Keeping up Appearances

Ministry of Government Services

Date: 2007

OPP.jpgThe president of a company that manufactures outerwear complained about the fairness of the Ministry’s tendering process for $2.5 million worth of outdoor patrol wear, primarily for the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).  Among his concerns was that some of the tender specifications regarding the outer fabric layer of the patrol jacket were not justified – he alleged the OPP were using these requirements to target a specific company to make the jackets.  His proposal and others were rejected because they could not meet the specified warp and weft requirements.

The Ministry had appointed a “fairness commissioner” whose review found the process fair.  OPP officials had claimed that the warp and weft requirements had been chosen for greater stability and durability of the fabric, noting that their old jackets left officers feeling wet and cold. They also asserted that a textile consultant had been consulted in developing the tender specifications. The Ombudsman’s investigation revealed the OPP had no documentation or reasonable explanation regarding the selection of the warp and weft requirements, that the textile consultant had not actually been involved in the development of the specification, and in fact had questioned it.  In addition, it appeared that the fairness commissioner’s assessment had been based on inaccurate information. 

The Ombudsman concluded that although he was not satisfied that the Ministry and the OPP had selected this criteria in order to target a specific vendor, the integrity and the fairness of the process had been compromised.  He recommended the OPP ensure a clear, objective rationale is documented for standards for clothing procurement in future.  He also recommended that the Ministry ensure the rationale for such standards is clear, objective, defensible and documented, and that it improve the way it responds to such complaints.  Both the Ministry and OPP accepted the recommendations.