On June 1, 2013, all Government of Canada tenders will move from MERX.com to Buyandsell.gc.ca/tenders. Today I attended a webinar, hosted by Rene Latraverse of the digital engagement team at Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), about this transition.
PWGSC consulted suppliers and government buyers about what they want to see in a procurement system; the clear response was that they’d like a single-access site to complete procurement information. The new Buyandsell.gc.ca/tenders site leverages technology (in particular searching and database technology) to benefit both suppliers and government buyers. The initiative is aligned with the Canadian Action Plan on Open Government, whose there pillars are open information, open data, and open dialogue. The hope is that the site’s increased transparency will help suppliers answer two main questions:
- What can I sell?
- How can I sell?
- Access to the new site is free, and there is no need to register.
- You can search for opportunities using plain language—you don’t need to know Goods and Services Identification Numbers (GSINs) for your good or service or be familiar with procurement language to search for available tenders that match what you would like to supply.
- You can narrow down search results by region.
- Opportunities have a unique URL, which you can bookmark. The link gives you the current view of the opportunity. Opportunities are therefore easy to share via email or social media. You can also subscribe to the opportunity using RSS to get alerts about amendments or changes.
- You can view contract history and find partnering opportunities.
- You can easily customize your searches and then bookmark those searchers or subscribe to them via RSS for notices about new opportunities.
- You can download search results as a spreadsheet.
The Buyandsell.gc.ca/tenders site launched on April 11 and has up until now primarily been a communication vehicle to provide general information about what will happen on June 1. As of June 1, 2013, Buyandsell.gc.ca/tenders will be the official site for government tenders. Up until May 31, the official site is still MERX. If you follow any opportunities on MERX right now, the Buyandsell.gc.ca/tenders site has information about how you can continue to follow those through the transition to the new site.
Questions from webinar attendees
Will you be offering printing services?
The opportunities will be all electronic, so PWGSC is not offering any printing services. Opportunities are easy to download for printing if needed.
Should suppliers stay registered with MERX?
This decision is left to individual suppliers. The new Buyandsell.gc.ca/tenders site will list Government of Canada opportunities but will not list provincial or territorial opportunities. (There will be no overlap between the two services.)
Will contracting authorities be able to see who has downloaded opportunities?
No. Since no registration is required, nobody will be able to see who has downloaded what opportunities. However, PWGSC encourages suppliers to communicate with and ask questions to the contracting authority.
Will downloading opportunities be free?
Will there be integration with or cross-referencing to the ProServices database?
Not at this time. However, opportunities for professional services will be listed.
Will Buyandsell.gc.ca/tenders list all Government of Canada opportunities, regardless of dollar value?
Those contracts subject to the dollar value threshold for trade agreements must appear on the site. Low-dollar buys may appear but are not mandatory.
For more information
PWGSC encourages anyone with questions about Buyandsell.gc.ca/tenders to contact them. Until June 1 they will be adding information to the site based on questions and feedback.