July 18th, 2024

Federal procurement department punishes companies that worked on ArriveCan app

By The Canadian Press on March 6, 2024.

Ottawa is preventing the main contractor on the ArriveCAN app from bidding or working on government contracts that have security requirements. A person holds a smartphone set to the opening screen of the ArriveCan app in a photo illustration made in Toronto, Wednesday, June 29, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giordano Ciampini

Ottawa says it has suspended the largest contractor that worked on the ArriveCan app from bidding or working on government contracts that have security requirements.

Public Services and Procurement Canada announced today that it is suspending the security status of GC Strategies, which the auditor general says was awarded more than $19 million for the project.

The department says the suspension prevents the company from participating in all federal procurements with security requirements.

That follows an earlier decision to suspend it from procurement processes within the department.

The government has also barred two other companies that contributed to the ArriveCan project, Dalian Enterprises and Coradix Technology Consulting, from participating in procurement opportunities.

The pandemic-era ArriveCan app has faced heavy scrutiny, with the auditor general recently finding its development was a major failure of management.

Karen Hogan said last month that the public service failed to ensure Canadians received the best value for their money, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted it was “obvious” rules were not followed.

The federal government launched the app in April 2020 as a way to track health and contact information for people entering Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to digitize customs and immigration declarations.

The Procurement Department said in the notices about the three companies that it has a framework in place to “prevent, detect and respond to situations of potential wrongdoing and to safeguard the integrity, fairness, openness and transparency of the federal procurement system.”

It said Tuesday that it has newly issued stop work notices to Coradix for current contracts. It suspended Dalian from its security status on Friday.

GC Strategies, Dalian and Coradix did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Last week, CTV News reported that the Department of National Defence suspended contracts with Dalian after confirming its CEO was its employee.

In response to questions about the report, Treasury Board President Anita Anand said government rules prevent conflicts of interest and “ethical lines must be respected at all times.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2024.

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