More than $1M in temp help contracts flagged by procurement ombudsman

Peter Kovessy
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Canada’s procurement ombudsman is once again raising concerns about the contracting practices of a federal training centre for public servants, saying there is evidence it showed favouritism towards specific temporary help suppliers.

Federal procurement ombudsman Frank Brunetta.

Additionally,  the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman found the Canada School of Public Service failed to follow Treasury Board contracting guidelines, did not properly define its requirements, awarded contracts to suppliers that did not meet the mandatory solicitation requirements and failed to keep proper documentation.

“This does not appear to be a case of deficiencies with the school's procurement policy framework, but rather a case of key controls being circumvented for specific contracts,” said ombudsman Frank Brunetta in a statement.

“But I am encouraged with the swift and decisive measures taken to address the identified procurement shortcomings once they were brought to light.”

Mr. Brunetta did not name the vendors included in his office’s investigation.

The review involved six contracts with two consultants. One received four contracts with a total value of $434,434 that were awarded between July 2010 and July 2011 for financial services. The other received two contracts for human resources services between November 2010 and April 2011, worth a total of $259,548.

All the contracts were awarded under a temporary help services supply arrangement, a commonly used procurement vehicle that allows federal organizations to solicit bids from prequalified vendors.

Officials requested a list of contracts awarded under the same temporary help services vehicle to use as a comparative sample. The Office of the Procurement Ombudsman found numerous examples of contracting policies and guidelines not being followed within the comparative sample, raising the total value of suspect contracts to more than $1 million.

The report said the finding released Tuesday mirror similar concerns raised in a separate review released last June that found the Canada School of Public Service favoured an existing training services vendor by issuing repetitive sole source contracts as well as splitting up work in circumvention of government policies.

Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement, who oversees the school, said its conduct was “unacceptable,” according to The Canadian Press, which also reported that Mr. Clement said his government will be seeking sanctions against those responsible.

Organizations: Office of the Procurement Ombudsman, Canada School of Public Service, Treasury Board Canadian Press

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