1. Strengthening Integrity in Public procurement in Quebec

To achieve high standards of integrity and performance in public procurement, it is essential that the relevant institutions co-ordinate effectively and with well-defined responsibilities, especially in contexts characterised by strong decentralisation. Public institutions must also implement guidance and monitoring measures, as well as reliable indicators that will enable them to effectively monitor the implementation of relevant policies and standards. These indicators must be developed and prioritised according to a strategic approach based on risk and the achievement of predefined institutional objectives.

The Government of Quebec has made significant progress in recent years towards establishing an institutional framework of integrity in public procurement processes applicable to public and municipal organisations. Thus, two distinct institutional frameworks apply in the Quebec public sector: one governing contracts of government ministries and agencies (public bodies) and the other governing contracts of municipal bodies (Table 1.1). When it comes to integrity and transparency, these two regulatory frameworks are, except for a few details, very similar. However, the institutional framework of the Quebec government could adopt a more co-ordinated approach to the implementation of integrity standards in public and municipal bodies, which currently operate in a highly decentralised context.

In Quebec, each public body is ultimately responsible for setting up institutional frameworks for integrity. However, within public organisations, there are more binding standards specifically applicable to the public procurement context than to integrity in general.

Greater co-ordination between institutional frameworks for public procurement and integrity in the civil service could strengthen integrity standards applicable to the specific context of public procurement. Article 21.0.1 of the Act respecting contracting by public bodies (ACPB) requires each public body to designate an officer responsible for enforcing contractual rules (RARC) to ensure co-ordination between public procurement branches and agency leaders. The RARC's broad mandate allows him or her to play a key role in strengthening the compliance of public procurement processes with applicable rules. The RARC is responsible for ensuring compliance with contracting activities and for providing assurance to the head of the contracting authority (who is ultimately accountable) that the ACPB and other standards for the conduct of public procurement are respected. He or she is also responsible for ensuring that measures are in place within the organisation to ensure the integrity of internal processes and the quality of personnel performing contracting activities.

As such, the RARC is responsible for determining the specific controls and procedures to ensure compliance with the ACPB, while respecting the general guidelines suggested by the Directive regarding Managing Supplies, Service and Construction Contracts of Public Bodies and the Directive regarding Managing the Risk of Corruption and Collusion in Contract Management Processes. This approach, where a central agency is responsible for ensuring the development of a co-ordinated approach to integrity in the civil service, while promoting “proximity management” regarding the development and enforcement of rules by each public body, is aligned with best practice in OECD member countries.

Indeed, a large number of countries provide for a combination of regulatory requirements and guidance formulated by central government, with specialised units in sectoral ministries to formalise integrity policies (Figure 1.1).

However, most of the institutional arrangements and mechanisms to ensure integrity in public procurement in OECD member countries are embedded in some way in the overall government integrity framework. For example, the institutional framework in the United States is similar to that of Quebec, especially regarding the appointment of the RARC as the procurement integrity officer (Box 1.1). Nevertheless, an important distinction is that a federal agency or department must appoint a Procurement Ethics Officer, who works closely with the Senior Procurement Executives and the Chief Acquisition Officers. Other OECD countries, such as Germany, New Zealand, and Norway, delegate responsibilities for ensuring integrity in public procurement to designated resources for general integrity issues to ensure a co-ordinated and consistent approach.

In Quebec, there are no requirements for the co-ordination of the RARC with the general institutional framework applicable to integrity in public bodies. Some stakeholders also report that there is little co-ordination in practice between RARCs and ethics officers within public bodies.

At the central institution level, the governmental co-ordination in ethics of the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) does not appear to be formally involved in integrity management in public procurement processes either. For example, the governmental co-ordination in ethics is not involved in the application of the Directive regarding Managing Supplies, Service and Construction Contracts of Public Bodies, even though it deals with the management of conflicts of interest and communications of influence in contracts. Moreover, the governmental co-ordination in ethics does not appear to have contributed to the Treasury Board Secretariat's Analysis Report on Internal Guidelines, which sets out best practices for the implementation of guidelines for contract management, including the management of conflicts of interest.

Therefore, to ensure a holistic and co-ordinated approach to integrity in public contracting that is integrated into the overall integrity framework, TBS may wish to consider increased collaboration between ethics respondents and RARCs to, for example, effectively guide RARCs in the implementation of the Directive regarding Managing Supplies, Service and Construction Contracts of Public Bodies, especially with respect to conflicts of interest and lobbying.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MAMH) has jurisdiction to oversee municipal affairs under the Cities and Towns Act and the Municipal Code, including public procurement and integrity issues. There is no systemic approach to strengthening integrity in public procurement in municipalities of comparable size, but this may be partly explained by the desire to respect the autonomy of elected municipal officials.

The MAMH has implemented a large number of reforms to strengthen public integrity standards in municipalities since the emergence of corruption cases leading up to the Charbonneau Commission, and these reforms represent significant progress. In addition, the establishment of the Public Procurement Authority (AMP), with its audit and oversight powers, further strengthens the integrity framework for public procurement. All organisations under municipal control (e.g., NPOs) are now subject to the rules for awarding municipal contracts, which responds to another recommendation of the Charbonneau Commission.

As a result of legislative reforms in 2010 and 2011, municipal agencies are now required to adopt a Contract Management Policy (CMP), to make it available on the Internet and forward it to the relevant ministry. The MAMH follows up on the adoption of CMPs (99.3% of municipal agencies have complied with their obligation), but there is no follow-up on their completeness and the effectiveness of their implementation.

The MAMH has also recently made legislative amendments, through draft act 155, to make the disclosure arrangements set out in the Act to facilitate the disclosure of wrongdoings relating to public bodies applicable to municipal agencies.

In addition, and as recommended by the Charbonneau Commission, the MAMH has set up a centre of expertise in municipal contract management to assist municipalities in the conduct of their public procurement, but the implementation of this process is still in the preliminary stages. This centre of expertise covers certain subjects related to integrity, particularly at the stage of the identification of needs and the contract award process. This centre of expertise is in addition to two other similar centres created within the SQI (contract management in the construction sector) and the CSPQ (contract management in the information technology sector).

Other jurisdictions have also put in place similar mechanisms to consolidate technical expertise in public procurement within the same institution responsible for providing technical support to other public institutions that are part of a decentralised system. For example, New Zealand has consolidated public procurement expertise in the construction sector in the Infrastructure New Zealand agency. Public bodies retain control over the organisation of public procurement, but may request the necessary support from Infrastructure New Zealand. The State of New South Wales in Australia has done the same with Infrastructure NSW, as has British Columbia with Partnerships BC and Scotland with the Scottish Futures Trust. All of these jurisdictions have realised the significant benefits of consolidating expertise in an entity that is tailored to its mandate.

According to the work plan of the centre of expertise on contract management at the municipal level, many of the needs identified that may impact on the integrity of processes throughout the procurement cycle are related to capacity building for municipalities. Several of the actions proposed to remedy these problems consist of publishing more information or standard tender clauses on the MAMH website, or through briefings intended for municipalities (e.g. muni-express). While sharing technical information can be useful in strengthening public procurement processes, even more guidance can be provided to elected officials and municipal officers through personalised advice tailored to specific situations, as the above-mentioned bodies do in the construction sector.

The mere provision of technical information to elected representatives or municipal officers through ad hoc publications may not be sufficient to apply the relevant standards to specific cases and thus increases the vulnerability of processes to potential wrongdoing, such as the exercise of undue influence. The centre of expertise’s action plan on contract monitoring already provides for the financing of technical staff for specific stages of the public procurement cycle. Similarly, the MAMH could consider funding the resources committed by municipal associations (the Fédération québécoise des municipalités (FQM) and the Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ)) to guide municipalities on an ongoing basis so that they avoid pitfalls that could compromise the integrity of all stages of the public procurement cycle. In addition, the MAMH could also consider whether the current training format meets the needs of public procurement officials at municipal level, and consider the implementation of certification programmes and new training programmes for elected municipal officials and public procurement professionals, as discussed in the “Providing support to municipalities and municipal officials in matters of integrity and public procurement” section of this report, related to Quebec government public bodies.

Given the nature and scope of the powers conferred on the AMP, it interacts on a regular basis with both public and municipal bodies. Its oversight mandate, as well as its powers to issue orders for public bodies and to make recommendations for municipal bodies, play a key role in strengthening integrity in the conduct of all public procurement in Quebec. However, given the advanced expertise that the AMP has at different levels of public procurement, it could also play an important role in increasing efficiency by preventing irregularities in procurement processes, as well as by strengthening technical expertise in public and municipal bodies.

The inauguration of the AMP coincided with the extension of the mandate of the Unité permanente anticorruption (Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit-UPAC) to corruption cases no longer exclusively related to public contracts. The sharing of administrative and criminal powers between the AMP and UPAC is a positive development that will lead to increased resources and expertise for the oversight of public contract management, as well as the investigation and prosecution of corruption in the provincial and municipal civil service.

Nevertheless, the increase in the AMP's oversight powers over public contracts is cause for concern among some public and municipal bodies. Some stakeholders interviewed for this report mentioned that increased monitoring of public servants in small municipalities could significantly increase their workload by imposing a results-based performance on them, despite the limited means at their disposal. Other stakeholders are concerned that the extensive powers of the AMP could be unduly used to delay the award of public contracts due to minor errors in the applicable rules.

When drawing up its strategic plan required by article 18 of the Act respecting the Autorité des marchés publics (LAMP), the AMP must provide for means of intervention adapted to the consequences of the violations against the public interest. The Government of Quebec may also consult the AMP to strengthen its prevention and technical knowledge-sharing activities, since the AMP is well-positioned to provide an external perspective under its monitoring and recommendation powers under the LAMP.

Finally, the AMP could develop a communication strategy aimed at all public and municipal bodies that would reiterate its willingness to adopt a constructive approach in supporting the bodies subject to its oversight powers, in line with the spirit of the LAMP. Indeed, the LAMP is structured in such a way that public and municipal bodies have the opportunity to self-correct before the AMP is called upon to intervene, except in cases where amendments are made to the tender documents less than two days before the expiry of the deadline for receiving complaints. In order to be more predictable, the AMP could also clearly specify through its communication strategy when the powers to amend or cancel a public procurement contract will be applied.

In line with best practice in OECD countries, the TBS and the MAMH have developed centralised standards for integrity and technical competence specific to public procurement in public and municipal bodies. The implementation of these standards is highly decentralised as each deputy minister or head of the contracting authority is responsible for their enforcement at the public agency level, as well as each municipal council at the municipal level. In order to strengthen accountability with respect to the definition and enforcement of integrity and performance values for professionals working in the public procurement sector, the Government of Quebec could consider developing additional monitoring and evaluation measures for all public and municipal bodies, combined with training tailored to specific contexts.

To establish common civil service integrity values, the government adopted the Regulation respecting ethics and discipline in the civil service in 2002, which sets out the general ethical duties of public servants. Concerning public procurement specifically, the Government requires public bodies to adopt guidelines in line with the Directive regarding Managing Procurement, Service and Construction Contracts of Public Bodies.

However, the implementation of the Regulation and the Directive is highly decentralised. It is up to the head of each contracting authority to define the parameters for implementation in each public body. This decentralisation has led to uneven results from one agency to another. Moreover, according to a list available on the TBS website, there are 55 public bodies that are not subject to the Public Service Act and, therefore, to the regulations.

The Directive Respecting the Management of Supply, Service and Construction Contracts of Public Bodies provides both a comprehensive regulatory framework specific to the conduct of public procurement as well as a code of conduct. However, the responsibility for enforcing these rules is highly decentralised, so public bodies ultimately have the discretion to develop and implement innovative policies to enhance integrity in their public procurement processes.

Indeed, several public organisations have developed integrity mechanisms in response to the Directive, which requires the adoption of guidelines on several aspects related to the integrity of public procurement, including the management of conflicts of interest and lobbying (SCT, 2016[2]).

For example, some public bodies, in accordance with standard documents developed by the TBS, require potential contractors to disclose if any of their employees were formerly employed in a public body. This practice seeks to ensure compliance with applicable post-employment rules. In order to further formalise this mechanism, work is currently under way to incorporate the clauses included in standard documents into the regulations on ethics and professional conduct in the civil service, as well as into regulations on public contracts.

The report on the analysis of internal guidelines for public bodies also aimed to identify overall areas for improvement and best practices related to integrity in public procurement for all public bodies. However, the report does not intend to provide a detailed analysis of all public bodies through comparing their performance. There is therefore no systematic monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the guidelines.

There are several ways to increase the accountability of public bodies for the implementation of guidelines, policies, or other tools for integrity in public procurement in a decentralised framework. First, an obligation to implement centrally issued directives could be imposed in a law or regulation. Further, in order to follow up on the efforts made by public bodies, the law or regulation may require the head of the contracting authority to report annually on efforts to ensure effective implementation of the guidelines. For example, the Government of Canada requires, through the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, that the chief executives of ministries and agencies ensure the implementation of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment, their organisational code of conduct, and their whistleblowing procedures. Some governments also have measures for evaluating the implementation of integrity policies (Box 1.2). Others such as Austria, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have also adapted audit methodologies to assess the implementation of different integrity policies in public bodies (EUROSAI, 2017[3]).

As such, the Government of Quebec could delegate authority to the TBS to monitor and evaluate the measures implemented in the application of policies developed by TBS on integrity in public procurement, as well as their adaptation to the specific context of public agencies. To ensure greater consistency across the public sector, this monitoring and evaluation power could extend to all public bodies, including those not regulated under the Public Service Act.

This TBS monitoring mechanism could also resemble the assessment currently being conducted by the TBS and UPAC of the risk management plans developed by public bodies under the Directive Respecting the Management of Corruption and Collusion Risks in Contract Management Processes. Indeed, unlike the Directive Respecting the Management of Supply, Service and Construction Contracts of Public Bodies, the obligation to develop risk management plans with accompanying monitoring mechanisms provided for in the Directive on risk management, ensures that public bodies are held to account for its implementation periodically.

Relevant training on integrity in public procurement within public organisations is mainly prescriptive and conducted by the TBS and UPAC. According to the information collected from stakeholders, integrity training focuses on senior officials or department heads, rather than on public procurement professionals. The Quebec government could consider developing training that goes beyond the statutory aspects and is more focused on the practical needs of professionals. In line with best practice in OECD member countries, these training courses may also aim to enhance the role and functions of public procurement professionals.

The TBS pays special attention to RARCs, senior and middle managers, and selection committee secretaries of public bodies for integrity training. For example, executives receive ethics training as part of the Government Manager-Leader Apprenticeship Programme (PGAGL). The RARCs and Selection Committee Secretaries, meanwhile, hold discussion forums addressing different aspects of contract management, including issues of integrity and conflict of interest in contracts on an annual basis. During these meetings, RARCs are also invited to raise awareness of integrity and conflict of interest issues with the employees involved in contract management within their organisation. Finally, Selection Committee Secretaries must pass an exam specifically addressing the knowledge required to perform this strategic function. This test is administered by the TBS, which also provides pre-test training sessions.

Training for public procurement professionals is delivered through courses or conferences and, to a lesser extent, through webinars. The TBS promotes face-to-face training for all public procurement managers and employees to encourage dialogue and discussions of practical cases to promote learning. According to statistics compiled by the TBS, webinars are mainly used for rapid dissemination of technical or administrative information, such as completing a form or meeting administrative formalities, or to reach professionals who are physically distant from urban centres.

However, according to the perceptions of the stakeholders consulted for this report, the majority of training available to public procurement professionals is in the form of webinars, and these are not suitable for discussing the practical aspects of rule enforcement. Other stakeholders added that the training was aimed more at managers than at employees responsible for public procurement. Therefore, there appears to be a gap between the availability of face-to-face training in public procurement and perceptions of the availability of such training by professionals. The Government of Quebec could, therefore, take steps to ensure that such training is disseminated to all professionals in each public body. This recommendation does not aim to reduce the number of training courses for managers, as they are key actors in disseminating common values and technical knowledge in the public sector, particularly in decentralised environments. Rather, the main purpose of the recommendation is to ensure that training is available and tailored to each segment of public procurement professionals in the Quebec civil service.

The Government of Quebec could also ensure that it collects comments on the content of the training courses as well as statistics on the number and identity of participants. Together, this data could help to determine whether the training courses are reaching all public procurement professionals and meeting their needs. Finally, to complement traditional training, the Quebec government could implement mentoring, pairing or temporary rotation programmes between different public bodies to stimulate learning from other perspectives and promote the dissemination of best practices.

Through the nature of its mandate and its oversight and control functions, the AMP is in a strategic position to assess the need for technical knowledge building in both public and municipal agencies. Using AMP's monitoring and recommendation powers with regard to training would make it possible to integrate considerations and practical cases experienced by the organisation during its interventions in order to supplement the more traditional regulatory content (Box 1.3). As one of the objectives of the creation of the AMP was to bring together highly qualified professionals with varied expertise in different aspects of public procurement, this organisation would be well-positioned to judge the relevance and effectiveness of the training delivered to public officials in the field of public procurement.

By virtue of its monitoring and recommendation powers, the AMP could evaluate training activities conducted by the government and municipal associations (Fédération québécoise des municipalités, Union des municipalités du Québec), particularly through the newly created centres of expertise within the CSPQ, the SQI and the MAMH, and make recommendations to the Government of Quebec and the municipalities on improving training if necessary. AMP advice on technical training could potentially ensure consistency of information provided through training at the provincial and municipal levels.

Finally, the information gathered from stakeholders reveals that the public procurement departments within government organisations suffer loss of expertise due to high turnover among public procurement professionals. These professionals have to adapt to frequent changes in rules and processes, high workloads and high expectations given the short time frames involved in conducting public procurement processes. Based on discussions with stakeholders, the importance of the role of public procurement professionals is not always well understood and promoted within the Quebec civil service.

In response to concerns expressed about the high turnover of public procurement specialists compared to, for example, inspection and audit, the Government of Quebec may consider developing and implementing a certification programme for public procurement professionals. The TBS already administers a similar programme for Selection Committee Secretaries, which could be used to extract best practices for training and testing the knowledge and skills of procurement specialists. A certification programme could help to enhance the role of procurement professionals, plan for succession to offset employee turnover, and better equip professionals to meet the high demands of the profession (Box 1.4).

Since 2016, the Government of Quebec has made significant efforts to develop and implement a risk management culture for the conduct of public procurement in a large number of public and municipal bodies. These efforts take into account the recommendations of the Quebec Auditor General (QAG) and the Anti-Corruption Commissioner on implementing plans to manage the risk of corruption and collusion in the contracting processes of all public bodies (Anti-corruption Commissioner, 2017[4]; VGQ, 2016[5]).

Public bodies subject to the ACPB are required, under the Directive regarding Managing the Risk of Corruption and Collusion in Contract Management Processes, to adopt a risk management plan to strengthen the integrity of their contracting processes. The UPAC has developed a robust and effective tool to guide public bodies in the analysis and development of adequate responses to the risk of corruption, namely the Guide d’élaboration d’un modèle de cadre organisationnel de gestion des risques de corruption et de collusion dans les processus de gestion contractuelle (Guide to developing a model organisational framework for managing corruption and collusion risks in contract management processes - the Guide). The UPAC has also developed a toolbox to facilitate the implementation of the Directive which includes 45 standard risks in the management of public contracts. The UPAC's risk management approach is inspired by ISO 31000, ISO 37001 and the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing (IIA).

The UPAC also conducts several coaching and knowledge-sharing sessions in public bodies for the development of their risk management plans, and feedback from stakeholders has been positive. The development of risk management plans for public bodies that are more vulnerable to the risk of corruption have been prioritised, in line with best practice.

In order to maximise its usefulness and awareness potential, the UPAC and TBS could also provide guidance to public bodies to define precisely how the information generated by risk management plans on an ongoing basis will be used, beyond the strengthening of existing internal controls. Indeed, the development of a risk management plan should not be an end in itself; the information gathered should be used strategically. For example, it could be used to update and improve integrity training for public officials and to develop or better target awareness campaigns in public bodies.

The UPAC offers consulting services to municipalities and regional county municipalities (RCMs) in Quebec to help them assess the risks associated with corruption and collusion. The UPAC's mandate with respect to municipalities is derived from Article 3 of the Anti-Corruption Act (LCLCC), which includes all municipalities in its definition of ‘public sector’. As for public bodies, the services offered by the UPAC to municipal agencies are mainly based on the Guide to developing a model organisational framework for managing corruption and collusion risks in contract management processes, the related toolkit, and training provided by the UPAC.

The adoption of a risk management plan by municipalities is not mandatory since municipalities are not subject to the Directive regarding Managing the Risk of Corruption and Collusion in Contract Management Processes. However, the methodology proposed by UPAC for all municipalities and RCMs in Quebec could apply to all municipalities, be tailored to the size and context of each one. The methodology has also been the subject of pilot projects conducted with the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), the MTQ and Ville de Sorel-Tracy.

Although the MAMH reported a growing interest of municipalities in strengthening their management of corruption risk in public contracts, the UPAC's interventions revealed that international best practices in risk management and internal control (e.g. the best practices of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)) are not part of the municipalities’ culture. Neither the MAMH, nor the Commission municipale du Québec (CMQ), nor the AMP plan to provide guidance on managing the risk of corruption, fraud or collusion. Finally, the public organisations surveyed were very satisfied with the support services that UPAC had provided in developing their risk management plans.

Once the bulk of the work for the development and implementation of the first risk management plans for public bodies is accomplished, the Government of Quebec could specifically request that the UPAC support the development and implementation of these plans in municipalities or RCMs that are above a certain size or that are at particular risk of corruption and collusion. Support for municipalities by an anti-corruption agency at central government level has already been tried in some OECD countries, including Lithuania, where good results have been achieved (Box 1.5).

Public procurement is a sector that is particularly vulnerable to the risk of corruption and collusion. The establishment of a robust and independent internal audit function should be at the forefront of any risk management and internal control strategy to prevent and detect corruption and collusion in public procurement.

In the spring of 2016, the QAG published a study that shows a significant gap between several public bodies regarding the status of institutional arrangements for internal audit within the Quebec government. Indeed, there is no systemic approach to internal audit in the Quebec civil service, with the Public Administration Act stipulating the role of each deputy minister and agency leader in exercising controls related to results-based management.

Some mechanisms have been established to strengthen procurement surveillance. For example, the MTQ has set up a Contract Management Quality Assurance Directorate, whose functions include the analysis of contract documents before contracts are awarded and, in some cases, after the fact to verify various control mechanisms provided for in the ministry's directives and procedures.

In order to improve co-ordination and knowledge sharing among internal audit teams, the Government of Quebec has developed the Guide de vérification du processus de gestion contract (Audit Guide for the contract management process) (2014) and the Forum of Internal Audit Leaders (FRVI), which brings together the heads of internal audit working within the Quebec public administration. The Audit Guide proposes various approaches based on ISO 31000 and the IIA International Standards for conducting internal audits of contract management processes, including methodologies for planning internal audits. However, these initiatives alone have not been sufficient to ensure a particular level of expertise and consistency in control systems across public bodies (VGQ, 2016[6]).

Another issue relates to the independence of internal audit in government ministries, where more than 50% of the members of internal audit committees are from within the public body itself, which entails risks to the objectivity of audits. Finally, the QAG report concludes that many of the internal audit units have insufficient knowledge of risks and controls outside their ministries (VGQ, 2016[6]).

Conversely, entities subject to the Act respecting the governance of state-owned enterprises have several good internal audit practices in place. This would allow the government to draw on the means provided for in the Act to strengthen the requirements applicable to other public bodies, for example, considering the establishment of an audit committee with independent and appropriately qualified members for each public body. This committee would be responsible, among other things, for approving the annual internal audit plan, ensuring that internal control mechanisms are in place and that they are adequate and effective, and ensuring that a risk management process is in place. The Act respecting the governance of state-owned enterprises also requires the audit committee to notify the board of directors (the minister or head of the contracting authority in the case of a public body that does not have a board of directors) in writing if it identifies any operations or management practices that are not sound or that do not comply with the relevant internal laws, regulations or policies (VGQ, 2016[6]).

To ensure consistency in the implementation of good internal audit practices across the civil service, the Government of Quebec, through the TBS or another body, could impose internal auditing rules and standards including some of the measures provided for in the Act respecting the governance of state-owned enterprises. These guidelines could provide for the establishment of an audit committee with independent members to ensure the oversight and quality of internal audit activities conducted by audit management in public bodies. The norms and standards could also provide for capacity-building activities administered by the TBS for all public bodies to ensure an adequate level of skills. In addition, the TBS could be authorised to issue recommendations to public bodies to strengthen their internal audit capacity, including performance appraisals. Finally, these rules and standards could be enshrined in a law or directive to make them mandatory.

Several external bodies have extensive oversight powers regarding the conduct of public procurement in Quebec. In some cases, these bodies have complementary powers of prevention and inspection or investigation. Some oversight bodies co-ordinate their activities in this way to increase their effectiveness and avoid heavy caseloads.

One of the strengths of Quebec's system for fighting corruption in the conduct of public procurement is the delegation of extensive oversight powers to several bodies, some of which do not report directly to the executive branch. Their mandate is to oversee the enforcement of various regulatory frameworks for the management of public contracts (Table 1.2).

As a result of the establishment of the AMP and the reforms brought about by draft act 155 regarding independent auditing in municipalities, there is now a large number of different actors responsible for external audits of public and municipal bodies in terms of compliance and resource optimisation. Effective co-ordination can enable them to fulfil their oversight mandate more effectively, which is all the more important considering that for all public and municipal agencies combined, there were more than 30 000 government contracts in 2016-17, worth more than USD 16 billion.

The LAMP stipulates that the AMP may share information brought to its attention with the Inspector General of the City of Montreal, the Ombudsman, the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, the TBS and the MAMH, depending on the nature of the information. According to article 71 of the LAMP, these institutions will have to sign an agreement specifically for this purpose. Additionally, several stakeholders indicated in interviews that they would immediately forward any information relevant to the mandate of another oversight institution that came to their attention.

However, it could be beneficial to formalise not only a posteriori information sharing, but also to co-ordinate upstream oversight activities for greater efficiency. Indeed, although a posteriori information sharing is essential to detecting and reacting to irregularities or acts of corruption in the conduct of public procurement, co-ordinating the planning of upstream oversight activities in order to avoid duplication and to ensure that the main risk areas are subject to an appropriate level of controls is also crucial.

Thus, in order to adopt a co-ordinated and proactive approach, the TBS and the internal audit bodies of government agencies could consider co-ordinating, to some extent, the planning of their oversight activities to avoid duplication and to enhance, to the extent possible, their coherence and effectiveness. The oversight bodies provided for in article 71 of the LAMP could also ensure that the exchange of information under the LAMP goes in both directions - between the AMP on the one hand; and the UPAC, the Office of the Inspector General of Ville de Montréal (BIG), the Quebec Ombudsman, the TBS and the MAMH on the other. Quebec law could also provide for an agreement to formalise information sharing and avoid overlap in relation to oversight activities at the municipal level, for example between the MAMH, municipal auditors, CMQ, the UPAC and the AMP.

Finally, the information gathered for this report indicated that the QAG and government oversight bodies co-ordinate those aspects of their mandates that overlap. As such, the Government of Quebec, in partnership with the QAG, could explore the possibility of formalising their collaboration, drawing in particular on Mexico's National Audit System Co-ordinating Committee, which is responsible for co-ordinating the oversight activities of external and internal audit institutions at federal, state and municipal levels, despite the autonomy of these institutions under the Mexican Constitution.


[4] Anti-corruption Commissioner (2017), Annexe 11 : Cadre organisationnel de gestion des risques en matière de corruption et de collusion dans les processus de gestion contractuelle, Politique sur les activités d’approvisionnement et la gestion des contrats, https://www.sf.ulaval.ca/regles-et-politiques/politique-sur-les-activites-dapprovisionnement-et-la-gestion-des-contrats/annexe-11 (accessed on 13 May 2020).

[3] EUROSAI (2017), Guideline for Audit of Ethics in Public Sector Organisations, https://www.sayistay.gov.tr/en/Upload/files/Ethics/Guidelines%20to%20audit%20ethics.pdf.

[2] SCT (2016), Rapport d’analyse du Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor concernant les lignes internes de conduite, Gouvernement du Québec, http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/3195764.

[1] U.S. Office of government Ethics (2007), Ethics & Procurement Integrity, https://www.oge.gov/web/oge.nsf/Education%20Resources%20for%20Ethics%20Officials/7D9F7E91B7DF89BE85257FB6003E2917/.

[5] VGQ (2016), Contrats d’achats regroupés en technologies de l’information, Rapport du Vérificateur général du Québec, https://www.vgq.qc.ca/Fichiers/Publications/rapport-annuel/2016-2017-VOR-Printemps/fr_Rapport2016-2017-VOR-Chap02.pdf.

[6] VGQ (2016), Portrait de la vérification interne au gouvernement du Québec, Rapport du Vérificateur général du Québec, http://vgq.qc.ca/fr/fr_publications/fr_rapport-annuel/fr_2016-2017-VOR-Printemps/fr_Rapport2016-2017-VOR-Chap08.pdf.

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