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Lib government pay system mess affects 80,000 workers

mark_alfred
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mark_alfred
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http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/phoenix-payroll-problems-fix-1.3683735

The government instituted a new pay system for many of its public service employees that has been rife with problems.

Quote:

About 720 public servants — mostly new hires and students — have not received pay. Another 1,100 have not received parental, long-term disability or severance payments, while more than 80,000 employees entitled to supplementary pay for extra duties, over-time or pay adjustments have had problems.

Federal public service employees have reported maxed-out credit cards, depleted savings and unpaid bills because of problems with the new pay system.

Workers in various departments have complained about not being paid, being underpaid, or in some cases being overpaid.

Seems the Liberal plan to encourage worker solidarity is to be as incompetent an employer as possible.


quizzical
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Joined: Dec 8 2011

oh but Sophie needs a wage......


Mr. Magoo
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Joined: Dec 13 2002

Quote:
The government instituted a new pay system for many of its public service employees that has been rife with problems.

Which government instituted it?  The current one, or the previous one?


quizzical
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Joined: Dec 8 2011

did ya read the article magoo?

Quote:
The system has been plagued with problems since it rolled out earlier this year.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
The government instituted a new pay system for many of its public service employees that has been rife with problems.

Which government instituted it?  The current one, or the previous one?

The system seems to have been bought under the previous government, but it was implemented (or not) under the current one.

It is a bit ridiculous to believe that elected politicians are directly involved in screwups like these. The responsibility of government is to intervene and correct the situation when it goes belly up - or better, to do their homework before allowing civil service types to plough ahead incompetently. That's where the current government appears to be failing. If it were any other employer, we'd be seizing assets to pay our wages. I think the unions have been a tad nice to Trudeau and his hench(wo)men. They should consider targeted work actions (even "illegal") to get their pay. I don't usually like to advise fellow trade unionists about tactics, but this situation is tragically laughable.


Pondering
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It's more than a little ridiculous to lay this on the Liberal government at all and shows extreme partisanship. The ship of state does not turn on a dime. The Harper Government, contractors, and civil servants are responsible for this screw-up. Apparently Trudeau has stepped in personally to correct the situation which I do NOT give him credit for because he is only doing what we should expect of our government. Blaming him for not catching it sooner is ridiculous.

If it were any other employer they would be going belly-up and banks would be seizing assets not unions.

In a briefing last week, Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote said that 720 federal employees — mostly new hires and students — had contacted the government about not being paid since the Phoenix pay system was implemented earlier this year, and that 486 of them would get a lump sum of back pay on Wednesday. Another 1,100 workers have not received parental, long-term disability or severance payments, while more than 80,000 employees entitled to supplementary pay for extra duties, overtime or pay adjustments have had problems.

In an emailed statement Tuesday, Public Services and Procurement Canada spokesman Pierre-Alain Bujold said the government "is on target" to provide the lump sum payments to those 486 people who haven't been paid, adding that an update on the situation will be provided Thursday.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/phoenix-payday-troubles-public-serv...

 

It is certainly an urgent situation for those affected and it is certainly the responsiblity of the Liberal administration to fix it but they are not responsible for the screw up nor are they responsible for the failure of the civil servants to correct the issue. Civil servants should be fired for this screw up but there is no doubt in my mind that unions will protect the civil servants who are most likely at fault for not fixing this situation sooner.


Mr. Magoo
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Joined: Dec 13 2002

Quote:
did ya read the article magoo?

I did, and that's why I asked.  I figured there could be no way that the current government could have tendered, purchased and rolled out a new payroll system of this scale between the end of October and January.

Anyway, I guess Justin was too busy posing for pictures to properly configure that Oracle database.


mark_alfred
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It seems the Trudeau government went ahead in implementing phase 2 of this new system despite warnings from PSAC that phase one had problems.  They ignored the feedback, and now six months later workers are still suffering.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/phoenix-payday-troubles-public-serv...

Quote:
While the new system was spearheaded under the previous Conservative government, it rolled out in phases under the Trudeau government's watch earlier this year in spite of a warning from the largest union representing federal public servants.


mark_alfred
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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/phoenix-payday-troubles-public-serv...

Quote:

Lydia Chandrasekaran received one emergency advance, but said it wasn't enough to get by without a full salary since December.

The human resources worker gave up her career at Global Affairs in May to stay home with her three-year-old daughter Maven in Almonte, Ont., and save $1,000 a month on daycare.

So both the lack of pay and the lack of affordable child care led this woman to quit.  If daycare had been $15 a day (assuming a 5 day workweek), it would come to about $315 a month rather than $1000.  "Real change"?  I think not.


quizzical
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Pondering wrote:
It's more than a little ridiculous to lay this on the Liberal government at all and shows extreme partisanship.

bs. if this was the Conservatives or the NDP i would be saying the same damn thing.

your diminishing of the dire situation words are what smack of partisanship.

have a read of mark's cited words below yours.

asking for Sophie to get a wage while real government employees are suffering is nasty ass all the way.


Mr. Magoo
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Joined: Dec 13 2002

Quote:
asking for Sophie to get a wage while real government employees are suffering is nasty ass all the way.

Easy answer for that:  give her a wage, payable through the Phoenix system.

Then for sure Justin will be pulling all-nighters writing code to fix this, toot sweet.  And meanwhile, Sophie will get some valuable firsthand experience being a "commoner".


mark_alfred
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Joined: Jan 3 2004

Laughing


jjuares
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Joined: Jan 21 2012
Pondering wrote:

Civil servants should be fired for this screw up but there is no doubt in my mind that unions will protect the civil servants who are most likely at fault for not fixing this situation sooner.

As usual this poster engages in some right wing attacks on unions. Of course, this silly attack is particularly ironic. Mark Alfred provided the link in which the union warned the government not to implement phase two of this program.

Rev Pesky
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Joined: May 1 2012

Here'a a good timeline of the introduction of the Phoenix pay system:

Phoenix

Quote:

2009: Tories launch plans to update the pay system

Under minister Rona Ambrose, Public Works launches a two-part plan to transform public service pay: consolidate all work in Miramichi, and replace the 40-year-old payment system. The business case is approved and Public Works starts the procurement process. Costs are pegged at $310M, of which $187M will be pay system.

2010: Harper promises 550 jobs in Miramichi

Employees will do the work of 2,700 compensation advisors scattered across the country

2011: IBM Canada receives a contract to implement the new system. It is awarded a total of $141M between 2011 and spring of 2016. 

One of the things that has been missing from the story is the role of IBM Canada. This was an 'off-the-shelf' system provided by them. Whatever one says about the competence or otherwise of the governments involved, doesn't IBM have some responsibility to see that the system they created actually works?

This is reminiscent of the Compass Card fiasco in BC. Another technological roll-out that took years, and cost a couple of hundred million dollars.


Mr. Magoo
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Joined: Dec 13 2002

For an application of this size, "off-the-shelf" would imply a product whose base design and code has been completed and tested (both by the vendor and by others who licenced the application).  It wouldn't mean "buy it, install it and go" like you or I licensing MS Office.

The base code would need to be heavily customized, which of course would introduce lots of opportunities for errors, and then actually implemented (used) which would also introduce opportunities for errors.

So let's say that workers whose time is split between part-time regular hours and part-time "on-call" hours are the ones not being appropriately paid.

1.  Perhaps the base code is buggy, but if so then everyone's implementation of this application should experience similar errors with similar employees.  IBM would need to fix this across the board, for all.

2.  Perhaps the customizations are the problem.  That could mean a code error or it could mean a business logic error.  Both the government and IBM would need to work together to find and fix this.

3.  Perhaps the implementation is at fault.  Employees could be incorrectly categorized, hours of work could be entered twice, or in the wrong place, or whatever.  This would be (mostly) for the government to fix.

Of course the problems aren't even limited to just one of these; it could be a case of all three.

Anyone really bored enough might be able to find the government's original tender on Merx.  That might give some idea of the extent of expected customizations and suchlike.


Webgear
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Joined: May 30 2005

If you want to look into another government/political blunder, do some research into wait times for ex-forces personal to receive military pension.

Average wait time is between 5-8 months.

Severance package wait time is 3-5 months.

I am assuming other government departments pensions are also screwed up.

 

 


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Webgear wrote:

If you want to look into another government/political blunder, do some research into wait times for ex-forces personal to receive military pension.

Average wait time is between 5-8 months.

Are you serious? Are you talking about each monthly payment, or the beginning of payments? This is insane.

 


Webgear
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Joined: May 30 2005

Unionist,

No, it is the beginning of payments that I am referring too. I left the military tomorrow; I have to wait upwards of 8 months before I get the first check.

They are telling anyone wanting to retire to plan according.

 


Rev Pesky
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Joined: May 1 2012

Mr. Magoo wrote:

For an application of this size, "off-the-shelf" would imply a product whose base design and code has been completed and tested (both by the vendor and by others who licenced the application).  It wouldn't mean "buy it, install it and go" like you or I licensing MS Office... 

The very first sentence of the timeline story I posted:

Quote:
Months after the federal government went live with its new off-the-shelf system to process payments to its 300,000 federal employees, thousands of public servants across the country are still reporting problems.

Now, I am taking them at their word. Perhaps they're wrong,  but the point is, does the vendor of the software have any responsibility to see that it works in practice, or do they just give you the disc and tell you to go for it. I suspect that in an application of this magnitude, some after sale support would be a part of the sale.

If I was responsible for this procurement, I would be on the phone daily to the supplier to get them to provide support for their product, and if they didn't, I would suspend payment.

But like I said, this is like the BC Compass card fiasco which turned into a long, drawn out, very expensive foray into the world of high-tech.

Given the rise of technology, and the importance of it's use within governments, perhaps it's time for a Ministry of Technology to admininster the various technologies used. As it is, governments seem to be unable to marshal the resources needed to determine the best technology, and the best use of technology.


Mr. Magoo
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Joined: Dec 13 2002

Quote:
Now, I am taking them at their word. Perhaps they're wrong,  but the point is, does the vendor of the software have any responsibility to see that it works in practice, or do they just give you the disc and tell you to go for it.

Well, we've probably all licensed software of this sort in our lives.  Buy the disc(s), install it, run it and hope.  But unless you purchase some kind of extended support package for MS Office, you actually are kind of on your own if it borks on your particular system. 

Quote:
I suspect that in an application of this magnitude, some after sale support would be a part of the sale.

I suspect that's the case as well.  But is there evidence that IBM is just walking away??

I also suspect that considerable customizations were part of the tender.  Applications such as this will always need to be customized to accomodate jurisdictional requirements, local standards and customer preferences.

To put it another way, do you suppose that IBM Canada had a copy of their Canadian national payroll application on some CDs in a box on the shelf, just waiting and hoping for the one and only possible buyer of a Canadian national payroll application -- the government of Canada?


Rev Pesky
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Joined: May 1 2012

Mr. Magoo wrote:
...I suspect that's the case as well.  But is there evidence that IBM is just walking away??

I also suspect that considerable customizations were part of the tender.  Applications such as this will always need to be customized to accomodate jurisdictional requirements, local standards and customer preferences.

To put it another way, do you suppose that IBM Canada had a copy of their Canadian national payroll application on some CDs in a box on the shelf, just waiting and hoping for the one and only possible buyer of a Canadian national payroll application -- the government of Canada?

I think my point was more in the line of, why is everyone blaming the government as though they wrote the program. Normally when someone sells a product, they have at least some responsibility to see that it works. I haven't seen any mention of IBM's role in this screw-up, except as they were mentioned in the timeline.

As far as whether IBM had the program in a box on the shelf, that is in fact what 'off-the-shelf' means, isn't it? However, I do agree that whatever they sold, it would have to have some modification. I assume that would be true for any purchaser. So I doubt it' a case where the only purchaser to ask for modification of the program would be the government. It would be something IBM dealt with in almost every sale.

At the same time, I doubt they sold the product to the government with a warning that they were going to have endless problems getting it up and running. I rather suspect their sales pitch included something to the effect that this was a great product, and was going to be relatively easy to carry out.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Webgear wrote:

Unionist,

No, it is the beginning of payments that I am referring too. I left the military tomorrow; I can wait upwards of 8 months before I get the first check

They are telling anyone wanting to retire to plan according.

Their system is chaos, because they don't give a shit about veterans or anyone else - and they want the victims to "plan accordingly"!? I never knew about this, nor how long it's been going on. If you have any source references, or better, any links to people who are organizing and protesting against this criminality, please be so kind as to share.

 


Webgear
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Joined: May 30 2005

Here are some stories about the delays. 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/outdated-understaffed-system-causes-pension-delay-for-canadian-reservists/article28276286/

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/06/27/six-month-wait-for-military-pension-drove-vet-to-the-brink.html

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/06/27/veterans-turning-to-charity-due-to-military-pension-delays.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/retired-veteran-scott-costen-upset-about-wait-for-pension-benefits-1.3116051

 

Here is some information on the CF Pension Plan 

http://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/fac-caf/vedette-feature1-eng.html

On July 4, 2016, the administration of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) pension plans was transitioned to Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC).

 

There are several Veterans and Union Groups fighting to speed up the wait times. 

http://psacunion.ca/canadian-government-cuts-veterans-staff-services

I will try and dig up some more links tomorrow.

 

Have a good night.

 


Mr. Magoo
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Joined: Dec 13 2002

Quote:
I think my point was more in the line of, why is everyone blaming the government as though they wrote the program.

Short answer:  Check the thread title.  We're not talking about the IBM pay system, we're talking about the Liberal government pay system.

Quote:
As far as whether IBM had the program in a box on the shelf, that is in fact what 'off-the-shelf' means, isn't it?

Well, kind of.  For regular consumers like you and me, it would mean some desktop appication that we install and use and that hopefully works.  At a national scale, I'm just suggesting it would mean software that's mostly already written, but needs customization.  Like the difference between your tailor making you a truly bespoke suit, versus taking one off the rack, hemming the cuffs, darting the shoulders, taking in the waistband, etc.

Quote:
I rather suspect their sales pitch included something to the effect that this was a great product, and was going to be relatively easy to carry out.

I'm sure they had good things to say.  But it's not yet clear whether the problems were with base code, customizations, or user implementation (known as "pilot error" to support staff).

 


quizzical
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Joined: Dec 8 2011

fk this it's about programming shit.

there are law about not paying your employees on time.

after the first pay period fk up they should've started cutting cheques the old fashioned way.


Mr. Magoo
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Joined: Dec 13 2002

Quote:
after the first pay period fk up they should've started cutting cheques the old fashioned way.

I don't even disagree.

But look at the thread title.  We're here to talk about the "Liberal government" pay system.  And it's a computer system, so the problem isn't going to be water in the carburetor.  It's for sure "programming shit".


quizzical
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Joined: Dec 8 2011

the systems mess could still exist but the employees should've gotten paid


mark_alfred
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Joined: Jan 3 2004

Quote:

Quote:
after the first pay period fk up they should've started cutting cheques the old fashioned way.

I don't even disagree.

But look at the thread title.  We're here to talk about the "Liberal government" pay system.  And it's a computer system, so the problem isn't going to be water in the carburetor.  It's for sure "programming shit".

The thread title is "Lib government pay system mess affects 80,000 workers".  So, arguably from that title, we're here to talk about fixing a mess that's negatively affecting 80,000 workers.  If changing the pay system to "cutting cheques the old fashioned way" would fix the mess, then that's a reasonable suggestion in line with the thread title, right?


Mr. Magoo
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Joined: Dec 13 2002

Quote:
then that's a reasonable suggestion in line with the thread title, right?

Like I said, I don't even disagree.

I'm only suggesting that it's also reasonable, and in line with the thread title, to talk about this "programming shit".


mark_alfred
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Joined: Jan 3 2004

Of course.  And to go beyond that, getting too hung up on staying firmly within a perceived topic, as some frequently complain about, can just stifle discussion.


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