Lib government pay system mess affects 80,000 workers

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mark_alfred
Lib government pay system mess affects 80,000 workers

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mark_alfred

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

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

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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

did ya read the article magoo?

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

Unionist

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

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 Mr. Magoo's picture

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

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

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

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 Mr. Magoo's picture

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

Laughing

jjuares

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

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 Mr. Magoo's picture

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

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

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.

 

Rev Pesky

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 Mr. Magoo's picture

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

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

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

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.

 

Webgear

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 Mr. Magoo's picture

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

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 Mr. Magoo's picture

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

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

mark_alfred

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 Mr. Magoo's picture

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

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.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

quizzical wrote:

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.

My thoughts exactly.

Rev Pesky

Well, the thread title is nice, but useless as a starting point for this discussion because the pay system was written by IBM, and procured by the last Conservative government. Here's a story on how this all took place:

A Phoenix that doesn't fly

Quote:
In his early, frolicsome years as prime minister, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives announced an ambitious plan: pay all of Canada’s federal public servants through an automated national system. It would be a stroke of genius. The Tories won praise for finishing on time and saving money. The Liberals launched the Phoenix payment system this winter.

There was only one problem: It didn’t work.

...Let me take you back to 2009. Public Services and Procurement unveiled a plan to replace Canada’s archaic regional payment system with a centralized setup, run out of Miramichi, N.B. Under the old system, 2,400 advisers were spread across the country, managing compensation for each individual government department.

The Miramichi centre was to be more efficient: only 550 advisers were hired to direct payment for the public service as a whole. Just think of the savings! The Conservatives did: they expected to save $70 million annually by 2016.

...there’s a bit more backstory. Phoenix is an IBM program; the company started work on the public service’s system in 2011. It was green-lit for use in 34 government departments in February. The remaining 67 were slotted under Phoenix in April.

...According to the NDP, everyone can be a scapegoat. “The Conservatives were wrong to imagine that the federal government could effectively replace its payroll systems with off-the-shelf software from IBM operated by a single pay centre,” Erin Weir, the party’s public works critic, said in a statement on Monday. “The Liberals were wrong to implement Phoenix this year even after employees at Miramichi warned that the system was not ready.”

There's that 'off-the-shelf' thing again. I don't want to let the Liberals off the hook too easily, but the fact is this program was initiated 7 years ago. The Liberals came to power just as the program was about to begin. At that point, it would have been pretty much impossible to either change anything, or indeed, even stop it. Most of the infrastructure of the old system would already have been deep-sixed, so there was nothing to go back to.

Unfortunately we can't drag Harper back to force him to do something about it, and I suspect the contract with IBM is such that they're in the clear as well. All one can really say is that in the future, be more careful about purchasing and instituting huge new software systems. I've already suggested this, but I think it's worth reiterating. Given the importance of technological systems to the running of the government, there really should be a separate minstry to handle, install and monitor new technologies.

mark_alfred

Quote:
The Liberals came to power just as the program was about to begin. At that point, it would have been pretty much impossible to either change anything, or indeed, even stop it.

I don't recall reading of similar complaints from public service workers before the new system was implemented.  Generally backups are made.  The government was notified that phase one wasn't working properly.  Yet they pushed ahead anyway.

Unionist

Webgear wrote:

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.

 

Thanks for all this, Webgear. I knew of course about the closure of Veterans' Affairs offices, but not about these delays, which have been going on for years. It's outrageous.

 

mark_alfred
Rev Pesky

mark_alfred wrote:
...Generally backups are made.  The government was notified that phase one wasn't working properly.  Yet they pushed ahead anyway.

This isn't a case where 'backups are made'. The only way to implement a new system such as this without worrying about screw-ups is to run the old system and the new system side by side. That would be more of less impossible in this case, so what is the government to do? As I said, most of the old system infrastructure would have already been gone, so there was nothing to go back to.

Think about it like this. Let's say the electricity fails at a bank. Could they continue to operate? Nope. I had someone tell me once well they could just write stuff down like they used to. It never occurred to them that the forms didn't exist any more, the means to process the forms didn't exist any more, there was nothing left of the old system.

I believe that's probably what the current government faced. Somebody could warn them the new system wasn't working properly, but that doesn't help if there isn't enough of the old system left to return to. In other words, if they hadn't gone ahead, nobody would have been paid because they was no way to pay them without the new system.

This is not an uncommon thing when old systems are replaced with new ones.

Of course I sympathize with the unpaid employees. Everybody should get paid. If I had been in charge of the original contract, I would have put in language to that effect. The current government was not responsible for this contract, but they're stuck with it.

As I mentioned before, another prime example is the implementation of the Compass Cards in BC. A very long drawn out, very expensive, program that no one seemed responsible for.

quizzical

there's no excuses for employees not to be paid for all this time. it's been months. no existing way to do it now is bs.

it takes 2 fkn mins to make up a hard copy time sheet for employees to fill out for submission.

there's even the governments own program they can use for their own merc calculations.

the current government is responsible for NOT paying employees for months.

 

 

Rev Pesky

quizzical wrote:

there's no excuses for employees not to be paid for all this time. it's been months. no existing way to do it now is bs.

it takes 2 fkn mins to make up a hard copy time sheet for employees to fill out for submission.

there's even the governments own program they can use for their own merc calculations.

the current government is responsible for NOT paying employees for months.

Which only confirms what I said about people not realizing what happens when things change. Yes. each person could fill out a tiime card, just as in the bank each person could fill out a deposit slip. Then what?

Well of course! Then each individual office manager from each individual office could collect the time cards and spend the rest of the day writing checks from the checkbook the government would give them to make sure that each employee got paid. The checkbook could be full of plain checks, and the government could give the office managers the account number on which the checks drawn, and they could write that in too. At the end of the year the individual managers could fill out the employees T4 documents using those records they stored in the back room, ensuring the employees could file their taxes on time. They would save those time cards for the future when the new system is up and running, and the information could be input in the new database, and the amounts already paid to the employees would be subtracted from the amount the machine says each employee should get, and all would be well. In fact, I don't know why they need a system at all. They could just do it the way they did 50 years ago.

And in fact that might be true, but is was not the Liberal government that decided to change the system. It was the Conservatives, who at one and the same time wanted to cut payroll costs, and offer a bunch of new jobs in New Brunswick. Both electorally smart decisions.

Unfortunately, they didn't spend enough time doing their research into how this was all going to take place, and who was going to be responsible to see that it worked. Once again, as is often the case in government, electoral and financail considerations took top spot. Reality came second.

quizzical

oh so you think employees should just shut the hell up then and get over it as there's no way they can get paid.

 

ffs typical Liberal excuses

mark_alfred

Here's a laughable notice from the government given to House of Commons employees in March about the Phoenix pay system, letting them know it will be implemented in April for them.

http://www.parl.gc.ca/About/House/ibulletin/2016-03B/docs/FAQ-Phoenix-e.pdf

Quote:
1.Why is PSPC (formerly PWGSC) changing the current pay system?

The current pay system is more than 40 years old and has become increasingly difficult to maintain. It relies on outdated technology that puts the sustainability of pay administration at risk. The new system—called Phoenix—is a more efficient and reliable system that uses progressive technology such as real-time data that will allow you to access and manage your pay information with only the click of a mouse.

Phoenix just sounds dreamy.  For workers, a simple click of the mouse.  For the employer, likely the promise of better monitoring of employees.  Dreamy.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

One thing the government probably could do, though it wouldn't exactly be uncomplicated, would be to forward a list of affected employees to Service Canada and say "these people are eligible to receive EI immediately, in the amount of 100% of their normal income."

The EI system may have had some hiccups too, but it's basically stable and integrated into existing systems, and is a little more secure and reliable than someone writing names and amounts in some ledger, in cursive, like it's 1930.  And it's already there, and it already pays people.

When Phoenix is fixed, Service Canada can send back the paid out amounts, which Phoenix can then deduct.

mark_alfred

More Liberal dreaminess from the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, 2016-05-17 link:

Liberal Judy Foote wrote:

Until recently, the government was using a pay system developed over 40 years ago. It had become inefficient, incompatible with other systems, and provided limited functionality. In response, after extensive testing, the government launched a new system called Phoenix, which is now available in 101 departments and agencies. This system provides employees with a more automated, stable, and modern tool to process pay requests.  <snip>

NDP Erin Weir wrote:
The Phoenix pay system seems to have many problems. Some federal employees have gone for months without pay. Some departments have had to start issuing emergency cheques. Employees of the RCMP depot in my riding have contacted my office about problems getting paid. What actions have you taken to resolve this issue and ensure that the government pays our public servants correctly and on time?

Judy Foote wrote:
I appreciate your question. It's of concern to all of us when employees go without getting paid.     

We've been working very hard. As I said earlier, we have gone through 1.2 million transactions. We have 77 outstanding files, but over 500 have been solved. We want to make sure that no employee goes without being paid, but as with any system, when you're doing away with one system and introducing another one, there are bound to be issues. That doesn't mean that employees should have to go without pay. That's why the emergency measures were put in place, to try to take care of that.

Erin Weir wrote:
Sure. You've kind of focused on the relatively small number of outstanding files. I wonder if part of the reason for that may be that employees can't actually get through to your call centre.

Judy Foote wrote:
We have put additional resources into the call centre. We have sent additional people there to work with the permanent staff of the call centre, trying to ensure that every call gets responded to and every issue dealt with. We are staying on top of that. Tomorrow is another payday, so we'll know better tomorrow in terms of.... We'll of course have more than 1.2 million transactions come tomorrow.     

So we're staying on top of it. We're getting a weekly report of what the issues are, if there are new issues arising, and how we're dealing with them in an expeditious way.

Erin Weir wrote:
Knowing what you know now, do you think it was a good thing that the Government of Canada adopted this Phoenix pay system?
 

Judy Foote wrote:
Absolutely. I mean, the 40-year-old pay system had become ineffective. After a while, most IT systems need to be updated. This is one that certainly needed to be. A lot of testing was done.

mark_alfred

Quote:

One thing the government probably could do, though it wouldn't exactly be uncomplicated, would be to forward a list of affected employees to Service Canada and say "these people are eligible to receive EI immediately, in the amount of 100% of their normal income."

Very good idea.  Something to suggest to Judy Foote.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

Government is now a centre for private profit and IBM, the company behind Phoenix is no doubt making out like a bandit.

You'll note that IBM is also the company behind the social assistance payment fiasco in Ontario.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Government is now a centre for private profit and IBM, the company behind Phoenix is no doubt making out like a bandit.

If this project was properly tendered -- and assuming the problems are IBM's fault, not "pilot error" -- then IBM should actually be losing profit as this wears on.  I very much doubt that the tender said "If the application fails to meet the criteria of this tender, we'll pay you in full anyway, then pay you again to fix it at your leisure".

Rev Pesky

quizzical wrote:

oh so you think employees should just shut the hell up then and get over it as there's no way they can get paid.

ffs typical Liberal excuses

Could you quote the part where I said emplyees should just shut the hell up? In fact I was just pointing out the reality of the situation.

You can try with all your might to get the square peg into the round hole, but it won't go.

What I'm suggesting to you is that the situation the Liberal government finds themselves in is, first off, not their doing, and secondly, there is no easy fix.

Personally, I think the employess have a perfect right to complain, and they should complain. But complaining by itself will not fix anything. This reminds of the time a BC Ferry, coming into Horseshoe Bay terminal, lost the ability to reverse the screws. It was only going two knots or so, but it came into the dock, and just kept coming, and coming, and coming, destroying everything in its path. All the hand waving and shouting in the world wouldn't have made an iota's worth of difference.

That's more or less what we have here. A disaster that was many years in the planning and implementation (seven, at last count), with no way of reversing or changing it now. It's too late. Unfortunately, the only path is to continue forward, and hope that eventually the problems get worked out. In the meantime, I honestly have no idea how the government should get money to the employees. They do need to do that, but they need to do it in such a way that the employees are properly paid, and that the records of the payments are kept for tax purposes.

If it was me, I don't know, maybe I'd just get a sack of money from the bank and hand it out to each employee come payday, because that should be the first consideration.

Many years ago I worked for NCR, a technology company. When I left the company, I had pension money that was coming to me as part of my severance. Unfortunately for me, at around the same time, NCR decided to change something in the system, and it took months to get that money. In the meantime no one could tell me what was going on, or when the money would get paid out, or even who was in charge. NCR is a company that deals almost exclusively in technology, and they screwed up their system so badly it took forever to get it straightened out.

This isn't the first time that some technological solution has failed, and it's unlikely to be the last. If it had been up to me, I would have been a lot more careful of how the contract was awarded, and how the system was implemented. However, they didn't call on me to help out.

Rev Pesky

mark_alfred wrote:
...

Erin Weir wrote:
Knowing what you know now, do you think it was a good thing that the Government of Canada adopted this Phoenix pay system?
 ...   

This is really kind of a dumb question in that it wasn't this minister, nor this government that was responsible for Phoenix.

Rev Pesky

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
Government is now a centre for private profit and IBM, the company behind Phoenix is no doubt making out like a bandit.

If this project was properly tendered -- and assuming the problems are IBM's fault, not "pilot error" -- then IBM should actually be losing profit as this wears on.  I very much doubt that the tender said "If the application fails to meet the criteria of this tender, we'll pay you in full anyway, then pay you again to fix it at your leisure".

This is a good point, but one that eluded Erin Weir. When questioning the minister in charge, the details of responsibility for seeing the system up and running should have been examined.

Given it was the Conservative government who signed the contract, I doubt IBM will have much to worry about...

Pondering

quizzical wrote:

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.

Bullshit. You would hold the government that created the system. When I posted Trudeau said he was going to intervene. Since then I read (in this thread) that the second phase was rolled out since the Liberals took power. Who made the decision to proceed? Was it the government or civil servants still operating on the original plan?

What I do hold the Liberals responsible for right now is getting emergency funds to the affected employees. There is no reason it should take until October. Cut some more emergency cheques and sort out the details later.

I don't believe anyone has requested that Sophie be paid a wage. Do you have a quote for that?

mark_alfred

Rev Pesky wrote:

mark_alfred wrote:
...

Erin Weir wrote:
Knowing what you know now, do you think it was a good thing that the Government of Canada adopted this Phoenix pay system?
 ...   

This is really kind of a dumb question in that it wasn't this minister, nor this government that was responsible for Phoenix.

It was the Liberals who implemented it this year despite warnings not to.  Erin Weir is the NDP Public Services Critic, who sits on the Government Operations Committee, so he would know.

Erin Weir wrote:

The Conservatives were wrong to imagine that the federal government could effectively replace its payroll systems with off-the-shelf software from IBM operated by a single pay centre, relocated to Miramichi for political reasons. The Liberals were wrong to implement Phoenix this year even after employees at Miramichi warned that the system was not ready.

After dismissing concerns raised about Phoenix from federal employees, their unions and the NDP for months, the Prime Minister must now take responsibility for the decisions his government made rather than shifting the blame solely onto the previous government.

http://www.ndp.ca/news/emergency-meeting-needed-over-phoenix-pay-system-...

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