I call the meeting to order.
The committee in front of us took a little bit more time than we had anticipated, so if we can get going, I would appreciate it. We are continuing, of course, with our examination of small and medium enterprises with respect to federal procurement.
With us today we have a couple of organizations. We have, representing the Information Technology Association of Canada, Mr. Nevin French and Mr. André Leduc. From Strategic Relationships Solutions Inc., we have Andy Akrouche.
Thank you all, gentlemen, for being here.
Without further ado—I think you all know how the committee operates—we'll have opening statements from at least two of you, followed by a series of questions from all of our committee members.
Mr. Leduc, you're first up, for 10 minutes or less, please.
Honourable members of the committee, it's a privilege to be here today to discuss the engagement of small and medium enterprises within federal procurement on behalf of the Information Technology Association of Canada, also known as ITAC.
ITAC is the national voice of Canada's ICT industry, an industry that includes over 37,000 companies, most of which are SMEs. This sector generates over 1.5 million jobs and contributes more than $76 billion to the economy.
Beyond the economic contributions, the ICT industry creates and provides the goods and services that contribute to a more productive, competitive and innovative economy and society.
Over two-thirds of ITAC members are SMEs. It is in this spirit that we welcome the opportunity to support your review.
In recent years ITAC has been partnering with the Government of Canada in various fora to work on modernizing their IT procurement processes and contracting terms and conditions to enable the government to successfully leverage information technologies to execute on their digital transformation agenda, which is ultimately to improve the delivery of public services to citizens in a more cost-effective manner.
ITAC has engaged in this manner in the hopes of mitigating the risk of unsuccessful IT projects and wasted taxpayer money and to remove barriers for SMEs and diversity-led businesses in Canada's ICT sector to do more business with the government.
ITAC supports the socio-economic goals of the government with respect to SMEs; indigenous, minority, and women-led organizations; and the leveraging of procurement across a geographically diverse group of companies. There is a need to help grow and scale up our SMEs, and federal procurement is a vehicle that can be leveraged to support this growth.
As the government seeks to improve procurement frameworks, it must also realize its role as the largest customer of ICT in Canada. In doing so, the government can build a platform that fuels digitization and innovation, supports single-window mandates, and successfully delivers simple and secure citizen- and business-centric services.
There is no one-size-fits-all procurement methodology. Many different models exist, but at the end of the day, the common goal needs to refocus on open, fair, and transparent procurements that result in the best product at an acceptable cost. What is sometimes lost in the discussion is how being highly prescriptive about what the government seeks while attempting to drive down costs can have a longer-term negative downstream impact on the supply chain, which lessens the potential for positive socio-economic impacts and stifles access to innovation.
Better tracking data is needed to understand where government procurement currently sits. What is the current proportion of procurements awarded to SMEs and to indigenous, minority, and women-led organizations? What is the value of those contracts, and are these detailed by sector and subsector? Were the procurements the SMEs engaged in simple or commodity-based, or were they complex procurements? It would be nearly impossible to set new requirements, policies, or quotas without first understanding where things are at.
ITAC has also been calling on the government to better engage the ICT community earlier in the procurement process, at the outset of procurement discussions, not further down the line when the decisions on what to procure and what IT to procure have already been taken. We would do this so the industry might provide and share industry knowledge and expertise, which is expanding at an ever-increasing rate as new technologies and solutions are being frequently developed and deployed.
Last fall, we hosted a conference for federal government executives and managers so they might better understand the principles of agile procurement.
ITAC supports agile procurement processes in the government, ones that focus on business outcomes and solutions, rather than the procurement of a specific technology, where industry may not understand what the ultimate goals or usage will be.
A new focus on the goals and outcomes of projects, rather than current overly- prescribed technical specifications, would allow industry to provide intelligence that leads to innovative solutions, rather than the baseline supply of an IT product.
We have called on government to enter into partnerships with industry and to negotiate contracts rather than to continue to leverage take-it-or-leave-it contracting. Contract negotiations are required at a minimum in complex situations. Unbalanced contracts result in poor outcomes for the government, the taxpayer, and the private sector, creating a lose-lose environment. ITAC members are seeking reasonable risk-sharing as a priority, rather than off-loading and transferring all risk to the private sector via unlimited liabilities, over-prescribed terms and conditions, and strict security requirements.
I also wanted to note that in many regards the attempts of the government to mitigate legal and security risks in contracting discourages many SMEs from submitting bids. Impediments range from requiring multiple corporate references to proven case studies to security requirements to the length of time federal procurement cycles take. Setting quotas for SMEs means diversity-led and indigenous firms will not have the socio-economic impacts they seek unless we address some of these current impediments to SME procurement.
These issues, teamed with the length of time it takes for more complex procurements—in certain circumstances, well over a year—limit how many SMEs can afford to dedicate resources to procurements that take this long. As a result of these issues, we have SME members who choose not to take part in any federal procurement due to the complexity and the investments required. This limits the Canadian government's capacity to acquire the best possible or most innovative solution and leverage its procurement to support its socio-economic goals.
Other jurisdictions, including the U.K. and the United States, have operationalized procurements that enable supply of commodity products and services under the vendor's standard contract with a wrapper of government terms and conditions. They have set platforms that allow the engagement of SMEs to explore innovations, business solutions, and applications.
ITAC believes there's a need for risk officers in government, a need to have someone evaluate how the inclusion of strict government terms and prescribed requirements are impacting the number of bidders on procurement.
How is the current procurement environment supporting industry growth, the expansion of the Canadian supply chain, the scaling up of SMEs, or industry partnerships and collaborative innovation? In short, setting a procurement environment that supports ecosystem partnerships, simplifies the procurement process, allows for the continuous refreshing of participants, seeks experimentation and pilots, and permits small, quick failures rather than longer-term significant failures will allow the government not only to access innovation but also to become a catalyst for innovation.
We believe some global best practices can easily be applied to the federal government. Government procurement is an avenue that can enable SMEs to grow, possibly moving from small to medium size and outgrowing the SME category altogether.
Fortunately, the government has been listening. We've begun a dialogue and we're discussing options to address many of these issues. The next step is action.
We'll be happy to take your questions.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here.
I'd like to give you a practical view of SMEs in action. I'd first like to talk a bit in terms of general feedback about the challenges that SMEs are facing when it comes to federal procurement, some of which have been mentioned. I'd also like to delve much deeper into large and complex procurements and how SMEs actually play into that vis-à-vis ITB policies from ISED.
The most important thing to remember is that we're talking about SMEs, which represent 98% of the enterprises in Canada. The challenge, based on our research, is that 80% of these SMEs do not engage. A study done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business showed that only 20% of SMEs actually engage with the government or try to do business with it.
The reasons are really simple. The first is that it's too long a process. It requires a long-term commitment to do anything. Even a small procurement takes too long.
The second reason is that it's complex and it's geared towards the medium or large enterprises. You have all these standing offers and supply arrangements. If you're an SME, to get on these supply arrangements is going to take you a while. You need to be in business for three to four years. You need to have a certain amount of revenue, and so on. These are artificial barriers that prevent small and medium enterprises from actually bidding on government business. If you're a small business, you can't just go bid on government business, because you have to be on a supply arrangement, and to be on that supply arrangement takes you a lot of time and effort. Sometimes there are qualifications, such as being $10 million in size and so on.
The other thing is that the process itself is complex—the requirements, the mandatories, the ratings, and so on. Even medium and large enterprises hire outside consultants to help them navigate and decipher this code. Small and medium-sized enterprises don't have this ability. They don't have the money or resources to decipher this code, and they can't even hire people like us or somebody else to help them win government business by getting through the complexity of the process.
A lot of research done by the Government of New York that showed that over 90% of procurement outcomes are determined before the RFP is issued. We'll talk a little bit about that. It's not a bad thing—it's a good thing, actually.
When an RFP is issued, most of the time the government doesn't know exactly how they want to issue the RFP. They don't know what and how, so they need to gain some insight into the proposed solutions out there. They need to gain what I call a practical, legitimate, and transparent way of having a buyer preference. They're saying, “I want to do something but I don't really know how to do it. I don't even know what to write in an SOW. I need input from the private sector.” That long process is really where the buyer gains insight and intelligence about what should be in that RFP.
However, that's only influenced by the people who are engaged. If you're engaged in that process, you will see a good result. I'm not saying a procurement outcome only means winning. Even the eventual delivery of the project is determined way earlier in the process. If you engage the right people and you're talking to the right people who really know how to do their stuff, you're going to end up with a vendor who's going to do the work and is able to deliver that work. However, if you're engaged superficially with people you know, when you issue an RFP, you're going to get a vendor who's not going to be able to do the job and you're going to end up with a lot of problems. It's a really important point to say that SMEs don't have the mechanisms to participate in this very long process and to try to influence it.
When I think of SMEs, I think of specialties. I don't think of a big conglomerate that has all kinds of stuff. SMEs are there, and they're the core engine of the economy, but they are specialized. You are an SME because you do something very well, and what we find is that in most procurements they generalize that specialty, so you're going to lose your competitive advantage as part of the overall procurement.
The second thing I would like to talk about is the ITB policy in complex business arrangements. We have these billion-dollar projects, and we have a set-aside of maybe 15% that needs to go to SMEs. You're aware of that, right? Okay.
I was part of the initial team in 2007 that argued we should set up an SME office—which actually took place at PSPC—but this 15% is becoming counterproductive for the very same reason that we started it. We wanted to create innovation. We wanted the small and medium-sized enterprises to partner with the big firms so that the big firms could give them support and nourishment in the process of being innovative and providing what they are really good at. However, what's really happening with that 15% is that the big vendors in the big procurements are giving it lip service. They are trying to check the boxes: “Yes, I do have 15%, and here is my value proposition, and here is the ITB policy.” After they win the contract, they get into a lot of battles with these SMEs about how to deliver this thing, how much they should have, what type of work they should have, and they tend to keep all of the intellectual property and the research within the big firm.
It's really acting as a counterproductive mechanism in terms of innovation, and the worst part is that we don't have industrial strategies for many of the sectors we have procurement in. For example, in the aerospace sector we don't have an industrial strategy, so the small and medium-sized enterprises don't know where to focus. We don't know where we want to be from a strategic perspective, where Canada needs to be, which areas of the sector we need to excel in so that we can drive the SMEs to go in that direction.
The other big thing is we seem to have this rear-view mirror model. The first thing we do is we build these artificial gates. Let's say we have a billion-dollar project that was recently awarded, let's say, to a company from France. We say that to qualify, they must have done this before, somewhere else in the world. Part of the qualification is that they must have done this before.
We usually get references from 10 years ago. We're qualifying people who get into these big deals based on something they did 10 years ago somewhere else in the world where the conditions are different. They can never do the same thing here, but we qualify them to play in the game based on 10 years of past information and old technology. When you look at the Canadian component, you see it's usually a satellite office, medium-sized.
What I'm recommending in that space is to relax these regulations. For the small and medium-sized enterprises that want to do business with government in a direct way, relax these SAs, these supply arrangements, and all this other stuff. You don't need those to bid on something. You can just bid on something.
On complex and large procurements, we should allow medium-sized companies in Canada to aggregate and form a super-enterprise. That's in the last slide over there, the last box on the bottom. Right now the model is we have a prime and we have all kinds of SMEs working for that prime. Why don't we allow a bunch of SMEs to create a super-enterprise and bid on those complex and large procurements? All you need to do is change the selection process, change the evaluation process. Evaluate these bids based on whether they can do the job, whether they have the capacity and the ability, not on some fictitious thing that was done in Australia or New Zealand 20 years ago.
Also, I suggest we start doing something about industrial strategy in key sectors of the economy.
I'm done. Thank you very much.
As you've started to see—and the government likes to tout this fact—they've done one of them. They did the open-by-default procurement, and I guess it was about three months, tip to toe.
You bring the business unit that's actually going to use the technology, team them with the IT unit, team them with the procurement unit, team them with the legal unit, and put them all in a room together. That's as opposed to the business unit sending something to the IT unit, which sends something to procurement, which sends something to legal, which then says, “Oh, no, this part you can't do.” Then they have to send the paperwork back and forth. That is what disrupts the time frame.
You get everybody working in a room. It's essentially the agile principle of go lean, get everybody in the room, and focus on what the outcome or the output is supposed to be. Don't focus so much on what you think the right technology is to provide the service, but on the outcome: “We want this to be able to do that”. Then you're going to open up the door to more and more bidders.
There's no reason we should continue to see 200-page RFPs, and I've heard ministers declare it already: “No more 200-page RFPs.” We should continue to see 200-page RFPs. We continue to see 300 and 400 IT specifications and requirements built into RFPs. The SMEs can't survive the amount of time required to invest into a procurement, to go through what all the requirements are and to review those requirements. It's taking them from what should be a three- to four-month window into something that goes well over a year, sometimes two years or even three years.
You need to focus on the outcome and say, “We need this product to be able to do this. It must meet these eight or nine requirements.” You get out of saying, “The technological specifications are such and such,” because these go on forever. What ends up happening when you specify the types of technology and say it must be this, that, and the other is that you cut away half the marketplace. Rather than inviting more bids and more innovation to the table, by being prescriptive and saying, “We want this type of solution, this way,” you're going to cut out half of the marketplace, so you're cutting down. We're seeing procurements that we feel should attract 15 to 20 bidders going down to one, two, or three bidders.
Right now, it's almost a game of survival of the fittest, as opposed to an open, fair, and competitive marketplace that the government puts out by saying “We need this type of solution.” Then you'd get multiple bidders on it.
If Amazon can go out and say, “We're going to spend”—I don't know how many—“billions of dollars and employ 50,000 to 55,000 new people,” and do that in an eight-page RFP, which they sent out to cities, there's no reason we can't have 10- or even 15-page RFPs, as opposed to 200 pages.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate it. This is good testimony. I'm coming from the industry committee, or the innovation committee, with its recent name change.
It's very pertinent to many of the things we've talked about with regard to manufacturing, innovation, and science. An interesting aspect that you talked about here is the network enterprises. I come from the tool and die mould-making industries, where CEOs and senior management are often running around in Europe and other places, securing the next bidding contract, versus trying to fill out paperwork forms and files.
One of the things they've noticed over the last number of years was the reduction in services, even to get through the changes—even, for example, SR and ED tax credits and other types of research things that are available.
In terms of network enterprises, have there been any models we can look at in the Unites States or Australia or New Zealand that they're doing with their SMEs that could be fast-tracked if there were support for something like that?
I see a lot of value in that, at least in getting some of the low-hanging fruit. That would be a good start for some of the businesses.
In terms of the platforms that could be leveraged, we're migrating to the cloud. The cloud could be leveraged like an app store on Apple or Google Play Store. A number of SMEs develop applications and solutions that they sell via these platforms.
In the U.K., they use the G-Cloud. Government sets up the platform. Now I think they have more than 2,000 SMEs delivering business solutions for government on that platform.
You could start using the platforms. Government is migrating from the BlackBerry units to iPhone and Samsung. You could leverage that marketplace and have business solutions that operate both on the cloud and on that mobile device. You have bureaucrats walking around town, so we can fix some of the back office side, and we can fix the front office side, which is providing services to Canadians.
Canadians want to be able to interact with their government on their hand-held device. It would be great if you could apply for a passport. You'd take a picture of yourself, apply for the passport, and send it in with the click of a button, instead of having to fill out paper forms and mail or fax them in. That is where a modern government needs to be heading; it's where we all need to be heading.
There are examples of some of these that have seen success that could be leveraged here in Canada.
Thank you all for being here.
It's interesting to listen to you. When you said “real job”, I thought, “Is this a dinoceras environment, or what?” I wasn't going to call it an elephant, because an elephant can run pretty fast.
I'm listening to you carefully and I'm trying to balance government and business. The business aim is to make profit. Business is agile; governments are not.
Mr. French, I think you have been within the government and you know how unagile it is.
When you were responding to my colleague's question about being agile and how it is the step forward, within the confines of what the government has to do to protect itself from a legal perspective, from a security perspective, how would you change the mindset?
You suggested a risk officer. You're putting another bureaucracy on top, and we have had enough, you know? How would you solve it in an agile manner?
As you mentioned, I come from within the government at both the federal and the provincial level, and Andy's slide saying that 90% of procurement outcomes are determined beforehand, I think, should be a real wake-up call about how that giant process really narrows down the field.
I think what we're all in agreement on is that nowhere are we calling for any kind of reduction of standards and eliminating that red tape in the RFP process should not diminish the goal of this process, which is to get the best product for the Government of Canada at the best cost for the taxpayers.
At the end of the day, the government is the government is the government. There are certain requirements that they will be looking at and various hoops that firms will jump through, but uploading all of those requirements up front, as André has mentioned, so eliminates that field, and then perhaps, as André mentioned as well, there could be something like that Amazon approach of keeping the spectrum open, but with a smaller application process to enlarge the field of people who are applying.
I was about to make a comment in terms of the experience needed for the first job, but Mr. Masse stole my exact line about that. For SMEs, especially in fields that are transforming very quickly, such as cybersecurity, keeping those parameters open and not being too prescriptive allows for more people to apply, and then maybe the government could look at a round two, or something like that, to then narrow things down.
I will answer that. I want to make a comment on this whole outcome-based prescriptiveness.
There is no one size that fits all. At times, the government needs to be prescriptive; at other times, it needs to be outcome-based.
In every medium to complex procurement, you have three things. You have things that we call known knowns, you have things that are known unknowns—I'm trying to sound like Donald Rumsfeld here—and then you have unknown unknowns.
In the case of those things that we call known knowns, if there are things that you absolutely know for sure, you should prescribe them in your RFP. You should ask for them. You should even ask them for a fixed price—why not? However, when you don't know a whole lot of things and you list a whole series of assumptions and risks associated with that and you try to make that known, that's where the issue is.
In every procurement, there should be things that are prescribed because you need them now and you understand them fully. If you have a high degree of certainty about these things, you should prescribe them. When you don't have a high degree of certainty about these things, don't hide behind assumptions. Say, “I don't know”, and then, at that point, you need to be outcome-based, and for an outcome-based approach to be successful, you need a relationship management framework, a stakeholder management framework, because you need to work together to resolve these unknowns and gain certainty over time so that you can do what needs to be done.
It's not about whether it's too prescriptive or not too prescriptive or this or that; it's really about how much of this procurement needs to be prescriptive or should be prescriptive and how much of it needs to be outcome-based. Maybe it should be outcome-based, but you don't know until you gain that certainty.
I'm only going to talk about RFPs.
We participated in it. Just as an example, there was a PPP RFP. Our organization does public-private partnerships. We have a new model. I've written a book about that model. We have an alliance with KPMG. We are a small company, but we are very good at doing what we call adaptive procurements or adaptive relationships, the outcome-based procurements he's talking about. We've done it in many different areas in Ontario and here with the federal government, but then there was this PPP RFP. To get on this PPP, you only have the big guys: KPMG, Pricewaterhouse, EY, and Deloitte.
The way the gates are set up, only these guys can make it, because they're looking for a global firm, somebody who must have done it before somewhere else, and they don't restrict it to Canadians, so it has to be somewhere else. A lot of these guys have done something maybe in Australia or in the Middle East, and they bring that experience. They went through that experience, but their local capacity or ability to do anything is zero.
They refer to something called “reach back to bench”, meaning that when you have tools, you reach back to get a tool from the bench to do something. This reach-back mechanism most of the time doesn't work, so they bring in somebody from the U.K., from Australia, to provide some high-end advisory stuff, but we know how to do this right here. That's one example.
It's extremely interesting to see the relationships that exist between goals.
You represent an association, SMEs or a particular sector.
The purpose of a business is of course to generate profit. There are major advantages to dealing with government, since you are sure to recover the money you spent, you are sure to get paid, and you establish a relationship. There is without a doubt something to be gained. So businesses incur less risk when they engage with government. As you mentioned, what is difficult is to initiate that business relationship with a government.
Since I have worked at the municipal level in the past, I can say this: the responsibility for contracts and decisions—whether at the municipal, provincial or federal level—is entirely shouldered by that government. Consequently, where decision making is concerned, the risk is not financial, but involves relationships and reputation.
There is one obvious current example. Indeed, dear colleagues, the elephant is in the room; it's the Phoenix pay system. We talk about it every day, and who is accountable? It is the government. Members in every party in the House in fact make it their business to point that out.
How can we integrate small and medium businesses into procurement? The government's social mission is to try to help enterprises. It has to do business with small and medium enterprises to ensure that wealth is distributed throughout Canada, and that enterprises can do business with the government.
Should the bids be smaller? Perhaps. Should we ask that one contract stratum be allocated to those small businesses? We would need to set a goal of a certain percentage of contracts, and ensure that we reach the objectives. Unfortunately, I think it is an illusion to think that we will never again see 200-page bids, but they could be divided up.
As I already mentioned, when I worked in municipal government, we asked people to not divide up a contract, because that was against the law. All of these things are interconnected, and you have to protect everybody.
How can we find solutions and make sure everyone is happy? My preamble was long, but I'm asking you to try to answer it. There are two minutes left.
Steven mentioned risk aversion, which I believe is probably at an all-time high in the bureaucracy. Nobody wants to be in the newspapers. You have all-time high risk aversion and a calling on the government to start experimenting and piloting.
If you want to help an SME, bring in that SME to run a pilot or an experiment or at least show you how the product works. There's a call, and there's an understanding. We have some of the right change agents in place throughout the bureaucracy who are calling on the government to start.
Run 10 small pilots. Seven of them might work and three of them might be complete catastrophes, but they're pilots and they're small. We're not going to implement this across government. Then you scale up. You think, “Okay, it worked well in this department, so we can run it in three or four other departments.”
You start piloting and experimenting. You're bringing them on. They're small contracts at first, because you're proofing them. You're getting them to test the product to see if it's going to function on that government framework. Then you can experiment with the SME. You get government collaborating with industry, saying “If we could only do this”, and then industry goes off and tries to make it happen.
The discussions are taking place. It's in its infancy, but it's really about.... I think we need to get away from “Take it or leave it; we're the government. We're an elephant; this is what we want, and this is how we want it” and get into more of this partnership, the conversation, negotiating the contracts, seeing what we can do by working together, and sharing risk.
It's a massive opportunity. If you want to have those socio-economic benefits, that's going to come with changing the manner in which we're doing business.
Thank you for the question.
We talk about jurisdictions. If we look back, we're seeing some jurisdictions doing this the right way, and they haven't been doing it for 10 years. For Estonia, the catalyst was the fact they got hacked by a neighbouring country. They said, “We really need to change the way we're doing business in order to protect ourselves”, and they decided to go modern and digital across the board.
There are some apt lessons to be learned. It's an economy of 1.8 million people, not 37 million or 38 million people. They don't have a large bureaucracy to deal with, so it's an easier ship to turn, but they went down the right path.
The U.K. looked at the rule book. Our rule book is the SAC rule book, which covers the various types of clauses that should be included in a procurement. There are potentially 6,000 different clauses in the SAC manual. What the U.K. essentially did was throw out the manual. They said, “This isn't serving either party. This isn't serving government; it's not serving the private sector. Let's throw this out the window and move to an outcomes-based model, shorter procurement time frames, more piloting, more experimentation. Let's see what works and what doesn't, and then we can ramp up on what's working.”
There have been jurisdictions that have done it and are seeing successes. There are some lessons learned—nobody hits a home run out of the gate—but those are two countries that I would point to that have really transformed the way government is doing business with the industry. It's more of an ongoing relationship, as opposed to, “This is what we want. You guys can take it or leave it.”
This is exactly where I wanted to go. Now we are seeing it with blockchain. We're getting the pilot. I'm not sure whether we are expanding the scope of that to make sure that we have the procedures on all of those things taken into account, because not all of the contract elements are going to be applicable to something like blockchain, such as 15 years.
Therefore, going back to what my colleague, Mr. , started talking about, for some of the procurement that is commodity-based, yes, we can go to that prescriptive model. For some of the ones that are leading edge, probably we should go into the collaboration and to the pilot model and probably start with those and change some of our policies and procedures.
My last question is going to go to Mr. Akrouche.
The idea of a network of SMEs to create a super-enterprise was a very interesting concept. By way of transparency, I've managed a number of large enterprise business transformations where I had a lot of different suppliers coming in. One of the challenges, one of the big risks that I always had to mitigate, was how to manage when something goes wrong. Who are we going to hold accountable?
What do you see in that? That was my biggest challenge in my previous life.
The Chair: There's about a minute left.
I recently had a conversation with a bunch of members about having the right person or the right solution in place, and when the contract runs out, the government will go back and RFP it again. In certain circumstances there's an opportunity to roll over and add another two years. When we move to things like software as a service, do you want the contract to sunset and then go back out to tender with a new RFP if that software and everything is functioning properly? Can we not just roll that in, roll it over, and go for another two years using that solution? If everybody's satisfied with that, it's the best possible outcome. Why can't we do that rather than having to go back out for a full RFP again?
What ends up happening nine times out of 10—but it's probably closer to 99 times out of 100—is that if I have hired an IT consultant and he's doing a great job but I have to go back out to tender on an RFP, I'm wasting my time, the government's time, and the industry's time, because I will make sure that the only possible winner for this RFP process is this guy. I will make the experience requirements so drawn out and based on his experience that I'll make it prescriptive and only he can win, and when the rest of the industry looks at it, they wonder who could possibly satisfy these requirements.
There's a balance between rolling over.... Once I do a pilot, wouldn't it be great if we could just roll right into a contract? The pilot went great and we'd like to apply this over here, but we have to go back out for a full RFP again.
There is the opportunity to be able to do it. We do a $50,000 pilot, and if the pilot goes really well, we can open that up to a $100,000 contract. You can run on that. There's an opportunity to do it. There'll be resistance to it—legal, procurement, the rule books, the policies, the regulations—but we're starting to find out that not all those rules are written in stone.