'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring - except the clever elves at Community Living British Columbia. On December 19, the agency quietly announced it would be directly awarding $304,815 worth of contracts to eight separate firms. Ho! Ho! Ho! Of course, a number of those contracts are extensions to existing agency favourites. And some of the companies receiving awards went through earlier competitive bid processes. But, according to documents posted on BC Bid, three didn't - Gateway Consulting Services Ltd. ($35,000), L. Guest Management and Project Consulting Ltd. ($29,750) and TP Systems Ltd. ($30,000) - apparently because they are the only firms capable of meeting the agency's demanding information technology needs. And what do we know about these companies, you may ask? Quite a bit, it turns out.
Astute Public Eye readers will remember Lucy Guest, the sole director of L. Guest Management and Product Consulting, made headlines in February 2004 when the Times Colonist's Lindsay Kines discovered the ministry of children and family development had awarded her $146,700 in untendered contracts. At the time, then minister Christy Clark said she was "concerned about the appearance" of those contracts. And she announced that Ms. Guest's work was being converted into a regular unionized government position because the ministry found it could get the services cheaper that way.
TP Systems was also in the news back in 1997. At the time, The Vancouver Sun's Rick Ouston reported government auditors were complaining about the financial practices of British Columbia's photo radar program. Specifically, they were concern about the "modification of contract amounts to reduce value below $100,000" - ensuring they wouldn't be reviewing by the government Treasury Board - and the awarding of "multiple contracts to the same provider." And it turns out one of those providers was TP Systems - which was issued 14 contracts worth $909,806.
As for Gateway Consulting Services, their staff includes a number of former children and family development staffers including senior analyst and database specialist Dianne Grehan and information systems director Sandy Logan. Fred Milowsky, British Columbia's deputy child and youth officer, is also presently on leave from his post as a consultant with the company.