More coverage of Ontario Votes 2011
CBC Ottawa

Writing the book on federal consulting

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Trying to do business with the government and its enormous bureaucracy can be rife with frustrations.

 "It was a mystery to me," says Marion Soubliere, author and independent consultant. Soubliere has been doing communications work in the federal government for about six years. She says after she unraveled the red tape a bit, it became a lot easier to bid and win contracts.

 "Once you get your foot in the door and make contacts it becomes easier to use the procurement processes."

But she's written the book on it. Literally.

 "After I went through that experience I thought, if I had trouble figuring it out and I'm here in Ottawa and worked for a company that had federal clients, there probably are other independent professionals across Canada who are having trouble figuring it out as well. So that's why I initially published the book in March 2009."

This year's version recently went on sale at Chapters.ca. In her book, Getting Work with the Federal Government, Soubliere says small business owners and consultants like herself should pay attention to the new website recently set up by Public Works. It can be found at http://buyandsell.gc.ca  She says the site now consolidates a lot of information under one domain.

Soubliere also suggests small operators contact the nearest Office of Small and Medium  Enterprises (run by Public Works), because they often hold seminars about how to do business with the feds.

But the book has other tips too: "Just knowing what the federal fiscal planning cycle is really important. Business needs to know when the government is doing its planning and when it's putting its programming together and then when it's going to be doing most of its spending, once you know that, then you can market to them appropriately."

And even though we hear about fiscal restraints, Soubliere says there's been little effect on securing contracts with the feds. "I have found it to be very busy. And unfortunately I haven't been able to take on all the work that I would like to, simply because I'm so busy. So I don't think that that's going to be a concern for contractors, the work will still need to be done and from signs I've seen so far."

The government's dependence on independent consultants has increased 80 per cent in the past five years according to the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. A department such as Public Works spends more than a billion dollars a year on consultants alone.

It's a lucrative industry and Soubliere wants more people to know how to tap in to it.

Watch this site in the near future for a more in-depth feature looking at the government's use of consultants. If you have information on the use of consultants, please send me a note Julie.ireton@cbc.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

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