The difference between the way the Canadian and U.S. governments work was illustrated this week when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a law telling bureaucrats they have to use software smarter.

The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) includes a software licence optimization provision aimed at minimizing unused and underused software licences.

The Senate still has to pass the bill and President Obama has to sign it, but that didn’t stop one vendor of application management software that might be bought by Washington – no conflict there — from putting out a press release hailing the vote.

In Canada you wouldn’t need legislation. The heads of Treasury Board and the Public Works would issue and order and there it is.

Which is essentially what happened in 2011 when the government created Shared Services Canada in 2011.

FITARA bill grants budget authority to federal agency chief information officers and allows the closure of unnecessary data centres. It also allows the creation of a federal collaboration center to “promote co-ordinated program management practices for the acquisition of IT infrastructure and business applications commonly used by various federal agencies.”

Sounds good. However the Senate has the power to amend House legislation, and they meet in a conference to agree on a unified bill, which means it may be … Well, being Washington who knows when it will pass. FITARA has already been on the agenda for over a year.

The reason why Washington needs legislation to do this is that the President doesn’t have complete control over the bureaucracy, the way the Prime Minister does here. That’s a good thing, or bad, depending on your point of view.

At any rate, here’s an article summing up what’s going on down there.


  1. what this article fails to mention about shared services Canada is that they have been spending billions of dollars for the last several years and have very little to NOTHING to show for it. They have approx. 5% of all scoped government buildings on their new enterprise network — minus the actual services such as email. great use of several billion dollars. they have a huge bloated management but can’t seem to figure out how to contract any actual workers. if you contact SSC for support, you will most likely have to wait several hours on hold just to speak with anyone, let anyone a person who has actual skills and actually wants to help you.
    then there is also the issue that they require hundreds of billions in additional tax dollars to MAYBE (not guaranteed) complete their mandate around the same time the first commercially available flights to mars are going to be scheduled to leave – in about 2025 or 2030
    I wonder if the big glitch at the CRA that told everyone their tax returns would be available Friday Feb 21st but really they weren’t even processed yet, can be attributed to their shoddy management and maintenance of critical government information systems.
    it is an agency being used by the government to fill the pockets of large corporations such as CGI Systems and BELL Canada at a time when small and medium sized business could really use any stimulus.
    I guess you have to be a major corporate government party donor for them to care about you, being a tax paying citizen is no longer good enough.

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