Frequently Asked Questions – Procurement

For more information about the Municipality’s procurement process, contact Michael Hatfield, Procurement Officer.

  • 1. Procurement
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  • 1. How does East Hants go to market?
     

    East Hants works hard to treat all potential suppliers fairly. While specific requirements of individual jobs may vary, we strive to ensure our approach and our respect for firms competing for our work remains consistent.

    You can review our Procurement Policy for the detail, but goods over $25,000 and services and construction over $50,000 have to go for public competition. Under those thresholds, we’re free to look for a minimum of three quotations through an invitational process.

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  • 2. Why does East Hants show who has downloaded publicly advertised documents?
     

    The “Who has downloaded this” link on our website is designed to encourage suppliers to connect. Traditionally, electricians, plumbers, and businesses market their services to subcontractors or general contractors bidding on large commercial jobs. This list allows for this type of interactivity. We do not limit it to construction activities either, as the Municipality believes that there are a number of talented firms that may not have all of the skills or resources in-house to respond to a competition; knowing who else is interested allows them to potentially partner up to provide services or to market their specific skills to a larger firm. Large project teams are often made up of a variety of consultants and sub-consultants with different skills, expertise and talents, and the Municipality would like to encourage these type of partnerships.

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  • 3. You seem to ask for a lot in your responses?
     

    The Public Procurement Act of Nova Scotia is the primary set of rules for Municipal procurement. We are tasked to be open, fair, efficient, effective, consistent and transparent in our dealings, supporting the principles of sustainable procurement included in the Act, all the while using public money wisely.

    East Hants must also act in accordance with a number of trade agreements when the purchase is over a certain dollar value. The new Canada Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are two examples. These treaties attempt to remove barriers to trade so that Canadian companies can be more competitive in markets other than Nova Scotia, but they obligate us to be fair to other jurisdictions as well.

    Managing all of these requirements can be complicated and setting things out clearly requires us to be exact.

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  • 4. What Does East Hants require?
     

    Every job is different: individual projects have specific requirements which may also require certain qualifications. For example, we require anyone hired to do work on our premises to have Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia workplace insurance and almost always require the supplier to have Commercial General Liability insurance and to list us as an additional insured.

    Higher value or higher risk construction projects may require Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia safety accreditation (WCB Safety Certified) while lower value or lower risk projects may just require the completion of a Safety Questionnaire. The point is that we want suppliers that value safety and adhere to the applicable safety legislation.

    Bid bonds and contract security (performance and labour and material bonds) are commonly required for construction projects over $100,000.00.  We will sometimes look for performance security in certain service contracts (curbside collection). While we may consider alternative forms of security, such as irrevocable letter of credit or certified cheque, in smaller jobs, most bonding will be required to be in the form of a CCDC bond document.

    More often we are including a number of specific questions in our competitions so that we can understand better how a supplier does business. We know responding to RFPs can be challenging; we’re not looking for fancy prose, just a clear and concise description of what you intend to do or provide as indicated by the question we’re asking. Answering questions gets points; not answering does not.

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  • 5. What is East Hants looking for in a supplier?
     

    Just like you, we want good value and a good business transaction with no surprises.

    To achieve that, the requirements for each competition may be unique and they will be described in the competition documents. Capacity, capability, quality, contingency, and the communication around these are becoming the focus of our evaluations because these are the things that demonstrate value to the Municipality. Our contracts aren’t designed to unreasonably hold suppliers to a standard that they have not committed to; we try to be clear about what we expect and we want suppliers to be clear about what they can provide. If you promise it, we’ll believe you and will expect you to provide it.

    Our competition documents are the tools we use to communicate our needs. We’ll be as clear as we can about what we want and what we expect, we’ll tell you what we want to know and what we value, and we’ll tell you the things upon which we’ll base our award. Sometimes price will be the most important thing (when all things are equal) and sometimes we’ll have a set of standards we’ll look for before we’ll even consider your price; point is, you’ll know before you bid and can make your choices accordingly.

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  • 6. How are procurement competitions advertised?
     

    All public competitions (Tenders, RFPs, and Standing Offers) will be advertised through the Nova Scotia procurement website. The Nova Scotia website has the Tendering Opportunities Notification System (TONS) feature which allows you to subscribe to certain criteria and get automatic notifications. The NS website will direct you to the East Hants website to download the documents.

    You may download competition documents from our website at for free. Once registered for a competition, you can elect to receive automatic notifications of Addenda and similar changes to the competition, but always check our site before you submit in case a notification was missed. We recommend you only download documents from our website to ensure you receive the most up-to-date information.

    We may occasionally use other media to supplement our advertisements (local papers, social media, etc.), but they will always refer you back to our website. The Construction Association of Nova Scotia (CANS) periodically downloads our competition documents and we appreciate them getting the word out. We recommend still downloading directly from our site.

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  • 7. How do I respond to a competition?
     

    Every competition contains a description of what the response needs to looks like and what the rules are for submitting. Please read these carefully because the procurement rules we live by are very unforgiving. Most importantly, make sure you include anything which we say must be included and make sure to sign your response. If we ask for pricing to be placed in a separate envelope, please do so.

    Also, if we’ve made a mistake, let us know before the competition closes so we can fix it. Ask us questions (through the method identified in the competition document) and we’ll answer them, usually in an addendum to all suppliers.

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  • 8. I’ve responded to a competition, now what?
     

    We will get back to you.  Really.

    We’re a small municipality so it takes us time to get through an evaluation process which can, and typically does, include reading and re-reading the submissions, confirming compliance to the requirements, verification (adding up the numbers or calling references), clarifying anything that is unclear, and, finally, scoring. There may be several evaluators, so all of the scores have to be compiled and verified to determine a top-rated response. Once we have determined the highest-rated proposal or tender, we may have to get approval from Council or the CAO to proceed with award.

    Once award is announced, we will:

    • Inform unsuccessful proponents

    • Update the Nova Scotia Procurement website with the successful proponent’s name and, in most cases, the expected value of the contract

    • Provide a debrief to those suppliers who request one within 30 days of the award of a publicly tendered project

    • A debrief will only provide feedback on the suppliers’ own proposal or tender with the goal to help the proponent improve future responses

    • We encourage and accept feedback from the supplier with respect to the process

    If you are successful, you will be asked to sign a contract, usually based on the sample contract included in the competition documents. While there is some room to negotiate small details before the final contract is signed, suppliers must identify any objections to the terms of the sample contract before the competition closes. The Municipality will attempt to be reasonable, but typically clauses like indemnification, insurance, WCB coverage, and performance obligations have been carefully thought through and will not be changed.

    East Hants will not typically accept a limitation of liability in a contract. While we recognize suppliers need to protect themselves too, we go to them because they are experts, because they understand the risks in the work they do, and because we expect them to do good work that we can rely on and that they will stand behind.

    Once the contract has been signed by both parties, it moves over to the department to manage. The supplier must provide any documents they promised (Certificate of Insurance, Bonds, WCB letters, etc.) prior to starting the work.

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  • 9. What is the goal of your procurement process?
     

    At the end of any project involving an outside supplier, we want to look back and clearly see three things:

    • Excellent value to the taxpayers of East Hants;

    • A smooth procurement process satisfactory to both the supplier and East Hants; and

    • A growing, professional, and mutually beneficial relationship between East Hants and the supplier, in accordance with the rules in which we operate.

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