Shared Services Canada takes National Security Exception

Shared Services Canada (SSC) recently notified suppliers that it is invoking the National Security Exception for procurements related to email, telecommunications and data centres.

Among other things, this means that SSC will be able to seek “made-in-Canada” solutions in its procurements for these services. Trade agreements do not apply when the National Security Exception is involved.

These trade agreements contain rules that prohibit discrimination against foreign suppliers in public contracting. However, countries that signed the agreements can “opt out” of the trade rules for specific procurements for national security concerns. SSC says it’s taking the exception so that it can take measures to strengthen the security of the government’s IT systems. The notification states that there are grave concerns about the implications of cyber threats on Canada’s national security given its interconnected and aging infrastructure.

When bidding on SSC procurements, ITAC members should pay careful attention as to whether the trade exception applies in that case, and whether there are any particular requirements for “made-in-Canada” services.  Based on the first two procurements by SSC, this might include requirements such as:

  • all facilities must be in Canada,
  • data must be processed in Canada,
  • certain personnel must be Canadian citizens, and
  • equipment must be manufactured in certain countries

When the security exception applies, there will be no ability to challenge the procurement to the Canadian international Trade Tribunal.

For more information, contact Cindy Baker – cbaker@itac.ca.