Public servants demonstrate outside the cabinet retreat in Naniamo, B.C. last August to draw attention to problems with the Phoenix payroll system. Now, another federal payroll system needs an overhaul. (CBC)

Another federal payroll system needs an overhaul

Earlier this month, CBC News reported that a little-known research group inside the Privy Council Office was carrying out research into whether or not public servants should be offered electronic fitness-tracking devices to help reduce their health insurance premiums.

Health problems?

The number of public servants who have run full tilt–screaming and/or flailing their arms wildly–on federal paydays has yet to be documented and whether or not fitness-tracking devices would better their lot is–at best--more than a little problematic.

The federal Pay Centre in Miramichi, N.B., which accesses an electronic imaging system to process pay requests. The system needs an upgrade because of “shortcomings,” says an internal document. (Gail Harding/CBC)

What has been documented–but not fixed yet–are the shortcomings of the misbegotten Phoenix payroll system that has served as a real-life nightmare for a whole bunch of people attempting to make plans based on how much of their paychecks they think they are going to have in their pockets.

The IBM-customized Phoenix pay system kicked in on Feb. 24, 2016 and it’s been basically downhill since.

Last month, CBC News obtained documents through an Access to Information Act request that showed that clearing backlogs could take another three to five years.

A protest marking the two-year anniversary of the Phoenix pay system’s launch was held in downtown Ottawa Feb. 28, 2018. The department in charge of the federal government’s Phoenix pay system said then the combined cost of implementing and fixing the ailing program has exceeded $1 billion. Remember, that was a year ago. (CBC)

The documents also suggest it could take 10 or more years for the system to achieve “overall stability.”

Now. more bad news for federal workers.

The CBC’s Dean Beeby reported Sunday that another payroll system needs an upgrade.

According to federal documents–once again obtained through the Access to Information Act–the ailing system converts paper documents into electronic versions and is used to store payroll information needed for the Phoenix program.

A protest by public servants in 2017. (Julie Ireton/CBC)

Beeby reports that the imaging system was created at a cost of $409,456 in Matanne, QC and was custom-built by IT staff at Public Services and Procurement Canada, the department charged with paying public servants.

Beeby quotes an internal PSPC memorandum as saying the “project team decided to have the pay imaging solution developed quickly and inexpensively…using internal resources.”

The department is hiring outside contractors for the fix, which will cost an estimated $390,000.

A spokesperson for the department, Rania Haddad, says the imaging facility “functions well,” but needs “enhancements” to meet certification standards and match a parallel system used for federal pension payments

Work is scheduled to completed by April 20, 2020.

With files from CBC, CP

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