Canadian Consulting Engineer

Auditor General’s Report Could Affect Procurement of Consulting Engineering Services

While the attention of most Canadians has been on the chapters of the Auditor General's report that concern the Sponsorship program, Chapter 2 on Accountability and Ethics makes recommendations that will very likely have an impact on the procureme...

March 1, 2004  By K. Garry Bolton, P.Eng., Chair

While the attention of most Canadians has been on the chapters of the Auditor General’s report that concern the Sponsorship program, Chapter 2 on Accountability and Ethics makes recommendations that will very likely have an impact on the procurement of consulting engineering services.

Specifically, the report recommends that Public Works and Government Services Canada change its Supply Manual. The Report recommends that the principle of information availability for suppliers “be expanded to cover all stages of procurement, including activities before bid solicitation — for example, when the specifications for goods and services are being developed.”

The Auditor General’s report explains that the PWGSC Supply Manual partly addresses the issue but that the principles need to be expanded. The report recommends “protect[ing] the public interest by affirming that any significant information given to one party by public office holders at any stage of the process for procurement, grants and contributions, regulation, or policy development must be available to all known interested parties.”

The concern about information on procurement stems from the Auditor General’s observations on the Lobbyist Registration Act and Code of Conduct. This section of the report will be relevant to firms that have registered lobbyists on staff or that hire government relations firms that represent them.

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The report discusses the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct and acknowledges changes made in June 2003 to expand registration requirements and improve enforceability. However, the Auditor General is still concerned that information obtained by lobbyists for their clients may give those clients an advantage that compromises the public interest.

In our ongoing discussions with PWGSC, we at ACEC need to continue to focus our efforts towards transparency and good business practices in the Government’s procurement process; without over-regulation.

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