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Non‑Judicial Vendor Complaint Process


Scope

Dalhousie’s procurement program provides open and fair access to Dalhousie’s requirements for all qualified vendors based on Regional, National and International Trade Agreements.   We regularly assess all areas of our procurement program to identify opportunities for improvement. 

Dalhousie’s Non-Judicial Vendor Complaint Process (VCP), is an element of this ongoing assessment.  It provides a mechanism for identification and resolution of actual or perceived incidents of unfair treatment during a public bidding process.  This will allow Dalhousie to continually improve the mandate of its procurement program and to provide open and fair opportunity to qualified vendors.

Provisions in the public bidding process to address concerns when they occur should be utilized to minimize the requirement for the VCP. 

Vendors should be aware of the following;

  • Complaints will only be considered from a vendor if they have submitted a bid in good faith in response to a public bidding process. 
  • Complaints raised about the bidding process and or contents of the bid documents will not be considered if these concerns were not raised through the provisions in the public bid document to address questions.
  • Complaints concerning rejected bids due to noncompliance with mandatory procedural and bid submission requirements will not be considered.
  • Complaints from an unsuccessful vendor concerning the award of a bid will only be considered if that vendor requested a debriefing of their unsuccessful bid.
  • Tendering activities will not stop while complaints are being reviewed.
  • Vendors are encouraged to contact the Procurement Department at any time for clarification and interpretation of the requirements of the procurement program even if they are not engaged in a public bidding process.

Process Details

Complaints concerning elements of the bid process and contents of the bid document must be submitted within 30 days of the closing of the associated public bid.

Complaints from unsuccessful bidders relating to the award must be submitted within 30 days from the date of written debriefing response.  Requests for debriefing must be made within 10 days of the award notice for a public bid.

The following information should be included with the complaint;

  • Contact information of the company and its representative submitting the complaint.
  • A description of the action that is being interpreted as unfair along with an explanation of why this action is considered unfair treatment.
  • A description of the actions and discussions to date including relevant dates, tenders reference numbers, names of people in Dalhousie University involved and copies of the correspondence and communications concerning this issue. 
  • Identification of the actions being requested of the University.

Complaints are required to be submitted in writing to;

Dalhousie University Procurement Department
Mike Drane, Procurement Director
1360 Barrington Street
Halifax, NS  B3H 4R2

On receipt of a complaint, the Procurement Director shall review the complaint to determine if further action is appropriate.

A complaint may be dismissed without further consideration, where in the opinion of the Procurement Director:

  • The complainant did not avail themselves of the opportunities within the public bidding process to address the concern.
  • The complainant is not a participant in the competitive process (i.e. did not submit a bid).
  • The complaint is not made within the prescribed time limits.
  • The complaint is frivolous or invalid.
  • The complaint is inappropriate for consideration.

If the complaint is not dismissed at this point, the Procurement Director will gather appropriate documentation and conduct interviews with appropriate individuals to thoroughly investigate the complaint.  This investigation may include an interview with the complaining party.  If deemed necessary, an investigation team will be established to complete the investigation.

If, as a result of the investigation, the Procurement Director deems that a fair procurement process was followed, the complaint will be dismissed.

If, as a result of the investigation, the Procurement Director deems that a fair procurement process was not followed, the Procurement Director will take necessary steps to implement appropriate corrective action in future public bids. 

Replies to a Complaint

The Procurement Director will make every effort to acknowledge a formal complaint within 10 working days of receipt and to respond in writing no later than 10 working days after completion of any review. If the investigation extends longer than 20 working days, the vendor will be advised, in writing, when they may expect a response. Under all circumstances, responses are to be made in a timely fashion.

Appeals

Vendors who are not satisfied with the results of the investigation are entitled to appeal the decision to Dalhousie’s Internal Audit Department.

Appeals must be submitted within 10 days of the Procurement Director’s response to the complaint, and must be sent to:

Dalhousie University, Internal Audit Services
Margerat Sterns, Director
Room 203, Henry Hicks Building
1459 Oxford Street
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2

The following information should be included with the appeal;

  • a copy of the information submitted to the Procurement Director with the original complaint.
  • a copy of the Procurement Director’s response to the complaint.
  • identification of the action being requested of the University.

The Internal Auditor will gather appropriate documentation and conduct interviews with appropriate individuals to thoroughly investigate the appeal.  This investigation may include an interview with the complaining party.  If deemed necessary, an investigation team will be established to complete the investigation.

If, as a result of the investigation, the Internal Auditor deems that a fair procurement process was followed, the appeal will be dismissed.

If, as a result of the investigation, the Internal Auditor deems that a fair procurement process was not followed, the Internal Auditor will take necessary steps to ensure appropriate corrective action is implemented for future public bids. 

Replies to an Appeal

The Internal Auditor will make every effort to acknowledge a formal appeal within 10 working days of receipt and to respond in writing no later than 10 working days after completion of any review. If the investigation extends longer than 30 days, the vendor will be advised, in writing, when they may expect a response. Under all circumstances, responses are to be made in a timely fashion.