Government Bureaucrats Say Federal Procurement Programs Falling Short of Objectives--"Complex, time-consuming"
November 01, 2007

Government Bureaucrats Say Federal Procurement Programs Falling Short of Objectives

“Complex, time-consuming” -- Call for more discretionary power in directing bids; question whether value is being received

Ottawa, November 7, 2007 … A survey of Federal Government executives released today reveals that much more needs to be done in to improve procurement vehicles and practices if the government is to obtain the efficiencies and value that it targets. A large number of respondents believe that, today, professional services procurement is both more complex and time-consuming.

The survey was done by Canada’s largest high-tech association, CATAAlliance, as part of its Innovation Nation Campaign. The survey was designed to determine the extent to which the recent procurement reform initiatives, know as “the Way Forward” have been received and the impact on the acquisition of IM/IT services within the Federal Government. The Survey targeted GoC Executives, Procurement Officers, end users and representatives of Government IM/IT departments. Respondents were identified from a range of large, medium and small departments.

Survey Highlights

-- Continued dissatisfaction with the detailed specification, low-cost driven approach to procurement, thus limiting the potential for bringing to the table innovative solutions. A result of this approach is that a majority of respondents felt that current procurement approaches are generating less value to the Crown than is possible, with only 34% of respondents claiming they are achieving the desired results.

-- Over half the respondents were not aware of or were confused about the new procurement vehicles being introduced by PWGSC. They are instead using their own department-specific vehicles. Similarly, complaints were identified about the time it took for specific procurements to be approved and issued.

-- A large majority of respondents called for simplification of the procurement of IM/IT services. They advised that ceiling for directed bids should be raised from the current $25,000 to a range between $50,000 and $100,000.

-- Regarding the Federal Government’s doubling the number of employees it uses to deliver IM/IT solutions, the survey showed a mix of opinions as to whether this was the best sourcing strategy for the government to use and whether the focus on permanent employees was the right approach to be taking.

-- Improvements and clarity were required in both the contracting and hiring processes if real value was to be achieved, with flexibility to move between the two to meet specific needs. Alternate arrangements such as public/private partnerships (e.g., the BC model) should also be considered.

CATA President John Reid echoed the comments of one of the Survey Respondents, “We care deeply about the Government Marketplace. We believe there needs to be a governance structure and a political champion that will allow Canada to again become an Innovation Nation and retain the brightest human capital we have. When you see the business justification for innovation in procurement and service delivery from other jurisdictions such as in British Columbia, the payback is very impressive. The Federal Government, has a zero tolerance for risk, and tends to measure its inputs on price only and does not really measure outcomes on value. Experience shows, however, that in the long run that the best is not always the cheapest, not the other way around. We need to focus on the real bottom line - - which is more attention to outcomes-based procurement, versus commodity-based procurement.”

Reid concluded “An integral part of our Innovation Nation Campaign, moving Canada from 14th to first place in Innovation leadership will depend in part on the adoption of strategic approaches to government procurement, commercialization and supply chain management.”

++ Action Item: To receive a copy of the Survey Results please contact John Reid at email with Procurement Survey in the Header. Also available upon request, “Mastering Global Value Chains How Government Procurement Can Spur Canadian Success In The Age of Global Opportunities,” one the foundation white papers for industry advocacy.

About CATAAlliance

The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance grows the revenues of its 28,000 members by creating a collaborative edge -- a chain of expanding value that ripples across Canada’s Innovators, Commercializers, Users, and Professionals.

The largest high-tech association in Canada, CATAAlliance matches businesses with opportunities across almost every sector, so that we can all do business together. Reaching out from Canada, CATAAlliance members are connected with investment and partnership opportunities with the major global companies. As 80% are exporters, CATA’s members are the arrow-head for global growth.

Through its “Innovation Nation” program, CEOs come together to catalyze the development of the Canadian business environment. CATA is the foundation for commercialization, market research, networking, events, access to other associations, and professional development, across the nation.