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In the News
March 2001



compiled by Summit staff
Joanne Sedkowski and David Newman

Federal travel modernization checks in

The federal government's travel modernization program is not just moving ahead at a good pace - it's presenting some surprises as it does. A recent Request for Information (RFI) on end-to-end travel solutions for the program achieved a virtually unprecedented response from the private sector, not the usually routine, polite and appropriate responses from businesses hoping to pursue a contract for the relevant activity.

The RFI provoked detailed responses from 12 companies and consortia, well beyond the "usual suspects." Responses came from financial institutions, global distribution service operators, systems integrators and software companies as well as from the travel companies one would have expected. And they took the RFI very seriously indeed, providing substantial information and advice along with copious supporting documentation. On top of that, at least half the respondents have requested follow-up meetings and briefings.

Peter Elias, a project manager at Treasury Board, attributes this extraordinary response to the nature and approach of the travel modernization program itself. "The industry knows we're looking to innovate, to make real changes, and their response is very much in keeping with how we are proceeding." The travel modernization program also represents new business. There are no incumbent suppliers for an initiative of this scale and it represents a huge business opportunity for prospective suppliers. Elias anticipates continued interest from prospective suppliers based on several key factors. "Treasury Board has been very open on this program. The playing field is level and there is a strong element of trust and responsiveness from the industry. The scope of the opportunity certainly warrants their attention. We are starting from scratch on a relatively new type of work and doing so with an avant-garde approach." The travel modernization program promises to offer very interesting news as it moves ahead. -DN

Professional development and certification torch passed

Representatives of the 23 member departments of the Materiel and Supply Management Steering Committee (MSMSC) were honoured last November 22 as the committee passed the professional development and certification program torch to the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS). The committee of procurement, materiel and supply management professionals from 23 federal departments and agencies was established in May 1998 to come up with a professional development program for the federal government materiel and supply management community.

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Paul Gauvin recognized the importance of the work of the MSMSC. "This committee has raised the bar for the government procurement community. It is significant that the professional development and certification program has been developed by the community itself before being passed along to Treasury Board for implementation."

Fred Dupuis, director general of RCMP procurement, and Doug Woods, director of headquarters administrative services at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, co-chairs of the MSMSC, emphasized the contribution of individual federal departments in supporting the work of the committee, in terms of both funding and participants' time.

The MSMSC established the conceptual framework and parameters of the professional development and certification program and developed 15 seminars and courses addressing a variety of government procurement and supply issues. It has promoted broad awareness of professional development and certification issues and achieved the commitment and support of the procurement community, professional associations and key federal organizations.

As part of the overall procurement reform initiative, Treasury Board Secretariat has established a new dedicated program office to coordinate the implementation of the Government of Canada Professional Development and Certification Program for Procurement, Materiel and Supply Managers. The new program office staff includes Suzanne Ayer, Colleen Post and Nicole Racine, who report to Don Chilibeck, Treasury Board's director of materiel and project management. -DN

Head west to the FCM's annual conference

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is holding its 64th annual conference and municipal trade show in Banff, Alberta. The conference will take place from May 25 to May 28, 2001. Seminars and workshops will be offered on resources, policies and business strategies. The conference and trade show are designed so that elected municipal leaders, as well as senior managerial and technical staff, are able to engage in professional and business development, in an attempt to enhance the quality of life in Canadian communities. To obtain more details about the conference visit www.fcm.ca. -JS

Toronto adopts new purchasing by-law and policies

The City of Toronto's new purchasing by-law establishes procedures and authority for the procurement of goods and services and to repeal interim purchasing. Within this by-law, the codes of purchasing ethics established by the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing as well as by the Purchasing Management Association of Canada apply to all staff involved in the procurement process.

Policies adopted under this new by-law have particular implications for companies involved in procurement. One such policy states that, in an attempt to increase the development and awareness of environmentally sound purchasing, the acquisition of goods and services will ensure that whenever possible there is increased use of environmentally preferred products. These preferred products should be durable, reusable, energy efficient and have minimal negative impact on the environment in general. Bidders will be made aware of these requirements in all Requests for Quotations. The policy is also implemented in the evaluation of all quotations, proposals and tenders.

Another policy prohibits the City of Toronto from engaging in business with contractors and suppliers who discriminate within the workplace. The purpose of this Fair Wage Policy is to ensure stable labour relations with minimal disruption; to compromise between the wage differentials of both organized and non-organized labour; to create a fair playing field; and to protect the public. The City of Toronto does not support nor encourage the use of products manufactured in factories where children are used and exploited, therefore it implemented a policy which forces bidders to state where the products offered have been made. While the criteria will not be used to disqualify any bidder, preference will be given to bidders that abide by this policy. More information about doing business with the City of Toronto can be found at www.city.toronto.on.ca. -JS

Annual national workshop for materiel managers

The Materiel Management Institute is holding its annual Materiel Management National Workshop for managers in the public sector who are involved in life cycle and materiel management. The two-day conference unites members from across the country to hear invited speakers as well as to participate in sessions covering a range of topics. An exposition is held in conjunction with the workshop, allowing members to learn more about relevant products and services. The conference takes place in Ottawa from May 14 to May 16, 2001. Special training seminars are available the day prior to the conference itself. For more information visit www.thewillowgroup.com/mmi. -JS

New website for proposal writing

Michael Asner Consulting, a BC-based government consulting firm, and US-based Wood River Technologies recently launched the proposalworks.com website, for those who are in the B2G business. E-procurement specialist Michael Asner, says, " electronic procurement is rapidly transforming the proposal writing process. As online accessibility to bidding opportunities and bid documents continue to increase competition, buyer expectations regarding the quality of proposals will also rise. Overall, proposal writing will become more challenging, more demanding and more crucial in a firm's efforts to acquire governmental business."

The website is a one-stop resource centre for proposal writers and evaluators. The site features proposal writing tips and techniques, and offers an indexed research library of articles and publications dealing with proposal writing. It also offers a free monthly subscription to an e-newsletter dealing with issues related to proposal writing such as tips on what to do before the solicitation arrives to improve your chances of winning and how to write proposals that grab the reader's attention and set you apart from competition. -JS

Making it easier to buy environmentally friendly products

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) is a program of the US federal government's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is designed to promote and encourage federal government use of services and products that pose reduced impacts to human health and the environment. An online database is organized like a shopping mall with environmental information for selected products and services located within each store. The site also features guidelines and standards for "green" products as well as "green" purchasing. The EPP database includes: voluntary guidelines and standards used to compare the environmental preferability of products and services; contract language and specifications containing environmentally preferable purchasing language; and other sources of information about the environmental preferability of products and services.

Information within the database is specific to products developed by government programs, both domestic and international, as well as third parties. Users are encouraged to submit their own information so the database can be updated regularly. For more information visit www.epa.gov. -JS

Adopting e-procurement

The National Association of Purchasing Management (NAPM) and Forrester Research, Inc. announced the release of the NAPM/Forrester Research "Report on eBusiness," a first-of-its-kind report that tracks online activity for manufacturing as well as non-manufacturing organizations.

The report, developed in fall 2000, measures the adoption of Internet-based procurement and indicates that, of the corporate purchasers surveyed, almost half the companies are still in the early stages of Internet adoption. Companies are just now starting to purchase online and use the Internet for other parts of their procurement process. Forrester group director Bruce D. Temkin stated that "there's a significant incoming wave of online B2B activities. At the same time, an overwhelming number of these respondents see the Internet as an important part of their plans." Edith Kelly-Green is NAPM chair of the research report and vice president for strategic sourcing and supply for Federal Express. She added, " comments made by respondents, such as deciding on appropriate initiatives, problems with implementation, resistance to change and funding, point out some of the issues facing organizations in implementing or deciding upon an eBusiness solution." While her statements reference the private sector, the same holds true for the public sector.

Temkin also stated that, "while organizations aren't yet buying a large portion of their goods online, there is significant momentum to use the Internet for things like identifying new suppliers and collaborating with suppliers." Forrester predicts online business trade in Canada will reach $272 billion by 2005 with 51 percent of the online business flowing through e-marketplaces. For more information visit www.forrester.com.

Canada's Procuron Inc appears to agree. It is expanding its B2B marketplace pilot to include 200 Canadian businesses based on feedback from Corporate Express, the original supplier participant. The first step in the process has been to add American Express, Budget Rent-A-Car, Definiti Laser, Royal Air Lines and 3-SOFT to the suppliers offering products and services. The portal has been operational since November 2000. Procuron will offer items that most businesses require regardless of their size - things like office supplies and equipment, computer hardware, software and accessories, travel and personnel and courier services to name a few. Full national launch is scheduled for April 2001. Check out www.procuron.com.

During the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships' eighth annual conference earlier this year, a survey was featured outlining options that would trigger higher use of the Internet. Given a choice of three options, most respondents stated their use of the Internet would increase "noticeably" or "substantially" if it was cheaper, easier to use or if content improved. The report revealed that, during the past three months, 61 percent of organizations have bought indirect materials online and nearly 40 percent of manufacturers have purchased direct materials online. More than 15 percent of companies did some purchasing via an online auction, with manufacturers having used them twice as often as non-manufacturers. -JS

New "Report Card" evaluates healthcare e-commerce marketplaces

E-business has allowed hospitals to buy medical and surgical equipment via the Internet, but has also caused a battle for the top spot as the prime deliverer of web-based technologies between two Canadian companies - Ormed Information Systems Ltd. of Edmonton and e-Health Market Inc. of Toronto. Both are hopeful that web-based technologies will cut costs and improve the efficiency of both Canadian hospitals and nursing homes. E-business would allow medical purchasers to obtain supplies including syringes, catheters and diagnostic film without the hassle of phoning or faxing for information.

Millennium Research Group (MRG), of Toronto and Boston, has studied the US hospital system and predicts that Internet-based procurement is set to explode. By 2004, total medical equipment procurement over the Internet is expected to reach $27.3 billion (US), representing 31 percent of all hospital purchasing, according to a recent MRG report. Because of the turbulent nature of the online healthcare marketplace and the recent consolidation of large players in the industry, a new MRG "Report Card" ranking system will be introduced. The "Report Card," part of the analysis offered with "Player Strategies: Online Healthcare Marketplaces," is devised to provide readers with an evaluation of the current status of healthcare e-commerce exchanges. The grading is based on current services, business objectives and strategic relationships developed by companies. The "Report Card" will be updated on an ongoing basis, as these exchanges become more refined. The Player Strategies Report is the third and final research stream in MRG's "e-Med Subscription Service," introduced in May 2000 and dedicated to providing competitive intelligence on e-commerce in the medical equipment and supply marketplace. To obtain more information visit www.mrg.net. -JS


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