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CDS’ first Request for Proposals: Eight things you need to know

Today we (the Canadian Digital Service) launched a Request for Proposals (RFP).

Do you want to support us in our mandate to improve services for newcomers to Canada, Veterans, seniors, and others? Help us implement and scale digital government in Canada by providing strategic advice, finding great people, and providing training to strengthen the government’s digital capacity.

In our early cross-Canada engagement, we weren’t surprised to hear that it’s challenging for businesses to figure out how to apply for government contracts. To make the process easier, we’ve created a flexible way to get involved and are providing guidance on how to apply. If you want to make a big impact, this RFP is for you. The deadline for submitting a bid is Wednesday , October 10, 2018 at 15:00 EDT.

At the risk of going full BuzzFeed, here are eight things you need to know about bidding and how to apply. If we don’t cover your question, fear not. You can get more information at our open-house (details to follow) or email and with inquiries.

1. To us, “digital” means…

There’s a lot of healthy discussion in the community on what “digital” means. To us, and in the context of this RFP “digital” embodies some core principles. They’re detailed in the Government of Canada’s (GC) Open Government blog post, but the condensed version is:

  • design services with users;
  • prototype quickly to test assumptions;
  • continuously test with users, iterate, repeat; and,
  • contribute to the community.

We’re looking for experts with a track record in solving users’ pain points with digital services in complex organizations, in an agile and (preferably) open way; or who have helped organizations find digital talent, recruit users for research, or adopt digital ways of working.

2. You can get involved in six ways

You can find the full details in the RFP Statement of Work, but the elevator pitch is this:

There are six distinct scopes of work you can bid on. You can submit proposals for one or more of these scopes or sub-scopes:

  1. Digital Government Implementation*

  2. Recruitment

    2.1 Talent

    2.2 User Recruitment

  3. Training

    3.1 User-centered design;

    3.2 Agile Product Development; or,

    3.3 Digital Literacy for Decision-Makers

*To the great service delivery firms that are interested in working with CDS on product design and development, we’ll have opportunities to get involved at a later date.

3. Pick and choose what you apply for

Think of the scopes and sub-scopes as a la carte menu options. You can choose to apply for one, multiple, or all of the options. You are only required to submit a proposal for your chosen (sub)scopes(s).

For example, if you specialize in Agile Product Development and training, you could apply for sub-scope 3.2.

Prepare a bid for as many (or as few) as you like.

4. We expect to award multiple contracts

For each scope, we expect to award multiple contracts based on the evaluation criteria. The maximum combined values of the contracts for each scope / sub-scope can be found in the RFP. In total we expect to award up to 17 contracts for a total value of $1,175,000.

5. Task Authorization Based contracts provide flexibility for you and us

A Task Authorization (TA) Based contract provides contractors who are awarded a contract guaranteed work and flexibility. The “Tasks” and “Deliverables” sections in Annex A contain details about what you may be asked to do.

CDS and the contractor will identify the specific work to complete in a “Task Authorization”. These are like lightweight sub-contracts that specify the what, who, when, where, and how. Task Authorizations allow CDS and the contractor to adapt to evolving needs, constraints, and opportunities.

6. We work in the open

Working in the open means that we will publicly share the deliverables. Contractors can request a license to profit from a deliverable (such as learning resources), but the intellectual property will be owned by us (the Crown/Government of Canada).

7. You don’t have to figure it out on your own

Working with the Government of Canada can be challenging, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses or those who haven’t done it before. Whether it’s security requirements, what costs to include or exclude in your per diem, or applying on Buyandsell, we’re here to help.

You will need security clearances to do the work. Don’t let a missing security clearance stop you from applying - we can help you apply when and if you need them.

We will be holding an open house soon where we’ll help you make sense of the Request for Proposals, and answer questions like: “should I include expected travel costs in my per diem rate?” (Answer: No, exclude travel costs, we’ll work with you to approve them as they arise.)

We’ll also cover how to submit a proposal on Buyandsell and how to apply for security clearance. Can’t make it? No problem, we’ll be posting the questions and answers on Buyandsell and may host a second open-house depending on demand.

We’ll share open house dates and details through Twitter and the CDS Newsletter.

8. Apply for a Business Number today

To do work with the Canadian Government, you need a Canadian Business Number (BN) and a Procurement Business Number (PBN). If you don’t have these numbers already, apply for them right away. Bids will still be accepted without either business number, however, you must have both numbers to be awarded a contract.

You’ll want to apply for a Canadian Business Number first. Processing times are first-in-first-out, and can take between 30 to 60 days.

For bidders from Canada and the USA, you can apply online, by paper, or by phone.

Bidders from other countries must apply by paper/fax by filling out an RC1, section A only. If none of your Owners are Canadian residents, leave the Social Insurance Number (SIN) field blank. Finally, you will need to submit your application to a specific Tax Service Office, which you can find here. It’s best to call ahead to make sure you have any questions about the process answered before you apply.

Once you have your BN, you may apply online for a Procurement Business Number.

Ready to Apply?

Apply Here

Deadline to ask questions: Wednesday October 3rd, 2018 at 15:00 EDT

Request for Proposals Closes: Wednesday October 10th, 2018 at 15:00 EDT

Estimated time to evaluate: 1 week per 10 bids submitted

Key contact information

For questions on applying or for clarification on the RFP, don’t contact CDS or its employees. Contact Neil Charbonneau with Treasury Board Secretariat Contracting Services at and