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MPs question how one tech company alone got $11 million for ArriveCan app

Tech companies GC Strategies, Dalian and Coradix are at the center of the scandal

The ArriveCan app continues to stir up controversy as questions involving the oversight of federal departments involved in the app’s creation continue to remain unanswered.

The app has cost taxpayers $54 million so far.

GC Strategies, Dalian, and Coradix are the three tech companies that received contracts to work on the project. According to government figures, GC Strategies received $11.2 million for the project. Dalian and Coradix got $4.3 million between the two.

On Tuesday, members of the House of Commons committee on government operations questioned how GC Strategies received millions.

“Why did they think it was a good idea to give over $11 million to these two guys who did no IT work in exchange for their subcontracting services,” Conservative MP Garnett Genuis asked Erin O’Gorman, the president of the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) on Tuesday.

The Globe and Mail previously reported the three companies got other government contracts as well. Botler, a Montreal-based software company, said it submitted two reports to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) after being involved with the three companies through a pilot project.

Botler’s co-founders told the publication they were tasked to work with GC Strategies on the project. They soon discovered the primary contact was with Dalian, and GC Strategies was a subcontractor. The RCMP is investigating the matter.

Allegations have also been raised that the same senior public servants have been involved in overseeing both the ArriveCan app and Botler’s project. Bureaucrats have been unable to answer questions from committee members on how the contracts were assigned.

Franco Terrazzano, the federal director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, questioned how no public servant involved in the ArriveCan project lost their job.

Terrazzano revealed that executives from the CBSA, Public Health Agency, and Public Services and Procurement Canada, agencies involved in ArriveCan’s creation, saw their compensation increase. Access to Information requests revealed compensation for executives rose by $40 million between 2019 and 2022.

“Will this committee recommend taking away bonuses away for executives overseeing the ArriveCan debacle? Or is the message for next time, ‘don’t worry, you can blow through $54 million and keep your bonus because there is no accountability?'”

Botler’s co-founders Ritika Dutt and Amir Morv will answer the committee’s questions on Thursday.

Image credit: Shutterstock

 

Source: Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates Via: The Globe and Mail 

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