Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Can't Fix What Is Irreparably Broken

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Can't Fix What Is Irreparably Broken

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Can't fix what is irreparably broken


An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Feb. 28:

This has been going on for too long now. Shared Services Canada, the federal government's computer department, tried for six years to improve information technology service in 43 government departments -- and reduce costs. It failed. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should recognize the failure, pull the plug and let the departments design and run their own IT operations.

The failure was apparent a year ago when auditor general Michael Ferguson published his review of Shared Services Canada's first five years. He and his auditors examined the experience of seven large government departments, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and found they were getting poor service from SSC. A series of horror stories was told in detail and there was no evidence that IT expenses were reduced.

Despite these warnings, the government plowed ahead. Judy Foote, the minister responsible, said she was confident the goals of improved service at a lower cost would be achieved. She provided no reason why anyone should share her confidence.

In January, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson sent his minister, Ralph Goodale, a memo summarizing the police force's difficulties with Shared Services. Since SSC took over, the RCMP's computers crash much more frequently and much longer than before, paralyzing police operations.

Mr. Goodale said he would discuss the problems with Ms. Foote.

There is no point discussing the problem with Ms. Foote. She has confidence in the one-size-fits-all system of IT management despite mounting evidence to the contrary. She has no means of making the centralized system work. It has been failing more or less continuously ever since Shared Services was created by the former Conservative government in August 2011 and it is not going to start succeeding now just because Mr. …

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