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  1. Consultant
  2. Chapter 3—Contracting for Professional Services—Public Works and Government Services Canada
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Its extensive and long-term contractual arrangements with consultants have an associated risk to the government. Public Works and Government Services Canada should develop and implement a framework to ensure quality and compliance, on a consistent basis, with appropriate legislation, regulations, and policy. This would address such issues as enforcement of the terms and conditions, amendments to the contract, and payment for work done, as mentioned in this section of the report. This framework should include a monitoring program that incorporates lessons learned.

The Department's response. The observations noted in the chapter regarding inconsistencies in the administration and management of contracts after they are awarded are important. The Department accepts the recommendation and is taking corrective measures to address these observations.

Consultant

PWGSC is currently developing the Contract Management Control Framework, which will further strengthen its consistency in the administration of contracts in compliance with existing and appropriate legislation, regulations, and policies. The Framework is composed of key elements such as governance, controls, risk management, policies and procedures, tools and templates, management information systems, training and communications, monitoring, and reporting.

These elements form the basis for several actions that together will help manage the risks related to managing consultants and administering contracts appropriately and consistently. One of these key actions entails the development of the comprehensive Contract Management Guide that will provide employees with detailed guidance on the management of consultants and administration of contracts.

The Framework will also include an ongoing program to monitor department-wide compliance with key contract requirements and controls, as well as mechanisms to help ensure that lessons learned are incorporated department-wide.

Chapter 3—Contracting for Professional Services—Public Works and Government Services Canada

Finally, the Framework will include an ongoing program to monitor the use of procurement tools, including an analytical review to determine areas of potential concern. This is a conflict of interest and does not comply with the policy that contracting be fair and open. We also noted that the consultant was paid amounts that were not in accordance with the terms of the contract. At the time, there was no category, rate, or classification in the contract for this type of consulting service. In doing so, they did not comply with the Act. Officials initially told us that they expected there should have been a task authorization for this consultant.

However, they were unable to locate many of the documents related to this contract. In our view, even if there was such a task authorization, it would not have been sufficient to authorize work or a rate of compensation that was not included in the scope of the contract. It did and subsequently won the contract. The contracting process is intended to be fair, open, and transparent. A consultant or professional, by virtue of the kind of service provided, may be in a position to exercise a bias toward a third party that could put the latter in a favoured position for future business with the Crown.

If the consultant, professional or principals have a financial interest in the business of this third party, the possibility of a conflict of interest should be considered. To avoid a conflict of interest, contracting authorities should, before signing a contract, require the selected consultant or professional to sign a declaration, either as part of the contract or separately, stating that no pecuniary interest in the business of any third party exists that would affect objectivity in carrying out the contract.

Contractors are expected to inform the contracting authority of these potentially competing services and interests, and explain why the situation would not represent a conflict of interest. Where appropriate, a contracting authority should require a contractor to sign a declaration, either as part of a contract or separately, that the contractor has no [conflict], and will not have, during the course of the contract and subsequent to it, any conflict arising from competing or opposing interests of other clients of the contractor.

The possible wording for such a declaration is included in Appendix G. Nor did we find evidence that the consultant worked on the bid evaluation process. Officials explained that the agreement showed that they were aware of the possible issue and took steps to mitigate it. In examining the agreement, we noted that it did not meet the requirements set out in the Treasury Board Contracting Policy; nor had it been reviewed by the Department's contracting authority or legal counsel.

Instructions to staff included that consultants should not participate in developing any component of an RFP without the specific and written approval of the Assistant Deputy Minister. PWGSC accepts this recommendation. Such actions included the issuance of two separate directives within the appropriate branch, reminding staff of their obligation to administer contracts in accordance with established contract requirements. Similar directives have been integrated in the Contract Management Control Framework to ensure implementation of best practices department-wide.

In addition, the Department will take reasonable steps to determine if similar cases have occurred and, where appropriate, take corrective measures to address such cases. Further, PWGSC has engaged a private firm to conduct an independent third-party review of the circumstances surrounding this particular case. The Department will ensure that appropriate action is taken, and any lessons that can be learned are understood and acted upon immediately.

Finally, a detailed review of contracting activity within the appropriate branch is under way. Corrective measures will be taken to address any weaknesses, and lessons learned will be incorporated into the Contract Management Control Framework. The guidelines note that it is important that all required information be presented accurately and completely in order to maintain the public's confidence. We found that there was inconsistent reporting of task authorization contracts. In some cases, the contract was reported, while in other cases, the task authorization was reported.

In many instances, the nature and extent of contract amendments can be significant. Secretariat officials also advised us that the guidance will be updated. Incorrectly coding contracts affects departmental reporting on the number and value of sole source contracts. This information is provided to Parliament through the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat on an annual basis.


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Public Works and Government Services Canada accepts this recommendation. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat should update its guidance document on the treatment of amendments to contracts.


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The Secretariat's response. Although the examples we looked at did not indicate systemic weaknesses in the application of management controls, they did highlight the inconsistent application. We also found some gaps in the application of financial controls, segregation of duties, contract amendments, and adherence to contractual terms and conditions. The Department has already begun to take steps to prevent a recurrence of this kind of situation. The objective of the audit was to determine if Public Works and Government Services Canada carries out its contracting activities for professional and special services in a manner that respects access, competition, and fairness, in compliance with authorities.

We examined how Public Works and Government Services Canada contracts for services on its own behalf. To carry out this audit, we performed the following tasks:. The audit did not assess either the performance or the qualifications of the suppliers. No comments in the report should be construed as criticism of any supplier. We expected that PWGSC would be carrying out activities for awarding contracts requirements, procurement, solicitation, and award in accordance with the Treasury Board Contracting Policy and the Government Contracts Regulations.

We expected that PWGSC would be administering contracts properly in compliance with appropriate legislation, regulations, policies, directives, and guidelines. The following is a list of recommendations found in Chapter 3. The Department will seek clarification from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat on the Department's obligation as it relates to the reporting of task authorizations, and ensure that Department employees review, understand, and follow the guidance outlined in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's guidance document titled Proactive Disclosure of Contracts.

This new system will allow the Department to ensure accuracy and completeness of task authorization reporting, as task authorizations will be captured in SIGMA at the commitment stage of the payment process. If you do not already have such a reader, there are numerous PDF readers available for free download or for purchase on the Internet:.

Contracting made easy

Indicators that the worker is an employee include the following: The payer directs and controls many elements of how the work is performed such as what, who, where, when, and how. The payer controls the worker's absences, such as sick leave or vacation leave. The payer controls the worker with respect to the results of the work and the method used to do the work. The payer creates the work schedule and establishes the worker's rules of conduct. The worker must perform the work. The worker must remit activity reports to the payer.

The worker's activities are reserved to a single payer exclusivity of services.

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The payer can impose disciplinary actions on a worker. The worker receives training or direction from the payer on how to perform the work.

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The worker accepts to be integrated in the payer's business to have the latter benefit from his work. The parties have inserted a non-competition clause in their written contract. Indicators that the worker is self-employed include the following: The worker is usually free to work when and for whom he or she chooses and may provide his or her services to different payers at the same time. The worker does not have to perform the services personally. He or she can hire another party to either complete the work or help complete the work.

The worker can generally choose the time and the manner the work will be performed. The worker does not need to be at the payer's premises. The worker can accept or refuse work from the payer. The working relationship between the payer and the worker does not present a degree of continuity, loyalty, security, subordination, or integration, all of which are generally associated with an employee-employer relationship. The multi-faceted exposure Samer gained while Read more. Bagavade Eswar CEO.

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