Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk is promising to bring changes to city hall’s process for awarding contracts on major capital projects that will deliver better value to taxpayers.
The City of Winnipeg is awarding engineering, architectural planning and construction contracts with a one-size-fits-all model, Motkaluk said Tuesday, adding it’s time city hall catches up with best practices employed by municipalities all over North America.
“What I’m saying today is that when I’m mayor of Winnipeg, we’re going to allow the professional public service to do their very best job using all the very best procurement practices,” she said.
“The adversarial lowest-bid (request for proposal) process we use today to procure engineering design work is inefficient, inadequate and leads to a rushed design process that results in increased costs in the long run.”
Motkaluk said the RFP model often prioritizes finding the lowest bidder over finding the most qualified candidate, which she says is an inefficient and ineffective way of awarding contracts.
The over-reliance on the RFP model leads to major capital projects consistently coming in poorly designed, past due, over budget and caught up in litigation, Motkaluk said.
While the candidate said she wouldn’t scrap the RFP process completely, she said the city needs to be more flexible in using the right procurement model for the right situation. Motkaluk highlighted the qualifications-based selection (QBS) model, which she says is considered a best practice in multiple provinces, as an option the city can use when awarding engineering and architectural design contracts.
“I’m not here to say that QBS is a model that needs to be employed every single time. What I’m here to say is that we know there are industry best practices that are not being employed by the City of Winnipeg,” Motkaluk said. “We have an obligation to explore them all so we can get the best value for our taxpayer dollars.”
Motkaluk said forcing an RFP model on capital projects where a different model would work best creates problems that permeate all phases of the project and ultimately hits Winnipeggers in their pocketbooks.
“I hear examples from a lot of Winnipeg’s construction community where the jobs go off the rails because the planning wasn’t done well… This is one of the things that leads to change orders and construction delays,” she said.
“It leads to all kinds of bad outcomes that ultimately have the City of Winnipeg taxpayers on the hook for more money.”
Motkaluk points to academic and municipal studies that have shown the benefits with a QBS system, as well as support for the model from stakeholders such as the Manitoba Association of Architects and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
During the campaign announcement, Motkaluk chastised incumbent Mayor Brian Bowman for having a narrow reliance on the RFP model and refusing to be open to other options for awarding contracts.
She said she’s been told the City of Winnipeg says it is currently researching the benefits of the QBS model, but questions what is taking so long.
“The point is how long does it take to investigate a model? I’m quite certain that the response that we got was really just a way of deflecting the question,” Motkaluk said.