The Procurement Process

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How is the procurement process started?

The Government of Canada is one of the largest public buyers of goods and services in Canada, purchasing approximately $16.05 billion worth every year on behalf of federal departments and agencies. As the government's main buyer of goods and services (including construction), Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) plays a key role by helping federal departments and agencies define their requirements or scope of work, and obtain what they need at the best value.

PWGSC procurement activities are principally carried out pursuant to the following legal framework:

  • statutes and regulations;
  • agreements;
  • policies, directives, procedures and guidelines; and
  • challenge process.

The procurement process begins when a federal department or agency sends a requisition to PWGSC. Depending on the requirements, the requisition may be handled by a contracting officer at headquarters or in a regional office.

In keeping with the Government Contracts Regulations, procurement is done by means of:

  • a competitive procurement process whenever possible; or
  • a non-competitive procurement process (only used in certain special circumstances).

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What is the competitive procurement process?

The competitive process aims to get the best value for Canadians while enhancing access, competition and fairness. The majority of contracts awarded to small and medium enterprises are done on a competitive basis, making it the most common process used by the government.

What are the methods of supply?

PWGSC buys goods and services using the following methods of supply:

  • contracts
  • standing offers and supply arrangements

Contracts

Requirements above $25,000

Many of the requirements over $25,000, including all applicable taxes, are published on the Government Electronic Tendering Service (GETS) available on the Tenders minisite. Various databases (such as ProServices and SELECT) allow contracting officers to purchase up to $80,400 of professional services and real property consulting services and up to $100,000 for construction services without publishing on the Tenders minisite.

For more information on these database systems, consult the Register to Provide Services Web page.

Requirements below $25,000

For requirements below $25,000, including all applicable taxes, contracting officers may request quotations from suppliers directly. These requirements are considered by PWGSC as low dollar value procurement. In this case, contracting officers will determine the most appropriate procurement strategy for each requirement to obtain best value and ensure the timeliness and cost-effectiveness of each contract. They may use various methods of supply to identify and select a supplier on either a competitive or non-competitive basis. Often, suppliers may be selected from the Supplier Registration Information system.

Standing offers and supply arrangements

Standing offers and supply arrangements are two types of non-binding agreements between the federal government and potential suppliers of specified goods or services. These agreements outline the terms and conditions that will apply to future requirements to be ordered on an as and when required basis.

Access the weekly updated Standing Offers and Supply Arrangements data to find current standing offers and supply arrangements in your business sector.

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What is the non-competitive procurement process?

The non-competitive (or sole source) approach is only used in certain special circumstances:

  • The need is one of pressing emergency in which delay would be injurious to the public interest;
  • The estimated expenditure does not exceed:
    • $25,000 for goods and services (contracting officers are still expected to solicit bids below this value whenever it is cost effective to do so);
    • $100,000 for architectural, engineering and other services required in respect of the planning, design, preparation or supervision of the construction, repair, renovation or restoration of a work;
    • $100,000 for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) service contracts related to international development assistance programs or projects;
  • Only one person is capable of performing the work, such as when a supplier owns a copyright or a licence;
  • The nature of the work is such that it would not be in the public interest to solicit bids (for example, requirements dealing with national security, such as some military projects).

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What is an Advance Contract Award Notice (ACAN)?

An ACAN is a public notice published on the Tenders minisite for a minimum of 15 calendar days, indicating to the supplier community that a department or agency intends to award a contract for goods, services or construction to a pre-qualified supplier believed to be the only one capable of performing the work, that way enabling other suppliers during the publishing period to signal their interest in bidding by submitting a statement of capabilities. If no other supplier submits a statement of capabilities that meets the requirements set out in the ACAN, the contracting officer may then proceed with awarding the contract to the pre-qualified supplier.

If one or more suppliers meet the requirements, the contracting officer will then use the competitive process.