EPIC FAIL

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had been fined for failure to meet servicestandards. The MTO would not reveal theamount of the fines levied, however, and acontractor said the company was not allowedto comment publicly on maintenance issues.This in itself confirms a common criticism ofgovernment contracts with private companies:contract terms and conditions remain secretas a matter of course.case studyMeat inspectiongoes badIn 1997, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture,Food, and Rural Affairs laid off all but ahandful of provincial meat inspectors andcreated a new model in which roughly 95per cent of the inspectorate consisted ofmeat inspectors employed as independentcontractors, i.e., they were not provincialemployees. After the Aylmer meat scandal of2003, the Haines Inquiry into meat inspectionfound that, among other things, inspectorswho closed down a slaughterhouse that didnot comply with provincial regulations were,in effect, laying themselves off. This obviousconflict of interest and other issues that poseda threat to public health and safety resultedin the return of meat inspection to the publicservice in 2004. 8case study“Six times higher”:the AndersenConsulting scandalIn 1997, the province contracted out aBusiness Transformation Project in theMinistry of Community and Social Services tomake major changes to the social assistancesystem. The ministry’s contract with AndersenConsulting (later re-named Accenture) caughtthe attention of the provincial auditor veryearly on. In his 1998 report, the auditor notedthat the Ministry “had not sufficiently definedor established the project’s scope and desiredbusiness results [and] could not demonstratethat it had adequately considered either othercontracting arrangements or maximizingthe use of its own internal resources for anyaspects of this project.” 9The Ministry “could not provide the basis forits agreement to pay Andersen Consultinga fee of up to $180 million,” the auditornoted, observing that the contract betweenthe ministry and the company allowed thecompany “to charge standard published billingrates for this project, which were, on average,almost six times higher than the rates chargedby the Ministry for comparable staff” 10 andthat the company was allowed to unilaterallyincrease those fees “from time to time.” 11The Ministry did not have receipts for mostof the $1.4 million in out-of-pocket expensesthe company billed the government for;those charges “averaged approximately$26,000 for each full-time-equivalent positionassigned to the project during the first year.” 12Chastened by the provincial auditor’s report5

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