Michael Ford (post until Oct. 31/19)
Administrative & Government, ADR

School bus procurement report contains alternative approaches

The Hon. Colin Campbell says competitive procurement has brought about a significant change for school bus contracting in Ontario.

Minister of Education Liz Sandals announced the appointment of the Independent Review in 2014, with Campbell acting as chair of the expert panel, which included Leo Gotlieb and Paul Emanuelli.

The final report — Student Transportation Competitive Procurement Review Report — was released earlier this year and contains a broad range of potential alternative strategic approaches to the procurement of student transportation services across the province.

Campbell was tasked with reviewing the current competitive procurement practices and student transportation Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and identifying best business practices and opportunities for improvement in competitive procurement of student transportation in Ontario.

The panel’s mandate also included exploring options other than RFPs for competitive procurement of student transportation.

“I started the review in the fall of 2014,” Campbell tells AdvocateDaily.com. “It largely involved meeting and communicating with the various stakeholders, including small and large bus operators.”

Campbell, a founding member of Amicus Chambers, says, like in many other aspects of society, shifts are happening thanks to technology and globalization.

“Governments demand accountability and transparency of contracting,” he says. “Many things that were previously done locally, with a word and a handshake, are changing.

“This can be difficult for many because the end result was that a number of small operators were not successful in their bidding,” says Campbell, a retired Superior Court of Justice judge who is now a mediator and arbitrator. “Part of why I was appointed was because there were a number of standing lawsuits from small operators and we needed to make some recommendations.”

He notes there was a report by the Hon. Coulter Osborne in 2012 that identified the problems requiring more insight and further investigation.

In answer to the question why a review by a judge, Campbell says these types of independent reviews are ideal for retired judges.

“There’s often an objectivity that comes from somebody who’s prepared to listen to the various stakeholders and then make some recommendations,” Campbell says.

“It’s my hope that the recommendations make things a little easier for those in the sector."

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