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Treasury Board strategic IT modernization report finished, June implementation planned

By Rachel Aiello      

Meanwhile Shared Services Canada’s email migration delayed further, department has tentative start dates with all but one department.

The IT modernization report is in the hands of Treasury Board President Scott Brison, pictured, for approval. Once that’s done it will be made publicly available. The department is aiming to have it ready to implement by June. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright
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About five years into Shared Services Canada’s amalgamation of government IT, the Treasury Board has completed an “IT Strategic Plan.”

According to department spokesperson Michael Gosselin, the plan “puts forward principles and supporting activities to ensure that it delivers IT services that are secure, reliable, agile and valued. This will enhance service delivery and increase workforce productivity.”

It is organized around four themes: IT service delivery, IT management, IT security, and workforce development and support.

Now, the report is in the hands of Treasury Board President Scott Brison (Kings-Hants, N.S.) to approve it. Once that’s done it will be made publicly available. The department is aiming to have it ready to implement by June.

Not having a plan in place at the beginning of the transition was one of the key criticisms Auditor General Michael Ferguson leveled against Shared Services Canada and the Treasury Board in his Fall 2015 report, Chapter 4, dealing with Information Technology Shared Services.

It was also raised by MPs on the House Public Accounts Committee when they had a chance to ask SSC executives and Treasury Board chief information officer John Messina when they appeared before the committee on March 10.

“Was there not a strategic plan before Shared Services Canada was established?” asked Liberal MP Chandra Arya (Nepean, Ont.), who also questioned how many billions of dollars were spent without a plan.

To this, Mr. Messina replied: “There was no official version of the strategic plan in place. There was a draft version that had been circulated and it was around in 2013 but the strategic plan was not in place.”

At this meeting, Mr. Messina said his department would be completing an overall government IT plan by the end of March, which has happened.

Tuesday morning the House Public Accounts Committee is meeting in-camera to complete their report on Chapter 4, Information Technology Shared Services of the AG’s report.

Shared Services Canada will also be updating their transformation plan in fall 2016. Right now they are consulting chief information officers across departments and are having a conversation about the scope, pace, and cost going forward.

The committee has voiced support for having representatives from both Shared Services Canada and Treasury Board back before the committee to discuss their plans going forward in the coming months.

Shared Services Canada’s email migration delayed again

Migration of government email systems by Shared Services Canada have been delayed once again as the department continues to “resolve outstanding issues,” after it had planned to resume migrations last week.

The department says it is working on it with Bell Canada and CGI Information Systems, the vendor that was given the $398-million seven-year contract to complete the migration back in 2013.

According to a source familiar with the email transformation initiative, staff was notified at the end of March that email migrations were scheduled to resume in April.

The email migration to the new your.email@canada.gc.ca format was put on hold back in November 2015 after “hardware component issues.”

Last week, Agriculture and Agri-Food was set to migrate, according to the source, but that was cancelled indefinitely, along with the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which were also scheduled to start this month.

The Hill Times has been told that once Bell and CGI had assured Shared Services Canada that the issues had been resolved and were able to sustain the new email system, migrations would be reestablished.

“A new migration schedule is being developed in collaboration with partners and the vendor. The new schedule will be made available to partners once it has been finalized,” department spokesperson Stephanie Richardson told The Hill Times last week.

So far, 12 departments have migrated to the new system, but within those departments problems with the email functioning have been reported.

According to Ms. Richardson, tentative start dates have been negotiated with all departments, except for one “which will require additional discussions due to the complexities of its environment.”

According to a transition schedule from February 2016 obtained by The Hill Times there were five departments listed without start dates including the Department of National Defence. A handful of other departments or agencies were not listed at all, including the Privy Council Office, Treasury Board, and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Final completion dates have not been determined.

All three of the department’s main initiatives: consolidating government-wide email systems; merging 485 data centres that house large computing systems and government servers into seven or fewer enterprise data centres; and streamlining government networks are all behind schedule.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote (Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, Nfld.) who oversees the department has said the government is committed to delivering on the program.

Announced in the Tuesday, March 22 budget, under the banner of “investing in government information technology” the federal government is giving Shared Services Canada an additional $383.8-million over the next two fiscal years towards the IT consolidation initiatives.

The department says this injection of cash will pay for replacing “mission critical” legacy hardware and software and renewing maintenance contracts for critical network, data storage units, servers and security devices.

The $383.8-million is being provided on a cash basis over 2016-17 and 2017-18.

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