A New Direction for Procurement & Contract Management

9 December 2021

This article has been edited March 11, 2022 to update "two-quote" to "multiple-quote" terminology.

As part of the University of Alberta for Tomorrow (UAT) initiative, the SET Procurement team has been tasked with reviewing and redesigning the expenditure strategy for goods and services across the university. This includes a review of current U of A purchasing practices which have been grouped together under the category of Foundational Procurement.

To support this review, a Foundational Procurement Task Force was established in July 2021 with representation across faculties, departments and units as an opportunity to provide valuable input on this initiative. Nine meetings were held in total and concluded in early November.

A final report was prepared by Procurement and Contract Management (PCM) and presented to the Service Excellence Steering Committee (SESC) on November 24. Approval has been given to proceed with five critical process changes to increase cost savings at the U of A. These include: requiring the use of Preferred Supplier Agreements (PSAs), requiring the use of university purchasing methods, requiring multiple quotes for purchases between $20K - $75K, discretionary oversight for Request for Proposals (RFPs), and redesigning processes for service contracts. 

The above existing purchasing processes and process changes will be enacted on April 1, 2022. There are circumstances where exceptions may occur and these will be managed through a consultative approach between Procurement and Contract Management (PCM) and the unit. Examples of these circumstances include: equipment that is already in place and in situations where standardization is required, propriety goods and services, emergency situations, preceptors/physician payments, and in situations where it can be demonstrated that there is no competition in the marketplace.

Further detail on the reason for changes, and the procurement requirements for April 1, are provided below:

Adherence to university purchasing methods

The Foundational Task Force review identified that established processes in PCM are aligned with industry standards. PCM will enforce adherence to university policies, processes and procedures as they relate to university purchasing methods.

Elimination of exception processing across the institution

Significant savings can be achieved through the elimination of exception processing and compliance of university process, policies and procedure.

Visibility to Preferred Supplier Agreements (PSAs)

Preferred Supplier Agreements (PSAs) provide value and increased purchasing opportunities to the U of A. PCM will increase understanding and visibility of PSAs through training to increase PSA use. Enhanced visibility to preferred suppliers is critical to increasing use and savings. 

Establish multiple quotes for purchases between $20K to $75K

PCM will create a multiple-quote process for purchases of goods and services between $20K to $75K. Process and documentation would be developed for single source justification (SSJ). For example: areas that would fall into an SSJ are if related equipment is already in place and standardization is required, proprietary goods and services, true emergency (not a planning deficiency), preceptors/physicians and where it can be demonstrated that there is no competition. 

Establish processes for the review of discretionary RFP requests

PCM receives numerous RFP requests on a daily basis. In some circumstances there are alternative solutions available to the university that are currently in place. This includes the use of current university managed processes and collaboration between units on campus. PCM currently administers the entire RFP process and has direct insight into all activities currently being prepared for bid. PCM will review the request and provide alternative solutions to an RFP when it is appropriate. This will include a collaborative discussion with the requester to determine needs, provide alternative solutions and provide a recommendation to move forward. 

Requirements for establishment of Service Contracts

The process around establishing service contracts will be enhanced to support compliance. Implementation timelines will be identified and communicated. Purchase orders and agreements, including contract and scope of work are required before work commences. PCM is responsible for establishing and signing all service agreements.

Additional communications and guidance informing of these process changes will be distributed to support the community leading up to April 1. If you have a question or suggestion about foundational procurement, please leave comments through our feedback form.

We would like to acknowledge and thank all members of the Foundational Procurement Task Force for their time and commitment during this review: Julie McClelland, Aris de Peuter, Andrea Hurley, Anthony Cornish, Bobbi Schiestel, Chris-Anne Felzien, Christian Tremblay, Christine Archibald, Denise LaFitte, Emma Mallett, Heather Spratt, James Willis, Jen Stogowski, Juliette McDonald, Kristopher Biffis, Krystal Belitsky, Lana Sinclair, Laura Pham, Margo Desmarais, Martin Aquiles Penaco, Nic Brisebois, Sherry Woytovich, Suzanne Roy, Wendy Brown, Ying Zheng, Yvonne Norton, Tannie Wong, Allen Amyotte, Michelle Maccagno, Nathan Skretting, Vivien Chu and Angela Strachan

Phil Webb
Director, Finance, Procurement and Planning



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