Sharing Our Concerns about Shared Services Canada
Last week I had the opportunity to meet with Public Services and Procurement Canada Minister Judy Foote about our concerns with the direction and future of Shared Services Canada (SSC). The meeting was requested in March after an alarming PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report commissioned by the previous government came to light.
We had a productive discussion; I raised our concerns over unchecked outsourcing and the failed direction of many of the government’s outsourced IT modernization projects on behalf of our CS community and members working at Shared Services Canada (SSC) and Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC). I took the opportunity to provide an “insider’s” perspective on the creation and ongoing challenges regarding SSC. We can only be in a position to influence our members’ future if we ensure that their voices are heard by the decision makers.
I stressed the message that our members need the tools to do their jobs properly and to be part of the modernization of government IT systems and improved government service delivery. We are concerned that, when faced with a long to-do list and pressure for quick solutions, the government too often looks to the private sector. We have seen this go badly in the cases of the Bell and CGI contract to consolidate federal government email systems, the construction of the new Canada.ca website and, most recently, in the roll out of the Phoenix pay system. I contrasted this with the historical success of CS Group members, who can take credit for shepherding government IT infrastructure since its inception.
I also stressed the message that our members need PIPSC to be at the table of the recently announced independent review of SSC by the digital and technology company Gardner. (I wrote to Minister Foote and Treasury Board President Scott Brison about this issue last week.)
The meeting was a good start to what I hope will prove an ongoing discussion on how to curb outsourcing, and ensure that our members can bring about the IT modernization and successes the Government of Canada needs. I am confident that both the Minister and the government are now acknowledging that the practices of the previous government have not worked and that by approaching IT modernization solely as a cost-cutting exercise, they ensure only that vital services to Canadians are programmed to fail.