(Ottawa) The federal government has signed an open contract until the year 2100 with McKinsey for computer services. The information surfaced on the first day of the parliamentary committee investigation into the hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts awarded to the consulting firm by the federal government.
“What justifies an open contract for the next 81 years? asked Bloc Québécois MNA Julie Vignola, surprised that the government could not hire its own specialists for such a long period of time.
She then questioned public administration professor Amanda Clarke of Carleton University, who has extensively studied the procurement process in the federal government.
“This idea of having open contracts over 81 years seems outrageous,” she replied. I think that’s where you have to ask yourself what’s the point of having a public service. »
The contract, available online, was awarded on August 31, 2019 and is due to end on January 31, 2100. The sheet does not specify how much the government must pay. Instead, it says it’s a $0 contract for IT professional services.
The government has been in turmoil since the start of the year after its contracts with McKinsey again made headlines. The total amount reaches 104.6 million for 24 contracts awarded since 2015. The three main opposition parties want to force the government to reveal all the documents.
According to Professor Clarke, this type of contract calls into question a principle at the heart of the Statute of Westminster, that of a neutral public service, based on merit and able to serve the government, regardless of the party in power.
She argued that the government probably signed such a contract to go faster instead of having to re-tender each time. “It’s a complicated process,” she concluded.
The MP for Beauport–Limoilou tried to find out how much this 81-year contract was going to cost taxpayers. Senior Treasury Board policy adviser Sean Boots was cut off by the committee chair before he could respond and will have to send his response in writing.
The president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, a union representing 72,000 members, has sounded the alarm. “The government has relied on costly contracting out for years,” noted its president, Jennifer Carr. McKinsey is just the most recent example. »
She said that this outsourcing jeopardizes the security of government computer systems, in addition to being less transparent and undermining accountability.
The Conservatives have raised links between the consulting firm and the opioid crisis. The firm also had to pay nearly 600 million to 47 American states for having helped pharmaceutical companies to stimulate the sale of these psychotropic drugs.
In addition to the issues of costs, awarding contracts and transparency, the use of McKinsey raises that of increasing immigration thresholds. The Bloc Québécois is concerned about the links between the pressure group Century Initiative, which advocates public policies to increase the Canadian population to 100 million people by 2100, and the consulting firm.
Its co-founder is Dominic Barton, who was the big boss of McKinsey until 2018. A year later, he was appointed Canadian ambassador to China, a position he held until 2021. He must testify in parliamentary committee on Wednesday .
McKinsey believes its “work with the Canadian government is entirely non-partisan” and that it “focuses on core management issues, such as digitization and improving operations.”
“Despite what we may have read or heard recently in the media, our firm does not make any recommendations on immigration policies or on any other subject whatsoever,” she declared on January 10.