Can COVID Justify This $ 23M Contract?

The health emergency has a broad back to justify a $ 23 million IT contract without a call for tenders from the Ministry of Health to the firm Deloitte for the detection of COVID-19. Quebec would have paid up to $ 9 million less by opening up to competition or by doing like Ontario, which used free software.

The contract aims “to optimize the screening and tracing process” for $ 12.4 million over one year, with the possibility of renewing two other years for an additional $ 10.6 million.

All this without a call for tenders, which the health emergency allows the government.

This is the solution “which best meets the needs of Quebec,” said the ministry, which announced the agreement in a press release on Thursday after refusing to answer all our questions the day before.

Finally by email or text

The ministry emphasizes that the solution will notably reduce the waiting time for screening and disclose the results more quickly.

It is also finally expected that the test results will be communicated by email or text. Even if it was Deloitte who obtained the contract, the solution paid for by Quebec is rather that of the company Salesforce, we learned. Deloitte only resells software from Salesforce to the government and will provide on-site consulting services for the application and integration of the software.

Without a health emergency, this contract would never hold water and would never have seen the light of day due to the absence of healthy competition.

The government can never target a single software, let alone a single reseller.

Several companies could have obtained the contract by reselling the software from Salesforce. And several companies could also have tried to obtain the contract with another software which can also meet the need.

Free Software in Ontario

Ontario, for example, has chosen a solution free of rights, therefore free.

It is not as complete as the one that Quebec is buying. But it would have been “easy” to make it so complete, and at a lower cost, according to a source close to those responsible for the Ontario solution.

In Quebec, several companies are angry. With the computer scandals of recent years, companies are trying to wash whiter than white, we are told. And to see the government act thus by invoking the health emergency, that does not pass.

“OK, it’s urgent, but that doesn’t justify giving $ 23 million without testing the market! How long would it have taken to negotiate with other companies? Two days?” protested the representative of a company in the middle.

According to all the actors in this field with whom The newspaper discussed, Quebec would have paid between 4.6 and 9.1 M $ less by opening the competition for this contract.

Not making a call for tenders also raises questions about the role of a senior official in this contract. Jean Maitre, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health, was Senior Director at Deloitte from 1998 to 2003, according to his Linkedin account.

Asked about the role of Jean Maitre in this contract, the Ministry of Health did not want to comment.

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