Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Posts Tagged ‘TBIPS’

The difference in Government procurement vehicles

Posted by sweens on December 2, 2009

Maybe it is a good thing, but apparently I am at the point in my blogging life where I am able to take requests.  So here is one, where we can look at the different Government procurement vehicles and how they work.  I would like to focus on the following:

  1. Task-Based Informatics Professional Services (TBIPS)
    1. Standing Offer
    2. Supply Arrangement
  2. Temporary Help Services (THS)
  3. Standing Offer(s)
  4. PS Online

I would like to focus on these because they are the ones that I more commonly see in my day-to-day grind. 

1.  Task-Based Informatics Professional Services (TBIPS)

TBIPS is the newest form of procurement vehicle the Government is using and it was brought in to replace the existing procurement vehicles (THS, GOL, PS Online, etc).  While the transition to TBIPS has been rocky for many departments, more and more departments are becoming familiar with how it can be used.  TBIPS certainly appears to be the procurement vehicle of choice.  It is better then THS as its dollar maximum is much higher then THS is and it allows for a contract to have options years.  This allows an organization to bring in a resource for a length of time and takes away the need for continuing to renew the same resource over and over again.  The important thing to note about TBIPS is that each firm who is qualified under TBIPS has submitted a ceiling rate for each category and they are unable to exceed this rate.

1.a) TBIPS has two categories, the first being the Standing Offer (SO) which means that the department looking to hire a resource picks the category and then goes to the lowest priced firm and works its way up until it finds a firm who can supply the resource at their ceiling rate or lower. 

1.b) The second category is the Supply Arrangement (SA) which is where multiple firms (no less then three) are invited to compete against each other  for the same position.  Firms will bid separate resources and usually the lowest cost-per-point candidate is chosen to fill the contract.

2. Temporary Help Services (THS)

Was probably the most common procurement vehicle until TBIPS came around!  The challenge with THS is that the value of the contract can not exceed $89000 so if you have a high priced resource, $89000 does not gone a long way in keeping that resource on-site for a while.  The good thing about THS is that your rates are not set in stone and you can adjust them accordingly.  If you know of an up-coming THS requirement, you can increase or decrease your rate in order to accommodate your client or your candidate.

3. Standing Offers

They are slowly no longer being issued as TBIPS was supposed to replace them and give everyone a fair chance at filling any contract position.  How they work is that a department would issue an RFP for a supply arrangement and would pick as many firms as they felt necessary and used only those firms who qualified to select their contract resources.  It is like using the same 10 companies every time and having them compete against each other.  This allows for good relationships to be formed between the client and the firm however it could also back fire.

4. PS Online

PS Online is interesting in that candidates need to be pre-approved to be on PS Online.  Categories are defined with specific skill sets and your candidate(s) must have those particular skills in order to be deemed compliant in that category.  Only candidates who were pre-approved at the time of the requirement can be submitting and closed against any open PS Online Requirement.

I hope this helps you get a better understanding of how consulting firms procure contract resources into the Government.  It can be tricky to wrap your head around it.  I am still learning on a daily basis.

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Brainhunter files complaint about DFAIT solicitation

Posted by sweens on August 25, 2009

I was glad to see that I was not the only one who found the award from this contract to be a little “off” as my firm submitted a candidate who was ruled non-compliant for the same reason as Brainhunters.  Interesting article below…

By Elizabeth Howell, Ottawa Business Journal Staff

Mon, Aug 24, 2009 10:00 AM EST

Local tech services firm Brainhunter Inc. (TSX:BH) has filed a complaint against the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade alleging problems with a recent supply arrangement solicitation for IT services.

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal is proceeding with an investigation based on the Aug. 10 complaint, which concerned a solicitation for computer programmers and analysts to create and deliver .NET applications. A decision is expected in November.

Brainhunter’s notice of complaint filed by Borden Ladner Gervais LLP estimates the value of the contract at $100,000. excellTR and Ajilon Canada Inc. were the successful co-bidders for the May 15 solicitation awarded on June 12.

The tech firm had a tier-one federal government supply arrangement for task-based informatics professional services, or TBIPS. The supply arrangement list is a pre-screened set of companies that meet at least six of 17 technical requirements set by Public Works.

The sticking point with the DFAIT standing offer was the qualifications of contractor Tim Wang, according to the complaint. Brainhunter alleged DFAIT did not fairly assess his experience and rejected the bid because the department felt Mr. Wang did not meet its requirements.

The solicitation called for two years of experience in developing applications using the computer language Visual Basic (VB), the complaint added.

“When the government evaluators conducted their review, they failed to give one of Brainhunter’s proposed resources full credit for his experience,” read the statement, referring to Mr. Wang.

“Had the evaluators not ignored the information contained in the Brainhunter proposal, and had they fairly assessed it in accordance with the evaluation criteria, they would have come to the conclusion that (Mr. Wang) not only met the minimum experience requirements, (but) he clearly exceeded them.

“This clear error,” continued the statement, “warrants the intervention of the tribunal.”

Senior account manager Tony Sicoli sent DFAIT a notice of objection on July 22, which was rebuffed five days later.

According to Brainhunter, DFAIT explained the rejection by saying Mr. Wang’s experience using VB.NET – a successor to VB – was separate from experience using VB alone. On that basis, DFAIT is alleged to have said Mr. Wang did not meet the two-year minimum experience requirement.

Brainhunter countered with a statement saying Mr. Wang did have the required experience using VB alone, although the copy of the complaint OBJ obtained had the specifics of his experience blanked out.

“DFAIT’s failure to properly identify Mr. Wang’s qualifications deprived Brainhunter of the ability to meaningfully compete for this procurement and, in so doing, deprived Brainhunter of the opportunity to be awarded one of the contracts and the (resulting) profit,” continued the statement.

Officials from Brainhunter and Borden Ladner refused comment on this matter, while DFAIT said it was unable to provide a statement before the end of the working day.

Brainhunter’s latest financial results – released earlier this month – showed the company lost $7.1 million in its fiscal third quarter of 2009, in contrast with a $727,000 profit for the same period last year.

The tech firm recently shed more than 80 people from its overall workforce and cut back on its office space.

Newly minted CEO Raj Singh stated Brainhunter is restructuring itself, which could involve selling off divisions of the business, selling all of the business or refinancing its debt.

Although a supply arrangement like Brainhunter’s places the firm on a pre-screened list of preferred government clients, it does not guarantee any one firm success during the solicitation process.

“The way the request for a supply arrangement or standing offer works is that you have a number of criteria that your firm meets – everything from overall financial stability, insurance requirements and previous experience,” noted Keith Parker, managing director of The Proposal Centre and an experienced hand in government procurement.

“The previous experience is simply measured based on your experience in providing services in a particular category.”

Once the supply arrangement list is made, individual departments like DFAIT can make a call for proposals from the list as needed if the contract is below a certain threshold, which Mr. Parker pegged at $2 million.

This particular $100,000 contract would have fallen well below the point where Public Works would be mandated to step in and oversee the procurement, he added.

The investigation is taking place under procurement inquiry regulations laid out by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, which has until Nov. 10 to issue a decision, said CITT secretary Helene Nadeau in an interview.

Following the initial complaint, the tribunal had five working days to determine whether to further investigate the matter; they decided to do so on Aug. 17.

From that date, DFAIT has 25 working days to file its response, to which Brainhunter will have another seven days to respond.

“When potential bidders feel that they have a complaint with a government institution, they can file a complaint with the tribunal saying they feel that the trade agreement has not been respected by the government,” said Ms. Nadeau.

Separately, Brainhunter is one of seven tech firms who were named in a Competition Bureau lawsuit alleging bid-rigging in relation to IT contracts for government departments, including – in Brainhunter’s case specifically – Transport Canada.

Pre-trial proceedings are still ongoing in that case, which named Brainhunter and two employees who worked for the firm in 2005, Perry Henningsen and Wendie Loudon.

The chief executive also resigned in June to “avoid a proxy fight” between shareholders.

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