Proactive disclosure

Questions & answers

Q. What direction has Legal Aid Ontario received from the provincial government regarding the Travel, Meals and Hospitality policy?

  • On Sept. 3, 2009, Ontarios Management Board of Cabinet issued a new addendum to the Travel, Meals and Hospitality expenses directive and required all provincial government ministries and agencies to comply.
  • On Sept. 4, 2009, LAO notified all staff about the directive and that LAO was to follow the revised directive effective immediately.
  • In Oct. 2009, LAO formally amended its Travel, Meals and Hospitality Expenses Policy to be in full compliance with the OPS, including meal allowances.

Q. What was LAOs policy prior to the new directive?

  • The daily meal reimbursement rate was $50.00 per day broken down as follows:
    o Breakfast: $10.00
    o Lunch: $15.00
    o Dinner: $25.00
  • The OPS daily meal rate is $40.
  • The policy allowed for a maximum claim for dinner of $40.00 while still maintaining the daily maximum of $50.00. Under OPS directive, the maximum claim for dinner is $20.
  • Since hospitality was not clearly defined within the OPS directive, LAO adopted a $50.00 guideline for meals that related to hospitality.
  • LAOs Travel, Meals and Hospitality Expenses Policy was in effect from May 1, 2006 until Sept. 4, 2009.
  • In Oct. 2009, LAO officially amended its Travel, Meals and Hospitality Expenses Policy to be in full compliance with the OPS, including meal allowances.
  • LAOs intention is to post all executive expenses on its website.

Q. Who approved their claims?

  • The LAO Chairs expense claims are approved by a member of the Board.
  • The President & CEOs expense claims are approved by the LAO Chair.
  • The review of the expense claims for the Chair and the President & CEO was done within the context of LAOs Travel, Meals and Hospitality Expenses Policy of May 1, 2006.
  • For the Chair, the total value of expense claims in excess of LAOs policy for the period of January 1, 2008 to September 10, 2009 was approximately $150.
  • For the President & CEO, the total value of expense claims in excess of LAOs policy for the period of January 1, 2008 to September 10, 2009 was approximately $40.00.
  • LAOs Travel, Meals and Hospitality Expenses Policy of May 1, 2006 was in effect until Sept. 4, 2009.
  • Their expense claims were reviewed and approved by the Board.

Q. What was LAOs policy regarding contracts?

  • Prior to Oct. 2009, LAO had its own purchasing policy.
  • LAOs Purchasing Policy was in effect between 2000 and Sept. 10, 2009.
  • LAOs purchasing policy in effect during the period covered by this information required that RFPs be issued for goods and services over $50,000.
  • For purchases under $50,000, informal quotes were required.
  • Contracts could be single sourced with the President & CEOs approval.
  • In Oct. 2009, LAO changed its purchasing policy to mirror the OPS Procurement Directive.

Purchasing Levels

Minimum Approval Required to Make the Purchase

Purchasing Process

Staff Authorized to Sign Procurement Commitment

Less than $5,000

Designated Manager/Area Office

Administrators/Area Directors

Purchasing Card / No Purchase Order (PO) Required

Designated Manager/Area Office

Administrators/Area Directors

More than $5,000, less than $50,000

Department Directors

For Area Office Director Operational Support

Obtain and document results of three verbal quotes. Issue PO to successful vendor

Department Directors/Area Directors

More than $50,000, less than $100,000

Responsible Vice Presidents

Issue written requirements to at least three prospective vendors.

Obtain written quotes and document results of evaluation of quotes.

Issue PO to successful vendor.

Department Directors

For Area Office Director, Operational Support

More than $100,000, less than $500,000

Senior Management Committee or President & CEO and Responsible Vice President

Issue Request For Quotation (RFQ)or Request For Proposal (RFP) or Formal Tender

Responsible Vice President and President &CEO

More than $500,000

Board

Request For Quotation (RFQ)or Request For Proposal (RFP) or Formal Tender

President &CEO and responsible Vice President



Q. What is LAOs policy now?

  • LAOs purchasing policy was amended in Oct. 2009 to align with the OPS Procurement Directive, which requires that all consulting contracts be tendered.
  • There is no single sourcing on any contract, no matter what the value.
  • LAO has amended the purchasing process, including sign-off that the proper purchasing process was followed before the contract is signed.
  • LAOs intention is to post all new consulting contracts on its website.

Q. How many contracts are covered by this period?

A) Contracts and related material for all sole sourced contracts for consultants with an initial value of $25,000 or more.

In total, there were 14 awarded with values in excess of $25,000 with a total value of $618,747.37. Contracts were received in support of all of these engagements.

B) Contracts and related material for all contracts for consultants with an initial value of $25,000 or less.

There were 70 contracts under $25,000 with a total value of $580,777.81 (average value $8,296). The following summarizes the purchasing process followed:

  • 24 of the 70 were under $5,000 with at total value of $51,788.12. LAOs purchasing policy did not require any competitive process for consulting work under $5,000.
  • Competitive process was followed for 9 of the 70 with a total value of $78,872.45.
  • 37 of the 70 contracts are between $5,000 and $25,000 with a total value of $450,117.24 (average $12,165). These were single sourced; however, based on LAOs purchasing policy, only informal quotes were required.
  • In general, the daily fee paid to consultants is under $1,000 per day.
  • Only twice did LAO pay travel costs to consultants. In both those cases the cost of travel paid was reasonable.

Q. How much did LAO spend on consulting services from Jan. 1, 2008 to Sept. 2009?

LAO spent $1.5 million over these 18 months, representing 0.3 per cent of LAO expenses during this period.