IT contracts: the gaps in government expertise persist

commissaire-upac-robert-lafreniereDespite efforts to tighten control over the management of government IT contracts, the expertise of internal managers continues to be insufficient, as the curator of the Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC), Robert Lafrenière.

He unveiled on Wednesday a report containing 13 recommendations in Quebec to address the situation increasingly identified five problem areas.

“Perhaps there have been trends over time that have not been recovered, he explained, with the President of the Treasury Board, Martin Coiteux. We found gaps in the expertise of managers and on many levels. ”

In addition to making recommendations, Mr. Lafrenière has identified flaws in five areas, ie competition, integrity, governmental specialized resources, prevention and supplier performance.

He said the irregularities found by the team are “circumscribed”, adding that the report should prevent these situations.

“UPAC observed that competition among bidders must be stimulated, especially on the side of small and medium enterprises, explained Mr. Lafrenière. We need to increase the technical knowledge (internal) to better establish contractual tags. ”

Among the recommendations, there are also an obligation for bidders to show their credentials, establishing penalties for non-compliance with deadlines in addition to associate the value of contracts with performance guarantees.

Commissioned by Quebec, this report derives particular the arrest in March, eight people, including two employees of Revenu Québec, suspected of being linked to a 24 million contract awarded to a consortium of computer companies IBM and EBR .

In particular, they face charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and breach of trust for acts that occurred between March 2011 and June 2014.

Each year, departments and agencies spend about $ 3 billion for their IT projects.

Mr. Coiteux for his part said his government had already answered or responded to 10 of the 13 recommendations in the document.

Among others, he said that measures had been taken to ensure the neutrality of the selection committees within government as well as the confidentiality of the bidding documents.

The President of the Treasury Board has nevertheless conceded that the internal expertise of government officials should be enhanced, an issue raised by several recent years.

“This is one of the important milestones of the strategy, said Mr Coiteux. It was said that the use of external consultants should be more marked. ”

With respect to accountability, officials who do not deliver the goods will not be fired, he said, adding that they could, however, be moved elsewhere in the public service.

Mr. Coiteux was more vague when asked what were the steps taken by his government when in charge of information technology going on to become a private consultant.

“We will use all means at our disposal to prevent conflicts of interest, he is limited to say. Do provisions should be strengthened? Perhaps.”

In drafting the report, Mr. Lafrenière teams conducted external consultations with the Auditor General of Quebec, the Quebec Technology Association and the Independent Commission against Corruption in Australia.

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