To enhance the integrity of the procurement process, some organizations consider using a fairness commissioner. This blog post provides a brief description of the role and responsibilities of such an individual, along with the potential benefits of implementing this role.

Description

The role of a fairness commissioner was first envisioned in the Bellamy Report (the “Report”), which was released in 2005 following an inquiry commissioned by Justice Denise Bellamy. It was based on the City of Toronto’s Request for Quotation for new computer acquisition needs. The Report highlighted various findings and recommendations pertaining to the procurement process, both specifically related to the inquiry in question and more generally to apply to all types of procurements.

A copy of the Report can be found at:

https://www.toronto.ca/ext/digital_comm/inquiry/inquiry_site/report/index.html

Fairness commissioners tend to be independent third parties, usually acting as consultants, engaged especially used during complex projects. The role of a fairness commissioner should not be limited to a particular time period of the procurement process – they are to be engaged at the beginning and not just merely at the evaluation stage. The Report noted that having the fairness commissioner involved in the development of the evaluation criteria used to assess submissions is just as important as ensuring adherence to the evaluation criteria.

Advantages of a Fairness Commissioner

There are benefits to including a fairness commissioner throughout the procurement process. For example, the Report noted that having a fairness commissioner involved might make it less likely for the private sector to challenge a particular procurement, thereby saving the organization time and resources. Having a fairness commissioner as part of the procurement process also signals that the process will be more fairly managed and could encourage prospective bidders to participate.

Although not very common, procuring entities should consider whether the advantages provided by a fairness commissioner would be of interest. Consideration should be given especially in cases where:

  • the procurement process could be complex or sensitive, or
  • the goods or services procured are of high value.

DDO is available to provide guidance and best practice strategies on all aspects of broader public sector procurement.