Photo by Whitehorse Star
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.
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