An audit conducted by Canada’s Auditor General Karen Hogan has shed light on the chaotic financial mismanagement surrounding the development of the ArriveCan application. The report highlighted significant shortcomings in financial record-keeping and management practices by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and Public Services and Procurement Canada in relation to the ArriveCan app.
Hogan expressed deep concern over the lack of proper documentation, stating that essential financial records were poorly maintained, making it impossible to determine the exact cost of the project. While the CBSA estimated the project cost at $54 million, Hogan’s estimate stood at $59.5 million, though she noted that the true figure could be higher or lower due to inadequate documentation.
The audit report flagged multiple irregularities, including 18% of contractor invoices lacking sufficient supporting documentation, leading to uncertainties in cost allocation between ArriveCan and other projects. The heavy reliance on external contractors by CBSA was recognized as a significant factor in inflating costs, with per diem rates for external contractors far exceeding internal costs.
The report also called out the selection process, highlighting the questionable awarding of contracts to GC Strategies, a two-person consultancy firm, without clear justification. The involvement of GC Strategies in determining competitive contract criteria raised concerns over fair competition and value for money.
Political leaders, including Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, criticized the government for mismanagement and potential corruption in the ArriveCan affair. While some government officials have acknowledged the missteps, they have committed to corrective actions to address the audit’s findings.
Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc assured the public of ongoing investigations and corrective measures to rectify the errors in the ArriveCan contract processes. The findings call for greater transparency and accountability in government procurement practices to ensure the responsible stewardship of public funds.
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