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E-agenda going back to tender

Region says it will ensure next winner has local references

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

When the Region of Durham puts out a new tender for its electronic agenda system, it will ensure the winning company knows what it’s doing.

Matt Gaskell, the region’s commissioner of corporate services, says the region is making changes after what happened when the company that previously held the contract, the American-based Accela, couldn’t make a system that worked within the province’s legal requirements.

“We’ve learned from that, recognizing that we’ve lost a year. We’re certainly tightening up the request for proposal requirements significantly, and I believe that includes reference requirements in Ontario,” he said during this month’s committee of the whole meeting.

Speaking with The Oshawa Express when the contract was first terminated in late January, Gaskell said the reason was because Accela could not make the system work with the province’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which says that web pages and other online documents belonging to government entities must be accessible for those with disabilities, including the ability to resize text, audio description for pre-recorded video content and captioning for live video.

At committee of the whole, Gaskell said that Accela did not come with any references citing that it could do the job, but made promises that it could.

“They were evaluated as being the best provider who made a compliant bid. We did not have references, per se, but certainly their experience in providing this type of a system was part of their proposal,” he said.

“The challenge was this was an American company and their experience was below the border. With the change in the legislation with the AODA and the requirements to make all the documents accessible, I think we had a lack of comprehension…there was a lack of communication between us. What they thought accessible meant and what accessible meant to us were two very different things.”

Gaskell added that, at this time, there are no plans to go after Accela for any costs – the company had not yet been paid for its work when the contract was terminated – and that instead the region was looking at getting a request for proposals back out on the market as soon as possible.

A request for comment sent to Accela was not returned by press time.