Integrity and public contracts: The Québec Ombudsman comments on Bill 1
"The public interest requires that there be rigorous measures surrounding the awarding of public contracts." In commenting on Bill 1, the Ombudsperson emphasized that she fully endorsed the government's resolve to combat corruption and enhance integrity in public contracts.
In her letter to the Chair of the Committee on Public Finance, she nonetheless underscored the need for a provision in the act for a time limit for the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) to render its decision on an application for authorization to tender a bid. The mechanism contemplated will require ongoing coordination among several public bodies (AMF and UPAC, likely to interact with police services, municipalities and the Commission de la construction, Agence du revenu and Conseil du Trésor, among others). Given this context, the Québec Ombudsman considers that effective and rapid circulation of information among these players is important.
The discretionary power conferred upon AMF with regard to authorization to tender under Bill 1 is considerable. In the Ombudsperson's opinion, from now on there must be an administrative review process within AMF for enterprises whose application has been turned down—recourse that is not currently provided for in the act—entrusted to persons distinct from those who rendered the first decision.