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Montreal is changing its computer system again

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The city of Montreal will change its core IT system again in 2023, just four years after migrating its thousands of employees to its current platform. A breakthrough that will cost millions of dollars.

Posted at 13:51
Updated at 16:11

Philippe Teisceira-Lessard

Philippe Teisceira-Lessard
The print

The city executive committee chose Microsoft to provide the basic solution for office automation (email, videoconferencing, word processing, tabulator, etc.) to city officials. Google has been providing it since 2019.

The new contract, worth $ 27 million over three years, is significantly more expensive than the previous one, but includes the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), unlike the previous one. Another contract will need to be awarded to an IT company to manage this new migration.

“The transition will take place gradually over the course of the year 2023,” indicates the IT department of the City in an email to employees and obtained from The print. ” As during the migration to the Google suite, we will inform you and accompany you in every step. ”

Last January, the Montreal Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that the tender analysis of IT company Onix (which supplies the Google suite in Montreal) violated contractual rules. The company would not have been able to guarantee price stability for several years, contrary to what was foreseen in the tender.

Last June the city council approved the two-year renewal of the Onix / Google contract.

Three months later, last Wednesday, Valérie Plante’s executive board chose to adopt Microsoft as a supplier. As Montreal goes through a framework agreement already negotiated by the Quebec government, it doesn’t have to go back to a tender.

According to a municipal act whose The print Once a copy is obtained, the Microsoft solution will cost the city of Montreal $ 121 million over the next 10 years. Maintaining Google’s suite of tools would cost between 73 and 105 million for the same period, depending on the size of the discounts granted.

“A fiasco,” says the opposition

In a telephone interview, the Onix chief for Canada said he was “extremely disappointed” by the turn of events. He denounces the award of the contract by mutual agreement.

“The correct thing to do would have been to go back to tenders so that all suppliers could participate. City would have had the best product at the lowest cost, ”said Jeff Telford. “We have no intention of taking the legal route. ”

The Mayor’s office welcomed the decision to adopt a new IT provider.

“Since the pandemic, our world has changed, and so have our digital needs in the era of hybrid mode,” said press officer Marikym Gaudreault. “The renewal of our office solution was coming to an end and the city carried out a thorough analysis of its needs and the solutions on the market. This is why in two years we will migrate to Microsoft Office 365. Our systems must be compatible with those of other institutions and levels of government, it was not a must at the time, now the reality is very different. ”

Microsoft’s computer system is used by the vast majority of Quebec’s public and para-public organizations, which could lead to accounting problems: Word or Excel documents sent by a ministry, for example, could not be easily edited. Onix says the two environments are compatible and that civil servants simply should have been better trained.

Also, because its servers are located outside of Canada, Google has not met the security criteria to provide its services to the SPVM.

M.myself Gaudreault specified that the two contracts (Onix / Google or Microsoft) would overlap for the next 2 years in order to ensure an adequate transition.

Alongside the official opposition in the Municipality, we report a “fiasco”. In their view, the entrusting of the contract to Onix / Google was mistreated, which led to its termination.

“He is totally incompetent. We had warned the administration,” said elected Abdelhaq Sari. “I am very concerned about the handling of taxpayer money by this municipal administration. I am very concerned.”

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