Unsurprising: Citizenship and Immigration computer systems are archaic. They still use dot matrix daisy wheels to print Work Permits! Incredible! Get on with the 21st century, folks!
Parliament buildings, computers ailing, Sheila Fraser says - thestar.com
Parliament buildings, computers ailing, Sheila Fraser says
April 20, 2010
Richard J. Brennan
OTTAWA—Canada’s historic parliament buildings are crumbling and government computer systems are on the verge of collapse because bureaucrats can’t get their act together, Auditor General Sheila Fraser said Tuesday.
And she warned that delays in both cases have driven the estimated costs of renovations and upgrades into the billions of dollars.
“These building are part of Canada’s heritage and are critical to Parliament’s operations. The governance arrangements are hindering rehabilitation work while the buildings continue to deteriorate,” Fraser said.
“I think it is sad,” she told reporters.
Likewise, her spring audit points out that aging government computer systems are on the verge of collapse because bureaucrats have failed to recognize the seriousness of the problem even though the result could deny Canadians basic social services.
At risk is the delivery of Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance cheques and tax collection and rebates.
The centre, east and west block Parliament and support buildings are reported to require billions of dollars in repairs, mostly because Public Works and other departments have been dragging their feet for decades.
“Responsibility for the Parliament buildings is split among many organizations, decision-making and accountability are fragmented and there is a lack of consensus on priorities. These weaknesses result in delayed decisions and projects and contribute to increased project costs and risks,” Fraser said.
The current estimate to rejuvenate the three buildings on the Hill and renovate others to accommodate their occupants when closed is $5 billion over 25 years.
Fraser said her department found none of the long-term plans for rehabilitating the aging buildings to be comprehensive.
The need to breath new life into the Parliament buildings was first approved in 1992 – $483 million over 10 years – and since then more than $1 billion has been spent or allocated but the bulk of the work has yet to be done, the auditor’s report noted.
Fraser recommended the decision-making on when works proceeds should rest not with government departments that have dropped the ball for more than two decades but rather the Senate and the House of Commons.
The auditor’s found departmental reports dating back to 1988 emphasizing the urgent need to repair the Parliament buildings.
With respect to computer systems, the federal auditors looked at the Canada Revenue Agency, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the RCMP and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Fraser suggested it was remarkable that the chief information officer branch of Treasury Board has recognized the problem but done nothing about it.
“Even if the systems are currently working, a breakdown could have severe consequences. At worst, some government programs and services could no longer be delivered to Canadians,” Fraser said, adding the government would need to spend more than $4 billion in just three of the five departments.
The report said a Pubic Works and Government Service Canada 2008 risk assessment found that the information technology for payroll and pension systems “were close to imminent collapse.”
“If some of these major system fail I think the impact could be dramatic on people ... there are many Canadians who depend on these systems as their only source of revenue ... so it is absolutely critical that government ensure these systems continue to work,” Fraser told reporters.