Fixing Phoenix means fixing outsourcing

The announcement this week that the federal government will temporarily hire an additional 200 staff, invest a further $142 million over three years, and introduce even more measures to expedite fixing Phoenix is welcome, if long overdue, news.

Given the ongoing cost to government, taxpayers and federal employees, however, one has to ask if Phoenix was ever really worth it to begin with. It wasn’t.

Compounding this problem is the likelihood that a speedy fix will be difficult – especially since new resources take time to be effective – a fact that Parliamentary Secretary Steven MacKinnon seemed to acknowledge in his remarks on Wednesday.

While the additional $142 million will be spent over the next three years, no new time lines for fixing Phoenix were provided in this latest announcement – something employees are anxious to know. A technical briefing planned for next week may reveal more.

In short, while we should be cautiously optimistic that progress is being made, we should also be wary of governments bearing new fixes – especially those that come without clear timelines and that enhance an already-flawed contract with IBM.

In fact, one glaring omission in this week’s announcement was any mention of what PIPSC considers to be a root cause of the Phoenix troubles – outsourcing IT transformations to multinational companies such as IBM, who have a vested interest in additional, ongoing contracts.

After everything that we’ve seen so far, now is the time to look in-house and ensure that the government's own IT workers are managing the system going forward. We will never reach the government’s long-promised “steady state” without them. Only then can we – and all Canadians – really say whether the fixes are worth it.

Better Together.

Debi Daviau