The federal government's procurement department, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), recently announced an important change to the provisions of its Supply Manual that relate to integrity. From now on, all companies that have been convicted of conspiracy, bid-rigging or any other anti-competitive activity will be precluded from bidding on PWGSC procurement contracts or entering into real property transactions with the department.
In the past, PWGSC's policy contained an exception for companies that had been part of a leniency program, including the Competition Bureau's. You will recall that such a program allows a company accused of one or more criminal cartel offences to receive a more lenient sentence if it agrees to cooperate with the Bureau's investigation voluntarily and pleads guilty to the offences.
As a result of the PWGSC announcement, the exception that was available to participants in a leniency program has been abolished. The new integrity provisions are also retroactive, as they apply to companies that pleaded guilty to criminal offences before the leniency exception was abolished.
There are now only three cases where a company convicted of an offence listed in the PWGSC integrity policy provisions can be exempted from exclusion:
- Where the company has been granted a pardon;
- Where the company's capacities have been restored by the Governor-in-Council; or
- Where it is necessary to the public interest for the PWGSC to award a contract to, or to enter into a real property agreement with, the company.
More information regarding the PWGSC's integrity provisions is available at: https://buyandsell.gc.ca/policy-and-guidelines/policy-notifications/PN-107.
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