Briefing

Another costly federal IT glitch gets resolved—10 years later

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The government is now pursuing 15,000 individuals who owe the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) a combined $66 million due to overpayments. The government had been unable to determine who owed what since 2009. A similar technical issue regarding the collection of Old Age Security (OAS) payments remains unresolved. (CBC News)

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Talking point: In May 2018, Michael Ferguson, the late auditor general, castigated the federal public service for its inability to fix technical issues with the Phoenix pay system. Ferguson said there’s a culture within the public service where managers don’t take ownership of problems and employees don’t feel they can flag concerns. The issues with CPP and OAS are examples of that ongoing dysfunction. The government left $66 million in uncollected money on the table for a decade, and now isn’t even working particularly quickly to try and collect it. Since November, the government contacted just 1,730 people out of the 15,000. Things aren’t much better with Phoenix—getting the system to “overall stability” could take over 10 years.