NDP claims leaked email chain shows MPI’s uncertainty about firm consulting on IT renewal project

Newly revealed internal emails show that Manitoba Public Insurance appears to have issues with the firm hired to investigate a project that’s gone significantly over budget.

The IT renewal project for MPI, Project Nova, was initially expected to cost just over $100 million when it started in 2020, but is now expected to cost as much as $290 million to complete. The timeline to finish the project was also extended from three to five years.

The Winnipeg Free Press reported in January that U.S.-based consulting firm McKinsey & Company received $12 million in untendered contracts by Manitoba Public Insurance MPI to examine what’s going on with the project.

During Wednesday’s question period, the NDP released an internal MPI email chain that shows “very serious concerns about the lack of work that McKinsey has done to earn that $12 million,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.

The leaked MPI email chain says the consulting firm isn’t meeting objectives on Project Nova, and asked “Is removing McKinsey an option?”

Kinew asked why Premier Heather Stefanson is paying $12 million to a company that is not living up to contractual obligations on Wednesday.

“We have made a directive to the board to ensure that there is a competitive process when it comes to procurement of goods and services at MPI and we’ve also asked for an external organizational review to take place as well,” Stefanson responded.

The government ordered that review of the Crown-owned auto insurance provider last March due to the untendered contracts, as well as a sharp jump in the cost of technology upgrades and steep rise in projected staffing levels.

A spokesperson for Manitoba Justice told CBC News the leaked email appears to be internal communication that the provincial government was not a part of, and that McKinsey’s contract is between the consulting firm and MPI.

Consultation from McKinsey has allowed MPI to successfully launch two stages of Project Nova since they began working together in September 2021, an MPI spokesperson told CBC News in an email. They say internal communications being made public without full context is unfortunate.

“MPI is proud to deliver value for Manitobans and is committed to completing Project Nova on time and on budget,” the spokesperson said.

A sign which says "McKinsey & Company" in black on a grey background.
McKinsey’s consultation on Project Nova has met MPI’s requirements and satisfaction, an MPI spokesperson said. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

Conversations such as the one shown in the leaked email chain are normal and essential to vendor management, they said, and McKinsey’s consultation on Project Nova has met MPI’s requirements and satisfaction.

But Manitobans are picking up the bill for Project Nova’s inefficiency, Kinew claimed on Wednesday.

“You were supposed to get a reduction in your Autopac payments this year. Instead, because of PC mismanagement, you’re facing a rate increase. Their chaos is costing you more.”