Guidelines on the Proactive Disclosure of Contracts

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1. Effective Date

1.1 These guidelines take effect on September 9, 2013.

2. Purpose

2.1 To provide guidance to managers and functional specialists on the identification, collection and publication of contract information that is to be proactively disclosed.

3. Context

3.1 The government proactively discloses information on contracts over $10,000, founded wrongdoing, grants and contributions over $25,000, position reclassification and travel and hospitality expenses. The proactive disclosure of contracts reflects broader government commitments to transparency and strengthened accountability within the public sector originally announced in Budget 2004.

3.2 These guidelines support the Treasury Board Contracting Policy. Section 5.1.6 of the Treasury Board Contracting Policy states that "Deputy heads are required to publicly disclose quarterly, within one month after the close of each quarter, contracts entered into or amendments valued at over $10,000."

4. Guidelines

4.1 Identification of contracts to be proactively disclosed

4.1.1 In the interests of transparency, it is recommended that departments publish information about their approach and practices related to the proactive disclosure of contracts, options, other amendments, standing offers, supply arrangements, task authorizations, disclosure exceptions and data elements on their departmental proactive disclosure websites.

4.1.2 Treasury Board Contracting Policy requires disclosure of the following:

  • A contract when its value is over $10,000;
  • An amendment when its value is over $10,000; and
  • An amendment when it modifies the initial value of a contract to an amended contract value that is over $10,000.

4.1.3 When a series of amendments to a contract clearly exceeds $10,000, the series of amendments may be disclosed as one amendment. When a series of amendments occurs over more than one reporting period when the threshold of $10,000 is clearly exceeded only during the last reporting period, the series of amendments may be disclosed as one amendment in one reporting period. Alternatively, an amendment may be reported separately if this is the standard practice in the department.

4.1.4 Non-financial and negative amendments do not need to be disclosed, except when it is in the public interest to do so (for example, the cancellation of a large military procurement).

4.1.5 When a contract is awarded and subsequently terminated, the original contract information reported should not be modified.

4.1.6 A contract option, when exercised, may be disclosed as an amendment. Alternatively, the full value of a contract, including options, may be disclosed at the time of contract award.

4.1.7 A call-up against a standing offer or supply arrangement should be disclosed as a contract.

4.1.8 A standing offer agreement and a supply arrangement agreement are not procurement contracts but are to be disclosed for the purpose of transparency. When a department publicly discloses information about a standing offer agreement or a supply arrangement agreement on a website, the department may omit this agreement from its proactive disclosure report.

4.1.9 For contracts with task authorizations, [1] the full potential value of the contract may be disclosed upon contract award unless the full value is not expected to be used. In the latter situation, each task authorization may be disclosed individually. When a contract includes a fixed deliverable and another deliverable that requires a task authorization, the department may disclose the contract and task authorizations in any manner that is transparent.

4.1.10 The government commitment is to disclose contracts or amendments valued at over $10,000 with only very limited exceptions, such as national security. A department may withhold information regarding the following:

  1. Memoranda of understanding with other levels of government and foreign governments;
  2. Service level agreements between federal departments or with Crown corporations; and
  3. Information about contracts whose proactive disclosure would compromise criminal investigations, national security or public safety. [2]

4.1.11 When a department determines that information about a contract is exempt from proactive disclosure under Section 4.1.10(c) of these guidelines, the department is encouraged to disclose information that is unclassified. If all of the information about a contract is exempted but can be disclosed at a later date, the department may include the contract in the next report.

4.2 Collection of contracting data elements

4.2.1 The following data elements were developed to provide consistency to the public. Specific information regarding each of the data elements is provided in the following subsections with a summary table provided in Appendix A. As a best practice, departments are encouraged to follow the recommended approach for each data element if possible. If use of the recommended approach is not possible, a department may use a standard practice in the department for disclosure. To provide consistency to the public, it is recommended that departments move away from departmental standards and move towards the recommended reporting standard over time.

  1. Vendor name
    1. It is recommended that the vendor name be the legal name of the company, as indicated on the contract. Alternatively, the vendor name may be the name in the financial system if this is the standard practice in the department.
  2. Reference number
    1. It is recommended that the reference number be the contract number. Alternatively, the reference number may be the commitment number or requisition number if this is the standard practice in the department.
  3. Contract date
    1. It is recommended that the contract date be the date the contract is awarded by the government. Alternatively, the contract date may be the hard commitment date (the date that the financial commitment is recorded in the departmental financial system) if this is the standard practice in the department.
    2. It is recommended that the contract date for a contract with task authorizations be the date that the contract is awarded (or the hard commitment date) for the contract. When the full value of the contract with task authorizations is likely not to be used, the contract date for each task authorization may be the date that each task authorization is issued (or the hard commitment date).
    3. It is recommended that the contract date for an amended contract or the exercising of an option be the date that the contract is awarded (or the hard commitment date).
    4. It is recommended that the contract date for a confirming order be the date of the verbal contract for goods, services or an amendment. If the date of the verbal contract cannot be determined, the contract date may be the date that the confirming order is issued.
    5. Dates are to be expressed in numeric terms, using the following standard convention:
       
      2008-05-10
      (Year-Month-Day)
  4. Description of work
    1. The description of work is recommended to be the economic object code and its description. The use of accurate economic object codes is important for maintaining the integrity of the Public Accounts of Canada. Departments are to ensure that all expenditures are coded appropriately in accordance with the Directive on Recording Financial Transactions in the Accounts of Canada. A list of economic object codes and their descriptions can be found on the Department of Public Works and Government Services (PWGSC) Government-wide Chart of Accounts website. Alternatively, the description of work may be the Goods and Services Identification Number (GSIN) if this is the standard practice in the department. A list of the GSINs and their descriptions can be found on the Business Access Canada website.
    2. When a contract involves more than one economic object, it is recommended that the economic object associated with the largest dollar value be used. A department may use a different approach if this is the standard practice in the department.
    3. A department may provide additional text to supplement the economic object information.
  5. Contract period or delivery date
    1. For a goods contract, it is recommended that the delivery date be the date that the goods are to be delivered. The department may use the last delivery date if the contract involves multiple items on multiple dates.
    2. For a services contract, it is recommended that the contract period be the period of time over which the services are provided. For example, from April 1 to August 31, 2008. For a standing offer or supply arrangement, it is recommended that the contract period be the period of time over which a call-up may be entered into.
    3. For a contract with task authorizations, it is recommended that the contract period or delivery date be the period of time over the entire contract for goods or services contracts. For a contract with task authorizations where the full value of a contract with task authorizations is likely not to be used, it is recommended that the contract period or delivery date be specified for each task authorization.
  6. Contract value
    1. It is recommended that the contract value be the amount of the hard commitment recorded in the departmental financial system at the time of contract award. It is recommended that the contract value be shown in Canadian currency and include all applicable taxes.For a multi-year contract it may be the total amount of the contract for all years.
    2. For an amendment, it is recommended that the contract value be the amended contract value. It is also recommended that the original contract be included in the comments data element, with a remark that the contract has been amended.
    3. Departments may add additional data elements or subdivide this data element for the reporting of the original value and the value of the amendment.
    4. For a contract with task authorizations, it is recommended that the contract value be for the full amount of the contract rather than the amount specified within the minimum work guarantee clause. For a contract with task authorizations when the full value of the contract is likely not to be used, the contract value may be the value of each task authorization.
    5. The contract value for the proactive disclosure of a standing offer agreement or supply arrangement agreement is $0.
  7. Comments
    1. Standardized comments are recommended to be used (refer to Appendix B). Avoid the use of acronyms within the comments data element.
    2. For a contract for services awarded to a former public servant after 1 January 2013 [3], departments are asked to identify such a contract by including the standardized comment in row 11 of Appendix B.
    3. Departments are encouraged to provide a brief description of each contract. As a minimum, departments may provide the title of the contract.
    4. When a contract involves an economic object code specified in Appendix C, departments are to provide a brief description of the contract so that the public may benefit from additional context. For example, for a management consulting contract the comments could state, "Feasibility study of a green building standard for departmental projects."

4.3 Publication of contracts on departmental websites

4.3.1 Departments may report their contracting data on their departmental websites. When PWGSC or another department or Crown corporation issues a contract on a department's behalf, the client department should report the contract.

4.3.2 When more than one department is funding the contract, the department signing the contract may report the contract. However, if PWGSC is signing the contract for more than one department, one client department may report the full value of the contract. For a standing offer agreement or supply arrangement agreement, it is recommended that the agreement be reported by the department that authorizes the agreement.

4.3.3 Reporting is to occur on a quarterly basis, corresponding to the government fiscal year quarters. Contract information is to be posted online within 30 days of the end of each reporting period.

4.3.4 When the above dates for posting fall on a weekend or statutory holiday, departments may post information by the last business day before the weekend or holiday in question.

4.3.5 A contract or amendment not reported in the reporting period in which it was awarded may be reported in the subsequent reporting period, or as soon as practicable.

4.3.6 Information posted in one reporting period can be modified in a subsequent reporting period only when a material error was made in the data originally reported. Any modified information is recommended to be clearly indicated as such within the previous report's comments data element and notice of the modification is to be provided within the comments data element of the current report (refer to Appendix B).

4.3.7 Contract information on departmental websites should be consistent with the Standard on Web Accessibility. A Proactive Disclosure intranet site exists to facilitate navigation and ensure consistency.

4.4 Monitoring of proactive disclosure

4.4.1 In accordance with Section 4.1.8 of the Treasury Board Contracting Policy, departments are responsible for ensuring that the contracting authority (the minister) is acting and seen to be acting within the letter and the spirit of the Treasury Board Contracting Policy. The department runs the risk of non-compliance if it does not ensure that contract information is accurate, up to date and posted in accordance with these guidelines. It is recommended that the department's chief financial officer (CFO) or equivalent be responsible for ensuring that data reported is appropriately validated, complete and reported in a timely manner. It is a best practice for departments to clearly indicate any limitations associated with the data on the departmental website.

6. Enquiries

6.1 For questions on this policy instrument, please contact TBS Public Enquiries


Appendix A - Summary Table of Data Elements

Data Element Description
Vendor Name

Recommended:

  • Legal name of the company

Alternatives:

  • Name in the financial system
Reference Number

Recommended:

  • Contract number

Alternatives:

  • Commitment number
  • Requisition number
Contract Date

Recommended:

  • Date of contract award

Alternatives:

  • Hard commitment date
Description of Work

Recommended:

  • Economic object code and descriptor

Alternatives:

  • Goods and Services Identification Number
Contract Period or Delivery Date
  • Goods: delivery date
  • Services: period over which the services will be provided
Contract Value
  • Amendment(s): Amended contract value
  • Contract: Hard commitment
  • Multi-year: Total amount of the contract for all years
  • Standing Offer Agreement: $0
  • Supply Arrangement Agreement: $0
  • Task Authorizations: full amount of the contract or value of each task authorization, depending on disclosure approach
Comments

Recommended:

  • Standardized comment to identify the contract (Refer to Appendix B)
  • Title of the contract
  • Brief description of the contract when using an economic object code specified in Appendix C

Non-compulsory:

  • Brief description of the contract when using an economic object code NOT specified in Appendix C

Note: Departmental standard practices may deviate from the data elements listed above.

Appendix B - Table of Standardized Comments

The comments data element is to identify when the contract contains the following characteristic Standardized Comment
Advance Contract Award Notice This contract is a result of an advance contract award notice.
Amendment(s) This contract includes one or more amendments.
Call-Up Against a PWGSC Procurement Tool (including departmental individual standing offers) This contract is a call-up against a Public Works and Government Services Canada procurement tool.
Competitively Sourced Contract This contract was competitively sourced.
Contract Involving More Than One Department This contract involved the procurement of [insert deliverable] between Department X and Department Y.
Contract Previously not Reported This is a notice of the restatement of Contract [reference number] dated [contract period/delivery date]. The contract was misstated for [misstated contract information] and has been corrected.
Contract with Task Authorizations For a contract with task authorizations, the realized amount of the contract is contingent on the number of task authorizations issued and may be less than the amount proactively disclosed, dependent on the operational requirements of the department.
Multi-Year Contract This contract is a multi-year contract.
Sole-Sourced Contract This contract was sole-sourced.
Former Public Servant in receipt of a pension under the Public Service Superannuation Act. This contract is with a former public servant in receipt of a pension under the Public Service Superannuation Act.

Note: Departments are encouraged to develop additional standardized comments that meet their unique operational requirements.

Appendix C - Economic Object Codes Warranting a Further Description

Economic Object Code Objects of Expenditure
0351 Communications Professional Services not Elsewhere Specified
0859 Other Business Services not Elsewhere Specified
0401 Accounting and Audit Services
0402 Human Resources Management Services
0403 Financial Management Services
0404 Communications Services
0405 Real Property Services
0406 Material Services
0407 Acquisition Services
0420 Engineering Services not Elsewhere Specified
0422 Engineering Consultants - Construction
0423 Engineering Consultants - Other
0431 Scientific Consultants
0446 Training Consultants
0451 Other Health Services not Elsewhere Specified
0473 Information Technology and Telecommunications Consultants
0491 Management Consulting
0813 Temporary Help Services
0499 Other Professional Services not Elsewhere Specified
0819 Non-professional Personal Service Contracts not Elsewhere Specified
0891 Personal Services
Date Modified: