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OTAG calls for Bylaw to prevent sole source mishaps

Taxpayer watchdog wonders what other year end surprises we can expect


Ottawa, Dec 2 2012


In the wake of recent revelations regarding Presto, Plasco and other procurement stumbles, the Ottawa Taxpayer Advocacy Group is calling for a bylaw that would better protect taxpayers against future disasters. OTAG points to its National counterpart MTAGs fight to lobby the provincial and federal governments and suggests that the city should not wait for proposed changes to the criminal code or other laws to change the way it makes contractual decisions.


“We think these kinds of mishaps could be avoided by better integrating the office of the Auditor General “said Kevin MacDonald, the group’s President. As taxpayers discovered during the Lansdowne experience, sole source contracts are permissible under City bylaws, but as MacDonald points out, “If the Auditor General had a chance to review staff recommendations BEFORE the contract is issued, he could independently consider the business case, and Council could have an informed vote on whether to go ahead, thereby preventing a nasty look in the rear view mirror. “


Even if there are no other interested parties, every contract over $5 million dollars should go to tender. “There are many other outfits with incineration technology that would have submitted a bid, if the pilot program had been put to tender. Before the city signs a new 20 year contract with Plasco, the AG should review the file and report back to Council."


Even tendered high value multiyear contracts like the Orgaworlds green bin contract would benefit from AG input before the contract is awarded. MacDonald theorizes that the new bylaw would provide a certainty of process that will encourage businesses to come forward with their technology and ideas. “It doesn’t matter how much bad news we hear from the AG several years after the deal is done, it becomes spilled milk and it won’t change a thing” said OTAG is looking forward to participating in its second Government Innovation conference on December 3rd at Carleton University’s Robertson Hall, where MacDonald hopes these types of ideas will be explored. “There will be plenty of talent there who can address these types of problems; Christina Blizzard from Sun media will be speaking along with Carleton University Professor Dr. Christopher Stoney and local Provincial MPP, Jack MacLaren.


Federal Cabinet Minister Maxine Bernier will share his thoughts on reducing the cost of government and will no doubt have thoughts on outsourcing to small business and the impact of bill C377 on union transparency to the bottom line of all levels of government.


MTAG's last event this past February turned a few heads when the former Chief of Staff for Mayor Rob Ford made some damning allegations over the TTC Presto contract. "OTAG hopes this conference will be as well received as their first one" MacDonald said. For event details visit


The Ottawa Taxpayer Advocacy group is a non profit organization focused on encouraging Ottawa City Council to view money management as its top priority.


The Municipal Taxpayer Advocacy Group is focused on encouraging all City Councils across Canada to view money management as priority 1.


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Kevin MacDonald