For many Canadians, contracting with the Federal Government is complicated, confusing and besieged with scores of rules, some contradictory, inconsistent and disconnected. The policies and processes are so complex, that it could take years for any civil servant to know them all.
This makes winning a federal government contract all that more difficult; to be successful, you need time, patience, procurement knowledge and most importantly relationships.
In The Inner Circle – How it Works at Public Works, we share our knowledge and lessons learned from over thirty years of procurement experience in dealing with clients such as the federal, provincial, regional and municipal governments, and national private sector firms.
The Government of Canada purchases over $16B a year in goods and services. In this Guide, we explain how Public Service and Procurement Canada or PSPC (formally Public Works Government Services Canada) plus over 200 government organizations purchase and contract for goods and services.
The Guide explains over 24 different methods for contracting offered by PSPC. Step-by-step, we walk you through the process to apply for a standing offer (SO) or a supply arrangement (SA), essential elements to getting government contracts.
This practical all-you-need-to-know procurement guide captures all the must-have procurement related websites and links. We have sifted through thousands of websites and links, and have developed checklists, templates and references to help you prepare a winning submission.
We identify and explain the crucial role that retired public servants — the ‘New-Old Workforce’— play in the procurement process: how their subject-matter knowledge and experience can best be employed to help you secure government contracts.
We show you how to maneuver through the complicated registration/application system and how to qualify for government lists of suppliers which will allow you to bid on contracts.
We walk you through the process of how to identify government opportunities and the contract methods that are used. We show how to be informed of important elements such as RFP amendments, contract values, bid extension delays and the identities of successful bidders.
We show you how to properly read a request for proposal (RFP) and to prepare a bid for a government contract. We also show you how to avoid one negative consequence of a bid — the infamous ‘regret letter’.
We describe the few options available when challenging a rejected proposal. We also point out the risks, costs and potential consequences that could impact your business.
Our comprehensive guide will help you maneuver through the ever-changing landscape of the Canadian government contract processes and show you how to win contracts. Take a quick look at what our guide has to offer.
Public Service and Procurement Canada, with a staff of nearly 13,000 people, plays a pivotal role to the over 200 federal departments and agencies with their contracts for the purchase of goods and services. Part 1 of this Guide provides an overview of PSPC’s internal operations.
PSPC often contracts retired public servants through companies, agencies or individually. In Part 2 we explain who the New Old Workforce is, why ex-civil servants are highly in demand, and the benefits to the Government of Canada.
Regardless of how good your product or price, you must be "engaged" in the federal government procurement process. We have identified in Part 3 the Outer, Middle and Inner Circles, which best describe where you fit as a client into the world of government procurement.
Part 4 identifies some twenty-four different contract methods used by the Government to buy their goods and services. We identify dollar limits, contract selection processes and contract award methods. This will assist you in defining and targeting those opportunities which are appropriate for you.
In Part 5 we discuss 'Must Knows' about the government bureaucracy in relation to procurement and winning government contracts. Before even attempting to get a contract, you need to know things like project authority versus technical authority, standing offers versus supply arrangements, security clearances, where to find government opportunities, etcetera.
In Part 6, we provide twenty tips on how to evaluate whether an opportunity is worth your time and effort to submit a bid. We also discuss how to write your bid to increase your chances of success, how to write proposals, how to create project descriptions and effective CVs, etcetera.
In Part 7 we talk of what to do when things go wrong. We have attempted to summarize the limited processes and options available to you when you lose a bid and receive a painful 'regret letter'.
And most importantly, in Part 8 we suggest 20 recommendations for change to make the playing field fairer, end favouritism, and save the tax payers millions of dollars.
Brian has written this guide to pass on his successes, failures and lessons learned during thirty years of dealing with governments.
Brian Card has founded and managed several successful companies that have made a living from working for governments across Canada. He has won a multitude of contracts and supply arrangements from clients from Vancouver to Halifax, representing millions of dollars. Along with his successes, he has made every mistake there is to make. Winning hundreds of contracts he should not have won, while losing hundreds of contracts he should not have lost.
He is proud of his journey which began in the Outer Circle of government procurement, moving into the Middle Circle and finally arriving in the Inner Circle. He has travelled across Canada convincing Canadians to allow him to represent them, to file their applications and submit bids to government to win contracts.
"I believe my experiences are worth passing on to others. I have spent over thirty years searching for government opportunities, managing and writing thousands of government proposals and contracts, building government relationships and qualifying the Old-New Workforce."
"I want to help Canadians understand the various government opportunities and how easy it can be to get on government lists and win contracts. I want to shelve the myths and show that you don’t always have to be bilingual or live in Ottawa or ‘know someone’ in order to get government contracts."
"I only wish a procurement guide like this would have been available when I was 21 and starting my own business. It would have saved me thousands of hours going around in circles, and would have made me much more successful earlier in my career."
"It has been a fun and stimulating journey. I have spent three years writing dozens of drafts. I have spent thousands of dollars on numerous editors, web sites, lists, luncheon and dinners, on research, ATIPs, lawyers and other necessities."
"Almost everyone I talk to about the idea of writing a procurement guide has encouraged me to keep going as there is an unfulfilled need."
"I have an extreme passion for chasing and preparing bids. Being in this industry is addictive, and I thrive on winning government contracts."
"I am now a coach and connector at Procurement Coaches which is truly what I want to be doing. I do not miss managing a staff of sixty full time employees for one company, managing hundreds of consultants for another company and consulting for many others."
"I am confident that there are few, if any, who understand the thousands and thousands of government pages, website links, written and unwritten rules, and the contradictions that exist in relation to government procurement. Most think I am a procurement expert, and I can honestly state that no such thing really exists. I just say that in some cases, I know more than others."
We have taken the time to explain some of the frequently asked questions that people have asked over the years. If you are still uncertain about some of the aspects of our guide please contact us and we will be happy to help.
Q: I have spent a lot of time filling out forms to get registered with Public Works. I have been awarded a standing offer and I`m on a government list. How come I never hear back from them?
A: Being awarded a standing offer is only the first step and you are not alone on the list as many other suppliers may also have been awarded the same standing offer. When you apply for a standing offer, you submit your prices in advance. In the second step, the government sends all opportunities to a few of the lowest compliant bids. If you are not one of the lowest bidders, you most likely will never see a nickel.
Q: I feel I can work for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Halifax, is it true I have to apply at Public Works in Ottawa to get on a list?
A: The Government of Canada has some six regions across the country and various supply arrangements for each region. The services/contracts are offered in the regions and you can bid on opportunities in any or in all of the regions but most opportunities are managed through Ottawa.
Q: Most of the government opportunities I see on web sites require government experience and bilingualism. My firm does not offer this. What can I do?
A: Many times, bilingualism and experience are requirements of an opportunity. Ideally, you would hire staff, independent consultants or joint-venture with another firm with the necessary qualifications so that you would meet the requirement. Another possibility would be to align yourself with qualified consultants to be part of your team.
Q: Do I need a security clearance to work for the government? How do I get one?
A: In most cases, a basic security clearance is required for government contracts. In some cases, a more extensive clearance is required. You must apply for the clearance; however, if you work through an agency, they will normally look after this process.
Q: Almost every time I respond to a government opportunity I lose (receive a regret letter). I cannot afford to keep losing proposals. How do I change this?
A: The simple answer is: find out what you`re doing wrong with tools like a debriefing, and fix it. You might consider using one of the hundreds of firms that will help you make the proposals or you might even consider signing up with an agency that already has been awarded standing offers or supply arrangements. Don`t give up!
Q: Unless you have a friend who works in government you will never get a contract. Is this true?
A: Friends should not be the deciding factor. More importantly are the relationships that are developed with the civil servants that work in the project authority side of government.
More FAQ's that can help you along
Thank you for visiting our website. If you have any questions or would like to talk to one of our procurement professionals, please contact us and we will be sure to help guide you and your team in the best direction possible.