Racing to connect: How the federal IT agency kept public servants online during the pandemic

On Friday, March 13, as Parliament suspended and MPs booked their tickets out of Ottawa, Paul Glover thought, Next week’s going to be a very different week

The World Health Organization had declared COVID-19 a global pandemic just two days earlier, leaving Glover and the federal government’s IT agency he heads the Herculean task of helping departments transition tens of thousands of public servants to work from their kitchen tables and children’s desks.

The following Monday, Canada’s largest employer made it official, instructing staff to telecommute “wherever and whenever possible.” 

In the midst of arguably the biggest crisis since the Second World War, the apparatus of the federal government was going remote. As president of Shared Services Canada, it was Glover’s job to ensure that the public service kept running, able to literally answer the calls of millions of Canadians who needed government assistance, fast. “We started to get into exceptionally high gear at that point,” recalled Glover in an interview with The Logic

The COVID-19 buildout shows the new plan for Shared Services appears to be working. But not all public servants are back on the job yet, and the agency is still working to assuage longstanding concerns about internal morale and service levels.

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