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BC revamping gov’t RFP process to benefit smaller firms

The British Columbia (B.C.) government is planning to act on 12 new recommendations designed to help small businesses compete for some of the 300 government contracts tendered each year.


The British Columbia (B.C.) government is planning to act on 12 new recommendations designed to help small businesses compete for some of the 300 government contracts tendered each year.

From improving the province’s contract bid functions to developing a supplier management tool, the recommendations are part of the Small Business – Doing Business with Government Project report released on March 19, 2014, the anniversary of B.C.’s Small Business Accord, which aims to make the province more business-friendly.

Approximately 98 per cent of B.C. businesses are considered small businesses. While Industry Canada defines a small business as one that generates less than $5 million in revenue per year, in B.C. the definition is given as a firm with 50 or fewer employees.

“When it comes to landing government contracts, our small businesses start at a disadvantage: with few exceptions, they lack the resources to identify and pursue these opportunities,” said John Winter, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce, in a March 19, 2014 statement. “It’s encouraging to see a government that has not only identified this issue, but is working proactively to deal with it,” added Winter.

The recommendations are the result of eight brainstorming sessions among 108 small business owners in B.C. It was a process orchestrated by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, and the Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business.

As of April 1, 2014, the B.C. government began to take action on the recommendations, implementing a shorter request-for-proposal (RFP) form for projects listed under $250,000. Whereas these forms used to range from 20 to 80 pages, the new forms are just two pages. Winter described the new “smart” forms as beneficial to smaller businesses because the change removes “bureaucratic measures.”

According to the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, B.C.’s small business sector provides nearly 55 per cent of all private sector jobs, employs over one million people and generates 26 per cent of the provincial gross domestic product (GDP).

Recommendations to improve RFPs for small business:

  • Implement a cost-effective small business outreach and training approach.
  • Improve BC Bid functions, develop a tutorial and consider reducing or eliminating fees.
  • Implement a strategy to communicate about existing and future contract possibilities.
  • Explore establishment of a supplier management tool.
  • Encourage government’s larger suppliers to post and promote opportunities for small businesses.
  • Develop centrally accessible plain language information and resources.
  • Explore ways to expand the scope of proactively-released contract award summaries.
  • Enhance staff training to promote best practices throughout the contract-management lifecycle.
  • Streamline procurement processes and templates.
  • Implement a new policy and approach for welcoming new ideas. 
  • Explore ways to further achieve ministry mandates and objectives through government purchasing decisions
  • Establish clear accountability for reporting on results and tracking progress through the Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business

      

    This news item originally appeared in EcoLog News. To learn how to subscribe, visit www.ecolog.com


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