In the News Archive
June 2005

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Materiel Management National Workshop, May 2005

Every year the Materiel Management Institute (MMI), whose members are mostly found in the federal government, puts on a national workshop in Ottawa that draws procurement personnel from all parts of the country.

Again this year Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary, Walt Lastewka, who led the task force that undertook a government-wide (federal) review of procurement, gave the opening address. He spoke about the new direction that federal procurement is taking: the key element being that the government will be taking a more corporate approach to procurement in an effort to become more efficient and to capitalize on its total buying power as a means to obtain better prices and value for money. Not an easy task, given the diverse and somewhat autonomous nature of the current federal departmental structure. And, given that the audience was composed of those who live and breathe procurement daily, trying to do the best job they can in what is a complex and sometimes difficult climate, the audience naturally had questions – most of a practical nature. It seems that one thing is for sure: the team developing the strategy and charged with implementing the new direction (called the “The Way Forward”) will have to communicate often – and clearly – to ensure that practitioners will buy-in to the changes and actively support the effort over the long term.

Following the opening keynote address, participants dispersed to a variety of information sessions covering policy updates, professional development, best practices such as strategic sourcing and green procurement, and case studies such as DND’s Materiel Acquisition and Support Optimization Project, which illustrates some of the forward thinking taking place in various departments.

The MMI will be taking training on the road this year through a series of regional seminars. Check our Calendar of Events for details.

FedWatch: Walt Lastewka on federal procurement initiatives

Ed. Note: Summit magazine will be following the progress of the federal government’s “The Way Forward” initiative in a series of articles tagged “FedWatch” – the first of which is in the June 2005 issue. It takes a proactive look at the development of commodity councils and their potential.

Summit recently had the opportunity to chat with Walt Lastewka, member of Parliament and parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, with special emphasis on procurement.

While discussing the review of federal procurement that his task force conducted last year, he confessed to being surprised by the commonalities between the government and the private sector, particularly the difficulty in collecting data. As Lastewka reflected, good timely data is key to making the right decisions. So is taking a corporate approach to procurement, but that also represents a major cultural change. Essentially, the task force recommended taking a pragmatic approach to public procurement, based on sound data, and using the leverage of government-wide buying to effect large savings…a bonus for the Canadian taxpayer.

Part of that pragmatic approach is the decision to create commodity councils. (See Summit, June 2005, Patti Magee’s “FedWatch: Smart commodity management.”) Lastewka explained the council structure, saying they would be composed of experts from PWGSC, other departments and the private sector. He says the expertise in the councils will play a key role in getting value for money and better prices for each of the commodities. Also, after hearing from the private sector about how their organizations try to deal with the complexity of selling to the federal government, he says that commodity councils should also help suppliers market their products and services in a more targeted manner. The councils will also provide a central point of communication for other institutions and organizations that conduct research and development and who are taking products to commercialization.

The government marketplace has been broken into 40 commodity groups. The first phase of commodity councils will take 10 of these. Further councils will be formed following the evaluation of the first 10; if necessary, adjustments will be made and lessons learned will be applied to each of the following phases. A supplier management program is being instituted which will provide feedback to the government on how all this is working – another new aspect – but supplier input, even when uncomfortable, is seen to be essential to a successful government procurement market.

The Government of Canada Marketplace (GoCM), which is being piloted by four departments (three more will come on in the second phase), is a lynch pin in the corporate approach to procurement and the effort to become more cost effective and efficient. According to Lastewka, over time every department will be expected to participate in the GoCM.

Being well aware of the recent supplier reaction to what is infamously known as the “10% letter” (sent to roughly 2,600 suppliers that hold standing offers, asking for a voluntary reduction in prices of 10 percent), Lastewka took the opportunity to explain that because the use of PWGSC standing offers was made mandatory as of April 1, 2005, he expects suppliers to see a substantial increase in business from call-ups against these. In the private sector, when a corporation perceives that it is increasing its volume of business with a supplier, it asks for a corresponding reduction in price. “What is wrong with government doing that, too?” he asks.

As Lastewka so sanely explained, the government is merely applying common business practices (which is not something government has commonly done in the past). The request for a discount sent a shockwave rippling throughout the supplier community. In fact, mandating the use of standing offers, where they exist, sent a shockwave through the buyer community as well; they were used to having the option of using a standing offer or not. And, at first, many buyers did not understand that they could still do business as usual if there was no PWGSC standing offer in existence.

However, for government buyers to have no option but to use the PWGSC standing offer when one exists is a significant change – and key to the government achieving its targeted savings. And, if the government expects suppliers to reduce prices, it must make it worthwhile and ensure an increase in business volume and a more efficient process.

If buyers still have questions, they may access the PWGSC Help Desk at 1-866-664-6609. Also PWGSC’s Acquisitions Branch website at www.pwgsc.gc.ca/acquisitions has posted a listing of the types of goods and services that comprise the first group of 10 commonly purchased goods and services and FAQs that help both buyers and suppliers understand the new rules and their exceptions.

All this to say, for these changes and others yet to come to be seen as an opportunity by both buyers and sellers, constant and clear communication to and from a variety of communities – both internal and external to the federal government – will need to be a priority. It would also be wise to remember that real communication has two parts: what is said by the speaker, and what is heard by the audience. The two can be vastly different. Stay tuned. –Anne Phillips

A rose by any other name is… Ontario Infrastructure Projects Corporation

On May 12, the Ontario government announced a new provincial agency, the Ontario Infrastructure Projects Corporation (OIPC), which will directly oversee new, large alternative finance and procurement (AFP) infrastructure projects – more commonly known as public-private partnerships or P3s – providing expertise and implementing best business practices and support to other provincial ministries, local governments and agencies in their dealings with the private sector.

Quebec cleans up the St Charles River

Quebec City can now complete its efforts to clean up the St. Charles River. The Government of Canada and the governments of Quebec and Quebec City will jointly invest close to $110 million in the clean up and re-naturalization of the riverbanks. The initiative requires constructing retention ponds that will reduce incidents of flooding by storing excess run-off water captured by wastewater systems when it rains. After the peak treatment period has ended, the run-off water is then redirected to the wastewater treatment plant for treatment.

Nova Scotia municipalities switch on LED lights for savings.

Nova Scotia is investing $115,000 in a cost-sharing initiative that will help six NS municipalities replace nearly 2,600 incandescent traffic signals with more energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) traffic lights. The retrofit of 68 intersections will reduce current traffic light energy costs by 90 percent. Municipal staff from Amherst, Bridgewater, Halifax Regional Municipality, Kentville, New Glasgow and Truro also had access to a half-day seminar that discussed the benefits of LED technology (see also “Buyers’ insider,” Summit, April/May 2005) and best practices and were able to view product displays.

Ottawa’s O-Train expansion set to go

Early in May 2005, Ottawa’s light rail transit (the O-Train) expansion for a north/south line had its funding confirmed through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the federal, provincial and municipal governments. The project is estimated to cost $650-$700 million, of which the federal and provincial governments will each contribute up to $200 million; the City of Ottawa will match this funding and any remaining balance.

The city is seeking a turnkey solution asking proponents for a design, build, operate and maintain proposal and several high-profile Canadian and international companies are said to be interested. In its efforts to find the best-qualified company/consortium to work with on the high-profile project, the City of Ottawa established a tightly managed and sophisticated procurement process. A fairness monitor has been appointed to oversee the procurement process, paying particular attention to transparency and integrity. Howard Grant, president of Partnering & Procurement Inc., has acted in this capacity for other major procurements. To ensure that no inside information will be passed on to companies involved in the bidding, city councillors and the mayor’s office are operating under a code of conduct that includes a “prohibition of contact” with any bidders. Many city staff and officials also had to sign conflict-of-interest guidelines and confidentiality agreements. The Request For Qualifications documents (the terms, conditions and requirements for potential contractors) for the north/south light rail transit corridor were released in mid-April.

Construction should begin in the summer of 2006 with service ready to go in the fall of 2009.The north/south corridor is just the first phase of the city’s light rail plan. An east/west line is already undergoing the environmental assessment process, but the cost of that arm (roughly $1.2 billion) makes it unlikely to be a reality any time soon.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada supports olefins clean technology project

In early May 2005, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) announced a $1.45 million contribution to a Canadian consortium led by Quantiam Technologies Inc. for a project to develop and demonstrate a technology for more efficient manufacturing of olefins – the single largest group of industrial petrochemicals that are used to make common products such as plastics, lubricants and antifreeze. The funds leveraged another $8.3 million from other private and public sources, including consortium partner NOVA Chemicals Corporation. NOVA is a leading olefins producer; Quantiam operates the most advanced private sector nanomaterials development and characterization facility in Canada; and SDTC (www.sdtc.ca) is an arm’s length, not-for-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada to operate a $550 million fund in support of the development and demonstration of clean technologies. SDTC applies a stringent selection process and every applicant is required to be a consortium.

The consortium’s new clean technology (a world-first) will contribute to reducing CO2 emissions (greenhouse gas) in the industrial sector, will lower the energy costs of olefins manufacturing (exceeds $10 billion a year) by as much as 20 percent and improve plant efficiencies and profitability. The technology involves a new generation of catalytic coatings that could allow for manufacturing at lower temperatures. The potential effect of the new technology on the environment, the Canadian economy and the petrochemicals industry is thought to be significant.

Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee signs Rona

On May 10, 2005, Rona, a Quebec-based hardware distribution and retail chain has signed an 8-year partnership deal – valued at $68 million in cash and products – to sponsor the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver. The agreement included youth initiatives and covered “official home improvement partnership” sponsorship rights at Torino 2006, Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010 and the 2012 Olympic Games. Rona expects to benefit from its sponsorship in two ways: enormous visibility and economically – due to supplying building materials to many residential, institutional and commercial projects related to the 2010 Games.

Canadian geo-spatial system finds home in New Zealand navy

The Royal New Zealand Navy announced in early May that its navigation systems business for Project Protector (naval ship-building program) has been awarded to Canadian firm, Offshore Systems International Ltd. (OSI) The contract is valued at $800,000. Vancouver-based OSI will supply and install its ECPINS(R) 4000 (an electronic chart precise integrated navigation system certified compliant to international maritime organization standards) on all seven of the new ships being built. Installations are scheduled to begin in early 2006 in concert with the construction dates of the seven ships. OSI’s system is already being installed on existing ships of the New Zealand naval fleet. According to OSI’s website (www.osil.com), the company is a “pioneer in geo-spatial intelligence and the world leading fleet supplier of electronic chart systems and software for navigation and situational awareness in NATO and allied markets. The company's core competency is electronic geography and the production, management and display of many forms of geographic data to support decision making.”

Steinbach, Manitoba to modernize water-treatment plant

The City of Steinbach, Manitoba’s water treatment plant is over 25 years old and needed help. In early May 2005, the province and the city agreed to share equally the costs of the $2.3 million upgrade, which includes a new iron-removal filtration system and a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system. SCADA systems are quite popular in municipalities because they both significantly reduce the cost of maintaining a plant and improve operations and reliability. SCADA is used to monitor and control plant or regional operating systems from a central location and issue an alarm as needed. SCADA systems include remote telemetry units (RTUs), communications systems and a human machine interface (HMI). RTUs collect site information, the communications system allows for the information to travel to and from a central location, and the HMI (essentially a PC running powerful graphic and alarm software programs) displays the information in a graphical manner, archives data, transmits alarms and permits operator control when required. SCADA also provides reporting mechanisms and data analysis that can help determine developing problems or areas that could be improved. Steinbach’s plant construction will probably be tendered late this summer for completion in the spring of 2006.

Alberta SuperNet reaches rural communities

Pushing to meet an end of June deadline for connecting rural communities to Alberta’s SuperNet, contractors Bell and Axia NetMedia have made significant progress – 421 of 429 communities are ready to handle high-speed Internet traffic. The Alberta SuperNet initiative is composed of a base area linking the provinces 27 largest communities and an extended area of smaller communities that will bring affordable, high-speed broadband connectivity to all libraries, schools, hospitals and provincial government offices in Alberta (for background see “Alberta SuperNet connects,” Summit, Fall 2003.)

University of Calgary launches campus energy partnership

The University of Calgary campus is the single largest point of energy usage in the city, with the main campus' energy costs topping $17M per year. Taking a holistic approach to energy management, the university and Direct Energy Business Services are partnering in an agreement that is linked to the university’s sustainability initiative and involves the academic program, students and teachers. The partnership is projected to yield more than $30M in energy consumption reductions over the seven-year term of the project and another estimated $8 million more in student and research support. Direct Energy Business Services’ energy-management solution will also reduce CO2 emissions by 14,500 tonnes. To ensure that the project aligns with the University of Calgary's six attributes of energy sustainability: energy alternatives; procurement; conversion; distribution; green building technologies; and utilization, Direct Energy will also look at alternate energy sources such as wind power.

Canadian universities and CIDA build education and training

The University Partnerships in Cooperation and Development Program of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) draws upon Canadian university expertise to help build the capacity of developing-country education and training institutions. In late April 2005 11 international development projects proposed by Canadian universities and their partner institutions received a funding contribution of $10.8 million over six years. The projects will be implemented in Africa and in the Americas, with the Canadian institutions working closely with local partners. Canadian publicly funded universities compete for the funding. The selection process is coordinated by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) and is overseen by an independent committee of peers. AUCC will administer the projects on CIDA’s behalf. The winning projects were submitted by Memorial University, Dalhousie University, École Polytechnique de Montréal, Laurentian University, Ryerson University, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Victoria and two each from the Universities of Guelph and Calgary.

Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. awards 15 new agency stores

Following a request for proposals, issued in November 2204, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) announced on May 11, that it is creating 15 new agency stores, bringing the number of NSLC stores in Nova Scotia to 23. Agency stores are local businesses licensed to sell beverage alcohol – 50 selections of wine and spirits and at least 12 brands of domestic and imported beer – in addition to their normal stock of products. Most are convenience stores located in smaller communities. Three of the stores are located in communities that have not permitted the sale of alcohol. For liquour/spirits to be sold in these communities, approval must result from a local plebiscite and the passing of municipal council resolution. The NSLC is a profitable enterprise for the province and may award eight more stores in the near future. The 15 new agency stores include:

  • Margaree (Forks) Cooperative, Margaree (Inverness County)
  • Central Cooperative, St. Margarets Village (Victoria County)
  • Upper Stewiacke Cooperative, Upper Stewiacke (Colchester County)
  • Fiander’s Variety, Little Harbour (Pictou County)
  • Mishoo’s Variety, Sambro (Halifax County)
  • Carleton Country Outfitters, Carleton (Yarmouth County)
  • Churco Enterprises, Marion Bridge (Cape Breton County)
  • K & W Beaton Enterprises, Mabou (Inverness County)
  • Greenfield General Store, Greenfield (Queens County)
  • Dawn’s Market Ltd, Petite Riviere (Lunenburg County)
  • Dragonfly General Store, Cambridge (Hants County)
  • K’s Korner Store, Tidnish (Cumberland County)
  • Freize & Roy Enterprises of Maitland, Maitland Area (Hants County)
  • Customer Choice Variety, Monastery (Antigonish County)
  • Eddy’s Grocery, Mount Uniacke (Hants County)

FISIC: Putting heads together for security and innovation

In mid-May 2005, Canadian industry, academia and government leaders joined forces to launch the Forum for Information Security Innovation in Canada (FISIC). FISIC (www.fisic.ca) wants to become a focal point for research initiatives in the area of information security, provide innovation and leadership in network and information security across Canada and increase public awareness about potential on-line security gaps and the need to address them.

The founding partners include Communications and Information Technology Ontario (CITO), MITACS, Carleton University, Bell Security Solutions Inc. (BSSI), and the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance). CITO is one of five centres within the Ontario Centres of Excellence (www.oce-ontario.org), which collectively promote the economic development of Ontario through directed research, commercialization of technology and training of highly qualified personnel. MITACS (www.mitacs.ca), based in BC, is one of Canada’s 18 federally-funded networks of Centres of Excellence. It is a leader in the generation, application and commercialization of new mathematical tools and methodologies, initiating and fostering links with industry, government and not-for-profit organizations that require mathematical technologies to deal with issues of strategic importance to Canada. Carleton University is located in Ottawa and is considered a national leader in the study of public affairs and management, and high technology, as well as a leading innovator in undergraduate education. CATAAlliance (www.cata.ca) is committed to growing the global competitiveness of its members through the removal of obstacles to growth, including legislative barriers. BSSI is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bell Canada (www.bell.ca).

FISIC wants to foster research that leads to practical solutions ready for implementation in real world situations. One of the first research projects to be included under FISIC is a joint effort between Bell University Labs, BSSI, Carleton University and MITACS that is investigating technologies and processes used to address email abuse, denial of service, and related issues. FISIC is planning a research and industry conference for February 2006.

PEI builds first wind-hydrogen village demonstration project

Prince Edward Island Energy Corporation (www.gov.pe.ca/development/ec-info/index.php3) and Mississauga-based Hydrogenics Corporation (www.hydrogenics.com), a leader in the development of hydrogen technologies, will lead a consortium of industry and government partners to develop the Prince Edward Island Wind-Hydrogen Village Project – Canada’s first wind-hydrogen village demonstration project. This initiative will show how wind energy and hydrogen technologies can work together to offer clean and sustainable energy solutions. According to the press release, the range of applications includes “a hydrogen energy station, a hydrogen storage depot, and a wind-hydrogen and wind-diesel integrated control system to power the North Cape Interpretive Centre Complex, the Atlantic Wind Test Site (Canada’s only national wind test site, located at North Cape), as well as other homes and buildings in the area. Subsequent phases are expected to include a hydrogen refueling station in Charlottetown to support the refuelling needs of up to three full-service hydrogen shuttle buses used in Charlottetown and the Charlottetown-North Cape corridor, as well as the deployment of fuel cell utility vehicles and the expansion of the wind-hydrogen village to provide energy for additional buildings and facilities, including at least one farm operation. The final phase of the project is expected to involve the introduction of a hydrogen-powered tour boat.”

The 3-year project is estimated at $10.3-million: $5.1 million will come through the Hydrogen Early Adopters (h2EA) program of Technology Partnerships Canada and $2.9 million will be invested by the Government of Prince Edward Island, which includes $2.5 million earned from the North Cape Wind Farm and $425,000 from Prince Edward Island Business Development. More than five percent of the province’s electricity comes from wind energy at North Cape, the home base of the new project.

A new and improved New Brunswick Opportunities Network

New Brunswick’s Department of Supply and Services is currently testing a new and improved version of the New Brunswick Opportunities Network (NBON), which is owned and operated by the Central Purchasing Branch of the department. Once the improvements are implemented, registered vendors (approx. 10,000) will receive faster and more efficient service, while doing business with the province. NBON buys an estimated $300 million worth of goods and services annually. Tenders issued by the province are available free of charge and NBON also has tender opportunities issued by other public sector bodies such as municipalities, regional health authorities, Crown corporations and universities. The system upgrades, which should be completed by the end of this fiscal year, are estimated to have cost $130,000.

Everyone wins with RCMP inventions

Source: Summary excerpt from the Gazette, Vol. 67, No. 1, 2005, by Richard Vieira, page 9

The RCMP has a centralized Intellectual Property Office (IPO) that secures patents and licenses for inventions that are developed internally, and it ensures that the RCMP receives royalties from the commercialization of the inventions – usually 30 percent. Under the Public Service Inventions Act, all RCMP members must report any inventions to the IPO, which then sends the idea to a patent agent who determines if it is, in fact, a new idea and consequently, patentable. Once a patent has been filed, only the RCMP may produce the invention. The IPO then turns to private industry to negotiate a licensing agreement.

Any royalties remitted to the RCMP from the licensing agreement are then distributed to the inventor and the directorate within which the idea was developed. Each receives 35 percent. Last year alone, the IPO recovered more than $700 thousand in royalties and there is the potential for more – in 2001-2002 an internal audit of the RCMP revealed more than 700 pieces of untapped intellectual property within the organization.

Partnering for infrastructure research helps us be prepared

In late April 2005, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC) and Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC) announced the Joint Infrastructure Interdependencies Research Program. The program will provide funding of $2.98 million for six multi-partner projects. The work will be done at various Canadian universities and spans modelling interdependencies for emergency management using geographic decision support systems and simulation techniques to the analysis of stakeholder needs, risks, and competencies and more. The research will help infrastructure managers better assess the risk of failures and help them be prepared to take preventive action or mitigate the damage. Infrastructure such as hydro and water utilities, communications, banking and transportation networks, and hospitals depend on each other to function properly. The failure of any one piece of this critical infrastructure can have serious economic and social impacts and can initiate a domino effect on the others. The research is being supported by additional funds and in-kind assistance from several private and public sector partners that include municipalities, industrial associations, infrastructure operators, and corporations such as Bell Canada, Telus Corp., Gaz Metropolitain, Hydro-Québec and British Columbia Transmission Corporation. An annual workshop, hosted by PSEPC, will provide the opportunity for the researchers, industry, government, and international experts to discuss practical applications of their research.

Connections: smart metering to WiFi networking to community portal use

The Ontario government has established a target of installation of smart meters for all large urban municipalities by December 31, 2007. By retrieving usage data on an hourly basis from each customer’s meter and providing return signals, smart meters provide utility companies detailed information to manage electricity demand each hour of the day. To meet the provincial requirement, Hamilton Utilities Corporation’s (HUC) local electricity distribution affiliate, Hamilton Hydro, needs city wide, two-way communications with the smart meters. To support this communications requirement, HUC will conduct a pilot project to install WiFi signal towers across Hamilton. The signal towers will be connected to the existing ultra high-speed FibreWired network owned by HUC. The pilot will test communications with not only the electricity meters but the water meters as well. And, though smart metering is the impetus for the WiFi pilot, the resulting WiFi network would be available to everyone for many purposes such as accessing www.myhamilton.ca, the Web portal to Hamilton’s community and government services.

The town of Banff gets a facelift

The Town of Banff, located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Banff National Park, plans to start refreshing its downtown core with an initial investment of $8.09 million in infrastructure and streetscape improvements. This is the first phase of a $40 million (a special infrastructure assistance grant provided by Alberta Municipal Affairs) master plan that includes improvements to secondary streets, parking and visitor services. The downtown will have everything underground replaced. There will be new storm and sanitary sewers and an improved water distribution system. To reflect the natural beauty of the town and to help visitors and residents appreciate its setting, the streetscape will be reshaped with wider sidewalks, more seating, new lighting, more bike racks, outdoor café areas and improved pathways. Work on the downtown area is scheduled to begin in April 2006.

Kamloops makes service a priority

The City of Kamloops has a goal to become a top 100 public service organization and is focusing efforts on improving customer service to its residents. The city’s Public Works and Utilities Department has launched an online customer service response process. Should residents or businesses require service in any of the following areas: drainage, parks maintenance, potholes, recycling, sidewalks, signs, streetlights, streets, water, and sewer, they can email a request for service directly from the city’s website, www.kamloops.ca. They will then receive a confirmation email that their request will be responded to within three business days. When office staff respond to the request, the customer is emailed a reference number to quote when phoning in to follow up – no more figuring out who should be called or finding the number and no more bouncing from one department to another!

Canada-Saskatchewan Infrastructure Program ends

After a job well done, the Canada-Saskatchewan Infrastructure Program (CSIP) is coming to an end. Over the five years of the program, more than $264 million in federal, provincial and municipal funds was invested in 298 Saskatchewan municipalities, with most of the initial projects being “green” in nature – water and wastewater developments and upgrades, solid waste management and recycling, and improved energy efficiency of municipally-owned buildings. The final installment of funding ($3 million) is being invested in 14 new projects and three previously announced projects (they will receive additional funding) located in 15 communities across the province. Nine of the projects announced are green municipal projects (upgrade water supply and wastewater services), three are transportation projects and four are cultural, recreational or sports facilities. All projects will be completed by March 31st, 2006.

New Ontario agency to help small business

In April 2005, the Ontario government created a Small Business Agency to help small business owners by:

  • giving small business representatives an opportunity to speak directly to government decision-makers;
  • looking at ways to cut down on paperwork required to run a small business, saving owners time and money;
  • reviewing key existing regulations as well as examining proposed new regulations with the goal of making compliance as easy as possible, while protecting health and safety; and
  • making sure government is aware of how each new regulation could affect small business costs and competitiveness.

According to the news release, the agency will also work with “small business groups such as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and other community business organizations to see where improvements need to be made.”

Ontario contracts for cleaner power

In June 2004 the Ontario government initiated a request for proposals (RFP) to bring on-line 2,500 megawatts of new, cleaner power or demand-side projects. Through the competitive process, scrutinized by an independent fairness monitor, the Ontario government received 33 proposals. In mid-April 2005 the province awarded the first four projects (total generating capacity of 1,675 megawatts): a cogeneration project; a province-wide demand response initiative; and two combined-cycle natural gas-fired generating plants. All are expected to be in-service by the end of 2007. Further contracts are under negotiation. Each of the generation projects selected under the RFP is subject to required environmental assessment and local development processes. The new Ontario Power Authority (OPA) will administer the contracts and monitor progress on the projects. The first four projects are:

  • Greenfield Energy Centre (a partnership between Calpine and Mitsui), 1,005 megawatts, Sarnia-Lambton,
  • St. Clair Power (a partnership between Invenergy and Stark Investments), 570 megawatts, Sarnia-Lambton,
  • Greater Toronto Airports Authority, 90 megawatts, Mississauga,
  • Loblaw Properties, 10 megawatts, province-wide demand response initiative.

Government of Canada’s Project Green

The government of Canada has committed to reducing its own emissions of greenhouse gases by approximately one third. It has taken a three-pronged approach by:

  • putting in place a Green Procurement Policy to govern all purchases, including power, by 2006 and make its central heating and cooling plants more energy efficient; (A “green” office was established in late April 2005 to help facilitate this effort and provide information expertise to procurement professionals. Margaret Kenny is the new director general.)
  • ensuring new office buildings meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Standard and thus, use approximately half the energy needed per building on average today (This policy came into effect April 1, 2005.); and
  • replacing its vehicles over time with more efficient alternatives including hybrids.

Digitizing diagnostic image tests in Nova Scotia

In mid-April 2005, the Nova Scotia Department of Health announced an investment of more than $1 million in new digital diagnostic imaging equipment at South Shore Health as part of the Picture Archive and Communications System (PACS) expansion project. Partners in the project, which began in 2004, include the health districts in Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Canada Health Infoway, a federal agency that funds 75 percent of specific elements of projects that meet its funding criteria. Canada Health Infoway provides support to those projects that help integrate medical information into one e-health record per patient no matter where treatment is delivered. PACS will replace nearly all film-based, diagnostic imaging such as CT scans, X-rays and ultrasounds.

The PACS system at South Shore Health should be operational in May 2005. Systems currently in place at South West Health, Capital Health, Cumberland Health and the IWK Health Centre will be upgraded and enhanced to a common standard.

Municipalities enhance services and reduce costs through broadband

Several Canadian municipal governments are making the move to integrated voice, video and data networks as they seek ways to reduce costs, operate more efficiently and deliver new services to citizens.

According to Cisco Systems ® (www.cisco.com/ca), 17 Canadian municipalities across the country have chosen Cisco Internet Protocol (IP) Communications as their implementation platform – and size doesn’t matter much at all. Take Penticton, British Columbia, for example with a population of about 33,000. Following the unification of all municipal facilities into one Cisco supported communications infrastructure with unified messaging (users can access voice mail as well as email through Microsoft Outlook) and wireless access, customer service is improving as is staff productivity and the city is saving money – more than $48,000 per year.

Another example is Boisbriand, Quebec with a population of 28,000, located just north of Montreal. The city installed Cisco IP Communications throughout its entire organization boosting its network capacity and integrating the voice and data networks into one telephony system that links seven municipal buildings, making possible more effective communications and easier management.

Canada School of Public Service: a one-stop-shop

The new Canada School of Public Service (CSPS), which opened on April 1, 2005, has a key role to play in ensuring that Canada’s public servants, wherever they are located, have access to the learning tools and environment to make them the very best. To provide one-stop access the CSPS brings together three well-established federal organizations: Training and Development Canada, Language Training Canada and the Canadian Centre for Management Development.

The CSPS has several courses designed to support the new professional development and certification program for the procurement, materiel management and real property communities. Before signing up for any of the courses members of these communities should take the newly developed Web-based core competency assessment profile, which will identify an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. It generates a gap analysis report that will help staff and managers create learning plans tailored to meet each individual’s needs. The tool can be found on the publiservice website.

The CSPS website www.myschool-monecole.gc.ca provides information on several of the courses designed for the procurement, materiel management and real property communities including a synopsis, duration and price.

The school will work with organizations across government to identify core learning needs and to build a curriculum that will provide public servants with valuable and continuous learning opportunities. CSPS will also explore partnerships with other established institutions across Canada and will use the latest learning approaches and technologies to complement traditional classroom-based learning.

Jack Bell Foundation’s Ride-Share program supported by Waterloo University research group

The mandate of the Jack Bell Foundation’s Ride-Share program (www.Ride-Share.com) is to reduce the number of single occupant commuter vehicles on roads throughout the lower mainland, Vancouver Island, and BC as a whole. Ride-Share.com, a free Web portal for commuters to find and plan ride-sharing possibilities across British Columbia, provides vanpooling, carpooling, and ride-match services in the hope of reducing traffic congestion, air pollution, and time and cost to commuters.

The Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG) and Ottawa-based DM Solutions Group pooled resources to support Ride-Share. WPIRG incorporated the mapping functionality created by DM Solutions Group into Ride-Share’s website and created an interface that makes the dynamic street level maps extremely easy to use for commuters. According to the press release, response has been so positive that WPIRG wants to update their current Web application at www.carpooltool.com to this new version. WPIRG (http://wpirg.org) is a University of Waterloo student-funded and directed incorporated non-profit that fosters and supports research, education, and action by UW students and others on environmental and social justice issues.

The foundation’s namesake, Jack Bell has received the Order of British Columbia for his community service and continuing support of several BC organizations. More about Jack Bell can be found at www.protocol.gov.bc.ca/protocol/prgs/obc/1991/1991_JBell.htm.

Nova Scotia infrastructure being renewed

On April 15, 2005, the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Program People announced four infrastructure projects: the replacement of a water main on Dover Avenue in New Glasgow; installation of a waterline of Foxbrook Road and Union Street in Westville; a new storm water drainage system in the Valley Woods subdivision in Stellarton; and upgrades to the Ivor Macdonald Memorial Arena in Thorburnin.

Total cost of the projects is more than $1.4 million. The joint federal-provincial investment is $657,809 and the Municipality of Pictou and the towns of New Glasgow, Stellarton and Westville will fund the balance.

US federal agencies asked to standardize contract management

In early April 2005, the councils responsible for overseeing US federal acquisition regulations released a proposed rule that seeks to standardize the use of ‘earned value management,’ a mathematical tool that enables contracting officers to monitor contracts, comparing actual cost, planned cost and output, and allows them to track any discrepancies as well as results.

Despite the fact that the US Defense Department requires this type of monitoring for certain contracts valued at over US$20 million and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires other federal agencies to use it on large, developmental contracts, most contracting officers resist doing so or do so incorrectly – mostly because they don’t understand the methodology.

According to an article by Kimberly Palmer in govexec.com on April 14, 2005, agencies will be required to “conduct ‘integrated baseline reviews,’ (IBR) a first step toward earned value management. An IBR involves a discussion of performance measurement risks and management controls before contracts are awarded.”

The article also points to concerns that conducting an IBR (which can take up to five days for each bid) before awarding a contract might overburden contract officers and lengthen an already long process. However, the OMB maintains that conducting an IBR after could lead to an increase in overall price. The councils are accepting comments on the proposed rule and its application up to June 7.

Third Edition of The Request For Proposal Handbook

The third edition of The Request For Proposal Handbook, written by Michael Asner, was released on April 4, 2005. Michael has more than 20-years experience writing and teaching public sector purchasers how to develop more effective RFPs and better procurement processes. More than 60 state and local governments and agencies have contributed to this text. The 400-page book captures information that is spread across hundreds of organizations and puts it in one place. As well, there is a new section on negotiations, an often neglected and misunderstood issue.

For more information visit www.rfpmentor.com.

Nova Scotia contracts for modernized biomedical waste disposal

In early April 2005, Nova Scotia’s Department of Health granted a conditional 5-year contract to Medic Delivery Services Limited of Dartmouth to provide the transportation and disposal of gauze, plastics and other biomedical waste. The company will build a new treatment facility where the waste collected from hospitals will be shredded, chemically treated and reduced by 90 percent before being transferred to a landfill site. The facility is scheduled to open in West Hants in January 2006. As part of the contract, Medic Delivery must show that all environmental and regulatory requirements will be met.


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