Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this sitting, as we work through the capital estimates, the GNWT tabled a procurement policy review. I support infrastructure spending and the economic development it brings. But for your territory to see the benefits of this capital budget, we need procurement that increases benefit retention and grows the NWT private sector through meaningful spending.
While I recognize the GNWT is preparing a response to this report, there are some simple procedural changes that could be implemented immediately to improve fairness and transparency in the procurement process today.
Businesses have concerns about communication and procedural fairness of how bids are administered, advertised, or requested, and how the government is evaluating value for dollar. Businesses feel they are being shut out of the opportunity to apply on bids and do not believe their BIP status is giving them the intended advantage.
Mr. Speaker, less than one percent of businesses are benefitting from their BIP status. BIP was recognized as ineffective on bids over $1 million and that the total value for contract expenditures for BIP businesses is decreasing. The report supports some concerns from the businesses that I serve but one of the strongest points of change I see has nothing to do with changing a policy or reevaluating a bid system.
Mr. Speaker, it begins with a shift in focus. Procurement is viewed as a service to government. The role of this unit to take the procurement needs from government departments, format them, put them out into the global market place, and then work with government departments to choose the bid, largely a process that ends in lowest dollar winners. But one easy fix is an evolution of procurement to industry facing service that communicates and consults with industry for it is relationships with business owners by spending time outside the office, works with vendors to regularly improve process, analyzes data to identify NWT industry gaps, and strives to bring procurement to NWT businesses.
Mr. Speaker, I believe there is great value in involving and connecting our disjointed and inconsistent procurement policies but I believe there is more to gain from a shift in the public service of procurement to focus on who they serve and that is the people and interests of the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.