Things to know
Although the specific rules governing provincial government procurement vary from province to province, principles of procurement fairness and open competition generally apply across the country.
Government ministries and departments and, in certain provinces, entities that are funded by government are required to comply in accordance with binding procurement policies. For example, Ontario Ministries must comply with the OPS Procurement Directive and a wide variety of entities (including many hospitals, school boards and provincially funded agencies) must comply with the Broader Public Sector Procurement Act and the Broader Public Sector Procurement Guidelines. These policies set out thresholds above which competitive procurements must be used (with narrow exceptions) as well as detailed requirements for content and conduct of the procurements. Other government actors, such as municipalities, often have their own similar procurement policies.
Such policies do not require compliance by the supplier as such but their requirements will be included in the procurement documents. It is important to understand that the issuer of the procurement may have very little flexibility to vary terms once the RFP is issued. In many procurements, it is quite important to fully comment on any proposed contractual terms, because the combination of general procurement principles and applicable policies may result in the issuer of the procurement having very little latitude to negotiate terms which were not raised in the initial response.
Certain provinces in Canada have specific rules relating to personal information which add additional complexity to selling in the public sector. Personal information under the custody or control of public bodies in British Columbia or Nova Scotia must be stored and accessed only within Canada. Although some exceptions to this requirement exist, the statutory rules create significant barriers to selling goods and services to the governments and public bodies in these provinces where personal information may be processed or accessed outside Canada.
Things to do
- Carefully review any provincial government procurement documents, with particular emphasis on whether negotiations of terms after submission of the proposal will be permitted.
- Ensure that information handling requirements in the procurement documents and as required by law in the province are taken into account when formulating a response, including the economics and practical ability to comply with the requirements.