket of goods previously sent to them electronically and to forward their comments to PWGSC. The committee were informed that all of the comments received, as well as the action taken would be forwarded to them in a document for their information. It was recommended that the purchase description be forwarded to a larger group for input.

  • PWGSC will forward the purchase description to current NMSO holders, to MERX in the form of a Letter of Interest and to BIFMA to obtain comments.

Item 7 - Audit Canada - Scope of the Audit of Aboriginal Firms

André Clement expressed his concern about the information requested by Audit Canada in undertaking the audit to ensure compliance to set-aside program for Aboriginal business. The fact that Audit Canada have requested all documentation related to call-ups made against various National Master Standing Offers spanning a four year period is very time consuming especially for an SME and will require a team of employees for 2/3 weeks to obtain the information. He stated that he had offered Audit Canada with a listing of all files for them to do a random sampling of the files they wished to review. Other committee members stated that it appeared that there was no consistency between auditors undertaking this task and that Audit Canada had been given no guidelines or parameters to work within.

PWGSC stated that they can only make suggestions to Audit Canada, however they will meet with INAC to discuss the complaints they have received from various suppliers concerning this issue.

  • PWGSC will report to GOFAC on their meeting with INAC.

Item 8 - Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held June 17th, 2008 at Place du Portage, 11 Laurier Street, PDPIII, Gatineau, Quebec, Tower A, 11A1, Room 101 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.