ACEC-SK Board of Directors Supports "Local Knowledge" 

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Saskatchewan
(ACEC-SK) has long advocated for Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) as the best practice for procuring professional engineering services, well before a full review of provincial government’s procurement policies was recently undertaken by the newly mandated Priority Saskatchewan.

On October 21, 2015, one of the first steps enacted by Priority Saskatchewan was to change two pieces of provincial legislation – the Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation Act, 1997 and the Public Works and Services Act, 2004.  These acts legislated ‘lowest price’ as the deciding criteria when selecting who could undertake government contracts.  The new Best Value in Procurement Act, 2015 does exactly what it says: it makes ‘best value’ the guiding principle in making provincial government procurement decisions – swinging the door wide open to Qualifications-Based Selection.

In parallel, since Saskatchewan has become a member of the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA), ACEC-SK has advocated to be exempted from the procurement aspect of this agreement.  The reasons to be exempted are many, but one significant consideration has been legal interpretations consistently disallowing the consideration of ‘local content’ under NWPTA when procuring professional services.

Therefore, ACEC-SK worked hard to have ‘local knowledge’ recognized as one criterion to be considered in the Best Value in Procurement policy.  Priority SK worked with industry to ensure industry’s procurement concerns were heard within the context of Saskatchewan’s trade obligations.

Representatives from your association’s leadership participated, and the Board of Directors was regularly informed about the progress being made.  As with any work-in-progress, interim steps were purposefully not shared with the association’s membership until ACEC-SK was confident government policy decisions were final.

ACEC-SK was invited as an industry representative when the government introduced the Best Value Procurement Act in the Legislature on October 21.  In addition, our letter of support was posted on the SaskBuilds website, and our acknowledgement of Priority SK following through on its commitment to engage industry in this process was also published.

ACEC-SK’s Board of Directors supports ‘local knowledge’ as a selection criterion for Best Value Procurement.  The consulting engineering and geoscience industry is a knowledge-based industry, and ACEC-SK is confident that recognizing “local knowledge” as a selection criterion for our members’ services is a significant step towards the implementation of true Qualifications-Based Selection.

ACEC-SK looks forward to continuing its work with Priority SK on the implementation phase of Priority SK’s Procurement Action Plan.  Changing legislation was the first step.  The next step was developing and approving policy. From here the hard work begins to develop procedures based on best value.  It will be a significant cultural change, and ACEC-SK has been reassured we will have a place at the table as a significant contributor to this process development.  We look forward to working on your behalf to carry the message about the benefits of Qualifications-Based Selection, and we will continue to report progress here as various pieces are finalized.

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