Public servants frequently fail to listen to the concerns of government suppliers and instinctively deny responsibility for any problems, according to Canada’s procurement ombudsman.
This is causing a breakdown in trust between the federal government and its vendors, said Shahid Minto in his annual report, tabled in the House of Commons Tuesday.
“Poor communications continue to negatively affect relations between the government and its suppliers” Mr. Minto said in a statement.
“Often the government’s first response to a complaint has been denial of any responsibility for the underlying problem ... Suppliers are mature partners in the supply management team and they should be treated with respect.”
Mr. Minto, who spent 28 years working in the office of Canada’s auditor general, said that while he understands the need to minimize legal liability, these unnecessary denials leads to delays and additional costs.
The report said government departments are taking steps to improving communications and that the procurement ombudsman will conduct a formal follow-up later this year.
Mr. Minto also said the federal government is not keeping adequate records to support its purchasing decisions, a problem he finds “troubling” and “requiring immediate attention.”
“Lack of essential documentation on files raises questions about the integrity of the procurement process,” said Mr. Minto.
In some cases, inadequate records resulted in unfavourable consequences when government decisions were challenged before tribunals or the courts, he noted.
Mr. Minto said it is insufficient to simply repeat calls for the government to properly document procurement files. Instead, he wants it to be made a performance measurement for public sector administrators.
The Office of the Procurement Ombudsman was created under the federal government’s Accountability Act and became fully operational in September 2008.