Throughout the semester, two words bedevilled student journalist Britton Gray: Infuzion Technologies.
Infuzion Technologies first appeared in the 2012-2013 Public Accounts, receiving $83,743 under the Public Services Commission. The following year, $104,559 was paid out from Central Services.
Assigned to track down Central Services-contracted companies lettered ‘F’ to ‘J,’ Gray ticked steadily through the list until he got to the letter ‘I.’
Whether based in Canada or overseas, other companies left multiple online footprints. In this case, a thorough search offered up just one entity answering to the name Infuzion Technologies: a Saskatchewan company with a broken-down website that hadn’t been updated in over a decade. The contact addresses were private homes in Regina and Estevan.
Gray found it odd that a tech company doing close to $200,000 in government business would have such a meagre online presence. He flagged it for supervising professor Patricia Elliott.
Elliott asked him to confirm the company’s identity the simple, old-fashioned way: with a phone call. This turned out to be not so simple, though.
The first phone number listed on the website was a dead end, unanswered after multiple calls. The second number led to someone who spoke no English. Undeterred, Gray turned to classmate Carlos Prieto, a multi-lingual international student. Prieto also struck out.
With no answer from the company itself, the next step was to ask the government. PSC and Central Services spokespeople responded by email that they would look into the details and get back to Gray, however weeks passed with no further answers.
Meanwhile, Elliott asked Gray to use the ISC corporate registry to seek out the company’s directors. Surely they could confirm the facts.
There was only one company registered as Infuzion Technologies in Saskatchewan. This led to director-shareholder Kevin Tonita, employed as a Ministry of Education assistant director of assessment since 2012, and a former Estevan school teacher.
But it was another dead end. Tonita responded by email that Infuzion Technologies worked with small businesses only, and did no consulting work with the province.
If this wasn’t the right Infuzion Technologies, then what was? A search of the SaskTenders website and the Merx online directory of public contracts came up empty. Another possibility was a similarly-named Ontario company called Infusion Technologies – but when contacted, a company spokesperson said though they were active in Saskatchewan and once did a job for SaskEnergy, they'd done no business with the Goverment of Saskatchewan itself.
"That information was not requested in the tender."
With a deadline looming, and a professor demanding confirmation before publication, Gray contacted Central Services again for details of what work the company did, and where it was based.
Finally, three weeks after his first inquiry to government, Gray received a response stating that Infuzion was hired by the Public Services Commission in 2012 to develop course content for an online e-learning orientation course called Learn, to be delivered to all government employees.
“The work was tendered. While the contact information provided by the company for the tender process was Regina, Saskatchewan, it is unknown if that is where the company is based out of. That information was not requested in the tender,” the email response stated.
A renewed search for a record of the tender in the SaskTenders registry came up empty.
In her examination of Central Service’s practices, Saskatchewan auditor-general Judy Ferguson found that 17 per cent of test cases did not provide sufficient documentation of services provided, and that nearly half of contract extensions were similarly under-documented regarding rationale for continuing the contracts.
Indeed, after over a month of digging through official public sources, Gray still cannot definitively answer the question: “What is Infuzion Technologies?”
But he gets an ‘A’ for effort.
Screenshot: Gray's initial starting point led only to dead ends.