By Maureen Sullivan

If your organization is like most Canadian public sector organizations, you struggle with construction services procurement. Unfortunately, the challenges come from multiple fronts such as unprecedented inflation, contrac­tor scarcity and increasing demands for streamlined facil­ity management.

One of the most prominent procurement challenges is staffing. Construction contracting is a unique and often highly technical aspect of public procurement. When coupled with the pressures of urgent emergency work and other time-sensitive projects, the strain on existing public procurement, facilities and construction management staff can be enormous, further exacerbating the attrition rate.

Aside from ensuring adequate internal resources, further challenges with construction contracting include receiving sufficient bids to ensure competitive pricing and attracting companies with a history of successful on-time, on-budget completion. In the current booming construction market, many contractors have jobs booked months if not years in advance. Depending on the size of your organization, you may discover you are a small fish in a big pond and therefore cannot capture and retain the attention of the more sophisticated players.

If traditional ways of procuring less complex construction projects are straining resources within your organization, perhaps it is time to move from an operational or reactive mode to a more strategic one by considering entirely new ways of doing things. While ensuring compliance in public sector spending is of paramount importance, this should never preclude consideration of emerging innovations. That’s why forward-thinking public procurement leaders are exploring Job Order Contracting (JOC).

What is JOC?

Although this construction procurement model has a lengthy track record of success in the United States, JOC is a new term for many in the Canadian public sector. An easy although simplistic way to understand JOC is to view it as essentially a Request for Standing Offers (RFSO) process on steroids. Most suitable for straightforward new construc­tion, repairs and renovations, and alteration projects as well as emergency work, JOC uses a single-procurement process to establish a catalogue of competitive, pre-set prices for everything from construction commodities through to gen­eral contractor and specialized sub-trades like mechanical contractors. Bid prices are evaluated by the contractor’s ad­justment factor against thoroughly researched and validated baselined local cost data to ensure value for money.

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Rather than conducting multiple procurement processes to create many Standing Offer Agreements for various as­

of your projects, JOC allows a variety of projects to be completed through a single, competitively awarded contract with established prices. This one-bid process also makes it attractive for contractors who are loathe to use valuable resources responding to a seemingly endless series of RFPs and RFSOs.

How can I confirm the benefits?

A recent detailed report prepared by NIGP (National Insti­tute of Government Purchasing) provides statistical analysis demonstrating that JOC enables projects to start faster, requires less internal resources, can save time and money, provides transparency and auditability, and creates higher supplier trust with less supplier opportunism.

How can we access JOC?

There are two ways to access JOC: directly through a third-party service provider or through a cooperative purchasing organization. Larger organizations can benefit from the local pricing catalogue approach customized to unique organizational needs offered by a direct relationship with the service provider, while smaller organizations may wish to on-board the contracts already established through Canadian GPOs.

Job Order Contracting can be a game-changer for Canadi­an public construction procurement. In a time of increased demands and strained procurement and project manage­ment resources, JOC is the kind of innovation that public sector organizations should take a very close look at.

[This article originally appeared in the September/October 2023 edition of ReNew Canada]

Maureen Sullivan is a procurement advisor and author of A Guide to Practical Procurement.


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