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Public Works Addresses Small Business Concerns

Tuesday, October 25, 2021
Source :  Ottawa Business Journal

Public Works has announced it will be giving small businesses another chance to re-compete for a number of standing offers previously awarded. Public Works Minister Scott Brison outlined plans today to redress concerns about some offers, which were made when the reform of the federal procurement system had just begun earlier this year.

"Some small businesses who had previously worked with us as vendors were caught off guard and were not included on those standing offers," he says. "We're seeking ways that we can potentially re-compete some of those standing offers earlier or perhaps refresh some of those lists. We will be doing so in the context of respecting the contractual obligations we have with those who successfully bid."

Mr. Brison adds that the number of disputed offers isn't massive, but large enough for him to see it as a significant concern. The minister is in Ottawa today with Marshall Moffat, chair of the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises, for an all-day consultation workshop with local business owners. The day began with an overview from Mr. Brison about the Way Forward, which is a host of initiatives to control spending and revolutionize how good and services are procured from the private sector. The Public Works strategy is to buy products and services in a smarter and faster way in order to save $2.5 billion over the next five years.

This workshop is just one stop on a cross-country series to consult with SMEs where local business owners are given the chance to voice their concerns, provide ideas for additional changes and gather information about the new requirements.

"We want to work with the small business community to help develop our policies in such a way that we make sure we're getting the best value for the Canadian taxpayer," says Mr. Brison.

The 40 or 50 small business owners and operators who gathered for the working sessions at the Rideau Tennis Club were invited by Public Works and also offered a $500 per diem to attend. Mr. Brison deflected criticism by some in the business community who complained about the limited size of the workshop and the fact the government is offering money for advice.

"The $500 was to ensure that even the smallest of businesses could afford to take a day away from their business in order to participate," he says. "We didn't want to exclude those people from participating in these sessions because it's their input that perhaps is the most important. We also kept the workshops small in order to allow for working sessions."

Mr. Brison says business owners who have concerns or are seeking information about the procurement reforms can contact the Office of SMEs at www.pwgsc.gc.ca/sme.

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