National Defence reports IT headaches over Shared Services support

CBC News has learned of more serious complaints about Shared Services Canada, this time at the Department of National Defence. Briefing notes prepared for the top brass report that Shared Services didn't have the capacity or processes to deal with defence requirements.

CBC News receives more documents with complaints about Shared Services Canada

Shared Services Canada didn't have the capacity or processes to deal with Department of National Defence requirements, say briefing notes prepared for the top brass and obtained by CBC News. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

More documents obtained by CBC News illustrate serious complaints about Shared Services Canada — this time at the Department of National Defence.

Briefing notes prepared for commander of the army Lt.-Gen Marquis Hainse in February 2014 detail how governance at Shared Services caused "significant inefficiency at every level," including service delivery, procurement, resource management and delegation of authority.

CBC obtained the defence document following earlier reports about the dismal support Shared Services has provided to the RCMP.

Shared Services is the federal department created in 2012 to take over the delivery of email, data centre and network services for 43 government agencies.

At Defence, a memo authored by Lt.-Col M.C. Arguin and released under access to information described several mishaps that would have affected operations of the army. Defence employees stepped in to perform tasks that should have been done by Shared Services.

"As a result the CA's [Canadian Army] C2 [command and control] systems that support exercises and operations have, up until now, remained slightly sheltered (although not completely) from the majority of the issues experienced across DND."

Arguin noted that the deterioration of service delivery had affected army training.

'Risk' to daily operations

A separate memo prepared that same month from Lt.-Col Justin Thibert to the chief of the defence staff as well as the department's deputy minister also outlined frustrations with the delivery of IT services.

"SCC Ops often appear to be in crisis management mode to support capabilities that have been transferred, leaving the impression that risk has been taken in sustaining/maintaining day to day operations."

Thibert warned of increasing risks to the computer networks that support the daily operations of the Armed Forces as well as a lack of capacity within Shared Services to handle "the breadth of requirements being submitted by DND."

Also, just as the RCMP complained that Shared Services often neglected to pay its bills to companies such as Shaw Cable and Northwestel, the same happened at Defence.

"Without the continued involvement of DND personnel to address these particular cases, several of these services would have been terminated, resulting in a direct impact to CAF [Canadian Armed Forces] daily ops," wrote Thibert.

Thibert concluded in his memo to top brass that Defence should retain ownership and control over its IT capabilities. He emphasized that the department's priorities relating to the support of future missions differ from Shared Services' strategic mission to standardize service and save money.

Reached Wednesday for comment, a spokesman for Defence said, "We continue to adapt to the transformation of information technology infrastructure and services that are provided by SSC."


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