Ontario Government's Online Portal for Unsolicited Proposals
The Ontario government has launched a web portal for receiving unsolicited infrastructure proposals (USP). The portal is part of a USP framework that provides a clear structure for receiving and assessing unsolicited proposals. Canadian and international jurisdictions including Toronto, Nova Scotia, United Kingdom, United States and Australia have established USP processes and guidelines to promote private-sector participation and innovation.
In early 2019, Ontario performed a Market Sounding initiative with infrastructure. Stakeholders made clear they wanted a process they could use to submit unsolicited infrastructure ideas to the government.
The USP framework allows government to receive and consider ideas it may not have generated on its own. Innovative ideas from the private sector can bring significant benefits to the people of Ontario through the construction of new infrastructure or improvement of existing assets. The USP framework is a leading practice around the world to encourage innovation and make government open for business. Having a USP framework also helps ensure the government has a consistent and fair process for assessing proposals.
Assessment of proposals
Submitted infrastructure projects will be assessed using the following criteria:
- the proposal is a "genuine USP" — in other words, it is unsolicited and does not constitute a response to an existing, pending or announced request for proposals under any government procurement;
- the proposal demonstrates a clear value or benefit for the people of Ontario;
- the proposal is within the scope of the program — i.e., it relates to an infrastructure project;
- the proposal aligns with government priorities;
- the proposal is commercially, financially and technically viable; and,
- if government funding is required, the proposal demonstrates value for money with respect to the government's investment.
The process involves three stages:
1. Initial proposal. Participants can submit an initial proposal through the online portal. The web form will ask for high-level information so government can understand and evaluate whether the project should be advanced for further evaluation. Participants cannot submit attachments or supplemental materials at this stage.
2. Detailed proposal. If a proposal is selected to move to the second stage of evaluation, additional information will be required from the participants, including a business case. Participants should also expect to attend meetings to discuss their proposal. In most cases, detailed proposal assessments will be conducted by Infrastructure Ontario, a crown agency under the oversight of the Minister of Infrastructure.
3. Procurement and transaction. If, based on detailed evaluation, the government elects to proceed with a proposal, it will design a transaction and procurement structure that is best suited to delivering the project and protecting the public interest. Other than in exceptional circumstances, procurements will be designed to feature competitive tension.
The USP framework follows and operates under the OPS Procurement Directive and Realty Directive, which ensures procurements are done in a fair, transparent and cost-effective way. Implementing a USP framework will help ensure Ontario remains economically competitive and innovative, while addressing the needs of the people.