Looking forward to post COVID-19 for procurement: Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates—July 23, 2020

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Procurement activities

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 will be more emphasis on sourcing essential products within Canada to the extent possible

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:

Logistics

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 developed strong relationships and developed contract mechanisms with Canadian airlines and logistics services providers to successfully get products to Canada and enable the distribution to end users in an effective way. Using these mechanisms, Canada has been able to transport significant volumes of PPE for Public Health Agency of Canada, other government departments and the provinces and territories. These ongoing partnerships will enable Canada to address significant market challenges and ensure dedicated capacity should circumstances return to those experienced in the first wave of the pandemic

Contingency

The challenges of ramping up supply of PPE 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, other equipment and goods.

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 emergency contracting authorities.

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. This aligns well with the government’s procurement modernization efforts which seek to bring about modern comptrollership, the advancement of socioeconomic outcomes, and the adoption of a modern web-based procurement system. 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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