Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, Shared Services Canada – Media coverage related to digital government, 2019-20
March 2020 SSC
Canada needs to address risks of aging IT to fend off threats that come with digital government
March 09, 2020 (CBC.CA, Alexander Rudolph)
This CBC article is an opinion piece revolving around the Government of Canada's aging IT infrastructure. It addresses the costs associated with cyberattacks, and the role the outdated infrastructure may have in failing to defend against these attacks. Rudolph proposes that the Government of Canada changes its thinking around cybersecurity and take a "whole-of-government strategy" to resolve this issue.
February 2020 SSC
Système de paie Phénix: quatre ans de fiasco et c'est loin d'être terminé
Feb. 24, 2020 (Journal de Québec, Kathryn Lamontagne)
Kathryn Lamontagne's article is a critical evaluation of the Phoenix pay system fiasco. A former Shared Services Canada (SSC) employee, Guy Monier, is mentioned in the article as somebody who was impacted in his retirement process. The section mentioning SSC is minor and used as an example of a larger failed process. The article is negative at large but is not directed at any services offered by SSC directly.
'Data, privacy, trade': ministers tasked with AI file contending with fast, fundamental changes
Feb. 19, 2020 (The Hill Times, Mike LaPointe)
The topic of artificial intelligence is addressed in this article, with a particular emphasis on what role the federal government plays in its governance. The Hill Times article outlines the political structure that has been put into place following the announcement of the new digital minister Joyce Murray. Shared Services Canada (SSC) is mentioned directly in relation to the minister's mandate. The article holds relevance to digital governance and the future opportunities and threats posed by AI, but does not directly address the work of SSC in any form. The article also addresses the "social impact" that AI may present to employees within the public service.
Pas de lésion professionnelle pour une insulte
Feb. 14, 2020 (Le Droit, Louis-denis Ebacher)
This article outlines the judge's decision in a case involving an Shared Services Canada (SSC) employee that reported harassment (claiming it was violence) in the workplace. The Le Droit article announces the resolution of the case, and the dismissal of the employee's claims. The SSC employee is painted in a negative light, but simply because of their personal issues. Nothing is mentioned about the department.
Why Creating an AI department is not a good idea
Feb. 12, 2020 (Policy Options, Mark Robbins)
Published in Policy Options, Mark Robbins' article addresses at length the idea of creating a federal AI department in Canada. The article lists the limitations that could arise with the potential creation of this department, including citing Shared Services Canada (SSC) as an example of a failed attempt to amalgamate in the past. The article says, "For a variety of reasons this change in machinery has been held responsible for harming the quality of government technological services, and the Trudeau government assessed SSC as being in need of "renewal" only nine years after its founding. It's hard to imagine that a duplication of this approach for AI would fare much better." The article eventually concludes that the AI industry is successful as it is, and the creation of a new department may not result in further successes.
January 2020 SSC
DND's posh high-tech HQ is cellphone dead zone
Jan. 30, 2020 (Ottawa Citizen, David Pugliese)
This article written by David Pugliese discusses the location of the new defence headquarters and some of its limitations. It outlines the main issue with the location of new DND headquarters, the fact that it is in a communications dead zone. There is a Rogers tower nearby, but the most recent telecommunications contract moved to Bell in 2017. Shared Services Canada is mentioned in the article as working on a permanent solution to the cellphone issue, and that the situation varies from building to building across the campus. In the article DND spokesman Andrew McKelvey said, "Bell did not have service coverage in the campus area and once DND began to migrate users to Bell, this issue was raised immediately to the attention of Shared Services Canada and they engaged with Bell."
'Still a mess, still needs a lot of work': Shared Services Canada gets new master under digital government minister
Jan. 15, 2020 (The Hill Times, Mike LaPointe)
On January 15, The Hill Times published an article discussing the Department's move to the portfolio of Minister of Digital Government, Joyce Murray. The article discusses the Department's move to a new portfolio under the Minister of Digital Government, with commentary on the move from a variety of individuals.
Among the people quoted in the piece is Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) President Debi Daviau. Ms. Daviau's commentary on the move provides much of the material for the article, including the piece's headline. Although Ms. Daviau characterizes the move as a positive development, she also expresses concern that PIPSC was not consulted by the Prime Minister's Office beforehand. The piece also includes reactions from Conservative Member of Parliament Ziad Aboultaif (Edmonton Manning), and his party's critic for digital government, Dalhousie University professor Jeffrey Roy.
Mr. Aboultaif compares Shared Services Canada (SSC) to the Phoenix pay system, noting that "it is not hard to draw a parallel between the government's decision to move SSC to a new department rather than leaving it under the failed leadership of Public Service and Procurement Canada." He also mentions the need for Canadians' data to be kept private and secure, particularly when being moved to cloud storage.
Mr. Roy notes that the move is an important change, as it elevates the importance of digital, but cautions the way that relationships between SSC and other facets of digital within the government will work remains to be seen.
The piece is also noteworthy as one of the first public mentions in the media of SSC 3.0.
Statscan Plans Shift to Digital Cloud
Jan. 13, 2020 (Postmedia, Jim Bronskill)
In this piece syndicated within Postmedia, journalist Jim Bronskill reports on Statistics Canada's planned migration of its data to the cloud. Although the majority of the piece is centred on explaining data sovereignty and information classification, the story does include comments from Wayne Smith, former Chief Statistician of Canada. Mr. Smith expresses his concern over shifting data to the Cloud, noting that this creates "a heightened level of risk that isn't necessary". Mr. Bronskill also notes Mr. Smith's resignation from the position due to his concerns over the migration of agency data to Shared Services Canada facilities.
December 2019 SSC
Federal departments look to replace paper ID with digital verification
This article, originally published in The Logic and then shared in the National Post, reports on an initiative launched by Shared Services Canada and Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada that looks to test "digital, blockchain-based credentials". Besides noting the issued challenge, the majority of the piece provides contextual information, including a number of firms that may express interest in the challenge.
Liberals earmark nearly $200 million to Shared Services for data centre migration, cloud services
iPolitics reported on the federal government's funding commitment of $197.2 million to support the migration of data centres and the establishment and adoption of Cloud services. This commitment was included as a part of the Supplementary Estimates (A) for 2019-20 fiscal year tabled in the House of Commons in December. The story includes a statement from Shared Services Canada, noting that the funding will be used to "update IT infrastructure to 'modern standards', including upgrading data centre services, establishing 'Cloud enterprise services' and moving applications over to a 'state-of-the-art' enterprise data centre or Cloud, or a mix of the two".
December 2019 OCIO
“$192.7 million for the establishment and adoption of cloud services”
Following the tabling of the supplementary estimates (A) for the 2019-20 fiscal year, iPolitics and the Global Government Forum reported that the federal government was committing $192.7 million to Shared Services Canada to support the "establishment and adoption of cloud services," as well as other digital government initiatives.
“Importance of digital government, and a creeping culture of excessive silos, hierarchies, and risk aversion in the federal bureaucracy”
An opinion piece in the December 16, 2019 edition of the Hill Times discussed the importance of digital government; another article discussed the findings of a new book on digital government, highlighting a "creeping culture of excessive silos, hierarchies, and risk aversion" in the federal bureaucracy (article 1, 2).
Privacy Law Reform – A Pathway to Respecting Rights and Restoring Trust in Government and the Digital Economy
Mr. Therrien published his annual report, Privacy Law Reform – A Pathway to Respecting Rights and Restoring Trust in Government and the Digital Economy, on December 10, 2019 generating a high volume of articles. The report calls for privacy to be enshrined as a human right, stronger laws regulating data collection and greater oversight and enforcement powers for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
“Human rights should include digital rights”
Most recently, former CIO Alex Benay wrote an opinion piece for the Globe and Mail asserting that "human rights should include digital rights" and that such rights should be enshrined in law. He highlights two "basic" rights in particular: equal connectivity and protection of data ownership.
November 2019 OCIO
Minister Murray's re-appointment as Minister of Digital Government and her new mandate letter
From the end of November 2019 to the beginning of December 2019, there was moderate coverage regarding Minister Murray's re-appointment as Minister of Digital Government and her new mandate letter. iPolitics reported that Minister Murray was given responsibility for Shared Services Canada (Nov. 27 article) and for leading work on developing a replacement for the Phoenix pay system, as well as several other digital government initiatives (Dec. 13 article). In addition, the Hill Times discussed Minister Murray's role as Minister of Digital Government, citing an expert who suggested that continuing to champion "resilient digital government" could be her greatest legacy.
Federal government to prioritize strengthening Canada's privacy laws and implementing Digital Charter
The Globe and Mail reported in November 2019 that the federal government will prioritize strengthening Canada's privacy laws and outlined its ongoing work on this file, including plans to implement Canada's first Digital Charter and to make major changes to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). The article notes that prominent MPs believe that the proposed reforms are insufficient.
October 2019 SSC
'THEY CANNOT BE ACCEPTED' – Federal employees sending too many English emails, report says
In this story published by the Toronto Sun, Shared Services Canada was the focus of media coverage related to "an ongoing and repetitive increase in language of work complaints". This coverage was based on a report from the Official Languages Commissioner accessed by a Blacklock reporter via an Access to Information request. The journalist notes that in addition to the increase in language complaints, meetings and emails were held and written predominantly in English.
You think you're having a bad day? Bed Bug infestation found at government office in Ottawa
This piece by CTV News Ottawa reported on the discovery of bed bugs on three floors at 350 King Edward Avenue. The story, which includes media, notes that the building was treated twice and that workers at the building were moved to different work stations.
Similar stories also ran in Le Droit, Le Soleil, and CFRA. In addition to these stories bringing into question the cleanliness and safety of Shared Services Canada employees working in these locations, these stories typically bring into question the use of taxpayer funds for finding alternative workplace arrangements, fumigation of the facilities, and the cost of lost man hours.
Canadian government data is getting cloudier, signalling a 'massive leap of faith' in public cloud, says Microsoft
This article, published on IT World Canada as well as the Ottawa Citizen, discussed the ongoing progress towards adopting cloud computing, including the Government's "massive leap of faith" in cloud security. The story, largely contextual in nature, discusses the Cloud migration strategy, the security requirements for Protected B information, and Shared Services Canada's Cloud Framework Agreements with AWS Canada and Microsoft.
October 2019 OCIO
CIO Strategy Council published its national standard on the ethical design and use of AI
The Global Government Forum reported in October that the CIO Strategy Council published its national standard on the ethical design and use of AI.
Canada lags in the global digital economy and government must develop a digital ID system
There were some opinion pieces, however, that asserted that Canada was lagging behind in the global digital economy and called on the federal government to develop a digital ID system. Most notably, in October 2019, former CIO Alex Benay wrote an opinion piece for the Globe and Mail contending that Canada "has done very little to provide its citizens with a digital backbone" (i.e. a digital ID system). In addition, he reiterated his arguments in an interview with the Global Government Forum.
September 2019 OCIO
Teen lands first job working on IT security project for federal government
In this article for the Chatham Daily News, the journalist reports on Shared Services Canada's (SSC) hiring of Kelton Kostis. Mr. Kostis' hiring is noteworthy as he is 15 years old, having graduated last spring with a Masters of Science degree in Management Information Systems with a focus on cybersecurity. The story notes that Mr. Kostis' works remotely twice a week, with occasional travel to Ottawa when required. In addition, the story also notes that due to his age, there is a limit to the hours per week Mr. Kostis' can work.
The story includes commentary from a SSC spokesperson.
September 2019 OCIO
Fully understanding (AI's) limitations for translation
In September 2019, CAPE announced that they established a working group with members of the Translation Bureau's leadership team to ensure that the federal government "fully understands (AI's) limitations" for translation technology in particular.
August 2019 OCIO
"Quick wins, small wins in digitizing government services."
Mr. Benay's departure in August 2019 was widely reported. In an interview with Civil Circles (Hill Times article), Mr. Benay advised his successor to pursue "relentless incrementalism" and to aim for "quick wins, small wins" in digitizing government services.
"Canadian Digital Service aiming to digitize government services by 2025"
The Hill Times profiled the Canadian Digital Service (CDS) and its CEO, Aaron Snow, in August 2019. The article noted that CDS is aiming to digitize government services by 2025.
May 2019 SSC
"Waiting, Waiting, Waiting"
In this letter to the editor, a respondent commenting on "millions unable to reach federal government on the phone" notes that Shared Services Canada's rate of progress on updating federal call centres "can be extrapolated to a completion date sometime around 2152—assuming telephones are still around then". The writer goes on to note this slow progress as "evidence" that the Shared Services Model needs be replaced, including the Phoenix pay system and Email Transformation Initiative (ETI) as other reasons that this replacement should occur".
"Hello? Hello? AG says Canadians can't reach government call centres"
In this media piece published on iPolitics on the Office of the Auditor General report, the reporter cites a variety of statistics and figures from the Report on the Ineffectiveness of Government Call Centres. The media piece notes that centres "sometimes overstated their performance results and didn't have service standards related specifically to their callers' needs", specifically noting that Veterans Affairs Canada's decision to discontinue teletypewriter service was made without consulting veterans. Finally, the piece ends with direct mention of Shared Services Canada, noting that the Department underestimated the cost and work required to upgrade the call centres.
"AG comes out with report slamming federal government"
In this clip that was broadcasted on CTV News, the host and a reporter discuss the Office of the Auditor General's findings, primarily focusing on the parts of the report on asylum claims. Shared Services Canada (SSC) is directly mentioned at the end, with the reporter noting figures from the report as well as SSC's difficulty in modernizing the call centre infrastructure.
"Phone tag with Ottawa hits millions"
In this media piece for the Waterloo Region Record, the journalist reports on the Office of the Auditor General report, noting that "half of the 16 million Canadians trying to reach one of three government agencies by telephone are unable to speak to live humans". Shared Services Canada's difficulty upgrading existing call centres is noted as well as the Department's lack of a plan to upgrade the remaining 213.
« Votre appel N'est pas important pour nous… » (also published as « Des millions d'appels dans trois centres fédéraux demeurent sans réponse »)
This media piece for Le Journal de Montreal and Le Journal de Quebec reports on the Office of the Auditor General report and the difficulties faced by government call centres. Shared Services Canada is briefly mentioned at the end, as the department's difficulties in modernizing call centres is noted.
"Call centre holding pattern" (also published as "If you can't fix the phones, you can't fix the weather, "Competence on hold at federal call centres"
In this partisan opinion piece syndicated on the Postmedia Network, the author argues that the findings of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) report are proof that the current government is unable to handle larger issues, such as climate change. Shared Services Canada is briefly mentioned via a quote from the OAG report that notes that "Shared Services Canada has managed to upgrade only eight of 221 call centres, and it has no plan for the remaining 213".
"Asylum seeker backlog will grow, wait time for decision will double in 5 years, auditor finds"
Although this article published on CBC.ca notes that "Federal call centres fail to meet demand", the piece largely focuses on other parts of the Office of the Auditor General report. Shared Services Canada is mentioned at the end, with the journalist noting that "five years after the launch of a call centre modernization project, Shared Services Canada has only upgraded eight of 221 call centres, and has no plan for the remaining 213."
"Half of the 16 million Canadians calling government call centres can't get through"
This story on the Office of the Auditor General report notes the difficulties faced by Canadians when calling government call centres. The service provided by Veterans Affairs Canada call centres is specifically mentioned in the piece, noting that that "the auditor still slammed the department for its wait times and for cancelling teletypewriter services for the hearing impaired, "without first consulting with or telling veterans.". Finally, Shared Services Canada's (SSC) difficulties in updating 221 call centres is mentioned, noting that "the report warns upgrading the remaining call centres could take years, and centres could be plagued by "service interruptions or outages because of their aging systems". SSC's underestimated cost and amount of work to complete the work is also noted.
"Millions of calls to government call centres aren't being answered, Auditor General finds"
This piece for the Toronto Star and other Torstar publications on the Office of the Auditor General report uses direct quotes from the report to emphasize the difficulties faced by Canadians when calling government departments for assistance. In addition to noting the difficulties faced by callers, the piece notes that this issue has been previously raised by the Auditor General: "It's not the first time the Auditor General's office has criticized government's inability to field inquiries from Canadians." Shared Services Canada's difficulties in updating 221 federal government call centres is mentioned, although the expected length of time to complete the modernization is omitted.
"Millions of callers to federal agencies unable to get through to a real person: AG"
Shared Services Canada (SSC) is directly mentioned in this piece for CTV News reporting on the Office of the Auditor General report. The piece, which provides quotes and statistics from the report, notes that SSC is "in the midst of consolidating and modernizing all 221 of its call centres." It goes on to note that only 8 centres have undergone this modernization process and that "the Auditor General Office is estimating it'll be years before all Canadians who call into federal call centres for assistance receive efficient service".
"Auditor General report more evidence of a Liberal government more taken with grand visions than actual governing"
In this piece published by the National Post and syndicated throughout the Postmedia Network, the reporter notes that the performance audits on government programs, including the call centres operated by Employment and Social Development Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Veterans Affairs Canada, provide opposition parties with additional sources of criticism to use against the Liberal Party of Canada in the upcoming federal election. Although Shared Services Canada is not explicitly mentioned, the slow rate with which the Call Centre Modernization Project is progressing is pointed out.
May 2019 OCIO
GovInsider interviewed Minister Joyce Murray at the Open Government Partnership Summit held in May 2019. Minister Murray outlined the federal government's new, agile approach to developing a pay system to replace Phoenix, as well as its approach to hiring tech talent.
Canada and France plan to launch an International Panel on Artificial Intelligence (IPAI)
In May 2019, the Global Government Forum reported that Canada and France plan to launch an International Panel on Artificial Intelligence (IPAI) to facilitate international collaboration. A draft declaration for the new panel outlines a five-point plan, including a pledge to support the responsible development of AI "grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity and innovation."
Mexican government has already adopted the AIA
The federal government's Algorithmic Impact Assessment (AIA) tool was formally unveiled at the Open Government Partnership Summit held in May. Ashley Casovan, one of the AIA project's leaders, told the Globe and Mail that the Mexican government has already adopted the AIA.
Canada's first Advisory Council on AI for its lack of diversity
An opinion piece in the Toronto Star, published in May 2019, criticized Canada's first Advisory Council on AI for its lack of diversity. The authors point out that the Council does not include a broad spectrum of civil society, including representatives of minorities, those with disabilities or those living in poverty – groups disproportionately at risk from bias and discrimination from AI systems.
Charter falls short of a concrete regulatory roadmap
Articles focused on the federal government's move to regulate a range of digital issues, including hate speech and terrorist or extremist content, misinformation and privacy. However, articles noted that the charter falls short of a concrete regulatory roadmap. In addition, industry experts expressed concerns that legislation would be ineffective without the support of the U.S or E.U.
Tech giants and industry experts testify before the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy
In May 2019, tech giants and industry experts testified before the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy, generating a high volume of articles and opinion pieces. Articles noted that the committee discussed the privacy practices of large tech companies and the possibility of regulating AI.
April 2019 SSC
"Microsoft deal meansmore access for all Canadian public servants: Minister"
The Canadian Press published a short articleon the federal government's renewal of its contract with Microsoft Canada. Thearticle notes that the contract includes more digital communications tools forpublic servants with disabilities. In addition to the increase in tools forpublic servants with disabilities, the story notes that the contract, valued at$940-million, runs for seven years and will give all public servants access toOffice 365.
"New RCMP cyberco-ordination unit won't be fully operational until 2023"
Shared Services Canada received a briefmention in this online piece for IT World Canada. The Department is mentionedas contributing to the federal government's newly-formed Canadian Centre forCyber Security.
April 2019 OCIO
Increasing use of AI in the federalpublic service
An article in the Hill Times, published in April 2019,discussed the increasing use of AI in the federal public service. NatalieMcGee, the executive director of enterprise strategic planning at TBS, wasinterviewed for the piece. She suggested that AI will likely facilitate publicservants' work rather than displacing them, by assisting with decision-makingand freeing up time for public servants to focus on more important tasks.
March 2019 SSC
"Canada Revenue Agencytax services back online after 'hardware' problems
The Canadian Press reported on the CanadaRevenue Agency's online filing system outage, noting that Shared ServicesCanada was the department responsible for restoring service. As the story waspublished by the Canadian Press, it was syndicated by multiple outlets.
"Budget falls short fordisable workers, advocates say"
This post-budget piece written for CBC.cadiscusses the proposed funding provided to Shared Services Canada to makefederal government workplaces more accessible. Subject matter experts in thepiece note that although the funding is a start, more will be needed in thefuture to truly make workplaces accessible.
"Bagnall: Spendingmillions fixing broken technology projects now a Liberal Budget tradition"
In this piece for the Ottawa Citizen, JamesBagnall criticizes the federal government for spending money on ITmodernization. The article is critical of Shared Services Canada (SSC) and anumber of SSC initiatives.
"Canadian TaxpayersFederal presents 21st annual Teddy Awards for government waste"
Last fall's spider sighting at a data centreis mentioned in this news release by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. SharedServices Canada is cited as a nominee for a "Federal Teddy" for "sendingemployees home" to fumigating the building. The Ottawa Sun also published astory based on this news release.
"Can NCC get Lebretrondone faced with new economies, risks?"
In an article published by the Ottawa Citizen,Shared Services Canada (SSC) and the Phoenix Pay System are cited as examplesof failure by the Government of Canada to properly assess possible issues andto install safeguards. Although SSC is mentioned, the article is centered onthe National Capital Commission's procurement process for developing theLeBretron Flats property in Ottawa.
March 2019 OCIO
Recruit andRetain Women with Digital Skills
A report from the Public Policy Forum,published in March 2019, highlighted the need to recruit and retain women withdigital skills as being central to the federal government's digital strategy.
What FederalGovernment is Doing to Prepare for Digital Disruption
The Future Economy interviewed then-CIO AlexBenay in March 2019. Mr. Benay discussed the digital revolution and what thefederal government is doing to prepare for digital disruption.
Impact of anAI tool and the level of human intervention required to mitigate risks
Techvibes Canada published an in-depth article on thedirective. The article focuses on the Algorithmic Impact Assessment (AIA), anonline survey that helps determine the impact of an AI tool and the level ofhuman intervention required to mitigate risks.
February 2019 SSC
Trudeau appoints newCFIA head
Shared Services Canada and its newly appointed President, Paul Glover,are briefly mentioned in an article published by iPolitics. Mr. Glover isnoted as Canadian Food Inspection Agency's previous president.
"Nearly two-thirds ofpublic servants have unresolved pay issues three years after Phoenix launched,survey shows"
In an article published by The Hill Times on the 2018 Public ServiceEmployee Survey Results, Shared Services Canada is mentioned as the departmentshowing the most negative results to the question "I am satisfied with mydepartment of agency".
"Alex Benay: the publicservice's disrupter-in-chief"
In an article byThe Hill Times profiling Alex Benay, Chief Information Officer, Shared ServicesCanada's Executive Vice President, Sarah Paquet, is quoted in saying 'Hisposition requires him to challenge everything—he was not hired to surf on thestatus quo.'
"Amazon wants to storeQuebec government data in Montreal servers"
Shared Services Canada is mentioned in aMontreal Gazette article as the organization responsible for maintainingfederal government data.
"Top judge saysjudicial independence requires that SCC, other courts control their ownbudgets"
In an article for The Lawyers Daily, CristinSchmitz mentions the Supreme Court of Canada's successful resistance to havingIT procurement turned over to Shared Services Canada when discussing judicialbudgetary independence.
"Ottawa 'bending overbackward' for foreign tech giants at the expense of homegrown stars, insiderssay"
An article by the National Post, part of alarger feature on the Federal Government's supercluster initiative, criticizesShared Services Canada's Procurement Policy as an example of governmentprocurement paying insufficient attention to local Canadian businesses.
"Who's winning federalcontracts in Ottawa-Gatineau?"
An article inthe February edition of the Ottawa Business Journal mentions another TelesatCanada contract, this one for specialized satellite earth station equipmentrequirements.
January 2019 SSC
"Network outages delaysurgent passports"
A CTV clip mentions Shared Services Canada asthe department responsible for resolving the network outage affecting theprinting of new passports.
"Passport Canada can'tprocess some passports because of internet outage"
An article published by CTV News reports on the difficulties experiencedby Passport Canada in printing passports after a vehicle collision that knockedout a Service Canada processing centre in Mississauga. Shared Services Canada(SSC) is not directly mentioned in this story, even though SSC is responsiblefor restoring the service.
""Who's winning federalcontracts in Ottawa-Gatineau?""
The Ottawa Business Journal's feature on federal contracts lists TelesatCanada's recent contract with Shared Services Canada for "Enterprise VSATKu-band satellite requirements". This mention is a part of a larger list ofrecent federal contracts awarded to vendors.
"Lobby Wrap: Just forLaughs lobbying Ottawa for promotional and programming funding"
In an iPolitics article, Marco Vigliotti highlights a number of lobbyistregistrations, noting that Lindsay Aagaard of Fasken Martin DuMoulin is "nowlobbying federally for Let Me Compete, a coalition of small and medium-sizedsuppliers of printers, photocopiers, and related services upset with SharedServices Canada's procurement policies."
"Public Safety MinisterGoodale discusses national security priorities"
Shared Services Canada and Budget 2018's planned spending on federalcyber security is mentioned in an article detailing a speech given by MinisterGoodale on national security priorities at the University of Regina.
"New National DefenceHQ could cost over $1 billion"
Shared Services Canada's collaboration with the Department of NationalDefence and Public Service and Procurement Canada in the consolidation of 50Department of National Defence offices around the National Capital Region ismentioned in a National Commercial News article.
"Feds promote DMs whocan stickhandle tough provincial, U.S. relations"
In an article published in The Hill Times, theauthor speaks about the recent top official shuffle and provides a shortsummary of Paul Glover's significant and relevant past experience.
January 2019 OCIO
"Adopting Estonia's Model forDigital Government Services"
The National Post and other news outlets reportedin January 2019 that the House Access to Information, Privacy and EthicsCommittee would be studying how Canada could adopt Estonia's model for digitalgovernment services. The article noted that MPs are particularly interested inthe security and privacy implications of digital government services.
"Wiring PublicPolicy for Digital Government"
From January to February 2019, Policy Options IRPP published a specialseries on digital government called "Wiring Public Policy for Digital Government."The series examined the challenges associated with moving toward digitalgovernment, including the need to transform the culture of the public service,change policy-making and develop public servants' "digital literacy" skills.
Critiquingthe notion that digital government would lead to more democratic government
As part of its special series on digital government, Policy Options IRPP published an opinionpiece that critiqued the notion that digital government would lead to moredemocratic government. The opinion piece contended that open governmentinitiatives are "plagued by undeniable contradictions" and "undermined by otherdigital government initiatives that have competing objectives."
CRA securesonline login platform called Verified.Me
The CRA completed its tests of a secure onlinelogin platform called Verified.Me in 2018 and is planning to work with theTreasury Board to determine how the platform "aligns with the vision on digitalidentity management"
PrivacyCommissioner urges "incremental" approach to digitizing Canadians' access togovernment services and to ensure safeguards against data breaches
The Hill Times reported that the federal PrivacyCommissioner, Daniel Therrien, was invited to testify before the House Accessto Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee on January 31, as part of itsstudy into the "privacy of digital government services." Mr. Therrien urged thefederal government to adopt an "incremental" approach to digitizing Canadians'access to government services and to ensure safeguards against data breachesare in place, citing what happened with the Phoenix pay system.
December 2018 SSC
"Organizational Risks with The Government of Canada's Digitization and Information Technology"
Former Shared Services Canada (SSC) COO John Glowacki published an article in the Canadian Government Executive Magazine, on the challenges that SSC faces in its mandate to modernize and consolidate. While John is critical of SSC and the way the Federal Government has handled this government-wide consolidation, he puts the onus on the Treasury Board Secretariat for the delays and complications. Glowacki provides recommendations and urges the Government of Canada to seriously consider implementing them.
"Trudeau shuffles top ranks of Canada's public service"
An article published by iPolitics on a top official shuffle in the public service mentions Ron Parker's retirement and Paul Glover's appointment as President of Shared Services Canada.
December 2018 SSC
TBS to test blockchain-based credentials as replacements for paperdocuments
The Treasury Board and Shared Services Canada launched a project to test blockchain-based credentials as replacements for paper documents.
November 2018 SSC
"Canada Revenue Agency's promised fix for call centre complaints has hit a snag"
Writing for CBC Politics, Karina Roman published an article on the delayed implementation of Canada Revenue Agency's new call centre phone system. The reporter provides background information on the call centre system, mentioning last fall's Auditor General Report findings of "dismal service standards". While the article focuses on the Canada Revenue Agency and skepticism around the project's projected completion date, the reporter notes that the project is overseen by Shared Services Canada.
"Unnecessary Risks by the Government of Canada"
In a Canadian Government Executive Magazine article written by former COO of Shared Services Canada for, John Glowacki argues that the Government of Canada should recognize its "propensity to take on significant risk" and be willing to obtain services from large IT firms when undertaking large scale transformational projects.
This willingness should be based on the fact that large IT firms have more experience performing projects of this scale than public servants, who "can go their entire career and only be involved in one or two transformational programs". The Email Transformation Initiative and the Phoenix pay system are mentioned as good and bad examples respectively.
"Spider scare sends federal government workers home - twice"
An article – the first of many published by a variety of outlets on the issue – details the spotting of a potentially dangerous spider at 2300 St. Laurent Boulevard in Ottawa. The incident resulted in 50 employees working remotely to allow for the offices to be fumigated.
This particular article by the CBC's Ryan Tumilty included comments from an arachnologist who was quoted by saying "the evacuations were a massive overreaction". A later update to the story noted that an employee was bitten by a spider and suffered symptoms similar to those inflicted by a brown recluse spider.
While the article includes comments from Shared Services Canada (SSC) on the importance of Health and Safety of employees and the ability to work remotely, the article remains critical of SSC's decision making.
"At committee: Government surplus sales, divorce and custody laws and cross-border customs cooperation"
In a iPolitics article by Kady O'Malley, the reporter writes about an upcoming Public Accounts Committee appearance where officials from various federal departments including Shared Services Canada will be questioned on surplus disposal processes.
The article notes that this is in response to a report published in the spring by Auditor General Michael Ferguson noting "the Government's tendency to dispose of surplus goods and equipment by selling them off—often for considerably less than the estimate remaining value".
"StatsCan must justify request for personal banking data, former chief says"
Statistics Canada has been a frequent topic in the media due to its alleged plan to access the banking information of Canadians for statistical purposes. This particular Globe and Mail story by Bill Curry bases itself off an interview with former Chief Statistician Wayne Smith and criticizes StatsCan.
Although Shared Services Canada (SSC) is not the focus of this story, Mr. Smith's resignation in protest over StatsCan's housing of servers with SSC is mentioned as background information.
October 2018 SSC
"Doppler radar, $10 garage-opener remote, 505 phones: feds lose $18-million of property in 2017-18"
In an article written by Jolson Lim of The Hill Times, the dollar value of lost or stolen items from federal government departments is listed. Although not the primary focus of the story, Shared Services Canada is mentioned regarding two cases of telecommunications equipment theft valued at nearly $80,000.
"More than a dozen federal departments flunked a credit card security test"
This article, published by Dean Beeby of CBC News, states that Canada Revenue Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Statistics Canada, and more than a dozen other federal departments and agencies have failed an international test of the security of their credit card payment systems. The reporter then points the finger to the "main culprit", Shared Services Canada.
Under the Access to Information Act, the reporter obtained a briefing note and according to him, it suggests that Shared Services Canada (SSC) is to blame. The article mentions that "based on the latest information, all 13 departments which are supported by SSC are considered to be non-compliant, of which 11 have indicated SSC IT systems related problems as the largest contributing factor."
"How many government workers does it take to buy a TV? About 39 public servants and 300 emails"
This article focuses mainly on Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and how complicated the flow of information can become when the Government wants to buy TVs. Shared Services Canada (SSC) is mentioned because some of the emails retrieved via the Access to Information Act include emails from SSC employees.
"While Statistics Canada is one of the world's premier statistical agencies, a few changes will cement its independence and Canada's commitment to facts"
This article talks about the three challenges that Statistics Canada faces in the creation and publication of valid and reliable facts: Interpretability, innovation and independence.
The reporter describes the third challenge – Independence – as the most crucial theme and the one that performing the least. The reporter recalls former chief statistician Wayne Smith's resignation over a dispute where the Government decided that Statistics Canada had to use IT systems from Shared Services Canada which would compromise the confidentiality of key data.
Smith raises important points that would increase the independence of Statistics Canada which are listed in the article.
"5 lessons from new technology leaders: Alex Benay, CIO of the Government of Canada"
An article, published by IT World Canada, covers the five lessons from Chief Information Officer for the Government of Canada Alex Benay. The original version erroneously included a mention that Phoenix was a Shared Services Canada (SSC) related project. This association was included by the reporter, not Alex Benay.
SSC Media Relations spoke with the reporter immediately who recognized his error in attributing Phoenix to SSC and updated his article shortly thereafter.
"Canada-bound trucks 'backed up' on Ambassador Bridge due to system issue"
This article explains how commercial trucks heading into Canada on the Ambassador Bridge are experiencing delays due to a systems issue with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). The article mentions bridge General Manager Randy Spader as saying it's not clear what the issue is but CBSA is doing everything they can to minimize delays.
Shared Services Canada media monitoring followed this story very closely but no follow up articles were written or published.
September 2018 SSC
"Nearly 2,500 public servants to be moved for Portage III renovations"
Published in early September, this article speaks to the nearly 2,500 public servants – some of which are Shared Services Canada (SSC) employees – who are being moved from Place du Portage III due to renovations. The article has no impact or tone on SSC as an organization.
"New data centre opens in Base Borden"
After announcing our new Enterprise Data Centre (EDC) Borden, three media outlets published articles on the event. CTV, Renew Canada and IT World Canada wrote about the new EDC. The articles are factual, concise, and speak to the benefits of the new EDC using language from Shared Services Canada's news release. No particular tone.
"Ottawa racks up thousands in fees"
Andrea Gunn of the Chronicle Herald (Halifax, N.S.) published an article criticizing the Government of Canada and Shared Services Canada (SSC) specifically on late fees and interest payments incurred by dozens of government departments, agencies and crown corporations. The tone is negative and critical.
The article also mentions that SSC was not immediately able to respond. The reporter contacted the Department around 3:00 pm for comment and published later that same evening. SSC was not given adequate time to provide the reporter with a response.
"SSC overbills tax & border agencies by $13M – but won't pay them back"
An article published by Dean Beeby of CBC News criticizes Shared Services Canada (SSC), claiming that the Department "ripped off" the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the Canada Border Security Agency (CBSA). The reporter claims that both agencies stated they had been overcharged for having their data processed on central mainframe computers, services that are overseen and operated by SSC.
The article is overwhelmingly negative, stating that there are unresolved disputes between the organizations, and that "SSC refuses to refund them". All three organizations worked together to provide the reporter with a joint response. The article was published shortly thereafter.
"Exclusive – MP Leona Alleslev"
In an exclusive article to the National Post from Member of Parliament Leona Alleslev on why she crossed the floor from the Government benches to take her seat among Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, she lists the reasons why the vision she once shared with the Liberals eroded over time.
In one passage, she details how constituents told her how frustrating it had become to deal with the Federal Government, and how "this Government is not delivering the right standard of service to meet the needs of Canadians. This in addition to challenges the Liberals have not resolved, including: Phoenix, Shared Services Canada, Canada (SSC) Post, and others."
While there is no clear association between phoenix and SSC, the way in which the wording is organized could give the impression that they are related.
"Online service shutdown wreaks havoc for travellers, immigration applicants"
The reporter writes about a nearly 12-hour period that week where the immigration department's online services were down, creating havoc for Canada-bound travelers and visa applicants with deadlines.
According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the problem was detected at 7:31 a.m. and was not resolved until 6:10 that evening. IRCC mentions in their statement to the reporter that it appears the problem was related to an IT infrastructure network hardware failure. They do not explicitly mention Shared Services Canada (SSC).
"A better and more flexible service experience for Canadians"
This article discusses Employment and Social Development Canada's announcement on improvements to Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security Programs to provide a better, more flexible service experience for Canadians.
Although these programs fall under the purview of Shared Services Canada, the Department was not mentioned.
August 2018 SSC
« Ottawa multiplie les ratés informatiques »
On August 14, Québecor-owned publications Journal de Montréal and Journal de Québecpublished « Ottawa multiplie les ratés informatiques ». This article reported that a team within Shared Services Canada (SSC) tasked with running performance evaluations on departmental projects has only completed one evaluation in five years.
The salary of the team is included as a part of the story's subtitle (« Le ministère créé pour régler les bogues a dépensé 2 M$ pour réaliser une seule évaluation ») and is used as part of the criticism directed to SSC by the journalist.
The authors of the article note that the story is based off of documents received via an Access to Information request «après des mois d'efforts». Both the online and print version of the story include a list of controversial SSC initiatives (for example the Email Transformation Initiative) and their cost.
« Ottawa Doit Rendre Publics Ses Chantiers Informatiques »
The Journal de Montréal and Journal de Québec published « Ottawa Doit Rendre Publics Ses Chantiers Informatiques » on August 15. While the article does not explicitly mention Shared Services Canada, the writer clearly invokes the Department in the opening paragraph:
« Des voix s'élèvent pour réclamer du gouvernement Trudeau qu'il rende public l'état des chantiers informatiques du fédéral au fur et à mesure de leur avancement, alors que les projets en déroute s'accumulent. »
Despite the claim that people are demanding that the Trudeau government regularly release updates on the status of their IT projects, only one individual is directly quoted in the story. NDP Member of Parliament Guy Caron states that it would be a way for Canadians to know if their money is being well invested.
The story does not include a response from the Department; it also notes that the Minister's Office had no response with regard to increasing transparency on IT spending. However, unlike other stories related to service delivery, the article did not mention previous IT-related projects such as the Email Transformation Initiative.
BCE Quarterly Earnings Report
On August 2nd, Shared Services Canada (SSC) is briefly mentioned in two stories related to the release of Bell Canada's quarterly profits. For example, Reuters mentioned the Department's contract with Bell as a reason for the vendor's increased customer base:
"Bell Canada, which has been investing heavily to upgrade its network to compete with rival Rogers Communications Inc., has been gaining from government contracts helping it boost its customer base. The company has a six-year contract with Shared Services Canada (SSC), the department that oversees information technology services government-wide, to provide mobile network and services."
July 2018 SSC
« 1 G$ d'extras aux cinq géants »
On July 23, QMI Media published « 1 G$ d'extras aux cinq géants » (also published as « Contrats informatiques: un milliard de dollars en extras pour cinq firmes ») in Le Journal de Montréal. The story was published online and in both QMI Media newspapers, although it was not mentioned on the front page of either paper.
The story, which was based on a document obtained by the journalist via an Access to Information request, reported that Bell, Rogers, Telus, Microsoft and IBM received a combined 1700 contracts from the Federal Government over the last seven years. The reporter also noted that these companies shared nearly half of the Government's IT contracts from 2011 to 2017.
Although the story includes a response from a Shared Services Canada spokesperson, commentary from a specialist on public contracts is juxtaposed against the departmental response:
« La valeur initiale des accords s'appuie sur les besoins opérationnels du moment », soutient Charles Anido. Il ajoute que les modifications aux contrats sont divulguées publiquement et respectent les règles en place.
Or, M. Coudé explique que les fameuses « options » inscrites dans les contrats peuvent ressembler quelquefois à des « chèques en blanc aux géants de l'informatique. »
Internal memo raises red flag over quake warning system"
On July 8, CBC News published "Internal memo raises red flag over quake warning system". The story, which was based on a Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) memo received by the reporter via an Access to Information request, noted infrastructure issues related to NRCan's earthquake and tsunami-monitoring systems:
"Earthquake- and tsunami-monitoring systems may have been put at risk after Shared Services Canada (SSC) – Ottawa's controversial IT department – was handed the job of maintaining the aging equipment and data centres.
There's a red flag in an internal memo from NRCan discussing whether Canada has adequate infrastructure to help alert citizens about threats to coastlines, especially in British Columbia."
In addition to reporting on the memo, the story includes mention of other government departments that have faced service delivery issues in the past, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Statistics Canada and Correctional Service Canada.
The story, which included a response from both SSC and NRCan spokespeople, was published within various CBC news sites. A brief segment with the reporter was broadcast on CBC Radio 1 and CBC Radio World report.
June 2018 SSC
Canadian Centre for Cyber Security
The main subject covered by media in June was the new cyber security centre. Le Journal de Québec reported that the new Centre for Cybersecurity will be operational as of fall 2018, noting that Budget 2018 allocated $507 million for the conception of the new agency. Shared Services Canada (SSC) was briefly mentioned, noting that 750 employees will work for the Centre, including existing SSC employees that are expected to be integrated into the new organization.
"The Sinking of the Good Ship Shared Services Canada"
The Hill Times published an opinion piece in early June titled, "The sinking of the good ship Shared Services Canada", which is an opinion editorial by a retired public servant. The article explores the reasons the author thinks Shared Services Canada is 'floundering'. Among the reasons listed are a lack of internal leadership, a flawed organizational structure and a lack of required support from the 43 federal departments and agencies. While the tone of the editorial was decidedly negative, it received no further attention from other media outlets.
May 2018 SSC
"Federal government signs $500M contract with IBM without seeking bids"
Shared Services Canada's (SSC) $500 million contract with IBM for 16 new mainframes as well as maintenance and support for existing hardware and software generated the most media attention for the Department. Despite the story generating negative press for the Department, it was primarily reported by the CBC with little attention from other outlets.
SSC was also mentioned in stories relating to the Government's approval of $7B in budget spending for various government departments, including Public Services and Procurement Canada.
Other issues in May that generated SSC-related media attention included minor mentions in pieces related to Bell Canada Enterprises' missed profit estimate and articles from Québecor-owned publications related to the procurement of cellular service towers for the G7 conference in and around Charlevoix, Québec.
April 2018 SSC
In April, CBC News published "Rush order for 31,000 smartphones signals return of 'March Madness' budget rush", which reported on a purchase order of 31,000 smart phones made by Shared Services Canada on behalf of 27 departments and agencies. The article, which is based on an Access to Information request – procured memos, describes the purchase as an example of 'March Madness', defined within the article as "the practice of shovelling unspent departmental funds out the door before the end of a fiscal year."
Although the original story presents the purchase order as an example of government waste, the majority of the criticism in the article is directed at the Federal Liberal Government. Both digital and broadcast versions of the story use quotes from current Member of Parliament and former President of the Treasury Board Tony Clement describing the purchase order as an example of fiscally irresponsible spending: "This is an ongoing cultural issue in Ottawa where, when March 31 occurs, people use it as an opportunity to access the taxpayers' piggy bank and initiate a bonanza".
While the story was broadly reported by the CBC, it received little other attention. Two smaller sites, Baystreet.ca and iPhone in Canada, reported on the story using details from the CBC story for their own articles. The Globe and Mail also included a brief mention of the purchase order on April 27 in a story about a $2.8 billion surplus for the month of February.
Calian Group Limited's new IT and cybersecurity service agreement valued at $11 million with Shared Services Canada, Canada Revenue Agency and Public Service and Procurement Canada
In a Calian Group Limited Press Release, Shared Services Canada is briefly mentioned in Calian Group's announcement of their new IT and cyber security service agreement award, alongside Canada Revenue Agency and Public Service and Procurement Canada.
Other topics that brought Shared Services Canada media attention in April included:
The SS7 exploit – a vulnerability where hackers can read texts, listen to calls and track mobile phone users – was reported on by Radio-Canada and the CBC. Shared Services Canada (SSC) is mentioned when the reporter states there was confusion from the Federal Government regarding which department was responsible. "After two days of hesitating, the Cyber Security Establishment was tasked with drafting a response."
In a The Hill Times article, a member of the "Let me Compete!" coalition criticizes SSC's new procurement program that will consolidate the number of pre-approved suppliers for printers and printer services, saying it will shut out small- and medium-sized suppliers. While the Department is directly mentioned, departmental messaging and lines are used in the article to provide some balance to the tone.
The Department also received brief mentions in media pieces related to Rogers Communications Inc.'s share price, a former ministerial staffer's new role with Twitter Canada, results from a workplace harassment survey and the new Centre for Cyber Security. All mentions of the Department in these media pieces were minor.
March 2018 SSC
Statistics Canada gets recognition it needs, deserves in Morneau's budget
This article from The Hill Times discusses how the 2018 budget contains 10 direct funding initiatives pointing to the restoration of the long-form census and reinforcement of Statistics Canada's independence. The article states that the most far-reaching budget item is to help modernize the agency and bring it further into the digital world with new sources such as Cloud. The reporter ends by noting how fortunate Canadians are in having one of the world's best statistical agencies.
February 2018 SSC
Could cloud services may signal the end of 'big zombie IT projects' in Government?
In an Ottawa Citizen article, the reporter discusses the joint unveiling of a new information technology policy called Cloud Services by Treasury Board Secretariat President Scott Brison and Minister Carla Qualtrough.
The reporter claims Scott Brison took aim at Shared Services Canada (SSC) because it's been slow and inflexible in setting up new online services and ordering the new hardware. While the reporter mentions that Qualtrough's department had negotiated 22 contracts to date, he criticizes the tiny fraction of SSC's annual budget allocated to Cloud contracts and highlights private contractors' suspicions. The reporter also refers to SSC as a monopoly.
The article ends by stating that Cloud service providers have secured their foothold in government and if they deliver, could spell the beginning of the end of monster IT failures.
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