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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Procurement controversies -- Ottawa, Canada

Federal agency accused of sole-sourcing contracts
A federal agency that's supposed to ensure government hiring is fair and transparent is being accused of cooking four employment contracts.

The Public Service Commission of Canada issued four sole-source contracts last fall after allowing the favoured candidates to vet their own job descriptions beforehand, says a public watchdog group.

And that amounts to stacking the deck so that any other potential candidates don't stand a chance, charges Canadians for Accountability.

Commission officials "consulted with the designated consultants to tailor the contracts to those individuals," spokesman Michael Dagg wrote last week in a letter of complaint to Treasury Board President Stockwell Day.

But a spokeswoman for the Public Service Commission says no rules were broken.

She called it "common practice" to allow a proposed contractor to see a job description before it's posted to ensure the person meets the minimum requirements.

These so-called Advance Contract Award Notices or ACANs have been a source of aggravation for the business community, which says the notices often provide cover for departments that want to put the fix in for favoured contractors.

A business magazine compared ACANs with a "race where one contestant gets a head start, before the others even know there's a race."

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