Looking forward to post COVID-19 for procurement: Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates—June 9, 2020

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Procurement activities

Looking forward beyond the immediate emergency brought on by COVID-19, procurement will play a critical role in ensuring a quick and full recovery of the Canadian economy. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) will continue working with other government departments to ensure that their procurement needs are actioned quickly.

For example, partnerships with Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) will continue as the government continues to leverage Canadian innovation and ingenuity through the Innovative Solutions Canada programs. There will also be contracts established, such as the one awarded to Medicom Canada, to continue to strengthen Canada’s domestic capacity to respond to another pandemic, or a potential re-appearance of COVID-19.

The current challenges and constraints to the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) are providing a number of lessons learned that will likely impact future procurement activities:

Domestic supply:
Canada has been very reliant on foreign supply, particularly Chinese supplies of PPE, medical devices and medications. In the future, there could be more emphasis on sourcing essential products within Canada.
Supply chains:
Globalization has contributed to the development of complex international supply chains. To better manage the risk of obtaining goods and services when facing an emergency, a deeper understanding of global supply chains that produce these essential goods and services is required.
Outside of an emergency situation, it has been the responsibility of a client department and the suppliers to manage logistics, including delivery of products to the end user. In order to effectively respond to the pandemic crisis, PSPC has played a lead role in logistics to successfully get product to Canada, which could impact how we do things in the future.
The challenges of ramping up supply of PPE and equipment suggest the potential for additional contingency measures in the future, such as changes to the National Emergency Strategy Stockpile, contingent contracts and emergency procurement authorities

In addition to potential changes in procurement activities, it can be expected that the guidelines being developed to support the transition back to work will drive demand for new and additional PPE, equipment and goods.

As overall government operations resume, PSPC will continue playing an important role in ensuring that contracts are competed, awarded, and managed so that the critical goods and services being delivered to Canadians continue.

Future reporting requirements

PSPC will be working closely with central agencies and other government departments to ensure that appropriate measures have been put in place to deliver on reporting requirements.

From a procurement standpoint, there are a number of existing requirements that PSPC will continue to meet including those for the Public Accounts, departmental reporting, as well as other requirements to report on specific activities to central agencies, such as the use of an emergency contracting authority.

The response to COVID-19 procurement has necessitated the use of tracking tools and the development of different tracking reports. As an example, new reports have been developed to track supplies through the logistical process, from production to export and custom inspections, shipments and deliveries.

Post COVID-19, PSPC will draw lessons learned from these reporting activities and carry forward best practices.

Future audit requirements

It is anticipated that future audits and evaluations could focus on the use of non-traditional procurement authorities with an emphasis on the documentation, due diligence and controls used in exercising special authorities granted during this COVID-19 period.

Another potential avenue of audit activity could involve work on lessons learned on COVID-19, to continue efforts that worked well and to identify potential areas to better prepare for the next emergency and/or pandemic.

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