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September 29, 2009


Government Office Furniture Advisory Committee Meeting (GOFAC)
September 29, 2009
Place du Portage, 111, 14A2, Room 101
Gatineau, Québec

In Attendance

  • Pierre Tremblay – AB/PWGSC - Chairperson
  • André Clement Asokan Business Interiors
  • Jean Barbeau - Artopex Inc.
  • Sean Macey - Basics Office Products
  • Eli Gilbert - CAF
  • Gary Fawcett - Fawcett Filing and Storage
  • Bruce Parratt - The Global Group
  • Robert Axam - Haworth
  • Richard Lafontaine - Tayco
  • David Swire - Teknion
  • Greg Rapier - BIFMA
  • Manon Brisebois - Industry Canada
  • Susan MacKenzie - OSME/PWGSC
  • Stéphane Girardin - OGGO/PWGSC
  • Veronica Silva - A&ID/RPB/PWGSC
  • Judi Murtough - NAMD/RPB/PWGSC
  • Maureen Farrington - AMB/RPB/PWGSC
  • John Penhale - CES/PWGSC
  • Guy Ranger - AB/PWGSC
  • Bill Dubroy - AB/PWGSC
  • Jill Biesenthal - AB/PWGSC


  • Daniel Jean - Canadian Heritage


Item 1 - Welcome and Introductions

Following a round table introduction of all members, Pierre Tremblay welcomed everyone to the meeting. He then provided an overview of the issues that would be discussed at the meeting.

Item 2 - Acceptance of Minutes - dated November 18, 2008

The minutes from the November 18, 2008 meeting were accepted with no further discussion.

Item 3 - Revised Procurement Strategy for Office Furniture

Pierre initiated the discussions on the revised procurement strategy detailed in the documentation provided to GOFAC members, by explaining why PWGSC was taking these steps.

The results of the two previous standing offer programs - freestanding furniture and desking systems - were disappointing and completely unexpected. In addition, industry representatives made government quite aware of the fact that the selection process was too onerous, resulting in an overall outcome where too few suppliers qualified for award of a Standing Offer Agreement.

Initially there was some confusion among GOFAC members on the two different processes in the revised procurement strategy - award of competitive Standing Offers for requirements <$25K and award of Supply Arrangements for requirements >$25K. It was explained that the process for requirements <$25K will remain the same.

The Supply Arrangement process for requirements >$25K will differ in that suppliers may qualify at any time. Within the Supply Arrangement process, GOFAC members were presented with three different options to solicit bids for requirements over $25K. The option favoured by GOFAC members was to maintain the use of e-purchasing for these requirements. Suppliers, both large and small did not wish to incur the added burden of providing 150 or more additional proposals per year to PWGSC.

To ensure that issues which arose from the previous solicitations for freestanding and desking do not repeat themselves, PWGSC agreed to issue the following documentation GOFAC members and to industry to solicit their input prior to publishing the Request for Proposal on MERX later in the fall.

  • Draft RFSO/RFSA for desking and freestanding furniture
  • Reports to suppliers indicating areas of non-compliance
  • Basket of Goods
  • Purchase descriptions for the applicable commodities

Several issues related to the Standing Offer/Supply Arrangement process in general were discussed. They are summarized below:

Topics Discussed
  • Why a limit the supplier to offering 2 series?
  • Why maintain the price evaluation based upon the median + 10%
  • Allow the supplier to offer different series on the Supply Arrangement versus the Standing Offer?
  • Clients often require products with features not readily available on the Basket of Goods product offering due to cost implications
  • How will the service component be addressed?
  • Will the technical qualification be status quo?
  • Should the 2-year duration of the Standing Offers be maintained?

In concluding the discussions on the revised procurement strategy for office furniture, the following action plan was accepted.

In the short term, PWGSC will proceed with the revised procurement strategy, as per the handout, utilizing e-purchasing (option1) for the Supply Arrangements

In the longer term, PWGSC will develop and establish, through discussions with clients and GOFAC, a parallel program to incorporate a process into the procurement strategy whereby increased product innovation, increased product quality, increased product service and increased environmental product design are considered.

Item 4 - Commodity Management Framework

John Penhale enlightened GOFAC members on the project to build on the commodity management framework for office furniture. The objective of this project is to develop a national approach in managing office furniture. As part of this process, a demand, spend and market analysis will be undertaken to produce the draft national strategy for office furniture. This analysis will look not only at the past, but will also review how industry is changing and how best to support all stakeholders. The approach could be separated into two different strategies - one for low dollar procurements and another for high dollar strategies.

At this point, Pierre reiterated that for the short term i.e. the next 6 - 9 months, it is the intent of PWGSC to continue with the strategy proposed at today's meeting. PWGSC would move towards a new strategy in line with the final commodity management framework in approximately 12 months. As key stakeholders, GOFAC members will be involved in the process.

Item 5 - Closing Remarks

Several issues were raised during the closing remarks and have been listed for reference and/or action as required.

  • Due to the number of amendments that are occurring during a bidding period, it is the intent of the Furniture Division to amend the current question and answer (Q & A) process. Instead of issuing amendments in response to a series of questions, thus resulting in numerous amendments (often answering similar questions) the furniture division will incorporate a mandatory cut-off date for the receipt of all questions. In all likelihood, this date will be mid-way during the bidding period. At that time, one amendment will be issued to respond to all questions received. However, PWGSC will still respond to any question(s) received after the mandatory cut-off date, if the response could impact the technical and/or contractual requirements of the solicitation.
  • It was reconfirmed that the solicitation for the desking program would be re-issued due to the disappointing results obtained from the previous solicitation, and that official notification would be sent to all suppliers who bid.
  • The question of 'fairness' arose with respect to the rebidding of the freestanding furniture program versus not rebidding the panel system program. It may be perceived that larger companies have more impact on the results. Pierre reiterated that the freestanding program was being re-bid as the outcome of the bid solicitation process was way below the government's expectations.
  • It was suggested that the minimum installation fees are too low. Although the installation fees for new Standing Offer programs are those reviewed by GOFAC, members were encouraged to forward their recommendations.
  • A request was made, that PWGSC provide a table that would give GOFAC members a brief summary on the status of all office furniture National Master Standing Offer programs.

Item 6 - Next Meeting

Office seating will be discussed at the next meeting.

Dates for the next meeting were discussed. Due to the fact that some members are not available the third week of October, the next meeting is tentatively scheduled for November 3, 2009.