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RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme says the national police force is specifically investigating concerns tied to the federal government’s ArriveCan app, broadening an existing investigation into allegations involving contractors who worked on the project.

The RCMP had previously said it was reviewing Auditor-General Karen Hogan’s February report on the government’s management of the app, a report that raised concerns about a lack of oversight and documentation as the cost of the app grew to an estimated $59.5-million.

Ms. Hogan expressed concern that IT staffing firm GCStrategies – the main ArriveCan contractor – was directly involved in setting narrow terms for a $25-million contract it ultimately won.

She told MPs she met with the RCMP to discuss her report’s findings before it was released.

Commissioner Duheme confirmed the change Wednesday during an interview with CTV News. He said the RCMP has received multiple referrals to investigate ArriveCan, “and we are investigating.”

The ArriveCan app was created in early 2020 as a way for travellers to upload mandatory contact-tracing information during the pandemic, such as their address. It was updated many times to also include health information such as vaccination status to present when crossing the border. The app is no longer mandatory as of Sept. 30, 2022, but remains a voluntary option.

The project was led by the Canada Border Services Agency.

The Globe and Mail first reported in October that the RCMP was investigating allegations of misconduct involving an outsourced IT project at the CBSA. The allegations of improper contracting practices and cozy ties between public servants and private firms were brought to the CBSA’s attention by Montreal software company Botler.

Botler’s two co-founders performed work for the agency that was unrelated to ArriveCan but they interacted with contractors and public servants who did work on the app project. They were first approached by GCStrategies. They said they were later surprised to learn they were funded through layers of subcontracting that involved two companies: Dalian Enterprises and Coradix Technology Consulting.

The government suspended Coradix, Dalian and GCStrategies from federal contracting work after the release of the Auditor-General’s report, citing internal department reviews.

Officials with the three companies have denied any wrongdoing. GCStrategies managing partner Kristian Firth did tell MPs that he submitted inflated subcontractor résumés to the government through Dalian and Coradix, calling it an unintentional mistake.

Coradix and Dalian, which frequently work together in joint ventures, told MPs they accept responsibility for unknowingly submitting inflated résumés that were provided to them by GCStrategies.

Dalian founder David Yeo was recently suspended from a public service position with the Department of National Defence. The department said Mr. Yeo failed to disclose his work as a government contractor.

Commissioner Duheme was asked whether the ArriveCan investigation was separate from the initial investigation into Botler’s concerns or whether it’s an expansion of the initial investigation.

“It’s an expansion. It’s several referrals, but they all point toward the same direction,” he replied.

Commissioner Duheme said he could not provide an estimate for how long the investigation will take.

“What I can share with you right now is we’re doing everything we can to move this forward in a timely manner,” he said.

“I haven’t seen the contracts, but I’d have to see the number, the volume of information that needs to be analyzed, the types of contracts. And could that affect the speed and flow of the investigation? I don’t have that information with me right now. But like I said, we’re going to do a thorough look, investigation, into the matter and make sure that if there are charges to be laid, we will lay appropriate charges.”

The RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

National Defence deputy minister Bill Matthews told MPs last week that he is concerned that Coradix, Dalian and GCStrategies may have arrangements “where they subcontract each other.”

“I expect we’re paying markup on markup and that does not sit right with me,” he said.

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