Introduction & Principles

The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), referred to herein as the “ministry,” delivers services to children, youth and families in British Columbia. Approximately 50% of the ministry’s annual budget is spent on contracted services. There are legal obligations and duties that govern contracting advice and assistance.  Questions regarding the legal obligations can be emailed to

In 2012, a joint venture was started to create this manual, which included representatives from the ministry, the BC Federation of Community Social Services BC (the Federation), the BC Association of Child Development and Intervention (BCACDI) and the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC).  MCFD appreciates and thanks all of these participants for the time and effort they put into the creation of this manual.


This manual is a support tool developed in response to ministry staff and service provider feedback. The manual encourages the use of consistent practices and a more standardized approach to contract management.

Used as a reference by ministry staff and service providers, this manual will guide and aid the mutual understanding of:

  • General contracting concepts
  • The ministry’s procurement and contract management principles, practices and roles

It is intended to:

  • Support the principles of fairness and transparency
  • Outline the ministry’s approaches
  • Illustrate a balanced relationship between the ministry and service providers

This manual is a living document and will be updated to reflect current needs, policies and practices. The manual should be looked at holistically and the information contained within sections should not be taken in isolation.

The manual supplements the principles and objectives of the:

Other ministry contracting or procurement manuals are superseded by this manual. It does not replace legislation, core policy or the responsibility to ensure compliance. Where there is a discrepancy between this manual and policy, policy will be deemed correct. Please email to notify us of the discrepancy so a correction can be made to the manual.

This manual is broken down into the seven phases of the Procurement Cycle and hyperlinks are used throughout the manual to provide further details:

The manual also includes a Glossary of terms. 

The ministry follows the principles and objectives established by the BC Provincial Government and as outlined in the Ministry of Finance Core Policy and Procedures Manual.

BC Government Procurement Principles



Value for Money

Supply & Demand



1. Government policy and trade agreements requirements are met

2. Best value for money is received

3. Vendors have access to information on procurement opportunities, processes, and results

4. Competitive processes are held with the intent to award a contract

5. Ministries are accountable for the results of procurement decisions and processes

6. Government buying power is leveraged through demand aggregation

7. Procurement process costs are appropriate to the value and complexity of the procurement

The principles and objectives guide the ministry in its procurement and contract management actions. Below is how the ministry applies these principles and objectives.

Transparency: Service providers and the public are able to understand the processes used by and the intent of the ministry in the purchase of goods and services.  The ministry will:

  • Report publicly on ministry contract management practices
  • Support freedom of information requests related to contracting practices where not limited by the requirement to protect personal and/or competitive information
  • Support the collaborative planning with service providers and the debriefing of service providers following solicitations, contract reporting, or evaluations

Accountability: Ministry staff accepts responsibility for their procurement and contract management decisions and are accountable for their actions. The ministry will:

  • Ensure that ministry staff are aware of the responsibilities and code of conduct requirements related to procurement and contract management

Value for Money: The ministry is able to demonstrate how they have obtained the benefit for the goods and services acquired. The ministry will:

  • Have ministry specific policies and procedures for key contract management activities to ensure the procurement activities achieve the required outcomes
  • Ensure the best supplier is selected for the right reasons and at a price that represents value-for-money over the life of the contract
  • Compensate suppliers fairly and equitably for the goods and services received

Supply and Demand: The ministry pays for services and goods at a rate that reflects the interaction between the supply and demand for that service or resource. The ministry will:

  • Consolidate business requirements internally whenever practical
  • Consolidate business requirements with other ministries whenever practical
  • Ensure supply and demand decisions are supported by quantifiable data

Competition: The ministry promotes the use of fair and open competition in the procurement of services and goods to:

  • Ensure the needs of children, families, and youth are met through the most suitable solution and approach
  • Provide justification for the award of contracts and cost of services delivered
  • Comply with policy requirements for posting opportunities

This manual supports the spirit and intent of the Aboriginal Procurement and Contract Management Guidelines published by the Office of the Comptroller General. These guidelines “encourage and support ministry staff to procure culturally appropriate service delivery to increase the likelihood of positive and effective program outcomes for Aboriginal peoples. They operate within the parameters of the Province’s established procurement policy and applicable trade agreements.”

What is a contract?

A contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties to buy goods, services, or construction; and is established when five legal elements are met:

  • An offer has been made and accepted;
  • Both parties intend to enter into a contract;
  • Both parties have the capacity to enter into a contract;
  • A consideration (price, fee or cost) has been agreed upon; and
  • The contract is intended to be a legal agreement.

“Ministry staff must not do or say anything to create a verbal contract on behalf of the government” (CPPM 6.3.3.b.8).

What is a contractor, service provider, and/or vendor?

  • "Contractor," "service provider" and "vendor" are standard terms used in the contracting process to represent individuals, partnerships, companies and/or non-profit societies or agencies that participate in the contracting process or enter into a contract to provide services.
  • "Service provider" is the term most often used in the ministry and in this manual.
  • Services under contract may be provided directly to the ministry (E.g. the design and development of computer systems) or to clients on behalf of the ministry (E.g. residential care for individuals with special needs).

What is contract management?

  • Contract management is the process of managing contracts the ministry has with service providers.
  • It encompasses all phases of the procurement cycle and it ensures that contracts are created, executed, monitored and analyzed to receive the best possible financial and operational performance and quality service delivery.

What is the procurement cycle?

  • Every procurement is unique, but follows the same cycle and seven phases.
  • The amount of time spent in each phase will depend on the complexity of the contract.


Manages the relationship and interactions with the service provider throughout the life cycle, including addressing any contract issues that may arise.


Identifies the need and describes the project, so that the procurement process can be started.

Pre-Award and Solicitation

Selection of the procurement process and implementation of it to select the service provider.


The planning, negotiation and implementation of the contract.

Administration and Monitoring

Monitoring of performance and finances to ensure the deliverables are received in accordance with the contract. Deals with any issues that may arise.

Post-Contract Evaluation

Determines how the ministry benefited from the contract, if all the deliverables were met and how well the contractor performed against the contract requirements.


Provides information on contracting activities to the ministry and to central agencies.


Contracted community social services sector workers and organizations make a crucial contribution to the people and communities of BC. The demand for social services is increasing, alongside an increasing diverse and aging population. Recruitment and retention, as well as the rising costs of doing business remain significant challenges for the social services sector to remain viable. Additionally, there is the recognized need to ensure children, youth and families continue to receive high quality and effective services in an integrated, coordinated and efficient way.

As a result changes and innovations in the way services are delivered are necessary to sustain service capacity. Together the program and sector need to consider innovations and efficiencies in their contracted delivery approaches, as well as driving sustainable, efficient, and effective ways for contracting social services. This includes looking at the ways that both government and service providers administer and deliver services.

Training to understand and respond to solicitation processes and contracting is available.

For Service Providers:

For Ministry Staff: