The Canadian government appears to be in another sticky travel mess.
In an exclusive story, The Globe and Mail says the RCMP is “investigating allegations of misconduct involving an outsourced IT project at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) after two tech entrepreneurs who performed work for the agency warned senior officials about improper contracting practices and cozy relationships between the public service and private firms.”
The newspaper says the allegations “stem from a relatively small contract – valued at less than $500,000 – but the money flowed from a larger $21.2-million contract for general services that was also used by the agency to fund outsourcing work related to the ArriveCAN app.”
Open Jaw earlier this year reported that a growing chorus of advocates, critics, and concerned citizens are urging the CBSA to provide transparency and accountability regarding the funding and expenditures of the ArriveCAN app.
Launched in APR 2020 as part of federal efforts to curb the spread of the virus, ArriveCAN was heavily promoted by the government as a time-saving tool for travellers entering and leaving Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, concerns about the financial aspect of the project have sparked a nationwide demand for a comprehensive accounting of the funds allocated.
A Globe and Mail analysis in OCT 2022 revealed that the ArriveCAN app cost taxpayers $54 million, far exceeding initial public cost estimates.
"After spending at least 10 times what it should have for the ArriveCAN app, CBSA provided Canadian media with misinformation about how that happened," stated James L. Turk, director of the Centre for Free Expression.
As Open Jaw reported on 15NOV 2022, the CBSA also missed a federal operations committee-ordered deadline to hand over outsourcing invoices related to the ArriveCAN app and said it has no knowledge of the identity of the independent subcontractors who worked on the app.
"CBSA missed deadlines in providing answers to Parliament and ultimately said it did not have key information and made no commitment to finding it, a troubling violation of government transparency," Turk said.