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ArriveCan App: Audit found ‘obvious disregard’ for key practices Pi News


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Canada’s auditor general has found that those involved in the contracting, development and implementation of the controversial Arrivecan app showed a “gross disregard” for basic management practices.

In the end, Canadians “paid too much for this application,” Auditor General Karen Hogan said.

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In a new performance audit released Monday, Auditor General Karen Hogan points to mistakes in the work of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Public Health Canada (PHAC) and Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC). . In an app to connect with travelers in the age of COVID-19.

The report estimates the cost of the application at $59.5 million, up from an earlier estimate of $54 million, but warns that it is “impossible” to calculate the true cost due to CBSA’s “poor financial record-keeping.”


Hogan told the House Public Accounts Committee that while reviewing the application, he encountered the worst accounting he had seen in years.

“I’m very concerned about what this audit didn’t find,” Hogan said. “We didn’t find records that clearly showed what was spent, who did the work, or how and why contract decisions were made. And that paper trail should have existed.”

Hogan made eight general recommendations for reform, one of which called for relevant federal departments and agencies to improve financial management, fully document their interactions with contractors, and include specific performance indicators in their contracts.

“The lack of data to support ArriveCan’s costs and decisions undermined accountability,” Hogan said. “Public servants must always be transparent and accountable to Canadians for their use of public funds. … Many of the questions asked by members of Parliament and Canadians cannot be answered.”

The deep dive into Canada’s border app comes amid years of scrutiny by members of parliament and a series of news stories about the cost of the app and the contracts to build and maintain it.

“As a result of the many deficiencies and deficiencies we identified in the design, oversight and accountability of the project, it did not provide the best value for taxpayer dollars,” the 30-page report said.

The opposition parties have come together in late 2022 to pass a proposal that would require an audit of all aspects of the application, including payments, contracts and subcontracts, Hogan’s office confirmed last March that it would launch that audit.

While examining documents attached to the border application, Hogan’s team of investigators found that the CBSA relied heavily on outside assistance, which drove up costs.

The agency also mismanaged the contracts and left out “critical information” such as their performance and qualifications. This applied to the border agency, which paid several invoices, if they contained any information about the work performed.

Additional findings about the government’s mismanaged border enforcement include:

  • 18% of contractors surveyed did not provide enough information to identify their costs related to ArriveCan or any other IT project in the submitted invoices.
  • Between April 2020 and October 2022, the CBSA released 177 versions of ArriveCan “often with little or no documentation of testing,” including a June 2022 update in which 10,000 travelers received incorrect quarantine instructions.
  • The average daily cost for an application developed by outside contractors was $1,090, while the average daily cost for equivalent IT positions in the federal government was $675.
  • Of the total estimated cost, $53.3 million went toward the pandemic health component of the app, and $6.2 million went toward adding a digitized customs and immigration declaration form to the CBSA.

“ArriveCan’s management practices were lacking at the most basic levels,” the report said.

Audit backs up other reports

After Alexander Jeglic, Canada’s procurement ombudsman, reviewed ArriveCan’s contracts in January, he warned of illegal contracts, including subcontractors who never worked on the app.

Hogan’s report confirms this, and found little documentation to prove “how and why” small consulting firm GC Strategies was awarded the ArriveCan contract. The audit also found evidence that the group “participated in setting requirements” used by the CBSA to award competitive contracts.

The audit found no evidence that CBSA had reviewed GC Strategies’ proposal for its non-compete agreement or similar document, and the agency’s IT department “selected GC Strategies with proper justification.” supported”.

GC Strategies then reportedly subcontracted other companies to work on the app while keeping the commission. According to Hogan’s report, after reviewing all available records, his team was unable to determine which agency official made the final decision to select GC Strategies.

“We found that in May 2022, the agency quickly and promptly replaced three non-compete agreements entered into by GC Strategies with competitive agreements. This new contract, valued at $25 million, was also awarded to GC Strategies as it was the only contractor to submit a bid,” the report said.

“In our view, deficiencies in the competitive processes for awarding subsequent ArriveCan contracts have raised serious concerns that the process did not result in the best value for money.”

In addition, Hogan’s report found “no evidence” that CBSA employees followed the agency’s code of conduct, “disclosing that they were invited to dinners and other events by contractors.”

The COVID-era app has evolved

Introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, ArriveCan became mandatory as a way to screen travelers entering Canada for travel and health information, including vaccination status.

After months of defending the sometimes ambiguous program and insisting it was an “important tool” despite pressure from the travel industry and opposition MPs to scrap it, when the federal government removed a number of COVID- made it optional to use 19 restrictions in October 2022.

Hogan’s report noted that the government’s decision to continue to rely on outside resources to maintain the app beyond the pandemic “raised costs and calls into question the value for money spent.”

Other investigations are ongoing

Running parallel to Hogan’s inquiry is that of the House of Commons Government Operations and Estimates Committee. That group of MPs recently stopped hearing the application after reading a preliminary internal report on CBSA contracting.

Amid uproar from Conservatives who called it a cover-up, Liberal, Bloc and NDP MPs said they were concerned their pause would further disclosure of the secret report’s findings could undermine ongoing investigations.

A year ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commissioned the secretary of Canada’s Privy Council to investigate what he deemed “grossly illogical and ineffective” practices related to app contracting.

Additionally, as previously reported and confirmed by Hogan’s report, issues involving “certain employees and contractors” were referred to the RCMP.

According to the report, the CBSA, PHAC and PSPC agreed with all of Hogan’s calls for reform and set a number of timelines for various actions to be taken.

Hogan will hold a press conference Monday afternoon to discuss his findings. Government and opposition parties are also expected to react to the report in the next few hours.

This is a developing story, check back for updates…


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