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Memorandum of Understanding Between the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal

Memorandum of Understanding Between the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (Effective Date: October 1, 2020) (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why should I ask the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) to transmit certain information concerning my complaint to the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman (OPO)?

You can contact OPO by yourself directly, and we encourage you to do so. Alternatively, the CITT and OPO offer suppliers this service as well. It’s our way to facilitate introductions.

We want to make your life easier because we know that the rules that you must follow are complicated and confusing.

Most importantly, we want to help having your issues being dealt with by the appropriate organization in a timely manner.

If you have checked the box on the form asking the CITT to transmit to OPO certain information concerning your complaint, only the following information will be shared with OPO: your name, title, company affiliation (if any) and contact information; the solicitation or contract number that the complaint pertains to; the dollar value of the solicitation or contract; whether a contract has been awarded; and, a public summary of the grounds of your complaint against the relevant government institution.

No other information contained in your complaint will be shared. In addition, no business confidential information will be shared either.

If you have checked the box on the form asking the CITT to transmit to the above-mentioned information to OPO, someone from OPO will contact you within one business day after receiving the information from the CITT. But you don’t have to wait for someone to call—you can contact OPO to follow up yourself as well.

The key is this: we want to help you to avoid being “late” and see your rights extinguished.

Please note that filing a complaint with OPO does not mean that a complaint has been filed with the CITT and, vice-versa, the filing of a complaint with the CITT does not mean that a complaint has been filed with OPO.

Parliament has set down different, but strict, deadlines by which you must raise your concerns with the CITT or OPO. If you miss those deadlines, neither organization can help you because the law prevents them from acting if you are “late” in raising your concerns. We cannot turn the clock back and we cannot guarantee that you will not be “late”, but we will try to help you avoid any unnecessary delay.

There are also complicated rules that determine whether your complaint is supposed to be addressed by the CITT or OPO. We want to help you get to the right place if you are not comfortable doing it by yourself.

In other words, we want to help you with filing your complaint “on time” and at the right place.

Why are there two organizations that look into procurement complaints?

That’s a good question. The answer is complicated. In short, here’s why.

The CITT’s role in procurement review came about because of certain federal-provincial and international trade agreements. This role came first.

Later, Parliament created OPO to deal with matters that fall under the lowest dollar-value “threshold” amount of one of these trade agreements—called the Canadian Free Trade Agreement. These amounts change every 2 years with the last changes taking effect on January 1, 2020.

There is an amount for procurements concerning “goods”, another for those concerning “services”, and another for “construction” contracts.

The current amounts are here: Contracting Policy Notice 2020-2. We know what the most up-to-date thresholds are—if you’re uncertain, ask us. Most importantly, if you are a Canadian Supplier (i.e. you have a place of business in Canada), the CITT has jurisdiction for designated contracts beginning at $26,400 for goods, and $105,700 for services. OPO has jurisdiction for designated contracts below these amounts.

What if a procurement concerns goods and services? Well, again, that depends—there are also rules to follow in this case. We told you this was complicated!

In short, we want to help you navigate your access to the system.

For more information, you can contact the Registrar of the Tribunal, by telephone at 613 993 3595 or by email at citt-tcce@tribunal.gc.ca, or the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman, by telephone at 1-866-734-5169 or by email at ombudsman@opo-boa.gc.ca.

Who can I speak with to help me along the way? Who will decide my case?

OPO has “Intake Officers” that will guide you.

The CITT has a “Deputy Registrar” that similarly will explain how things work there.

These officials do not give you legal advice and are not decision makers. They are there to explain the process to you and to help you make sure that your file contains all the information that you are required to provide by law.

Oftentimes, they will ask you to explain your situation in writing or to fill out certain parts of the Complaint Form that you may have missed. They may also ask to provide various documents that you didn’t think about sharing but that you’ve referred to in conversation, or in other documents that you’ve already provided.

Your file will be examined by OPO and a formal review of your complaint will be launched if it falls under the legislative mandate of the Procurement Ombudsman. If it concerns the CITT, it will be examined by the Chairperson of the CITT, or another administrative judge of the CITT, called a “Member”.

How is my information treated by the other organization?

Again, if you have checked the box on the form asking the CITT to share certain information concerning your complaint with OPO, only the following information is sent to OPO: your name, title, company affiliation (if any) and contact information; the solicitation or contract number that the complaint pertains to; the value of the solicitation or contract; whether a contract has been awarded; and, a public summary of the grounds of your complaint against the relevant government institution.

No other information contained in your complaint will be shared. In addition: no business-confidential information will be shared either.

If you have checked the box on the form asking the CITT to transmit to the above-mentioned information to OPO, someone from OPO will contact you within one business day after receiving the information from the CITT. But you don’t have to wait for someone to call you—you can contact OPO yourself too.