On February 26, 2015, the FMI-Edmonton Chapter is hosting a professional development session, ‘Procurement-Who Does it Well?’. The pre-event program notes are available (including speaker biographies) for those wanting a bit more detail or context.
The purpose of this session is to explore:
Canadian governments (federal, provincial, municipal and agencies) collectively procure billions of dollars each year. Efficient and effective procurement is critical to the proper functioning of government operations and central to a modern economy. This professional training session will consider the public sector procurement challenges from many perspectives including procurement professionals, public servants who need to purchase goods/services, the financial manager, system providers and of course the taxpayer who ultimately pays for the purchase. This is a joint presentation by FMI and PwC Canada – a global leader in supply chain and procurement.
With any good session, a set of questions helps to explore the issues. Available to speak to (if not answer the questions) are experts from PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as well as Federal/Provincial/Municipal government finance and procurement professionals. In addition, we will also use the ‘wisdom of crowds’ for this session in which individuals attending can text/email in responses to questions which they think better answer or contribute to the question.
Questions fall into one of the following themes:
1. The Future of Procurement
(Questions relating to changes in People, Process and the Products of the procurement process? This includes the use of technologies, legislation, training, etc.).
- Alberta has recently introduced legislative and Treasury Board directive changes increasing the difficulty of conducting sole-source contracts, the use of contract review committees, changes to conflict of interest and other amendments. Where do these changes place Alberta relative to the rest of Canada for transparency and over-sight of the procurement process? Should any of the changes be adopted by other levels of government, if not already; in particular, by municipalities?
- How well do government organizations in Alberta coordinate their procurement activities? Do other jurisdictions to a better job and if so, what will Alberta need to do to match this performance?
- How procurement-literate is the average public servant? What is the minimum they should know and where is the best place to learn this?
2. The Current Practicalities of Procurement
(Questions relating to how to ensure compliance with existing organizational and legislative rules and procedures. This includes reducing the burden compliance while selecting the best vendor during a procurement event).
- How much is public-sector procurement a technology problem, a political problem, a people problem, a process problem – or is there a problem?
- How do private sector vendors perceive the government procurement processes in Alberta? How and how much should their perceptions, needs and circumstances be taken into consideration when designing a procurement process or running a procurement activity?
- Are inefficiencies in the public-sector procurement process used to discourage expenditures and thus they are a form of cost avoidance or containment on the part of a government?
3. From the Procurement Professional’s Perspective
(Questions related to how a procurement professional can support public servants in selecting vendors of goods and services).
- How does an organization know that it has a good procurement process? What metrics should an organization track against to make this assessment and are benchmarks available in general or in particular to public-sector procurement?
- Who is the ‘pin-up organization’ that every procurement manager wishes their organization could emulate? Who is the best of the best when it comes to public-sector procurement?
- A common compliant amongst public servants are the Byzantine procurement rules, seemingly arbitrary changes to the procurement process and endless legal reviews. How much is this perception real and how can procurement professionals streamline and the process without losing accountability for a fair, open and transparent bidding process?
- When should a procurement professional be the person to negotiate price with a vendor? What other procurement attributes (e.g. delivery, quality, terms, conditions, etc.) should be the responsibility of the public servant making the purchase versus the procurement professional?
4. From the Financial Manager’s Perspective
(Questions related to what a financial manager must consider when supporting public servants or procurement professionals).
- Canadians were perhaps shocked with the revelations of corruption in Quebec. Over all, how does Canada or Alberta fair on its public-sector procurement being free of corruption? What are the pro-active and retro-active activities to maintain a corruption free status (or to de-corrupt it, as applicable).
- What is the one way a financial professional can assist a public servant or a procurement professional in the context of procurement?
5. Alberta’s Contract Review Committees
(Questions specific to operating a contract review committee within a public sector organization with a specific focus on the province of Alberta’s implementation of a review committee).
Alberta Context: A Government of Alberta Treasury Board directive requires that all departments have in place a contract review committee ‘to support the procurement accountability framework’. This framework in turn will: ‘support consistent goods and services procurement practices, including those in respect of Construction, across all departments, that reflect best practices and foster accountability, fairness, effectiveness, and efficiency ‘.
- Some Alberta Ministries already have contract review committees, how much is this experience being considered when setting up new contract review committees?
- Are the experiences of other governments also being considered, for example ad hoc committees used in selection of federal or municipal committees.
- Should the vendor experience or perspective be considered as part of the deliberations of a contract review committee?
- Some ministries had review committees while others have yet to establish a committee before the April 1, 2015 deadline. How much should and will the committees differ across the ministries? What are the FOIPP and public disclosure consideration for these committees?