The Canadian International Trade Tribunal and the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman (OPO) work closely together to facilitate suppliers’ access to the organizations’ complaint review mechanisms. A memorandum of understanding governs this relationship and provides for continued cooperation between the Tribunal and OPO.
Jurisdiction over procurement complaints
The Tribunal’s role in procurement review came about because of certain federal-provincial and international trade agreements. Later, Parliament created OPO to deal with certain matters that fall under the dollar-value threshold amounts of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement.
There are three threshold amounts: one for procurements concerning goods, one for procurements concerning services, and one for construction contracts. These amounts change every two years.
The Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction over complaints by foreign suppliers about designated federal government procurement processes under applicable trade agreements.
If you’re a Canadian supplier (i.e., you have a place of business in Canada), the Tribunal has jurisdiction over designated contracts beginning at $30,300 for goods, and $121,200 for services. OPO has jurisdiction regarding complaints about the award of certain contracts below these amounts.
Filing a complaint with OPO does not mean that a complaint has been filed with the Tribunal and vice versa. In other words, you must file your complaint with the appropriate organization. That being said, both organizations work closely together and coordinate efforts to help suppliers identify the proper recourse mechanism.
Information transmitted to the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman
You can transmit information to OPO directly or the Tribunal can do so for you.
In the procurement complaint form, if you consented to the Tribunal transmitting to OPO certain information concerning your complaint, only the following information will be transmitted:
- your name, title, company affiliation (if any) and contact information;
- the solicitation or contract number relating to the complaint;
- 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.
Someone from OPO will contact you within one business day after receiving the information from the Tribunal, and you can contact OPO to follow up as well.
Processing your case
If you file a written complaint with OPO, a formal review of your complaint will be launched if it falls under the legislative mandate of the Procurement Ombudsman.
If it concerns the Tribunal, it will be examined by a member of the Tribunal.
OPO has intake officers and the Tribunal has registry officers who are available to guide you. They do not give legal advice and they are not decision makers. They can explain the process and help you make sure that your file contains all the information you’re required to provide by law.
Often, they’ll 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 you 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.
If you require help, you can contact the Registry of the Tribunal by telephone at 613 993 3595 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or OPO by telephone at 1 866 734 5169 or by email at email@example.com.