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June 17, 2008


Government Office Furniture Advisory Committee Meeting (GOFAC)

June 17, 2008
11A1, room 101
Gatineau, Quebec

In Attendance

  • Bruce Parratt – The Global Group
  • Jean Barbeau – Artopex-Plus Inc.
  • Greg Rapier – Knoll Inc.
  • Gary Fawcett – Fawcett Files & Storage Systems
  • David Swire – Teknion Furniture Systems
  • Sean Macey – Basics Office Products Ltd.
  • André Clément – Asokan
  • Eli Gilbert – CAF
  • Sue MacKenzie – OSME
  • Caroline MacIntosh – OGGO
  • Manon Brisebois – IC
  • Pierre Tremblay – PWGSC
  • Alexander Reid – A&ID, PWGSC
  • Veronical Silva – A&ID, PWGSC
  • Raymond Paquette – PWGSC
  • Josianne Despres – PWGSC
  • Pauline Blanchard – PWGSC
  • William Dubroy – PWGSC
  • Jill Biesenthal – PWGSC


  • Cedric Pilon – Canadian Heritage
  • Carol Blotniuk – RPS
  • Howard Dudley – Industry Canada, replaced by Manon Brisebois


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 May 13th, 2008

The minutes of the previous meeting held May 13th, 2008 were accepted with no changes.

Bruce Parratt requested an additional agenda item.

  • Add to Agenda: Reporting of Sales against NMSO’s

Item 3 - Review of Outstanding Items from May 13th 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The listing of alternate members will not be published at this time, due to the fact that not all members have provided their alternates.

Caroline MacIntosh from the Office of the Greening of Government Operations (OGGO) was introduced as the chair of the Environmental sub-committee. It was decided that the initial meeting of this committee will be held the same day as the next GOFAC meeting – July 8th from 1:30 to 4:00. This initial meeting will discuss the mandate and the terms of reference for this committee. Caroline will also be giving a presentation on the Policy on Green Procurement, in the context of broader Greening of Government Operations initiatives, and its implications for the greening of furniture standing offers.

Eli Gilbert requested his name be added to the list of participants on this committee.

PWGSC reported that the impact on a financial evaluation of proposals based upon the median plus 10% will lead to the elimination of the most expensive series and/or supplier using current data for the four categories of freestanding furniture and desking systems.

The committee concurred with Eli Gilbert that there was no longer a requirement for him to submit a statistical approach involving a random sampling of series as the basis for calculating the median.

Although there was a lengthy discussion surrounding the definition of the term “series” proposed by PWGSC for use in their procurement strategies; members concurred with the proposed definition. It was recommended that PWGSC develop examples demonstrating what falls within a series based upon the discussions, so that all suppliers and clients would be familiar with the application of the proposed definition by PWGSC, as well as any impact this definition may have on stakeholders.

  • Eli Gilbert added to the list of participants for the environmental sub-committee
  • PWGSC to prepare a document illustrating examples of “series” and the impact of this definition on stakeholders to be sent to current Standing Offer holders and posted on the Canadian government site of BIFMA

Item 4 - Discuss and Finalize Procurement Strategy for Desking Systems

As there was not an in-depth discussion on the proposed procurement strategy for desking systems 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 several years and more specifically for the option years of the standing offer period.

Suppliers declared that the minimum installation fee of $50 is too low, especially in markets such as B.C and Alberta. They stated that in some cases their dealers would not service clients due to this low fee. PWGSC explained that this figure was taken from the current Standing Offers; suppliers countered with the fact that those fees were quoted four or five years ago and there have been numerous changes in the economic environment since that time. Clients requested confirmation that they could install such items as the keyboard support trays themselves; and industry confirmed this.

It was recommended that the procurement strategy be amended to allow suppliers to decrease their discounts on a monthly basis in e-Purchasing in the event that they had previously increased their discount.

PWGSC was questioned on how new layouts would be introduced into e-Purchasing. It was stated that new layouts could be introduced at the request of the clients, the suppliers or PWGSC. The only restriction being that they must be available from at least two suppliers to be competitive.  

A lengthy discussion revolved around the removal of all of the criteria from e-Purchasing, with the exception of environmental attributes. Both suppliers and clients stated that there was a need to incorporate “value-added” criteria into the product selection process, either through attributes in e-Purchasing or the product description. Clients said that the office environment, of which furniture is a part, plays a role in attracting new employees to the federal government and then in keeping those employees. RPB felt that without any value-added criteria, the client has no options and this strategy would conflict with innovative office solutions. However, some committee members felt that the PWGSC Fit-up Standard impeded innovation and flexibility and not the Standing Offers. The committee was informed that the Fit-up Standard was being revised. PWGSC suggested that several “value-added” criteria be added to the mandatory purchase description. Members were encouraged to provide examples of value-added criteria along with justification for their inclusion.

  • PWGSC will amend the procurement strategy to eliminate the option years for desking
  • PWGSC will raise the minimum installation fee to $100. for desking
  • PWGSC to amend the procurement strategy to allow for a decrease in discounts for e-Purchasing
  • Committee members to propose value-added criteria

Item 5 - Discuss the Procurement Strategy for Panel Systems

Some of the discussions were a repeat of those addressed in the procurement strategy for desking systems i.e. option years/duration of the Standing Offers, minimum installation fees, decrease in discounts for e-Purchasing etc. PWGSC agreed to similar changes in the procurement strategy for panel systems.

Clients and suppliers were concerned with the proposed $10,000 call-up limitation for maintaining the installed base. RPB/PWGSC felt that $200,000 was a more realistic figure, given the projects they are involved in. The suppliers felt that the 10K figure would cause clients to become even more creative in their procurement to maintain their installed base. From the discussions, it appeared that a large component of maintaining the installed base is to refurbish the existing product. PWGSC agreed to increase the call-up limit to $40,000 for goods to maintain the installed base and to investigate the call-up limit for services to handle the refurbishing portion of this requirement. PWGSC also stated that for call-ups over $40K which can be justified as sole source, PWGSC contracting staff can place the call-up on the clients behalf. RPB/PWGSC emphasized that Acquisitions Branch must be cognizant of the fact that clients may not be following the PWGSC Fit-up Standard when ordering product for maintaining their installed base.

Suppliers indicated that there was some ambiguity on the strategy for new installations below $25,000, whereby suppliers could decide to provide product at a higher price than would be considered fair to the government.

Once again, both suppliers and clients stated that there was a need to incorporate “value-added” criteria into the product selection process, either through attributes in e-Purchasing or the product description. PWGSC suggested that several “value-added” criteria be added to the mandatory purchase description. Members were encouraged to provide examples of value-added criteria along with justification for their inclusion.

  • PWGSC to amend the procurement strategy as per the discussions and finalize it at the next meeting
  • Committee members to propose value-added criteria

Item 6 - Meeting with INAC

PWGSC stated that Audit Services Canada are still performing the audits on the Aboriginal firms, but there are some issues which have been brought forth. PWGSC reiterated that it is not their intent to put aboriginal firms out of business and that firms will be given sufficient time to comply with the requirements of the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business (PSAB).

Item 7 - Reporting of Sales against the NMSO’s

Suppliers questioned the requirement to send paper copies of all invoices, when they are currently supplying this information to their large commercial clients electronically. PWGSC explained that they are currently reviewing the data that is being captured in order to clearly define what is required. PWGSC has noted however, that during this exercise, not all vendors are compliant in this area.

  • PWGSC will investigate reporting of sales against NMSO’s further

Item 8 - Closing remarks and Next Meeting

Committee members would like to have the upcoming summer schedule for GOFAC meetings

PWGSC requested that committee members provide their comments on the draft purchase description for panel systems by July 15th

  • Committee will determine summer meeting schedule at the July 8th meeting
  • PWGSC will forward the purchase description for panel systems to current NMSO holders, to MERX in the form of a Letter of Interest and to BIFMA to obtain comments

The next meeting will be held July 8th, 2008 at Place du Portage, 11 Laurier Street, PDPIII, Gatineau, Quebec, Tower A, 11A1, Room 101 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.