Procurement: Standing Committee on Public Accounts—May 27, 2021

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Procurement modernization


Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is delivering on government commitments to modernize and simplify procurement.

Suggested response

If pressed on diversifying procurement (Black-owned businesses):

If pressed on the policy on social procurement:

If pressed on Indigenous procurement:

If pressed on the procurement ombudsman’s annual report citing the “unnecessarily complex nature of the federal procurement process”:


A substantial part of public investment is managed through public sector acquisition of goods and services, representing 13% of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data from 2015. This makes it a fundamental lever to achieving social and economic objectives.

The government has committed to modernize and simplify procurement, and to establish an electronic procurement solution. A key step towards this goal was the March 2020 soft launch of Canada Buys, our new electronic procurement system, as announced in Budget 2018, at a cost of $196.8 million over 5 years. Procurement processes will also be easier, faster and more accessible for suppliers and buyers through:

Notably, an Accessible Procurement Resource Centre (APRC) was established in June 2018 to support government buyers in integrating accessibility criteria into their procurement requirements for goods and services. Work includes examining how we can ensure that procurement is accessible to all so that suppliers with disabilities can become part of the government’s supply chain, and to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to work as government suppliers.

The government will also support other procurement commitments including better vendor management tools, clear data metrics, and increased opportunities for Indigenous businesses.

Agile procurement process


Public Services and Procurement Canada is developing and implementing agile procurement practices in line with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement’s mandate to modernize procurement.

Key messages

Agile procurement is a new collaborative approach that focuses on outcomes. It brings together government and industry to design procurements in an iterative manner to achieve results. PSPC formally established an Innovation and Agile Procurement Centre in May 2020, though PSPC had been developing and promoting agile procurement practices since June 2019. The centre supports contracting officers and their clients on agile and innovative procurement practices by developing tools and training. The centre is currently staffed with 4 full-time employees (including the director). Since 2019, the centre has delivered over 15 training and engagement sessions to various PSPC sectors and regions, and other government departments and agencies.

In July 2020, the centre released the agile procurement playbook. The playbook provides high-level guidance on agile procurement. It identifies principles, best practices and the benefits of using an agile approach. Some key principles of using an agile approach include:

This can be achieved by following some best practices which involve:

The key benefits of this approach comprise of higher user buy-in and increased chances for success as continuous course corrections can save time and money. The centre is developing additional documents and tools to provide further guidance and training to contracting officers and clients.

The centre also presented agile procurement approaches and guidance at 2 events hosted by the Canadian Institute for Procurement and Materiel Management (CIPMM). These events include the June 2019 CIPMM National Workshop and the December 2019 CIPMM Agile and Innovation Procurement Symposium. Furthermore, on October 1, 2020, the centre presented at the Industry Day for the Correctional Service of Canada’s offender management system modernization project.

Status update on e-procurement solution


As part of the Government of Canada’s efforts to modernize procurement, in July 2018, Public Services and Procurement Canada awarded a contract to Infosys Public Services, Inc. to implement and manage an electronic procurement solution. This followed the Budget 2018 commitment to allocate $196.8 million over 5 years to establish an e-platform for simpler, better procurement.

PSPC’s response to the Auditor General’s Report on Procuring Complex Information Technology Solutions identifies that the “implementation of the electronic procurement solution is underway” and “will further improve the capture of procurement data and information associated with decision making.”

Key messages

Supporting Public Services and Procurement Canada’s COVID-19 response

PSPC leveraged the electronic procurement solution’s infrastructure to rapidly deliver critical systems in support of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 response. This included rapidly deploying:

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