Government has spent $4.3-million on apps since Liberals assumed office in November 2015

Though we love that the Liberals show that they are “trying” to care about Veterans… which one of their friends was paid $4.3 Million to create a few Apps? The average App costs between $200 & $5000, not $4.3 Million.

Once again, the Liberals show that they don’t care about how much money they spend and how in debt your grand children’s children are becoming.

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A watchdog group is urging the federal government to rethink its approach to mobile and web applications after finding that several internal digital products failed to attract large audiences, despite sizeable production costs.

Aaron Wurdick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said Ottawa needs to develop comprehensive guidelines to structure the development of internal apps to ensure enterprising bureaucrats have clear instruction on when to utilize the increasingly popular format.

“We need some kind of parameters or guidelines to make sure that they’re not throwing money at something no one is using,” he told The Hill Times.

“One of the important questions they should ask for every app is do we need to do this in an app? Sometimes the government is just spitballing and hoping for the best.”

 The CTF filed an access to information request to get detailed information on the amount of money spent on government developed apps, usage rates, and download figures.

While some apps were able to draw robust download numbers, others were barely noticed, despite the thousands invested in their development.

The Veterans Matter app, developed by Veterans Affairs, cost nearly $176,000 to produce, yet only attracted 1,574 downloads, working out to $112 per download, according to government figures released by the CTF.

The app allows users to find information about the services and benefits offered to veterans, Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP members, and their families.

Parks Canada’s Parka Photo Missions app, a scavenger hunt-type game, cost $40,000 but was downloaded only 1,085 times.

Meanwhile, Parks Canada’s Learn to Camp and Heritage Gourmet apps, which provide camping instructions and Canadiana-themed recipes, respectively, were developed at a collective cost of $137,241.

The Heritage Gourmet app was downloaded 17,342 times, while Learn to Camp was downloaded 106,372 times.

Separate government documents released in response to an inquiry from Conservative MP Michelle Rempel (Calgary Nose Hill, Alta.) show that the government has spent $4.3-million on apps since the Liberals assumed office on Nov. 5, 2015.

More than half of that total—$2.8 million—went into the joint development of the MyCRA and MyBenefits apps for the Canadian Revenue Agency.

The two are web-based applications and hence are not downloaded. The usage rates for MyCRA and MyBenefits were recorded as 36,932 and 15,186, respectively, in October, the last month statistics were provided.

Conversely, Explora Waterton by Parks Canada, a guided tour app for Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta, was downloaded 705 times and averages 128 users per month. It was developed at a cost of $3,400.

Explora-branded apps are available for a number of national parks.

The Explora Kootenay app also cost $3,400 to produce but was downloaded 2,975 times and its estimated monthly usage rate is 540.

Alain Belle-Isle, a spokesperson for the Treasury Board Secretariat, which manages the public service, said the government’s standard on optimizing websites and applications for mobile devices sets out the requirements for mobile device applications and “only allows for the creation of these applications if they are justified.”

These justifications include user and business needs that warrant the total cost of the application, he said.

While individual departments and agencies are responsible for the mobile applications they develop, Mr. Belle-Isle said they are “encouraged to do outreach and assess user needs and preferences, using techniques such as user testing and feedback.”

“They should offer a consistent, quality user-centric experience – including on-line and through mobile devices – and they are encouraged to develop mobile applications to support their mandate and services, where it is justified,” he added.

But for Mr. Wurdick, the usefulness of these investments go beyond download numbers and dollar figures.

Some of the apps, he said, merely duplicate information already existing online, while some are structured as games, bringing into question whether there’s a need for the government to spend public dollars creating something that is already broadly available.

For example, the National Film Board produced and launched two game apps, one based on the short film Monsieur Pug and another called Cardboard Crash, a self-described virtual reality experimental that uses a Google Cardboard viewer to bring the viewer inside a self-driving car headed for an unavoidable crash.

Cardboard Crash cost just shy of $120,000 to produce and drew 11,273 downloads, while Where is Monsieur Pug cost $7,487 to develop and was downloaded 12,430 times.

Reference

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