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Posted: 1/29/2002 12:00:06 PM EDT
Could a Canadian member please explain to me how this is supposed to work? Is this going to lift the huge failure of the Gun Control Act (or whatever is was called) out of the trash? OTTAWA - The federal government is handing over the administration and operation of its costly gun licensing and registration system to the private sector, documents show. A spokeswoman for the Public Works Department confirmed yesterday federal officials are now evaluating bids for a 15-year contract to take over processing applications for firearms licensing and registration, telephone call centres and the information-technology systems involved in the program. "I don't know if they are negotiating with anyone; I know they are evaluating the proposals," said Fran Gershberg, a Public Works communications officer. The Canadian Firearms Centre, in conjunction with police forces and firearms officers, will retain control over the sensitive core functions of investigating, approving, denying or revoking firearms licences and registrations, according to a copy of the detailed 300-page request for proposals. All other work, including the processing of sensitive personal information contained in gun licence and registration applications and its storage, will be handled by the successful bidder, according to the request for proposals the government circulated last September through November, with no public announcement of its plans. Garry Breitkreuz, a Canadian Alliance MP, obtained a copy of the request for proposals, and other documents concerning the plan, through the Access to Information Act. Dennis Young, an assistant to Mr. Breitkreuz, said the decision to contract out the firearms program to the private sector demonstrates it has been a costly failure for the federal government. Mr. Young, who said handing the system over to a private firm poses significant risks to the privacy rights of two million gun owners who have applied for or received licences. Ms. Gershberg said she did not know the possible value of the contract and she could not disclose other details, such as the names of the bidders or the number of bidders. David Austin, chief spokesman for the Canadian Firearms Centre within the Department of Justice, did not return telephone calls yesterday. Treasury Board officials told a Senate committee last November the program cost $541-million from 1995 to last year. With a further $148-million expected to be spent by the end of March this year, the total is $689-million over the first seven years of the program. During the same time, the government collected $44- million in licence fees, the officials told the committee.
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