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March 15, 2011

The Minutes contain preliminary information regarding the proposed National Strategy for Office Furniture. In the near future, a Request for Information (RFI) will be posted on the GETS/MERX (for suppliers) and on GCPedia (for PWGSC clients) containing the detailed proposed National Strategy. In the interim, questions may be directed to Robert Picco at 819-956-9564.


Government Office Furniture Advisory Committee Meeting (GOFAC)
March 15, 2011, 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Gatineau, Québec


  • Greg Rapier, Knoll North America Corp.
  • David Swire, Teknion Furniture Systems
  • Bruce Parratt, The Global Group
  • Jean Barbeau, Artopex Inc.
  • Gary Fawcett, Fawcett File & Storage Systems
  • André Clement, Asokan Business Interiors & Public Sector Aboriginal Business Association
  • Richard Lafontaine (observer)
  • Francine Brisebois, Chair, PWGSC, Acquisitions Branch, Commercial & Consumer Products Directorate (CCPD)
  • April Charron, PWGSC, CCPD
  • Guy Ranger, PWGSC, CCPD
  • Joy Sellers, PWGSC, CCPD
  • Robert Picco, PWGSC, CCPD
  • Claire Niedbala, PWGSC, OSME
  • Maureen Farrington, PWGSC, Real Property Branch, National Accommodation Management
  • Daniel O. Jean, Canadian Heritage


  • Eli Gilbert, Canadian Atlas Furniture Corp.
  • Sean Macey, Basics Office Products Ltd.
  • Alexandra Reid, PWGSC, Real Property Branch, Architecture & Industrial Design
  • Howard Dudley, Industry Canada

Agenda Items

Item 1 - Opening Remarks

Francine Brisebois welcomed all participants. April Charron was accepted as the Secretary for the meeting.  All participants agreed that the draft of the Minutes be circulated for comment in English, with the final version published in French and English.

The Chair acknowledged the 17 months since the last GOFAC meeting and indicated PWGSC's intention to continue the GOFAC meetings on a more frequent basis.

The agenda was accepted as proposed.

Item 2 - Terms of Reference (TOR)

Reference: Terms of Reference, Revision No. 1 - 28 February 2011, Draft No. 1.

The TOR was accepted in principle; however, comments can be sent to April Charron until March 18, 2011. If no comments are received, the approval of the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) of PWGSC will be requested to make the revised TOR official. Once official, the TOR will be distributed by the GOFAC Secretary.

The Chair indicated that a future GOFAC meeting would revisit the membership. All agreed that this revisit, or before then, will include discussion on a mechanism to replace departed members and the role of members and observers.

Action Item: Members to send their comments to the GOFAC Secretary by March 18, 2011.

Item 3 - Changes to Procurement Strategy

Reference: Presentation "Government Office Furniture Advisory Committee Meeting – March 15, 2011, Gatineau, Quebec "Proposed Procurement Strategy for Office Furniture"".

April Charron narrated the presentation that identified proposed solutions and a planned national strategy. Several aspects related to the proposed strategy were discussed during the meeting and are recapped below.

  1. Supply Arrangement-Only Approach - Not Standing Offer (SO) & Supply Arrangement (SA)

    The current process incorporates a blended SO/SA approach, however, the proposed national strategy moves to an SA-only approach. This change in procurement will allow suppliers the opportunity for on-going qualification and award of an SA. There will be no "opportunity lock-out" period attached to non-responsive submissions. It was pointed out that the qualification process is not based on supplier pricing, only that suppliers must offer ceiling prices for products and services listed in the Request for Supply Arrangement (RFSA). Some suppliers questioned how the on-going qualification process would work and it was pointed out that a RFSA would be posted on the Government Electronic Tendering Service (GETS) on a perpetual basis and that suppliers may submit a response to the RFSA at any time during the life of the SA period.

  2. Individual Bid Requirement Thresholds

    The SA will contain three procurement ranges entitled Tiers. The Tiers address procurements up to $25K, procurements >$25K to $400K and procurements >$400K to $10M. Each Tier will have business rules that specify the applicable requirements and procurement process. These business rules are largely based on policy requirements respecting procurements within those thresholds.

    Clients will conduct procurements up to $25K and can conduct procurements up to $400K or have PWGSC conduct them. Procurements beyond $400K will be conducted by PWGSC. A client participant of the meeting noted that this increased procurement responsibility might cause strain on client resources. It was pointed out that clients conduct about 95% of all transactions under the current process and if clients feel they are not able to carry out procurements beyond $25K they can ask PWGSC to do so. Also, as part of the SA, templates have been developed to assist clients in the procurement process, thus reducing strain on resources.

  3. Which Suppliers Can Qualify for an SA

    Concerns were raised on the belief that only manufacturers would be able to qualify for an SA and not dealers or aboriginal firms. It was pointed out that any supplier can qualify for an SA and PWGSC has never conducted a SO/SA procurement process that was exclusive to any specific type of supplier, such as manufacturers, or limited the number of suppliers that can compete.

  4. Competition Amongst SA Holders

    Much discussion centered on the matter of competition for individual contracts amongst SA holders. It was presented that competition will be a key element of the SA process. Procurements under $25K may be competed, by clients, amongst SA holders using the e-Purchasing tool as a method of defining and sourcing requirements. PWGSC stipulated that it encourages competition amongst at least two or three suppliers and that the final minimum is yet to be determined. Also under consideration is a threshold that would allow clients to direct procurements to any SA holder without competition.

    Procurements above $25K and up to $10M must be competed using GETS/MERX as the communication method. Questions were raised as to whether these procurements will also be competed amongst SA holders, and if so, how many? It was pointed out that due to the international trade agreements, PWGSC cannot limit the number of suppliers that can compete or exclude non-SA holders from competing for any requirements, and, that non-SA holders must be given an opportunity to qualify for an SA, but in order to receive a contract, a supplier must be an SA holder. It was further pointed out that the award of a contract does not have to be delayed by the time required to process a non-SA holder bid for becoming an SA holder.

    A concern was raised that the on-going qualification process and allowing all suppliers opportunity to compete on procurements above $25K will have a negative impact on aboriginal businesses. It was pointed out that aboriginal firms will not be prohibited from receiving an SA and that separate SAs will be issued to continue supporting the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business.

  5. Basket of Goods and Optional Items

    It was presented that the SA will incorporate a pre-determined Basket of Goods (BoG) with optional items that enhance products in the BoG and that during the proposed National Strategy, consideration will be given to determining the ability to incorporate a "solution based approach" procurement into the SA.

    Several questions were raised concerning the BoG products. Industry members wanted to know how the BoG is determined; will the BoG be updated from time to time; and will the BoG be aligned with Workplace 2.0? PWGSC indicated that various methods are used to determine BoG products and that the BoG is based on current client requests and historical need. It was also noted that BoG products are minimum components; during the life of the SA the BoG can be revised and that consideration will be given to aligning the BoG with Workplace 2.0. Also included in the discussion was the point that optional items must be available from at least two suppliers before being considered for inclusion into an SA so as not to create any "artificial" competition amongst suppliers.

  6. Pricing

    The shift to an SA-only approach also brings a change in pricing structure. Suppliers will be asked to supply ceiling prices for use in the SA, instead of firm prices and discounts. This change allows for further competition on individual bid requirements during the life of the SA, as suppliers will be able to use then current pricing and applicable reductions in an effort to achieve lowest price. It was presented that SAs will offer opportunity to refresh ceiling prices approximately every 24 months. Some industry members expressed concern that this 24-month may be too long. PWGSC advised that suppliers will be asked to comment on the refresh period during the time the draft National Strategy is posted on GETS/MERX.

Item 4 - Moving Forward

Reference: Presentation at Item 3 above, Section "Moving Forward".

April Charron narrated the presentation. Some of the existing procurement instruments will expire prior to the expected finalization of the proposed National Strategy and the formal adoption of the SA-only approach. PWGSC plans on replacing these procurement instruments with the SA-only approach in lieu of continuing with the current SO/SA blended approach. The SA is drafted and is near completion. Office Seating will use the SA-only approach and will serve as a first test case for the solicitation and evaluation process. PWGSC plans on extending the procurement instruments for a time that is commensurate with the completion of the Request for Supply Arrangement (RFSA) and SA award process. No objection was raised.

The other procurement instruments that will expire after the expected finalization of the proposed National Strategy will be replaced by that Strategy. Those expiring in March 2012 might require extension commensurate with the RFSA and SA award process.

Item 5 - Round Table

Meeting participants supported the Planned Changes and proposed National Strategy covered at Item 3. Francine Brisebois stressed that the key will be managing the SA and PWGSC's corresponding electronic tools.

The member for the Public Sector Aboriginal Business Association indicated that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has expressed an interest in attending the GOFAC meetings. Also, the member asked that the agenda for the next GOFAC meeting include Aboriginal enterprise matters that he will identify at a later date.

Some industry members requested the link for the PWGSC Buy and Sell website.

Action Item:

  1. The GOFAC Secretary is to receive specific INAC contact information.
  2. PWGSC is to communicate with the INAC contact.
  3. The Public Sector Aboriginal Business Association member is to provide the GOFAC Secretary with the requested agenda items for the next GOFAC meeting.
  4. GOFAC Secretary to send members the Buy and Sell website address.

Item 6 - Future Meetings

All members agreed to a monthly meeting until further agreement to change the frequency. Francine Brisebois stressed that the frequency is dependant upon the PWGSC budget for travel expenses that are reimbursed to our distant industry members. She further indicated that approval needs to be obtained respecting the budget commencing April 1st, 2011 and, therefore, the next meeting may not be until May 2011.

Francine Brisebois suggested alternate forms of meeting, such as conference by telephone or video. Members agreed to alternating between on-site and distant methods because face-to-face contact is key.

Action Item:

  1. PWGSC to seek budget approval and determine possible frequency and methods; communicate with members.
  2. PWGSC to seek member agenda items for the next meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.