Vancouver: A new program allowing industry experts to propose potential solutions to government business challenges, prior to starting the formal bidding process, has been launched.

“We’re changing how government does business. Our new concierge program aligns with the demands of today’s marketplace by making it simpler, faster and less costly for companies to work with government,” said Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services. “This collaborative approach makes it easier for the Province to access innovative, cutting-edge solutions and services on behalf of British Columbians.”

B.C.’s Procurement Concierge Program is vastly different from traditional, inflexible procurement systems that require government buyers to already have potential solutions in mind prior to issuing a tender. With this program, buyers will work with vendors to help ensure the end product meets the needs of both government and British Columbians. This agile, streamlined process will also help more businesses of all sizes throughout B.C. benefit from the close to $7 billion the Province spends annually procuring goods and services.

“To create a business-friendly environment, it needs to be simple for small businesses to access new opportunities,” said Val Litwin, CEO, BC Chamber of Commerce. “The B.C. government is providing a way for these businesses to scale – by making it easier to compete for valuable government contracts. This could be game changing for many.”

Sims also announced progress on two key projects to modernize government purchasing during an event with the BC Chamber of Commerce, including the successful proponent to update the BC Bid system and development of new social purchasing guidelines:

  • CGI has been awarded a contract to replace BC Bid. When completed in 2020, the new system will make the bidding processes more straightforward. Improved search functions will make it easier for vendors to find opportunities in or near their communities.
  • New social purchasing guidelines for all government ministries will help them consider not only value for money, but also whether additional benefits for people and communities can be realized through contracts. When evaluating a proposal, buyers can award points to vendors that propose benefits, such as new job opportunities and employment training for people under-represented in the workforce.

These are key elements of the Province’s new procurement strategy released in June 2018, which includes 20 projects to:

  • remove barriers for small, medium and Indigenous businesses;
  • promote innovation;
  • increase the focus on social and economic outcomes for people and communities; and
  • improve procurement capacity within ministries.

The strategy is also focused on improving transparency in the Province’s procurement system by creating predictable, reliable and simple processes.

“Our more than 2,000 members produce many unique products and solutions ranging from safety gear, uniforms, tools, building materials, machinery and other items that they would like to put in the hands of all levels of government purchasers,” said Marcus Ewert-Johns, president, BC Alliance for Manufacturing. “This is a strong step to help B.C. industries supply government agencies with products for their own operations and to help better serve citizens, in turn, growing our provincial economy.”

Quick Facts:

  • Government consulted over 250 vendor representatives and industry groups from the technology, construction and economic sectors, as well as provincial ministries, in creating the new procurement strategy.
  • The current BC Bid system is 20 years old and difficult for businesses to navigate.
  • New programs such as Sprint With Us, Code With Us and Startup in Residence help tech companies work with government and ensure the Province can take better advantage of made-in-B.C. innovation.
  • To date, 108 tech companies have registered with Sprint With Us and Code With Us.