Trudeau: It’s “Obvious” Rules Not Followed in $60M ArriveCan App [Update]

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has openly admitted that standard contracting rules were bypassed in the development of the controversial $60 million ArriveCan app, amidst the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to reporters in Vancouver on Tuesday, Trudeau emphasized the need to follow rules, even in times of crisis. “It is obvious that the contracting processes and rules were not followed in this case,” said the Prime Minister, acknowledging the oversight during the app’s creation, reports The Canadian Press.

The ArriveCan app, introduced in April 2020, was created to facilitate the tracking of health and contact information for individuals entering Canada, as well as to digitize the customs and immigration declaration process. Despite its intended purpose, the app’s development has come under scrutiny for its management and financial implications. It went from an $80,000 budget to now $60 million or more, as determined by the Auditor General. Its final price tag is unknown as the paper trail has mysteriously vanished, said the audit report.

The Auditor General recently criticized the project for a “glaring disregard” for fundamental management and contracting practices. The report pointed out an overreliance on sole-sourced external contractors, which significantly inflated the app’s costs, with insufficient tracking of these expenses.

Trudeau assured that investigations into the matter are ongoing and mentioned accountability. It’s unclear what sort of accountability will take place.

“We need to make sure that there is accountability and transparency around that,” said Trudeau, signalling potential consequences for public servants found in violation of the rules.

The two-person team from GC Strategies, has been awarded $258 million worth of contracts by the Trudeau government since 2015. The small firm has received about $20 million for helping to find outsourced workers for the ArriveCan app. They didn’t even do any work themselves, plus it was discovered that 76% of contractors did no work on ArriveCan.

Will Canadians ever see the money recovered for the disastrous ArriveCan app? Will there be actual consequences?

Update Feb. 21, 2024: “We cannot confirm the more than $200 million figure that is being reported by some media outlets at this time. The amount reported relies on the Proactive Publication of contracts on Open Government. The Open Government portal provides access to all contracts over $10,000, as well as subsequent purchase orders, amendments and task authorizations, “said Jean-François Létourneau, Media Relations, for Public Services and Procurement Canada, in an emailed statement to iPhone in Canada.

“Although these procurement actions appear as single entries on the portal, they should not be added together to determine the total value or number of contracts awarded. These entries overlap, e.g. task authorizations and modifications are made to an existing contract already listed on the portal. These are subsequent activities within the contract. Adding them together results in double or even triple counting,” he added.

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