Opposition calls on Trudeau government to crack down on over-billing contractors

The federal Conservatives are calling on the Trudeau government to make a serious effort to recover up to $72 million in overpayments to contractors, many of them in the defence industry.

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are calling on the Trudeau government to make a serious effort to recover up to $72 million in overpayments to contractors, many of them in the defence industry.

Procurement critic Steven Blaney says the Liberals owe it to taxpayers to recover the money and to diligently reform the system along the lines of an independent report that was originally commissioned by the Harper government.

“On cost recovery, we started this process and we expect the government to get serious and recover money owing to taxpayers,” Blaney said Tuesday.

A series of internal audits have found that Ottawa is routinely overcharged by its contractors — to the tune of tens of millions of dollars — in a practice that has been going on for decades.

NDP defence critic Randall Garrison set his sights on both the Liberals and the Conservatives, saying the system has been mismanaged.

“It’s the responsibility of the government to ensure that Canadians get value for money on procurement,” Garrison said in an email Tuesday. “The Conservatives need to explain why they failed to prevent these overpayments in the first place — and now the government must ensure that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the mistake.”

As of the last budget year, the internal auditors had looked at $7.3 billion of contracts and cumulatively found $72 million in potential “over claims and excess profits.”

Only a fraction of the cash — $2.8 million — has been recovered and public services spokesman Pierre-Alain Bujold says the outstanding amount “is presently subject to negotiations.”

Up to $1.9 million in claims are at risk of not being reimbursed because of “inaction,” said an Oct. 3, 2014 audit — one of a series of documents — obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information legislation.

Blaney said the government should be enforcing the terms and conditions of agreements, not just negotiating.

Bujold said the department has been actively trying to stop the overbilling before it happens and playing hardball with some contractors.

“Since identifying this issue, (procurement services) has strengthened its recovery regime by augmenting the level of engagement, leveraging existing resources and expertise and employing available contract clauses such as hold-backs to encourage settlement,” he said in a statement.

Officials are also trying to rejig the system, using so-called alternative contracting approaches and incentivizing contract performance.

But the audit said there is a reluctance, particularly at National Defence, to crack down and ask for repayments from contractors who overbill.

“Concerns have been expressed that imposing contractual limits in profit may be counterproductive and undermine sustainability of service delivery and financial viability of the contractor over time,” the report said. “We are aware that contractors have made direct representations to DND and (Public Works) officials echoing this possibility.”

Just Posted

City of Red Deer gets ball rolling on annexing more land

”It’s important we look ahead,” says Mayor Veer

Walmart melding online and in-store shopping

South Red Deer Walmart recently underwent six months of renovations

Updated: Nature trail unveiled at RDC

Trail unveiling and tree planting honours Nova Chemicals $2 million donation

Rural municipalities seek more funding to address cannabis legalization

Not enough supports in Municipal Cannabis Transition Program

Video: Windows smashed at three Red Deer businesses

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

OTTAWA — More than one million jobs could be lost to the… Continue reading

McGill research finds significant driving impairment 5 hours after cannabis use

MONTREAL — Driving under the influence of cannabis remains dangerous even five… Continue reading

Family: Remembering the important things

It seems so much of life is work and routine and then… Continue reading

Canada gets into Women’s World Cup with 7-0 win over Panama

FRISCO, Texas — Christine Sinclair isn’t concerned about chasing records. She’s set… Continue reading

Baldwin urges ‘overthrow’ of Trump government via voting

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Actor Alec Baldwin followed up his latest parody portrayal… Continue reading

Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

CANBERRA, Australia — Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex,… Continue reading

Sears files for Chapter 11 amid plunging sales, massive debt

NEW YORK — Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, buckling… Continue reading

Doctors to debate medical pot as more patients expected to ask for prescriptions

VANCOUVER — Doctors with opposing views on whether medical marijuana should be… Continue reading

Most Read