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Procurement action plan levels playing field for Sask. businesses

Watch above: After consulting with the business community, the Wall government has tweaked its procurement policy. Meaghan Craig finds out whether it’s enough to satisfy the masses.

SASKATOON — In June of last year, the provincial government created Priority Saskatchewan, a branch of SaskBuilds. Its goal was to ensure businesses here at home would be on an equal playing field when bidding on government and crown contracts.

To achieve this, months of consultation took place to find out what was working and where there might be ample opportunity to make procurement easier. Feedback was provided by 140 businesses, associations and government partners including the North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA) where the Minister responsible for SaskBuilds, Gordon Wyant, unveiled a new procurement plan shaped by industry feedback with three primary goals in mind.

“To ensure Saskatchewan businesses are treated fairly and respectfully when bidding on government and crown contracts. Secondly, to bring greater simplicity and consistency to public procurement practices and lastly and as importantly to take steps to drive the best value for taxpayers.”

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According to Wyant this comprehensive plan comprised of 13 initiatives will “transform procurement across the province” by making it less complicated and more consistent.

“We hope to get as many of these moving forward as quickly as possible, we made some commitments to industry that that’s what we’re going to do so we have a short timeline on many of them but a lot of it will depend on policy development and consultation.”

The comprehensive plan includes a new employee procurement code of conduct, vendor performance evaluation and consistent application of best value as the basis of government procurement.

“It may well be that at the end of the day once we take best value, take other things into account when we’re determining best value it may be the lowest cost in any event but it doesn’t preclude us from looking at other factors to make sure that we’re getting best value.”

It was welcome news to business leaders in attendance on Friday.

“I think they all have equal positive outcomes but overall the value, using value as a driver rather than just cost basis I think is an important piece, past performance was an important piece to us,” said Chad Leverick, president of NSBA.

“Just the overall initiative, cleaning things up and having a more consistent procurement policy across all the ministries just makes a lot of sense.”

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Others say they’re very pleased with the action plan after asking for changes like this to be made.

“We’ve seen a fair bit of outside competition moving in across the borders as of late when you’ve got an economy that Saskatchewan’s got, it draws a lot of attention and so being able to compete and work at home it’s a win for everybody I think,” explained Shantel Lipp, president of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan budget 2015: breaking down infrastructure funding

NDP Saskatoon Nutana MLA Cathy Sproule also applauds the plan.

“It’s definitely a good start and so we’re happy to see as always as official opposition our job is not only to critic the government but to propose ideas and we’re very pleased to see this is a good start down that road.”

The NDP says though the plan still lacks detail.

“I think if you look at the best value definition that you have in the action plan, they’re missing things like product history, supplier experience, warranties and in particular sort’ve the local benefit and the local knowledge aspect of it.”

BELOW: Procurement Action Plan Increases Fairness and Consistency for Saskatchewan Businesses

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