Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Council approves procurement policy

City council voted at its meeting Monday to adopt a new procurement policy, but not before substantial discussion.

By Chuck Tobin on August 11, 2020

City council voted at its meeting Monday to adopt a new procurement policy, but not before substantial discussion.

Council also passed a substantial amendment which ensures its involvement where suppliers have been excluded for one reason or another from bidding on city work.

The policy states, for instance, that the city can exclude companies from procurement opportunities if the company is involved in legal action against the city.

The proposed policy presented to council Monday night noted a supplier who has been excluded can apply to the city manager for a review of the exclusion.

Council amended the clause to read a supplier who has been excluded can apply to city council – not the city manager – for a review of the exclusion.

Members of council expressed concern again Monday night about the fairness of excluding a company involved in a legal dispute with the city.

But the policy notes there are other reasons for exclusion, including a poor record of performance while working on city jobs.

The policy sets out new practices for procurement, such as placing the responsibility for approving all procurements, even procurements above $500,000, in the hands of city staff.

It also builds in checks and balances to ensure that city council is well informed of what projects are coming up so that council has the opportunity to provide input prior to a tender going out.

Once the bids have been received, however, awarding the contracts will fall to senior management.

The administrative report presented to council last week notes that changes in procurement law since the policy was last revisited in 2011 have necessitated a review of the policy. The review was initiated under the previous council.

The current practice of having council award the contract exposes the city to issues of liability, says the report.

“Instead, the proposed policy establishes a “commencement” process whereby council authorization will be required before some procurements can proceed,” reads the report.

“This process will give an opportunity to ensure the policy principles have been addressed appropriately in the proposed procurement.

“This arrangement is supported by the requirement for bi-monthly reports of forthcoming procurements to be presented publicly to Council, thereby also enhancing public awareness of anticipated procurements.

“To enable council to monitor outcomes and assess whether objectives of the policy are being met, the policy sets out a number of regular reporting requirements whereby council and the public will be kept informed about the City’s procurement activities.”

The new policy adopted Monday night lays out what staff approvals are required for the different levels of procurement, from under $10,000 to over $500,000.

It provides the ability for the city to hire independent fairness monitors to oversee complex or risky contract proposals.

While the city has met with and received input on the new policy from the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, the chamber did provide a submission to council Monday detailing outstanding concerns.

The chamber urged that an appeal from companies excluded from bidding should go to city council, not the city manager.

It was concerned that council will not be involved in procurements under $100,000.

But the chamber also applauded the city administration acceptance of its recommendation to expand the definition of a “local business” to include having a physical address in the Yukon.

The adopted policy is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2021 to give administration time to develop the necessary procedures to implement the policy.

Coun. Steve Roddick noted that removing council’s involvement in approving contract awards or major purchases will free up a significant amount of time for council to focus on other matters.

Comments (5)

Up 11 Down 0

steve on Aug 12, 2020 at 4:23 pm

Wow what a joke and where to start. So a RFx is out to market for 3 weeks. First how does a bidder know they have been excluded? When they go online to get the RFx. Let's say that's the way they find out. Now they apply to council to ask to be included. That will take a few weeks to get before council. So now you have to extend a closing date while council gets to debate. WOW!!! Never have I heard of this fiasco in 23 years of supply chain. Excluding a bidder from a sourcing event has to be pretty dam clear they are incompetent to not let them bid. Rarely seen it.

As to Council sticking their noses in sourcing events and to say sticking their noses in at low dollar value sourcing tells me this council has not got it's priorities straight or forgot what they are elected to do.

Hire competent SCM manager(s) and staff would prevent this mess in the first place.

Up 7 Down 1

Wilf Carter on Aug 12, 2020 at 1:31 pm

City needs to employ independent evaluators on projects that know what they are doing. For example; the mayor stated that they were building an all in project for $52 million but when the real cost came in it was $90 to $92 million. So they built one building with all in cost for $43 million which we know that estimate was not all. $1 million dollars for paving was not included. Removal of all the buildings with dangerous material was not included which is $6 plus million.
Then what you called unforeseen costs on the project of more likely %5 to 10%. %5 of $50 million which is the real cost of the total project when all added up in is another $2.5 million which += $52.5 real cost of the project. This is why an independent group has to evaluate the projects with staff support and keep the mayor out of it.
For example our mayor stated that Whitehorse did not have any fire dangers like Fort Mac. But when the study came back that Whitehorse was in extreme danger and something had to be done about and it has been done.
Then you have the mayor wanting the city to take over the blue box program.
City has large buses running with one person on them - no cost effective public transit system.
Folks it is very frustrating watching our city not function in a cost effective manner and the way it could.

Up 14 Down 1

Aldous Huxley on Aug 12, 2020 at 6:56 am

Dear Confuzzled - We will see a proliferation of similar or parallel positions in the Brave New World. In HR Training Manuals in the chapter on How to Distance Yourself from the Effects of Your Own Unethical Behaviours these positions will be referred to as the El Scape-Goato Manouvre

Up 16 Down 1

Josey Wales on Aug 11, 2020 at 11:54 pm

Hmmm..."But the policy notes there are other reasons for exclusion, including a poor record of performance while working on city jobs."
Lemme guess, the "striving for perfection" crew evaluate said performance?

They should run that "evaluation" for "poor performance on city jobs" in house...OUR HOUSE for a decade first...as a wee trail run.
But whew...at least they had a "substantial conversation".

Up 19 Down 1

Confuzzled on Aug 11, 2020 at 4:07 pm

So now I just have to pay a manager at the City to not award a contract?
Where is the oversight? The reason council was there was to make sure that awards weren't being held/given based on bias.
Now a contractor has to go the legal route.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.