FREDERICTON (GNB) – Auditor general Kim MacPherson looked at the province's e-health contracts covering a six-year period in her latest report, released today. She focused on determining whether the Department of Health complied with government procurement policy in contracting information technology services, and whether any conflicts of interest existed relating to the use of consultants.

MacPherson's staff examined 289 e-health contracts valued at $108.5 million signed from 2005 to 2011.

She reported numerous instances where government procurement policy was not followed. Requirements were not being followed when it came to justifying an exemption from the competitive bidding process. Also, proper process was not always followed for the approval of contracts and the amendment of contracts.

During the six-year period the department's reliance on consultants was extensive. MacPherson reported situations where information technology consultants appeared to have been in a conflict of interest. Situations were noted where information technology consultants could access competitor information, act as project managers over their own contracts and influence other management decisions.

As a means of avoiding potential conflict of interest situations, MacPherson has recommended that the Department of Health work to eliminate reliance on consultants serving in a management capacity.

A number of the issues identified by the auditor general were similar to those reported by the Office of the Comptroller's 2009 review. MacPherson reported the department has taken corrective action on many of the Office of the Comptroller recommendations and has agreed to implement her additional recommendations.

Finally, MacPherson reported that in the course of her work, she became aware that similar practices may exist in other departments and Crown agencies. Consequently, she has recommended that the Office of the Chief Information Officer develop a government-wide policy relating to the procurement, contracting and management of information technology consultants. A government-wide policy should address and mitigate risks regarding procurement and conflict of interest of consultants, and clearly state when the use of internal information technology resources is more appropriate.

Today's report contains two volumes; Volume I focuses on matters arising from the annual financial audit of the province and Crown agencies. Volume II reports the results of Value for Money projects completed during 2012. Both volumes are available on the Office of the Auditor General website.


●    Office of the Auditor General