Quebec plans to pay nearly 400% more than expected to replace the network that allows its employees to use the Internet. And the work is far from over.
In 2017, the Quebec government estimated an $8.2 million bill for its new Government Telecommunications Network (RGT), which replaced the now-obsolete Integrated Multimedia Telecommunications Network (RITM).
Five years later, more than $24 million has already been spent on the project, and the estimated total cost of implementing the TMN is $40.7 million, according to the Project Dashboard in Quebec government information resources. This is a 397% increase over the original estimate.
In addition to being used by government employees to access the Internet (see box), the RGT must be used for the consolidation of data processing centers, the transition to cloud computing, and the Quebec health record.
In an interview, the Cyber Security and Digital Minister explained that the shift to telework has fundamentally changed the new network requirements and the associated cybersecurity issues. “That’s why I prefer to talk about a cost-effective budget increase,” Eric Kair said.
“In 2019, we have the capacity to handle 750 teleworking connections (…). When the Prime Minister said in March 2020: We are teleworking the public service, we reached 55,000 (…). We are not in the same game anymore,” he said.
According to Mr Kair, in 2020, after a review of the requirements, the new amount will apply to the amount planned at the time tenders are called.
His department also argued that this part for network implementation is part of a larger contract with Bell Canada worth $144 million for all “operation and operational management services for a maximum period of eight years. The supplier is free to review the cost of each component, while respecting the overall budget, explains MCN.
Despite the explosion of costs and new requirements, Minister Keir does not believe the government should have submitted a new project for its government telecommunications network.
“I like to be transparent with the citizen: listen, this is not the same scale, this is a much bigger project,” explained the minister.
Costs are exploding
- Estimated amount in 2017: $8.2 million
- Estimated bill today: $40.7M
- The network is used by 34 organizations in the health network and nearly 100 departments and agencies.
- So far 48 percent of the works have been completed.
- Project completion is scheduled for December 2027.