Government of Canada uses simplified procurement to award contract for digital services

News Release

September 15, 2017, Waterloo, Ontario, Government of Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to making its procurement process simpler and less burdensome for small businesses.

The Honourable Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced Wednesday the awarding of a contract to improve the user experience of the government’s Open by Default portal, a pilot initiative of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS). 

The Open by Default pilot is an experiment in further opening up government business to the public. Through the Open By Default portal, participating departments are opening up their contributions to scientific and cultural research to public researchers, businesses and interested citizens.

Following an innovative and rigorous, challenge-based procurement process that saw qualified businesses pitch their ideas to a panel of evaluators, Digital Echidna was awarded a contract for its successful proposal. Evaluators were selected for their diverse skill sets and perspectives. Three of the evaluators were representatives of Open Government, TBS, providing necessary technical, strategic and policy perspectives, and two were external evaluators, chosen to provide their experience and skills in evaluating cutting-edge technology and small businesses.  

The Call for Proposals was launched on July 26, 2017. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) was able to coordinate the competitive procurement process and award a contract within two months of the launch date, which is much faster than a traditional procurement process. Accelerating government procurement increases value for taxpayers and decreases burden for small businesses, while maintaining openness, fairness and transparency. If successful, this simplified procurement could be adapted and extended to larger procurement processes in the future and represents a step forward in both simplified procurement and government transparency.

Digital Echidna’s solution will enhance and improve the user experience in finding and retrieving information housed on the Open by Default pilot portal. Results are expected in the coming months. Launched by TBS on July 6, 2017, the portal is a ground-breaking effort in government openness and transparency, offering a look into working documents from  four federal departments: Canadian Heritage, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and TBS. It contains a diverse selection of reports, field notes, project plans, documentation, meeting minutes and more.


“All Canadians benefit when government information is made easier to access. The introduction of a collaborative, simplified process for procuring government services, including accessibility to stored documents, demonstrates our commitment to openness, transparency and service delivery.” 

–The Honourable Scott Brison
President of the Treasury Board

“Our government is actively modernizing and simplifying our procurement processes, by implementing innovative solutions to increase our procurement agility and our ability to work in partnership with the private sector.  Through this pilot procurement, we asked industry for ideas and solutions, which allowed us to award a contract in record time.”

–The Honourable Carla Qualtrough
Minister of Public Services and Procurement

“Digital Echidna is excited to be working with Treasury Board to enhance the user experience on the Open by Default pilot portal. As a provider of essential digital services, we found the simplified procurement process a promising development in working with government and a valuable experience for our business.”

–Michael Grant
Vice President of Strategic Solutions
Digital Echidna

Quick Facts

  • Digital Echidna is a digital solutions team, specializing in Drupal.

  • Digital Echidna is headquartered in London, Ontario, and has been in business since 1999, with 65 employees.

  • The contract is valued at over $83,000 including HST.

  • A Letter of Interest was released on July 14, 2017, to inform industry of the upcoming contracting opportunities and to outline the procurement process.

  • A Call for Proposals was posted on on July 26, 2017, closed on August 16, 2017, and included a webinar on August 9, 2017.

  • In collaboration with TBS, PSPC, through this challenge-based procurement process, invited industry to solve a specific problem rather than respond to a lengthy Request for Proposals. This approach allows for effective engagement with creative developers and technologists as well as streamlined and shortened procurement processes, which provides short turnaround to award a contract.

  • Based on its results, this simplified procurement pilot project could be adapted to other procurement processes.

  • The evaluators for the process included:

    • Jaimie Boyd, Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), responsible for coordinating and enabling open Government across the Government of Canada.
    • Alannah Hilt, TBS, responsible for maintaining and working with departments throughout the Government of Canada to release data and information.
    • Gareth Keane, investment manager at Qualcomm Ventures.
    • Mélanie Robert, TBS, Executive Director of Service and Open Government.
    • Nicole Verkindt, Founder and CEO of OMX, an online platform to connect, manage and track economic impacts.  Nicole is also a former member of the Dragon’s Den Show.

Associated Links


Jean-Luc Ferland
Press Secretary
Office of the President of the Treasury Board
Telephone: 613-369-3163

Mary-Rose Brown
Office of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough
Telephone: 819-997-5421

Media Relations
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Telephone: 613-369-9400
Toll-free: 1-855-TBS-9-SCT (1-855-827-9728)
TTY (telecommunications device for the hearing impaired): 613-369-9371

Media Relations
Public Services and Procurement Canada 
Telephone: 819-420-5501

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