Gov­ern­ment sees pro­cure­ment changes as good for tax­pay­ers and in­dus­try

Moose Jaw Express.com - - News - Matthew Gourlie

Deputy Premier Gor­don Wyant be­lieves that the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment's new pro­cure­ment ser­vice is a win-win for Saskatchewan.

Wyant spoke at a Moose Jaw Cham­ber of Com­merce lun­cheon on Dec. 19 to out­line the Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment's pub­lic pro­cure­ment trans­for­ma­tion.

In June of 2014 the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment cre­ated Pri­or­ity Saskatchewan, a new branch of SaskBuilds. It is re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing pro­cure­ment across min­istries and the Crown sec­tor is fair, open, trans­par­ent, ac­count­able and based on in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice. SaskBuilds be­gan im­ple­ment­ing the Pro­cure­ment Trans­for­ma­tion Ac­tion Plan in March 2015. The 13-point plan is ex­pected to stream­line the pro­cure­ment process, sav­ing tax­payer dol­lars, while also en­sur­ing Saskatchewan busi­nesses are treated fairly and giv­ing them more op­por­tu­ni­ties to se­cure con­tracts.

"To see the trans­for­ma­tion and the growth of what we started a num­ber of years ago has been re­ally ex­cit­ing," said Wyant, who added that it was ex­cit­ing "to hear from Saskatchewan com­pa­nies, Saskatchewan sup­pli­ers and em­ploy­ees that what we're do­ing is ac­tu­ally mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in terms of pro­vid­ing more work to Saskatchewan peo­ple and more sup­port in the econ­omy." Last Oc­to­ber in the Speech from the Throne, the gov­ern­ment an­nounced that they would be mov­ing to a sin­gle-win­dow pro­cure­ment for the $2 bil­lion in goods, ser­vices and con­struc­tion that are pro­cured by the ex­ec­u­tive gov­ern­ment min­istries each year.

Wyant said that they don't have a hard tar­get in terms of how much money they hope to save tax­pay­ers through this change or how many more con­tracts they hope to see Saskatchewan busi­nesses is­sued, but they are keep­ing a close eye on both bot­tom lines and are con­fi­dent to see pos­i­tives in both ar­eas.

"With what we're do­ing now through this sin­gle-win­dow pro­cure­ment, we're an­tic­i­pat­ing it to be in the mil­lions of dol­lars in terms of the money we're go­ing to save through the pro­cure­ment by stream­lin­ing it all," said Wyant who is the min­is­ter in charge of SaskBuilds. "We haven't set any tar­gets, but we know it's go­ing to save some money for the tax­payer and we know it's go­ing to be ben­e­fi­cial for Saskatchewan sup­pli­ers.

"One of the things we'll do af­ter a num­ber of months -- per­haps a year -- is a lit­tle bit of an anal­y­sis. We know how much money we spend on pro­cure­ment now and we'll be able to tell at the end of (2019) how much we're spend­ing on pro­cure­ment and how much more is be­ing gen­er­ated for Saskatchewan busi­nesses. So, while we don't set a par­tic­u­lar tar­get, we have some num­bers in mind. We'll be able to see af­ter a pe­riod of time how suc­cess­ful we've been."

Wyant cited the Chi­nook Power Sta­tion, a com­bined cy­cle nat­u­ral gas gen­er­at­ing fa­cil­ity in the R.M. of Swift Cur­rent, as one of the early suc­cesses of the new pro­cure­ment process. SaskPower will own and op­er­ate the 350-megawatt nat­u­ral gas plant which is an­tic­i­pated to cost $680 mil­lion and is ex­pected to pro­vide clean elec­tric­ity to ap­prox­i­mately 300,000 homes.

"With the Swift Cur­rent com­bined cy­cle plant we saw $165 mil­lion of that plant go to lo­cal sup­pli­ers in that com­mu­nity and in the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties. We can see that kind of suc­cess for a plant like that, we can only imag­ine the kind of suc­cess we're go­ing to see across gov­ern­ment," Wyant said.

Wyant noted that there was leg­is­la­tion in place pre­vi­ously where price was the only deter­min­ing fac­tor for the Min­istry of High­ways and In­fra­struc­ture and the Min­istry of Cen­tral Ser­vices in is­su­ing con­tracts.

That leg­is­la­tion has changed to take best value into ac- count. Best value is a trade com­pli­ant phi­los­o­phy that al­lows for fac­tors that bring value be­yond just price into play.

"We used to pro­cure based on low­est price," Wyant said. "You can imag­ine that some­times low­est price isn't go­ing to give you the best prod­uct over time. Things like life cy­cle cost is an im­por­tant com­po­nent. Cost will be im­por­tant, but life cy­cle cost will be im­por­tant as are a num­ber of other things that come into play. In­no­va­tion is an­other piece that will come into best value -- to make sure we get the best value for Saskatchewan tax pay­ers." The best value leg­is­la­tion helps the Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment try to strike a bal­ance be­tween mak­ing sure they're trade com­pli­ant, while also hav­ing more flex­i­bil­ity to award con­tracts lo­cally.

"Every­body talks a good story when it comes to free trade be­tween prov­inces, but at the end of the day there are a lot of things that get in the way of that," Wyant said. "To the ex­tent that we have trade obli­ga­tions, we're go­ing to be com­pli­ant, but we're go­ing to take full ad­van­tage of any op­por­tu­nity within those agree­ments."

Wyant noted that Saskatchewan started pro­cure­ment trans­for­ma­tion long be­fore Al­berta and Bri­tish Co­lum­bia made sim­i­lar changes, but he feels that their part­ners in the New West Part­ner­ship have adopted a more pro­tec­tion­ist stance than Saskatchewan.

"What trou­bles us about Al­berta and Bri­tish Co­lum­bia is they're re­ally fo­cus­ing on pro­tect­ing their lo­cal sup­plier. We want to do that too, but we want to do it within the pa­ram­e­ters of our trade agree­ments," Wyant said. "So be re­spect­ful of the New West Part­ner­ship and re­spect­ful of the AIT (Cana­dian Agree­ment on In­ter­nal Trade). I'm al­ways a lit­tle con­cerned that some of our part­ners pay more lip ser­vice to those agree­ments than ac­tual com­pli­ance to them.

"We just want to make sure that the work we're do­ing in Pri­or­ity Saskatchewan is trade com­pli­ant and if we can do that within the pa­ram­e­ters of those trade agree­ments to ben­e­fit Saskatchewan sup­pli­ers, that's what we want to do."

Wyant also vowed that they were go­ing to be more proac­tive in en­sur­ing their trade part­ners are liv­ing up to their trade agree­ments.

“We've seen the prov­ince of Al­berta be very close with their sup­pli­ers and we hear lots of anec­do­tal in­for­ma­tion about Saskatchewan sup­pli­ers be­ing cut out of pro­cure­ments in Al­berta," Wyant said. "That wor­ries us a lit­tle bit, but as Premier Wall used to say, 'We're not go­ing to be Boy Scouts about this any more, we're go­ing to make sure that we make sure what­ever we can -- within the pa­ram­e­ters of the law -- to look af­ter our lo­cal sup­pli­ers.'"

Deputy Premier Gor­don Wyant spoke to the Moose Jaw Cham­ber of Com­merce lun­cheon on Dec. 19 about the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s new pro­cure­ment ser­vice. Matthew Gourlie pho­to­graph

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