The former Liberal government buried the huge costs incurred by the federal gun registry deep within mandatory reports on government spending, the auditor general is expected to reveal next week.
In a new report, Sheila Fraser is expected to reveal that the problems she identified in a 2002 report -- including that Parliament was "kept in the dark" about the ballooning costs related to the registry -- persisted for three years, despite fierce criticism and the scrutiny of opposition parties. She will also note that there were serious difficulties related to the handling of computer contracts.
Ms. Fraser is expected to lay the blame at the feet of top public servants and their former Liberal masters when her report is released on Tuesday.
The report will say that the registry's costs continued to grow after 2002 because the federal government was under contract to two competing computer firms for years before deciding to switch to a more advanced information technology system that could be adapted to the needs of the gun registry.
Everyone in Ottawa, from the head of the gun registry to the cats behind Parliament Hill, knew that the whole thing was out of control. But until now, the public didn't know just how.
Observers trace the management problems with the gun registry back to Maryantonett Flumian, the chief executive of the Canadian Firearms Centre between February 2000 and June 2001. Her successors, many say, were burdened with the effects of her decisions made in that time period.
In September, Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed Ms. Flumian deputy minister of Service Canada, a new government department intended to streamline government services for Canadians.
The gun registry has been stabilized in the past year, with much of the credit due to William Baker, the commissioner of firearms, observers say. Ms. Fraser's new report was originally to have been released in February and was completed months before that.
If Ms. Flumian applies the same management skills to Service Canada that she did to the gun registry, we can all expect never to get a single document from the feds that we need on time again.
The gods demands a sacrifice, however, and she will have to be it. Wait for the announcement of her retirement or resignation, with a hefty severance package and an appointment to some think tank or foundation.
Source: Ottawa Citizen