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POLICY - PUBLIC WORKS
Conservative Senator Denise Batters says the Senate doesn’t want any risk when switching over to its replacement for the Phoenix payroll system. The Hill Times file photograph

Senate set to ditch Phoenix in January

The Upper Chamber will switch over to a new payroll system provided by ADP Canada in the new year, after months of testing.
One of the lessons learned from the West Block reno was that MPs weren’t consulted enough, says House deputy clerk Michel Patrice.
Feature|Emily Haws
The Feb. 21 response to a House Public Accounts Committee report highlighting deputy minister turnover lacks deliverables and specifics, says Conservative Pat Kelly, but NDP and Liberal MPs say they're generally impressed by the government's response.
The public service has continued to function despite the ongoing payroll system debacle, but people, and the government’s foundation, will crack under the strain.
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It will ‘inevitably take some time to settle into a new building with advanced technology and security features,’ says the office of Senate Speaker George Furey.
The Accessible Canada Act is a good start. It should be passed, and changes made to the Disability Tax Credit, among other improvements.
Recommendations on the winning bid for a new pay system are expected to come in spring, but it 'certainly' won't be ready by the end of 2019, says a pay team official.
Meanwhile, some MPs say they're still frustrated by the lack of constituency office support on Phoenix cases, and efforts continue to reduce the pay-problem case backlog, which on Nov. 28 was 289,000 open files.
Opinion|, David Perry
Last year, DND actually spent most of its procurement money; hopefully the same will occur this year.
Governments in Canada are taking baby steps while the rest of the world is already far ahead on the gruelling marathon of technological development.
Long processes, problematic procurement tools, and security clearances were noted as the top complaints of both federal officials and suppliers in the last year.
Twenty-seven MPs and cabinet ministers had moved into new offices in the Wellington, Justice, and Confederation buildings by Oct. 1, according to House staff.
Federal directives limit the government from commissioning studies that explicitly advance its own self-interests.
Chief information officer Alex Benay says the new system won’t be deployed government-wide at first, and could run in parallel with Phoenix for a time.
The Senate's report is the latest study in recent months to highlight the failure of the Phoenix pay system, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of backlogged pay files for public servants.
Though plans are still not concrete, roughly 20 Liberal MPs, nine Conservative MPs, five NDP MPs, 10 Senators, and Senate administration staff will be moving this summer.
Marc Lemieux has taken over from assistant deputy minister Danielle May-Cuconato, who was in charge of the project management office behind the Phoenix fix.
Union leaders say members are ‘frustrated’ as they await a negotiation mandate that’s supposedly on the prime minister’s desk.
But the clerk's job is to put into place a structure and ensure people he trusts are working on it, argues ex-PCO official Zussman, and there's some indication that's happening.
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