New federal CIO Linda Lizotte-MacPherson does not mince words when it comes to scotching rumours that the government’s year 2000 program is experiencing problems – problems that, it has been speculated, prompted her predecessor, Paul Rummell, to make an early exit back to the private sector due to a lack of support from Treasury Board Secretariat, which encompasses the CIO’s office.
“Senior management support of the year 2000 program is there without a doubt, not just within Treasury Board but right across government. It is clearly a top priority and it’s recognized as such from the top down,” said Lizotte-MacPherson in a recent interview with CIO Canada. “Senior management is very engaged and I personally feel I have the support that I need.”
She added that all federal government departments put into place a stepped up year 2000 action plan in the May-June time frame and that they’re all on track to meet their schedule.
“Departments have been asked to have their mission-critical systems that deliver government-wide functions ready and tested within the department by the end of December, and they’re all on track to meet those timelines,” she said. “June 1999 is the target for completion of live testing, so we’re leaving departments about a year for overall testing in a live environment.”
Lizotte-MacPherson said that her number-one priority is year 2000, but that she’s thinking beyond 2000 as well. Other priorities include electronic service delivery and putting in place the public key infrastructure necessary to make such service delivery secure. She will also be looking at government IT infrastructure as a whole.
A third priority is IT community renewal. “We have a comprehensive program to address the shortage of skilled IT resources,” she said. “I absolutely do believe the government can be an employer of choice for the IT community.”
She said the federal government is now adequately staffed with IT workers. “We are receiving about 1500 new resumes a month for IT positions so we’re able to keep up with the demand through the various programs we have in place. Our compensation is competitive with private industry and I think if you look at our total package, it’s rich.”
MEETING WITH PROVINCIAL CIOs
In October, Lizotte-MacPherson met with the recently formed Council of Provincial CIOs in Ottawa. It came together for the first time last March, during Paul Rummell’s tenure.
“The Council has had three face to face meetings and one teleconference to address the common issues we’re facing,” said Lauri MacMullen, CIO of New Brunswick and ad hoc chair of the Council. “We meet to get our heads around key issues in areas such as electronic service delivery, security, and year 2000, and to develop some sort of action plan to address those issues. We don’t want to just be a council getting together to talk about our problems; we want to be action oriented.”
Lizotte-MacPherson confirmed that this has been the case. “The Council has done a really good job. They have a plan and they’ve identified priorities. There are specific activities and action plans, and that’s what we’re working towards.”
When asked about including the municipal level of government, she added, “We recognize the need to bring the municipalities as well as other key government stakeholders and agencies into the fold, and as a Council we’re currently in the process of figuring out how to do that.”
No timelines have been established for bringing those other groups into the process, but Lizotte-MacPherson suggests it may happen in 1999.