PASS – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the Professional Audit Support Services (PASS) Supply Arrangement?
PASS is a mandatory supply arrangement that provides federal government departments and agencies with a list of suppliers qualified to perform audit and financial management support services. PASS was developed by the Office of the Comptroller General in collaboration with Public Works and Government Services Canada, suppliers of audit and financial management services, and the various audit and financial management communities of the Government of Canada.
What is a supply arrangement?
A supply arrangement is a procurement vehicle that enables a department or agency to solicit bids from a pool of pre-screened suppliers. A supply arrangement is not a contract, and neither party is legally bound by the agreement.
A supply arrangement establishes a framework that permits the expeditious processing of legally binding contracts for goods or services. Supply arrangements include a minimum set of terms and conditions that apply to each resultant contract. These include ceiling per diem rates by resource category for each pre-qualified supplier.
Why was PASS created?
PASS was created to standardize contracting and to ease the procurement of audit and financial services. By pre-qualifying suppliers, the procurement process is more efficient.
Is PASS the only option?
Although PASS is designed to simplify and expedite the procurement of audit and financial management services, it is not necessarily the preferred option for all contracting needs. Please consult our guide to contracting for information on other procurement options.
Can standing offers be used with PASS?
No. In order to obtain the same type of flexibility as a standing offer's "as needed" call-up option, PASS contracts can be set up as task-based contracts. These allow a project authority to enter into contracts with multiple providers over multiple years without issuing a new request for proposal each time.
I have hired service providers in the past who are not on the PASS list of pre-qualified suppliers. Why are these service providers not listed?
If a supplier is not on the pre-qualified list, the supplier either did not apply or did not meet the requirements. The PASS Refresh (conducted every 18 months) will allow additional suppliers to be added to the pre-qualified list.
What is the turn-around time for forensic audits?
The posting time for forensic audits can be as little as twenty-four hours after receiving approval from PWGSC. The turn-around time for the entire procurement process will, however, depend on the processing time of the department, PWGSC and the suppliers.
Where can I find additional training?
Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) also offers a course for developing the technical components of the PASS RFP. The target audience of this course is contracting agents within departments and agencies and is offered on an as-needed basis.
Preparing the Request for Proposal
How does the list of pre-qualified PASS suppliers affect my request for proposal (RFP)?
Having a list of pre-qualified suppliers means that it is not necessary to evaluate the ability of a potential service provider to conduct work related to a particular PASS stream. Instead, the evaluation criteria can focus on the specific requirements of the project.
Are the dates for the work to be completed specified in calendar days or business days?
All dates are to be referenced in calendar days only.
Can travel costs be included in the financial bid and evaluation?
This is at the discretion of the department. If a department wishes to ensure that the cost of a contract is not artificially lowered or inflated by travel costs, a condition can be inserted into the RFP that the department will not pay for any travel associated with a contract. However, this condition may severely limit the number of possible bidders, hindering the procurement of appropriate resources.
How do I determine which security clearance should be used in the RFP?
To determine the security clearance, you need to consult the security personnel within your department. This will ensure that your security requirements are not too strict (limiting the number of potential bidders) or too lenient (compromising the sensitivity of the information.
How do I ensure maximum flexibility for increasing budgets for forensic audits?
The requirements can be set up in phases in order to meet the project needs. For example, a "Phase 1" can be established for defining the scope of the work, and a "Phase 2" for conducting the work. In this situation, a fixed price could be considered for Phase 1, and a limitation of expenditure, for Phase 2.
When should I choose to evaluate public versus private sector experience in my evaluation criteria?
In creating evaluation criteria, it is critical to determine whether public sector experience versus private sector experience is vital to your needs. Specifying public sector experience can limit the number of bids from pre-qualified suppliers. Public sector experience may be critical when knowledge of government processes is vital for delivery of the services, or when the subject matter is unique to government operations and other (private sector) work experience is not relevant.
Evaluating the proposals
Who should answer suppliers' questions about Requests for Proposal (RFPs)?
Questions from suppliers about RFPs are always answered by the contracting authority. Contracting authority personnel should share these questions with the project authority, and they should agree on how best to respond. Suppliers are often frustrated when it appears that the person who prepared the requirements has not had input into the responses to their questions.
What are the criteria governing conflict of interest for suppliers bidding on RFPs?
There are no specific conditions contained in the Professional Audit Support Services (PASS) Supply Arrangement to address conflict of interest.
Can reference checks be done on proposed personnel?
Project authorities can perform reference checks on proposed resources. They can confirm that the work as described by the resource is accurate and that the role of the resource is properly described.
After the contract has been awarded
What can I debrief to unsuccessful bidders?
The debriefing should be limited to the reasons why the bid was unsuccessful, as outlined in the Evaluation Report. The contracting officer may also wish to highlight the positive aspects of the bidder's proposal. If the bidder requests information on other bids submitted, the contracting authority can provide the name of the successful bidder and unsuccessful bidders, responsive and non-responsive, together with the total financial amount of each bid and total score, if applicable. Information on bidders who are individuals may qualify for exemption under the Privacy Act and, therefore, these requests should be directed to the Access to Information and Privacy Office.
After the winning bidder has been selected, how can I expedite putting a contract in place?
This is determined by the coordinated efforts of the project authority, the contracting authority, and the winning bidder. Successful methods of expediting contracts with other contracting vehicles may be used, as this is not an issue specific to the Professional Audit Support Services (PASS) Supply Arrangement.
If my department is not satisfied with a supplier's services, what recourse is available?
There is no official "scoring" record kept on suppliers, wherein satisfactory or unsatisfactory services are made public to other departments and agencies. By clearly establishing the level of effort and the project deliverables in the statement of work, the expectations will be clearly understood by both the project authority and the supplier. However, if you are unsatisfied with the service you are receiving, it is important to document the concerns and to discuss them with the supplier. If no improvement is noted, you should contact Public Works and Government Services Canada or the Office of the Comptroller General of Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada for assistance.
Sometimes after a contract is closed, additional work appears with the same focus. Is it possible to hire the same supplier again?
Best practice would suggest that you should define your closing contract date to coincide with your department and agency audit committee (DAAC)'s approval of the work performed. Occasionally, a DAAC may request that further work on an audit be done, but the contract has already been closed. In this case, a new RFP must be issued. If the contract is left open but inactive, an amendment can be made to the existing contract to complete the audit as requested.
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