Procurement Concierge Program - Frequently Asked Questions
Following are the frequently asked questions that government staff ask about the Procurement Concierge Program.
What is the Procurement Concierge Program?
The Procurement Concierge Program is a program for government to engage more actively with vendors to learn more about what the vendor community has to offer and to plan what to buy before the purchase is made. Pre-market engagement (described below) and a new outcomes-based solicitation model called the Opportunity Statement Negotiated Request for Proposals or OS NRFP are the key features of this program.
Why is the Procurement Concierge Program needed?
In development of the BC Procurement Strategy, we consistently heard from stakeholders a need to streamline and increase the transparency of government’s approach to procurement.
The Procurement Concierge Program has been designed to respond to both vendor and government buyer feedback by providing a venue for pre-market engagement (i.e. market research) in a fair and open way. Government buyers will be able to take problems to industry experts (aka vendors) for information on what would best meet government’s needs.
In addition, a new solicitation model (the OS NRFP) will be available where government buyers can consider vendors’ options and alternatives to meeting government requirements.
What does “pre-market engagement” mean?
Pre-market engagement is the process for two-way communication between the participating vendor community and buyers that is intended to help buyers to determine what to purchase. The Procurement Concierge Program will advertise “problem statements”, which are brief descriptions of an issue, problem or need that the government is experiencing. Each problem statement will be linked to a Procurement Concierge Program Request for Information (RFI) that is posted on BC Bid, with more fulsome information about the problem statement, and specific questions that vendors are asked to answer.
Many of these RFIs will also include Discovery Sessions, which are meetings that anyone interested can attend to discuss the issues, problems or needs that the government is experiencing. In addition to Discovery Sessions, some of these RFIs will offer vendors the option to also request a Private Meeting with the government buyer, to discuss the problem statement and their potential solution in more detail. Note that Private Meetings are only possible if they are offered within the RFI; if they are not offered, the government buyer will not be meeting privately with any vendor about the information contained in the RFI.
Refer to Market Research and Notifications for more information on pre-market engagement.
How can I be sure the pre-market engagement process is fair, open and transparent?
- The RFIs with Discovery Session components, if any, will be advertised on BC Bid, and any vendor can participate
- The purpose of the RFIs and any Discovery Sessions will be clearly communicated to vendors (e.g. information gathering to help government decide what goods and services to buy)
- Vendors can attend Discovery Sessions remotely, to ensure that a vendor’s location is not a barrier
- Private meetings will only be possible if the government buyer offers this option and commits to meeting with every vendor who requests one
- Guidance will be provided to government buyers to ensure that decisions made on what to buy and any associated procurement are fair
Vendors will be told to not share any propriety information or trade secrets, as any information provided through the RFI and Discovery Session process may be used by government in a subsequent solicitation. Information on the Program for vendors can be found at Vendor Information – Procurement Concierge Program.
Can government buyers direct award a contract to a vendor that they meet through the Procurement Concierge Program RFI process?
Government buyers participating in the Procurement Concierge Program must still follow their applicable policies. For ministries, this means that direct awards are only possible if they meet one of the criteria allowed in core policy.
If the government buyer wants to purchase certain goods and/or services from a vendor that he/she meets through the RFI process, and none of the reasons for a direct award apply, a solicitation is required. The solicitation could be one of the usual processes, as described in Select a Solicitation Process and Template Guidelines, or it could be one of the Innovative Procurement Initiatives.
How can I get my issue, problem or need addressed through the Procurement Concierge Program?
Contact the Procurement Concierge Program team at Procurement.Concierge@gov.bc.ca. We’ll be in touch with you within 24 hours of receiving your email during regular business days. Program staff are always looking for new government problem statements to solve.
How is this new solicitation model – the OS NRFP – different from other solicitations?
Typical government solicitations can have lengthy, complicated processes with limited flexibility that may lack the vendor insights that pre-market engagement and/or a negotiated process might bring.
The Opportunity Statement Negotiated Request for Proposals (OS NRFP) is based on the Arizona State University’s Best Value Model. The Best Value Model has been used successfully in the United States for more than 20 years, and within Canada over the past decade.
The OS NRFP is designed to address the problems that can occur with typical solicitations as follows:
- The OS NRFP is designed to meet an overall outcome rather than a long list of inflexible requirements. Although the OS NRFP still includes pre-determined requirements, it also has a mechanism for vendors to suggest alternative approaches. This allows vendors to be successful in the solicitation when they use their in-depth knowledge of what they sell to suggest approaches that permissibly deviate from the requirements, but will better meet the intended outcomes.
- Proposals to the OS NRFP typically are less than 10 pages long, and consist of forms that vendors complete. This greatly reduces the amount of work for vendors to participate (and for government to evaluate).
- Once the successful vendor has been identified, the contract is planned in detail before it is signed. The vendor and government buyer will work together to ensure a shared understanding of what is needed, all of which will be captured in the contract. This doesn’t mean that the final signed contract can be vastly different from what was proposed, but rather includes the details that align with what was proposed.
Government buyers participating in the OS NRFP process are still responsible to follow all applicable policies and requirements related to their procurement.
Where is the corporate template for the OS NRFP?
The OS NRFP template is exclusively used by staff in the Procurement and Supply Division of the Ministry of Citizens’ Services on behalf of its government clients. Because the process differs so much from typical solicitation processes, extensive training is required before leading an OS NRFP project.
How can I use the OS NRFP?
Contact the Procurement Concierge team at Procurement.Concierge@gov.bc.ca to arrange for a meeting to discuss your needs. We’ll be in touch with you within 24 hours of receiving your email during regular business days.