Sunday, October 27, 2013

Who Chose CGI?

When the time came for someone in the Department of Health and Human Services to choose a designer for the Obamacare website he or she chose a French-Canadian company called CGI.

It makes sense. Whenever Microsoft needs to design a new version of Windows they put in a call to Montreal, don't they? Whenever you call your computer’s tech support wizards they speak with a French-Canadian accent, n’est-ce pas?

One understands why the Canadian government might hire a Canadian company, but the USA…. Wasn't a suitable French company available.

Anyway, CGI was not chosen on the merits or on its track record. Mark Steyn explains what happened when CGI was hired by the Canadian government to design the Canadian Firearms Registry.

He reports:

CGI is not a creative free spirit from Jersey City with an impressive mastery of Twitter, but a Canadian corporate behemoth. Indeed, CGI is so Canadian their name is French: Conseillers en Gestion et Informatique. Their most famous government project was for the Canadian Firearms Registry. The registry was estimated to cost in total $119 million, which would be offset by $117 million in fees. That’s a net cost of $2 million. Instead, by 2004 the CBC (Canada’s PBS) was reporting costs of some $2 billion — or a thousand times more expensive.

Yeah, yeah, I know, we’ve all had bathroom remodelers like that. But in this case the database had to register some 7 million long guns belonging to some two-and-a-half to three million Canadians. That works out to almost $300 per gun — or somewhat higher than the original estimate for processing a firearm registration of $4.60. Of those $300 gun registrations, Canada’s auditor general reported to parliament that much of the information was either duplicated or wrong in respect to basic information such as names and addresses.

But it proved impossible to “improve” CFIS (the Canadian Firearms Information System). So CGI was hired to create an entirely new CFIS II, which would operate alongside CFIS I until the old system could be scrapped. CFIS II was supposed to go operational on January 9, 2003, but the January date got postponed to June, and 2003 to 2004, and $81 million was thrown at it before a new Conservative government scrapped the fiasco in 2007. Last year, the government of Ontario canceled another CGI registry that never saw the light of day — just for one disease, diabetes, and costing a mere $46 million.

At the least, we know that CGI did not get the job and the $400,000,000 in American taxpayer dollars because it had demonstrated its competence. One is forgiven for believing that something other than merit was involved.


Anonymous said...

Why do you post the same paragraph twice? Apparently, its quite easy to make a computer error even when criticizing someone else's project.

Anonymous said...

CGI bought AMS ( American management services) about 8 years ago. AMS was a 10k person government contracting company that sold accounting software. That accounting software is still in use. I would think they were used to dealing with the federal government's incompetence after 30 years of working with them.

ams is owned by a Canadian company, but it's an American enterprise.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you for the clarifications.

Anonymous said...

How much money did CGI give to campaigns to ensure their hiring for USG project?