Standing Offers

Attention: The Government Procurement provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) continue to apply until the recently announced United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is ratified and enters into force. More information about the USMCA will be provided in the coming weeks.

Table of Contents

What are standing offers?

A standing offer is not a contract. A standing offer is an offer from a potential supplier to provide goods and/or services at pre-arranged prices, under set terms and conditions, when and if required. It is not a contract until the government issues a "call-up" against the standing offer. The government is under no actual obligation to purchase until that time.

When are standing offers used?

Standing offers are used to meet recurring needs when departments or agencies are repeatedly ordering the same goods or services. They may also be used when a department or agency anticipates a need for a variety of goods or services for a specific purpose; however, the actual demand is not known and delivery is to be made when a requirement arises. Common products purchased this way include food, fuel, pharmaceutical and plumbing supplies, tires and tubes, stationery, office equipment and electronic data processing equipment. Common services include repair and overhaul, and temporary help services.

Standing offers are most suited to goods or services that can be clearly defined to allow suppliers to offer firm pricing. Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) issue standing offers when it is determined that this is the best method of supply. Departments and agencies may also establish their own standing offers.

Why are standing offers used?

The standing offer is a convenient method of supply that saves time and money. Once a standing offer is issued, the department or agency deals with you directly to obtain the goods or services they need. Call-ups against a standing offer are processed faster, involve less paperwork and have pre-set prices and terms already determined. For taxpayers, the advantages are lower government administrative costs and reduced inventory.

How are standing offers issued?

The process of issuing a standing offer is subject to the normal contracting policies and procedures (including procedures required under the trade agreements). You bid on standing offers in the same way you bid on other bid solicitations (see: The Bidding Process). In PWGSC, for example, most Requests for Standing Offers with an estimated value of $25,000 or more are advertised on the Tenders minisite. For standing offers valued at $25,000 or less, PWGSC will solicit bids from selected suppliers registered in its source lists.

When a standing offer is issued to your company, you are offering to provide certain goods or services at specified prices over a specified period of time. If and when the government issues a call-up against your standing offer, only then do you have a contract for the amount indicated in the call-up.
Top of Page

When are standing offers issued?

There is no set rule as to when standing offers are issued. Generally, they are issued at the start of the federal government's fiscal year (April 1 to March 31) but there are many exceptions. Normally standing offers are in effect for one year, but some cover different periods of time. The procurement process for a standing offer starts long before the issue date, depending on the nature and complexity of the requirement, so it is important to watch for Requests for Standing Offers that may be published several months before the anticipated effective date of a standing offer.

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

Types of standing offers

There are five types of standing offers issued by PWGSC. The type used depends on the geographical area involved (for example, regional or Canada-wide) and the number of federal departments or agencies involved.

National Master Standing Offer (NMSO):
used by many departments or agencies throughout Canada.
Regional Master Standing Offer (RMSO):
used by many departments or agencies within a specific geographic area.
National Individual Standing Offer (NISO):
used by a specific department or agency throughout Canada.
Regional Individual Standing Offer (RISO):
used by a specific department or agency within a specific geographic area.
Departmental Individual Standing Offer (DISO):
used only by PWGSC on behalf of specific departments and agencies.

How are goods and services ordered?

Goods or services covered under a standing offer are ordered using a call-up document. This document indicates acceptance of the standing offer to the extent of the goods or services being ordered and serves as a notice to the supplier to deliver the goods or to provide the service. A separate contract is entered into each time a call-up is made against a standing offer.

There is no contractual obligation on either party until a call-up is made.

Standing offers are not contracts in the legal sense and either party may withdraw from a standing offer by notification to the other party. However, all call-ups received by a supplier prior to withdrawing are legally binding and must be honoured. Departments and agencies order only the goods or services actually required.

Financial limitations

Individual call-ups are limited to a maximum total dollar value as specified in the standing offer.

Can standing offers be arranged with more than one supplier?

Standing offers can be arranged with more than one supplier for the same goods or services. This way we can be sure that goods or services will always be available.

Top of Page

Supplier debriefing

If you bid on a standing offer and are not successful, ask for a debriefing. We will tell you who won and why and how you can improve future submissions.

For more information, please consult the Supplier Debriefings Web page.

For more information

For more information about standing offers, please contact your nearest PWGSC Regional Office.