Quebec to revamp construction contract bidding
November 11, 2015 by STAFF REPORT
Fixed price contracts, standard bid documents and electronic bidding will be coming to Quebec government contracts under a new plan unveiled by the provincial government.
The program, entitled “Passeport Entreprises: Faciliter l’accès aux contrats de l’État,” is intended to improve contract procedures and access to contracts for small and medium-sized businesses.
Companies are experiencing difficulties in bidding on Quebec public tenders because the requirements are sometimes disproportionate to the project, and the process is too complex, according to a government release outlining the new program.
The government intends to set up a working group with representatives of SMEs and public bodies to review tender documents and ensure they are not excessive and don’t hinder competition.
Among the proposals, which would be implemented by the end of 2016, are that public bodies should be obliged to use standard bidding documents, and that there be a uniform template for tender submissions. At least one SME would need to be invited during a call for tender, and there would be opportunities to bid electronically.
The government may also consider using fixed price contracts as opposed to paying by hourly rates.
The plan also aims to ensure that SMEs and start-up companies have access to more information about bids. It acknowledges that in the past companies often have not been sufficiently informed about the strengths and weaknesses of their submissions, which prevents them from improving for the next time.
The government also said it wants to ensure that tenders don’t exclude companies due to “excessive demands” that can make it appear that a tender is targeted for certain firms.
A new post of Commissioner for Public Contracts (Commisssaire aux contrats publics) is to be created. The office will be in charge of managing public contracts and be the “watch dog” to ensure integrity and sound practices. The intention is to transfer this function from the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), which currently carries out the overseeing role.
The new Commissioner will have the power to cancel or require changes to a tender. Any recommendations from the Charbonneau Commission, which are due this fall, will be reviewed for possible inclusion in the new policy.
The Quebec Construction Association (ACQ) is in support of the new office and procedures.
“Many of the measures announced in the Passport Companies echo our recommendations and are likely to significantly modernize the public procurement regime in Quebec,” concluded the president of the ACQ, Manon Bertrand.