How Governments Buy | Canada – Part 1

How Governments Buy - Government of Canada | Part 1 There is a general view in the private sector that individuals in government decide on what to purchase, and from whom to purchase it. To some extent this may be the case, and again it very much depends on the size of the government organization, but there is a general process that most departments and agencies follow.

First, a word about government structure. In the federal government, a department is headed by a Deputy Minister. The next level of management is the level of the Assistant Deputy Minister, each of whom would be supported by Director’s General. These individuals in turn have Directors reporting to them, and that’s about where the buck stops. There are levels of financial expenditure authority attached to each of these management levels, with Directors having the least authority.
For things like office supplies, normally a standing offer is in place with one or more companies, and a catalogue provided to organizations run by Directors. They have the authority to purchase, typically using their support staff who have credit cards. For anything larger, there is a complicated structure of levels of approval, up to the point where for major projects, the Deputy Minister must submit requests to the Treasury Board for approval – those procurements are outside the scope of this discussion.
To complicate matters further, individual managers may have to convince the procurement organization in their department that a purchase is necessary, and from that point the paperwork may need to be forwarded to PWGSC for them to process. In some cases in departments, specific items such as computers, printers, scanners, and copy machines, as well as other items of technology are provided from a central pool, and managers have no say over what they get – they get what the department has.
All this to say that it is not a simple task to identify and target clients for goods. In the case of services, departments also typically provide some of these themselves. For example, if you are in the business of providing training services, you will likely find that the larger departments have learning and training organizations which develop and deliver courses for employees, thus negating the need to use outside suppliers. Departments may contract for courses, but in general terms the contract is for design and delivery under the control of the department – they usually do not want to purchase canned courses which may not target specific needs.
More on this topic to follow
Government Name Services – United States | Canada

The next few issues will concentrate on the mechanisms in place which governments use to purchase goods and services.

There is a general view in the private sector that individuals in government decide on what to purchase, and from whom to purchase it. To some extent this may be the case, and again it very much depends on the size of the government organization, but there is a general process that most departments and agencies follow.

First, a word about government structure. In the federal government, a department is headed by a Deputy Minister. The next level of management is the level of the Assistant Deputy Minister, each of whom would be supported by Director’s General. These individuals in turn have Directors reporting to them, and that’s about where the buck stops. There are levels of financial expenditure authority attached to each of these management levels, with Directors having the least authority.

For things like office supplies, normally a standing offer is in place with one or more companies, and a catalogue provided to organizations run by Directors. They have the authority to purchase, typically using their support staff who have credit cards. For anything larger, there is a complicated structure of levels of approval, up to the point where for major projects, the Deputy Minister must submit requests to the Treasury Board for approval – those procurements are outside the scope of this discussion.

To complicate matters further, individual managers may have to convince the procurement organization in their department that a purchase is necessary, and from that point the paperwork may need to be forwarded to PWGSC for them to process. In some cases in departments, specific items such as computers, printers, scanners, and copy machines, as well as other items of technology are provided from a central pool, and managers have no say over what they get – they get what the department has.

All this to say that it is not a simple task to identify and target clients for goods. In the case of services, departments also typically provide some of these themselves. For example, if you are in the business of providing training services, you will likely find that the larger departments have learning and training organizations which develop and deliver courses for employees, thus negating the need to use outside suppliers. Departments may contract for courses, but in general terms the contract is for design and delivery under the control of the department – they usually do not want to purchase canned courses which may not target specific needs.

More on this topic to follow

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