Interpretation Bulletin – Roles and Responsibilities within the Government of Canada


The purpose of this Interpretation Bulletin is to update and clarify the roles and responsibilities within the Government of Canada (the “Government”) relating to the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business (“PSAB”), and other complementary measures to facilitate access to Government procurement opportunities by Aboriginal businesses.


In December 1995, Cabinet approved the PSAB to assist and support Aboriginal businesses to pursue and win Government procurement opportunities. The Cabinet Decision outlined the roles and responsibilities of Government departments and agencies for both the application of the PSAB and for complementary activities related to PSAB.

Roles and Responsibilities

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC)

  • Interprets, provides stewardship and implements the PSAB across the Government’s departments and agencies.
  • Assists departments and agencies in the identification of procurement opportunities for Aboriginal business participation and supports Aboriginal benefits in the Procurement Review Process.
  • Works with departments and agencies to develop performance agreements, provides advice regarding access to sourcing databases, Aboriginal firm capabilities, and helps define Aboriginal benefits for suitable procurements.
  • Monitors the compliance with and attainment of the performance objectives by Government departments and agencies in terms of the total value, number of contracts awarded and other relevant characteristics, collating the data received from PWGSC and reporting annually to the Minister of AANDC.
  • Maintains program integrity and compliance by retaining the services of a third party auditor to audit contracting procedures and awards made under the PSAB.
  • Implements the 2009 Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development (FFAED), which strengthened the 1995 Cabinet Decision and builds on the success of the PSAB to improve procurement opportunities for Aboriginal businesses and communities across Canada, by:

    • increasing the number of Aboriginal businesses registered;
    • increasing the number of set asides over 5 years;
    • consolidating policy authorities;
    • improving departmental objective setting and reporting;
    • expanding training and outreach to Aboriginal businesses and communities, Government departments and agencies, provinces and industry; and
    • examining the feasibility of Aboriginal benefits requirements

Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC)

  • Provides annual federal Aboriginal business procurement data results from Government departments and agencies to AANDC so that AANDC can monitor performance, assist in setting annual targets, develop strategies and produce the PSAB annual report.

Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS)

All Government Departments and Agencies

  • All Government Departments and Agencies with budgets over $1 million are required to comply with the PSAB. This includes developing procurement strategies aimed at Aboriginal businesses, setting performance targets, identifying suitable set-aside opportunities and requirements and maintaining a tracking system to report on progress in meeting the performance objectives for contracting with Aboriginal business.
  • In consultation with AANDC, all Government Departments and Agencies must set multi-year performance objectives for contracting with Aboriginal business. The objectives are aimed at:

    • increasing representation by Aboriginal businesses in supplier development activities;
    • increasing representation of Aboriginal businesses in contract awards; and
    • following the guidelines developed by the Minister of AANDC with the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) and the President of Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS). The Treasury Board Advisory Committee on Contracts (TBACC) was consulted as part of the guideline development process.
  • Government departments and agencies must ensure that contracting under the PSAB is consistent with the Government Contracts Regulations (GRCs) and Treasury Board Contracting Policy Notices (CPNs).

Complementary Measures

Support for National Aboriginal Business Database

  • AANDC manages the national Aboriginal Business Directory (ABD) which is accessible to the public and all departments and agencies.
  • This responsibility is supported via an MOU with Industry Canada (IC) to house the ABD within its Canadian Company Capabilities (CCC) database.
  • AANDC maintains and updates the ABD to ensure that PSAB business registration criteria are adhered to. In addition, AANDC requires businesses update their business information every two years.
  • The ABD is also used to identify Aboriginal business capacity in relation to procurement opportunities and to conduct random audits of PSAB registered businesses.

Orientation for Contracting Officials

  • To facilitate the development of outreach and engagement strategies and encourage networking and information sharing between government PSAB coordinators and stakeholders providing services and support to Aboriginal businesses, people and communities, AANDC:

    • prepares orientation materials and sessions to brief contracting officials on the associated procedures of the PSAB;
    • provides advice to departments and agencies, on request, about their procurement strategies for meeting performance objectives and on identifying suitable set-aside opportunities;
    • establishes and leads the PSAB Coordinator Network to bring government PSAB Coordinators and stakeholders together; and
    • convenes quarterly conference calls between the PSAB Coordinator Network to collaborate and develop outreach and engagement strategies to strengthen procurement opportunities for Aboriginal businesses.

Aboriginal Supplier Information Campaign

  • AANDC and PWGSC coordinate their efforts to inform Aboriginal businesses across Canada about the PSAB and Government contracting requirements and opportunities. This entails the broad distribution of information materials about the policy; supplier promotion sessions across Canada tailored to Aboriginal business; and increased registration efforts. Buying departments and agencies are invited to participate.
  • To support these efforts, AANDC and PWGSC maintain a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the following activities:

    • AANDC is responsible for the coordination and delivery of outreach training sessions with Government departments and agencies, and Aboriginal businesses. Where possible, these activities are coordinated with PWGSC’s Office of Small and Medium Enterprises;
    • AANDC is responsible for providing an Annual Report to the Minister of AANDC and works with PWGSC on data collection for the purpose of reporting; and
    • PWGSC is responsible for collecting and reporting on relevant procurement data from other federal government departments.

Advocacy and Marketing Support

  • AANDC, IC, Western Diversification, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Canadian Economic Development for Quebec (CED-Q) and Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FEDNOR) work together to identify suitable marketing venues to position Aboriginal businesses for regional procurement opportunities. This involves matching Aboriginal firms with prime contractors for upcoming procurements and inviting Aboriginal firms to procurement marketing events and bidding conferences. This activity also involves advocacy on behalf of Aboriginal businesses in the procurement review and Major Crown Project review process.

Interdepartmental Coordination

  • AANDC coordinates the overall strategy implementation with respect to Aboriginal procurement with other Government departments and agencies and the business community.