The Auditor General of Canada’s 2010 Spring Report says the federal government is failing to modernize aging IT systems. One expert warns this has serious implications on hiring and service delivery.
While the report’s findings will influence funding allocation for IT administrators looking to refresh IT equipment, the failure to manage legacy systems directly links back to other facets like corporate culture and service to citizens, said John Reid, president and CEO with Ottawa-based CATA Alliance.
“You can’t separate the modernization of technology with the evolution of corporate culture within the public service,” said Reid.
The federal government can’t run the latest applications on an antiquated infrastructure, nor can it send the message to potential hires that they’ll be working on the most advanced technology, said Reid. “That’s not a signal that you’re creating the modern culture within the modern service,” he said.
The report released Tuesday focuses on five agencies: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Canada Revenue Agency, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The Canada Revenue Agency is the sole agency that could, according to the report, “demonstrate that it had adequately identified, managed, and controlled the significant risks associated with its aging information systems.” The Citizenship and Immigration Canada, on the other hand, “has yet to develop” an investment plan using a portfolio management approach to balance IT investments, the report states.
Legacy IT systems is a very big issue for all levels of government that must deal with many large systems implemented decades ago, said Bernard Courtois, president & CEO with Ottawa-based ITAC (Information Technology Association of Canada). Government will often prefer to maintain these systems for as long as they possibly can, until they are just too old or until they run out of in-house skills to fix them, said Courtois.