Review of e-health contracts 'on the way'

An independent review of e-health contracts in the province is "on the way," according to the health minister, but it's unclear when it will be finished, or if it will be made public.
Health Minister Madeleine Dube has not committed to making the review public.

Health Minister Madeleine Dubé says an independent review of e-health contracts in the province is "on the way" after an internal audit discovered potential conflicts of interest in the way some contracts were managed.

But Dubé hasn't said whether the independent review that she ordered last spring has started, what it has found, or when it will be finished.

It's also unclear whether the review of more than 300 contracts awarded in the creation of the e-health system will be made public.

"That's a process that is on the way right now, so we'll be waiting for the full report of that assessment," was all she said.

Last week Dubé reiterated the importance of a full review.

"Everything needs to be clear cut and transparent," she said.

Dubé ordered the review in May after an internal audit by the Office of the Comptroller discovered a series of problems with the way some contracts were awarded and managed.

The audit, a copy of which was obtained by CBC News under the Right to Information Act, looked at 15 contracts associated with the e-health project that were in place as of April 2009.

Potential conflicts of interest

It found potential conflicts of interest in the awarding of some contracts.

For example, outside consultants were brought into the Health department to oversee the e-health project and were in a position to see invoices and documents from competing consultants, potentially giving them an unfair advantage.

The audit also found the government allowed companies working on e-health to bill more than the contract, or extend their contracts without proper approval.

One contract for $395,000, for example, was increased by $150,000 with no new purchase order and the contract later increased again by $1.45 million.

At the time, Dubé pointed out the contracts were signed under the watch of then-Liberal Health minister Mike Murphy.

Murphy defended his record on e-health contracts, saying no minister can be expected to investigate every company or every individual who works in the department.