Government of Canada responds to the Report of the Auditor General of Canada on ArriveCAN
Ottawa, February 12, 2024
Canada Border Services Agency / Public Services and Procurement Canada / Public Health Agency of Canada
The Government of Canada issued a statement today following the release of the Auditor General’s performance audit on ArriveCAN:
"We thank the Auditor General of Canada, Karen Hogan, and her team for their work and welcome the recommendations laid out in today’s report. Together with the recent review done by the Procurement Ombud, this report has identified unacceptable gaps in management processes, roles and controls that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) take seriously.
Some recommendations in the report have already been implemented and the CBSA will take further action to ensure management practices are aligned with policies and processes to maintain the confidence of Canadians.
Some of the actions taken and planned by the CBSA as part of its procurement improvement plan include:
- creating an Executive Procurement Review Committee to approve contracts and task authorizations, which is already providing additional oversight on all contracting activities, focusing on delivering value for money;
- requiring employees to disclose all interactions with potential vendors; and
- increasing CBSA’s procurement group’s capacity to oversee all procurement activities and establish a centre of expertise to help employees fully understand their obligations and authorities.
In addition, PSPC will continue to strengthen all aspects of the federal procurement regime and will use the findings from this report to improve the way the Government of Canada does business with its suppliers. PSPC has already taken a number of steps, including implementing new measures to ensure that tasks and deliverables are clearly defined in professional services contracts, and updating the policy and guidance documentation used by procurement officials to ensure consistency.
PHAC is taking action to strengthen its preparedness for future public health emergencies, including through adapting tools to increase efficiency, strengthening emergency management and planning capacity, and putting in place contingency arrangements with key partners and stakeholders. PHAC will also update its guidance for interactions with potential contractors and ensure that the reinforced documentation process is compliant with the Treasury Board Directive.
The app was built during an extraordinary time and on an emergency basis. ArriveCAN data was an integral part of Canada’s monitoring program for the early detection and identification of new COVID-19 variants of concern, and critical to the federal government’s ability to monitor, assess, and respond to COVID-19 as it evolved. The CBSA was working as quickly as possible to replace a paper process that was not meeting public health needs and was also impacting the border with significant wait times that disrupted the essential flow of people and goods. The Auditor General recognized in her report that the Government improved the speed and quality of information collected at the border by using the app rather than the paper-based form.
Travellers saved significant time by using the app – about five minutes each time they crossed the border, saving hours of wait times. It was an effective and necessary tool to collect mandatory health information while facilitating travel and trade. Beyond the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the app remains available today for travellers who want to make their customs declarations in advance and save time at the border.
Despite these circumstances, we recognize that the gaps found by the Auditor General are unacceptable and we are taking steps to ensure all government departments are better positioned to undertake projects of this nature in the future.”
Canada Border Services Agency
Public Services and Procurement Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada
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