Trade Agreements

Bid Dispute

How does OECM align to the bid dispute resolution stages per the Ontario government’s Bid Dispute Resolution Guide for Public Sector Organizations?

There are two important bid dispute resolution stages outlined in the Province’s Bid Dispute Resolution Guide; Stage 1 Consultations and Stage 2 Formal Bid Dispute Resolution Process. The Province’s Bid Dispute Resolution Guide was developed in accordance with the bid dispute requirements in the CFTA and the CETA. The table below outlines how OECM aligns with the stages.

Stage Guide Requirement OECM Process and Alignment
Stage 1
Supplier Consultations  

RFX Question and Answer Periods

OECM engages suppliers early in the sourcing project process by conducting supplier consultations. The supplier consultation process provides OECM with knowledge, expertise, insight into market trends, and signals the industry that an RFX is being planned.

After issuing the RFX, OECM also holds an information session for potential suppliers which provides an opportunity for them to enhance their understanding of the RFX.

In all RFX documents, OECM has two question and answer periods – where suppliers can ask questions on the RFX document. These question and answer periods provide ample opportunity for the suppliers to raise questions or concerns and address issues related to the procurement document.
Debriefing Meeting Once the award announcement has been made, OECM allows bidders (successful and unsuccessful) sixty (60) calendar days to request a debriefing (per the BPS Procurement Directive). These meetings provide an opportunity to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a supplier’s submission.
Stage 2
Formal Bid Dispute Resolution Process
A supplier who is not satisfied after the stage 1 process should be provided with an opportunity to submit a complaint to the Review Body.OECM has a bid dispute process to respond to complaints from suppliers that ensures they are addressed and resolved promptly, efficiently and in accordance with the CFTA and CETA requirements.

The Ontario government is currently developing a new Vendor of Record (“VOR”) arrangement for bid dispute processes whereby public sector organizations will have access to independent, third party review. The anticipated implementation date is summer 2018 and further details will be shared in the future, following which OECM will confirm if it will adopt the Province’s VOR arrangement for bid dispute resolution.

Buying Group

Is OECM considered a Buying Group?

The Trade Agreements and the BPS Procurement Directive recognize collaborative procurements as a coordinated event that facilitates purchasing on behalf of multiple organizations. Based on the BPS Procurement Directive Implementation Guidebook, collaborative procurement may be facilitated by, but not limited to, Buying Groups, Group Purchasing Organizations (“GPO”) and Shared Service Organizations (“SSO”).

OECM is an independent, non-profit, collaborative sourcing organization that leverages the collective purchasing power of its client members. The OECM structure is substantially a hybrid between a SSO and a GPO structure.

While OECM does not require upfront commitment for RFXs, OECM does ensure that:

  • All RFX projects are conducted in an open, fair, transparent, and competitive manner and meet Trade Agreement and BPS Procurement Directive requirements.
  • All eligible client members are listed in the solicitation document. Client members that have contributed to the development to the document are named in the RFX, provided they are in agreement to be named.
  • Historical volumes are included in retenders.
  • The use of a second stage selection process is referenced in the RFX and in resulting agreement(s).


What steps has OECM taken to ensure compliance with the CFTA and CETA?

OECM conducts open, fair, transparent, and competitive procurements and OECM has taken the following steps under the guidance of legal counsel:

  • All RFXs have been updated to include a statement that the procurement is subject to Chapter Five – Government Procurement of the CFTA and Chapter Nineteen of the CETA, if and when applicable;
  • Tender notices have been updated to conform to Article 506 of the CFTA and Article 19.6 of the CETA; and,
  • Award notices have been updated to conform to Article 516 of the CFTA and Article 19.15 of the CETA.


How does OECM satisfy the requirements for a debrief session for unsuccessful bidders?

All bidders who participate in a procurement opportunity are offered a debriefing by OECM. Once the award announcement has been made, OECM allows bidders sixty (60) calendar days to request a debriefing (per the BPS Procurement Directive). During a debrief, OECM provides the name of the successful suppliers and the strengths and weaknesses of the bidder’s proposal. OECM also elicits feedback from bidders in order to continually improve the procurement process.

Negotiations and Posting Awards

Does OECM use negotiations as part of their evaluation process?

Yes, OECM primarily uses a non-binding procurement process for our sourcing projects. As such, part of the evaluation process may include negotiations and the details are published in the tendering notice and RFX document.

Does OECM publish award notifications?

Yes, OECM’s standard practice is to publish an award notification on the electronic tendering system where the RFX was posted. OECM publishes award notices within seventy two (72) calendar days of award. This complies with the trade agreement obligations.

The award notification also includes all information required by CFTA Article 516 and CETA Article 19.15.


Is there anything else OECM can do to provide clarity to the trade agreement requirements related to buying group?

Yes, OECM is in discussions with the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Supply Ontario to adopt a consistent approach to addressing buying group requirements and to provide clarification to OECM’s client members which will support the continued increased use of collaborative agreements, including OECMs.

Posting Procurement Opportunities

What information does OECM include in its notice of procurement to comply with the trade agreements?

OECM ensures compliance with trade agreements by including the following information in its notice of procurement:

  • Contact information
  • Description of the procurement
  • Goods/services to be procured
  • Timelines
  • Address and final date
  • Date, time, place of the submission
  • Conditions for suppliers
  • Notice of compliance with CFTA and CETA
  • Procurement method (including negotiations, if applicable)
  • Language

How long does OECM post their RFX opportunities for?

OECM posts RFX opportunities for a minimum of thirty (30) calendar days on a public electronic tendering platform.

Under CFTA there is no minimum posting time required. The posting time must be reasonable in the circumstances of the RFX opportunity.

Under CETA open procurement opportunities must be posted for a minimum of forty (40) calendar days. However, in accordance with Article 19.10 – Time Period, OECM may reduce posting time by a total of fifteen (15) days as bids are posted electronically (5 days), all documents are available electronically from the date of notice of publication (5 days) and received electronically (5 days).

In addition, OECM engages the supplier market in the procurement planning stage via supplier consultations and issues a notice of procurement in advance of the upcoming RFX opportunities.


How will OECM assist its client members to meet the new reporting requirements?

The specific details of the reporting requirements and the manner in which data will be provided are still being worked out by the provincial government. However, we do know that annually organizations will be required to report on the number and aggregate value of the contracts (open and non-competitive) for goods, services and construction conducted above the trade agreement thresholds.

For the past five (5) years, on an annual basis OECM has provided client members in the education sector with collaborative spend data on each OECM agreement in which they participate. OECM can also provide other BPS entities utilizing the agreements with their collaborative spend data, upon request.

The Province has indicated that it expects to start collection and reporting on the first set of data in 2018. Once reporting details are finalized, OECM will assist client members with reporting requirements related to OECM agreement use.

Second Stage Selection

What is OECM’s second stage selection process?

OECM issues an RFX document based on the requirements identified by client members and may award agreements to multiple suppliers. OECM signs a Master Agreement (“MA”) with successful suppliers, and OECM client members can sign a Client-Supplier Agreement (“CSA”) with the supplier(s) and obtain products and/or services on the terms, conditions, and (maximum) rates set out in the MA.

Second stage selection processes are identified in the RFX document(s).

As a best practice it is strongly recommended that the client member use the second stage selection process (i.e. called a Quick Quote (“QQ”) process at OECM) in accordance with their internal policies, procurement processes, procedures and potential dollar value of their purchase to obtain a quote for their specific requirements.

OECM can facilitate this process by assisting in development of the QQ document with your specific requirements and managing the receipt and compilation of supplier quotes for evaluation.

To provide additional support to the second stage selection process OECM is currently developing a user guide and templates to assist and streamline the process.

Tender Notices

How does OECM post tender notices?

OECM uses the Ontario Tenders Portal (“OTP”) to post its RFX documents. Additionally, a tender notice is posted on MERX™ and Biddingo advising suppliers of the opportunity and directing them to OTP’s website for the RFX package.

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