Canada Awards $80 Million Contract to Modernize Electronic Procurement

A new investment from Canada is looking to make it easier for SMEs to work with the federal government and access the resources they need to succeed.

The Government of Canada has awarded an $80.3 million contract to Infosys Public Services to implement and manage an electronic procurement solution. Canada first began looking for e-procurement solutions back in 2014 as a way to allow outside companies and suppliers to work with government departments in a more accessible and less burdensome manner. Right now, the government spends roughly $25 billion annually through its procurement programs with outside suppliers.

TO get an idea of what procurement means to the government of Canada. take a look through their current Buy and Sell site. The government is currently looking for everything from office furniture to wilderness training.

This contract with Infosys will last five years, with options to extend it for an additional seven years. This move to award an e-procurement contract was outlined in the Budget 2018 through an allocated $196.8 million over five years. The e-procurement solution will first be integrated into Public Services and Procurement Canada, and based on how that goes, eventually be spread to other federal departments and agencies.

“As one of the largest buyers of goods and services in the country, the Government of Canada is committed to continually improving its procurement tools and processes,” said Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement. “Today’s announcement marks a key milestone in our efforts to modernize federal procurement. The electronic procurement solution will help make federal procurement more accessible to Canadian companies, including small and medium enterprises operated by under-represented groups.”

Infosys will work to develop a cloud platform that will automate procurement. It will be user-friendly and help all sizes fo companies better navigate the procurement system so they can work with the government to deliver services and products to Canadians across the country. The current procurement system can be difficult to navigate without professionals who have experience in the field, which many SMEs cannot afford to hire.

Canada has worked on improving their procurement methods in the past, including selecting web designers Digital Echidna to improve the Open by Default portal. Techvibes spoke with Alex Benay, Canada’s chief information officer, about improving procurement methods earlier this year.

“The goal is to trial a different way of going to market,” said Benay. “Here, we don’t do agile very well yet. We have historically bought big so we used to think that only big companies can interact with us. It turns out that in a digital world, smaller and nimbler is better.”

Bringing procurement into a cloud environment allows for other improvements as well. The government will be able to gather and publicly share information on how a vendor performs their task, ultimately adding transparency for Canadian taxpayers. There are social factors as well because the government will now be able to track procurement contracts awarded to underrepresented groups and shift accordingly to bring projects to different groups or organizations.

The current procurement system has long been criticized as being clunky and not up to date with what the digital world currently looks like. With this update, Canada is hoping more SMEs will have a chance to participate in the multi-billion dollar industry that is government prcurement.