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Overseas consultant awarded sole-source $29,000-a-month contract

Christopher Warner, consultant at the Department of Information and Digital Technologies at the Cabinet Office

A Canadian consultant was awarded a sole-source $29,000-a-month IT contract with the Cabinet Office — but he and the Government appear to view his role quite differently.

Christopher Warner stated on his LinkedIn profile that he joined the Government of Bermuda as Virtual Chief Information Security Officer in September 2022 and became interim Deputy Chief Information Officer two months ago.

But a government spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette: “This particular consultant is providing services that do not include the role of Deputy Chief Information Officer.”

The spokeswoman did not answer questions about why Mr Warner defined his role as such or why a $179,000 contract was awarded to his company, Cyberdine, last August, without a process of competitive bids.

She said: “It is customary to engage consultants to provide specialised services to Government.

“In this case, all procedures, including compliance with Financial Instructions, were followed in the engagement of this consultant.”

The spokeswoman said that included “being in compliance with the Office of Project Management and Procurement Code of Practice”.

Auditor-General Heather Thomas said: “There has been no referral to my office.”

Government rules require all contracts of $100,000 or more to go through a competitive procurement process, unless a waiver is granted by the OPMP, and be approved by Cabinet.

The public access to information officer at the Department of Information and Digital Technologies told The Royal Gazette he understood there was no tender or request for proposals process in this case.

He advised the Gazette to submit a Pati request to the OPMP regarding any waiver.

We asked the government spokeswoman why the contract awarded to Cyberdine had to be sole-sourced but she did not reply.

Unanswered questions on Cabinet Office contract

Why does Christopher Warner list his role as interim Deputy Chief Information Officer when the Government says the services he provides do not include that role?

Was the $179,000 which was paid to Cyberdine between August and January just for Mr Warner’s services or were other employees of Cyberdine providing services to the Department of Information and Digital Technologies under this contract?

If a waiver was granted by the Office of Project Management and Procurement enabling the Cabinet Office to bypass a competitive bids process, on what grounds was it given?

The Deputy Chief Information Officer post that Mr Warner, known as Kriss, stated he has held since February 2023 on his LinkedIn profile was advertised on Bermuda Job Board early last year.

The role was held by a civil servant between November 2021 and April 2022, according to another LinkedIn user’s profile.

But the government spokeswoman told the Gazette that the deputy job and the role of Virtual Chief Information Officer “...do not exist within government and, therefore, the question around advertising for them is redundant.

“The consultancy is with the company Cyberdine, who are providing security related services.”

According to an Official Gazette notice, Cyberdine was paid $179,000 for “Chief Information Security Officer Consultant” services between August 10, 2022 and January 31 this year. The figure translates to about $29,000 a month.

Mr Warner wrote in a LinkedIn post at the time: “I’m happy to share that I am at a new position as Virtual Chief Information Security Officer at the Government of Bermuda!

“A challenging and rewarding engagement working with a great team.”

He added: “It is truly like being the Chief Information Security Officer for 60 separate companies at the same time.”

The government spokeswoman said Mr Warner was working remotely in Canada.

She added that Cyberdine now had a four-month contract providing cybersecurity services for which it was being paid $23,750 a month.

Mr Warner reports to Daron Raynor, the Government’s Chief Information Officer in the Department of Information and Digital Technologies, which is part of the Cabinet Office.

The department’s organisational chart, included in its public access to information statement, does not include a Deputy Chief Information Officer or a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer.

Mr Warner could not be reached for comment.

Ms Thomas, the island’s independent financial watchdog, recently found multiple violations of the Government’s rules on contracts worth $100,000 or more — as set out in the Code of Practice for Project Management and Procurement — in relation to the Covid-19 travel authorisation programme.

By following the rules, according to the Code of Practice, “ … public officers will ensure that the Government’s procurement activities achieve the best value for money in the expenditure of public funds while being fair, ethical and transparent”.

The Official Gazette notice for the Department of Information and Digital Technologies also included a 12-month contract for almost $300,000 for “research” with an overseas company called Info-Tech. Mr Warner says on his LinkedIn profile that he worked at Info-Tech between January 2018 and February 2023.

· NOTE: This article has been edited to clarify that the post of Deputy Chief Information Officer was advertised on Bermuda Job Board early last year and was previously held by a civil servant. The RG asked the Government to explain why it said yesterday that it was redundant to ask if the job was advertised as it did “not exist”. A spokeswoman said this afternoon: “This should have been conveyed with more clarity. The posts of Virtual Chief Information Security Officer and Chief Information Officer Security Consultant are not existing job posts. For clarity, the post of Deputy Chief Information Officer has been recruited for and is expected to be filled in due course.”