RCMP again complains about Shared Services Canada’s performance

The failure of vital routers supporting core network and IT functions last month  that blinded the RCMP prompted the head of the national police force to write a letter to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale slamming the work of Shared Services Canada, which now looks after the Mounties’ network.

CBC News reported this morning that it has seen the Jan 20 letter from  RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson, written two days after the 11-hour network outage downed every Mountie’s BlackBerry, affected dispatching and prevented the RCMP and 240 other police forces from accessing the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database which police across the country use to check criminal records of suspects.

Shard Services Canada’s “‘one size fits all’ IT shared services model has negatively impacted police operations, public and officer safety and the integrity of the criminal justice system,” the letter reads in part.

The lack of access to CPIC, Paulson pointed out “severely limits awareness of what threats officers may face when they respond to a call . . . If a major crime or incident were to occur during an outage of these systems, then the results could be catastrophic.”

In a stunning allegation, according to the CBC Paulson says in the memo that the RCMP had purchased equipment to replace the equipment that failed last month, but when SSC assumed responsibility for the Mounties’ networks in 2011, it took the new equipment and used it elsewhere.

It’s another blow to Shared Services Canada (SSC), which since 2011 has been trying to transform how IT and network services is delivered to most federal departments by slashing and centralizing technology services. The previous administration of Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the goal is to cut the number of federal data centres from 300 to 20, the number of email systems from 100 to one and chop the 3,000 overlapping networks. It hoped to save hundreds of millions of dollars. But last year for a time the RCMP was so frustrated with performance issues it refused to at one point to give SSC any more control over the Mounties’ information technologies, CBC reported.

Following a CBC report on that incident Shared Services issued a statement that SSC in November 2015 it had formed a special team of SSC and RCMP employees to address RCMP’s top IT infrastructure priorities.

According to the CBC, after Paulson’s Jan. 20 memo Goodale asked for a meeting with the minister responsible for SSC, saying, “I am deeply concerned about the issues raised by the commissioner and the ongoing impact these deficiencies will have on Canadian law enforcement operations and, consequently, on the safety and security of RCMP officers, their policing partners and Canadians.

That meeting hasn’t been held yet.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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