Old acquaintance not forgot

A consultant connected with the controversial CareNet Technology Society has been hired as the chief information officer for Community Living British Columbia, a provincial agency with a $606 million budget. According to a May 2004 government audit, Brian Berglund was one of the "primary contractors" for CareNet, which failed to deliver on its promise to develop a network for the secure exchange of information between social service agencies and the government. In the process, it ate up $2.3 million in direct and indirect public money. The audit, which acknowledged the ministry of children and family development "recognized some on-going value" from other services delivered by the society, in no way indicated Mr. Berglund was responsible for that failure.

When asked about Community Living's view concerning the connection between Mr. Berglund and CareNet, agency communications director Sally Greenwood said "I think that we stand by our position that we put this out to the proper tendering process through a RFP...We received four proposals of which two met the mandatory and desired qualifications and the price points - which was based on industry standards. Those two candidates were interviewed. And we also had an external technical expert on the interview panel. And from that process Mr. Berglund was offered the job," being the best candidate.

But New Democrat children and family development critic Adrian Dix said Community Living seems to erroneously believes "they can do magic with information technology. And, at the same time, they're hiring all of the contractors" involved with CareNet - a practice that concerns him. Ms. Greenwood refused to disclose the value of Mr. Berglund's one-year renewable contract, which was put out to tender on January 26. The competition closed 15 days later.

Ms. Greenwood also refused to disclose the compensation package for Community Living's previous chief information officer Allan Pollock, who departed the agency after Christmas. In an email, Ms. Greenwood explained "It is often difficult to determine what is public vs. personal information. In these situations it is my responsibility to err on the side of caution and to utilize the (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) as a means of ensuring appropriate confidentiality while supporting transparency." Government routinely discloses the value of the contracts it awards and publishes civil servant salaries in public accounts.

Mr. Berglund has previously done contract work for Community Living. But Ms. Greenwood said "there is no existing contracts (with Mr. Berglund or his companies). And this new position with us is not an extension of that. It's a brand new contract."

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