Technological Change Committee

Minutes of the Technological Change Sub-Committee Meeting

November 13, 2013

BETWEEN THE CANADA REVENUE AGENCY AND
THE UNION OF TAXATION EMPLOYEES

PARTICIPANTS

Management 

Rick Leigh
Richard Denis
Danielle Zion
Tammy Myers
Clément Bouchard
Kevin Pratt
Wayne Lepine
Kerry Colpitts
Jean Stewart  

Union

Gary Esslinger
Denis Lalancette
Brian Olford
Pierre Mulvihill

OPENING REMARKS

Rick Leigh, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Assessment and Benefit Services Branch, and Management Co-Chair, welcomed everyone to the meeting. He thanked Gary Esslinger for assuming the role of Union Co-Chair for this meeting and was looking forward to the discussions of the agenda items.

Gary Esslinger, Regional Vice President, Prairie Region, and Union Co-Chair, also welcomed the participants. He recognized Management’s efforts to attend the meeting and keep the Union informed of developments within the Agency. He was pleased that Management and the Union could exchange concerns and ideas in this forum.

ELECTRONIC DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT

Management stated that the Agency continued its work to improve the management of its electronic documents. The Agency was moving to align with the Government of Canada (GoC) direction and implement GCDOCS, the GoC standard electronic document and records management solution. The existing tool, FileNet would continue to operate in the background of the Secure Online Services and Integras applications, but would not be the primary records management solution for unstructured information.

GCDOCS was planned for incremental roll out starting in September 2014. Representatives from branches and regions were expected to be engaged in this exercise and a change management strategy that included communication and training plans was being developed.

There was no anticipated impact on the level of resources; though there might be some minimal addition to project staff.

INTEGRAted staffing system

Management explained that the Human Resources Branch (HRB) had committed to streamline service delivery in the HR function to meet Deficit Reduction Action Plan salary savings targets by April 1, 2015. To achieve these savings, a number of manual processes performed by HR professionals would need to be automated or shifted to client self-service.

The Agency was investing significant resources in the automation of the staffing process, to mitigate the pressures on HR assistants, ensure consistency in the administration of staffing processes, and facilitate access to information on upcoming staffing processes for all employees.

The Integrated Staffing System (ISS) would automate Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) internal, external and interdepartmental staffing processes. The proposed system had a number of key functionalities, covering aspects such as:  job candidate profiles, access to the web portal and profile, career alert, electronic selection board report, enhanced data reporting capabilities, and a new Letter of Offer functionality.

Communication about this initiative would begin in January 2014 before the training was released in October 2014.

Once the system was fully implemented, anticipated for May 2015, employees would have access to planned and in progress staffing processes. It was envisioned that employees would be able to store their key information (education, qualifications, etc.) in Employee Self-Service (ESS). Employees would be able to search internal job notices, access their profiles, and apply for positions from computers outside the CRA network.

Managers would have access to a simplified process that allowed online screening of candidates, the use of online questionnaires, and would be prompted to issue recourse notices throughout the process. Managers would be required to get HR clearance before letters of offer for permanent promotions without solicitation could be issued, and would need to demonstrate that the preferred status list had been considered.

The Union questioned who would have access to the candidate’s assessment results. Management responded that it was anticipated that the pool owner would have full access to the assessment results; however, no final decision had been made. This would also be raised with the members of the Union’s staffing committee.

The Union asked if hiring managers would have access to the candidate’s assessment results when a pool was shared. Management replied that this had not been decided and acknowledged that this was a sensitive topic; Management was looking at the process followed in the core public service to ensure that CRA’s approach was aligned.

The Union inquired if the new Staffing Program Policy was used to develop the ISS. Management confirmed that the ISS was the automation of the procedures associated with the new Staffing Program Policy. Access to candidate information and recourse would continue to be determined by the staffing policy in effect today.

LEADS APPLICATION

Management explained that changes were being made to the internal CRA process for leads. This application would replace the current paper process for CRA employees (e.g. auditors/reviewers) to submit leads on taxpayers identified as having potential compliance issues during an audit or review of an account.

The IT application would become part of a user’s desktop computer and would direct leads and any supporting documents electronically to the Leads Repository that was managed by the National Leads Centre.

The application would replace the functionality included in WinALS, which was the current system used by Compliance Programs Branch (CPB) staff to conduct audits and would be linked to Integras, the system that would replace WinALS. Presently in WinALS, an employee could send a lead electronically to their supervisor for approval; however, the lead needed to be printed for further action to be taken.

Management believed that this program would generate high quality leads and the supporting documents would allow these leads to be evaluated more effectively.

The training required for users would be limited as the process consisted of completing a web form, submitting it for approval and then submitting it to the leads centre. Potential users were required to request access to the application.

Management anticipated that the application would be available to employees by March 31, 2014. All information would be well protected, and access would only be provided to employees whose duties required access to the leads repository. There would be no impacts on human resources as a result of this application.

The Union asked if this application would be used by programs in other branches, or only by CPB programs. Management responded that they were focusing on CPB programs first and would be expanding to other program areas for use by all CRA employees in the future.

T1 FILING

Management reported that 76 per cent of all T1 returns had been received electronically, compared to 65 per cent last year; this was a 17 per cent increase of electronic intake over last year.

There had been no impact on permanent employees to date and no known impact on the number of term employees. Tax centres (TC) were provided a budget and each determined their own staffing needs based on factors such as inventory and workload pressures. The Assistant Directors of the TCs indicated that they had not witnessed changes to the number of term employees, mainly because T1 packages had not been mailed to taxpayers, so additional keying was required.

Management stated that a variety of factors could affect term staffing besides the shift to electronic filing by taxpayers. Other factors could include the complexity of tax returns or the average experience of TC employees. Management would continue to monitor the impacts of all changes that occurred each tax season on staffing levels.

The Union asked if there was a strategy to assist SP-01 and SP-02 employees to secure other placements should there be a need for fewer employees at these levels. Management noted that there had not been any reductions at those levels to date.

ELECTRONIC SERVICES FOR BUSINESS

Management stated that electronic filing had increased with 83 per cent of T2 returns filed electronically this fiscal year, up from 68 per cent in 2012-2013. E-filing for GST/HST returns had increased to 68 per cent for 2013-2014, up from 62 per cent in 2012-2013.

Management indicated that starting in April 2014, T2 Reassessments Online would allow corporations to request reassessments online using the same tax preparation software that they use to file their initial T2 return. There would be no human resources (HR) impact for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. A progressive and manageable impact on HR was anticipated in 2015-2016 as the gradual take-up rate was projected to be 85 per cent by the end of 2015-2016. This rate could result in a $500,000 (10 FTE) reduction in the reassessment workload nationally, followed by a similar increase in the T2 compliance workload. The majority of assessors who worked on Taxpayer requests for adjustment had the knowledge and experience to transition to T2 compliance work.

Another new service to be implemented in April 2014 would allow third party representatives to electronically file a business authorization form (RC59 Business Consent form) via the Agency’s Represent a Client service. There were no HR impacts anticipated for the 2014-2015 fiscal year as the new process would require additional processing after the data had been submitted. Analysis to identify the potential HR impacts in the 2015-2016 fiscal year was being completed; however, Management anticipated that the requirement to verify the data submitted electronically would remain for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

Management planned to introduce an enhancement to allow users of My Business Account to provide their capital gains, losses and business investment loss electronically in October 2014.

The Business Returns Directorate reaffirmed their commitment to address non-compliance and reduce HR impacts through the investments made in the Corporation Assessing Review Program, the GST/HST Enhanced Registration Review program and the GST/HST Post Assessing Reviews.

The Union asked if Management expected that the reduction of 10 FTEs would be offset by the compliance workload and what level of employees would be impacted. Management anticipated that the reduction would be offset by the compliance workload. Management would verify the level of employees that performed this work and provide a response.

The Union stated that a local office had advised them of public opinion research being conducted on My Business Account and asked that Management keep them informed of this research in the future as employees could contact UTE on this issue. Management stated that they would need to discuss this further with Public Affairs Branch and provide a response.

TRUST ACCOUNTS CALCULATION TOOL

Management advised that the Trust Accounts Calculation Tool (TACT) was released nationally in June 2013. The feedback received was used to address issues identified during the pilot and ensure a smooth transition to TACT as the sole production tool for Trust Accounts Examination on October 1, 2013.

Interaction with Tax Service Offices (TSOs) across the country was ongoing and Management would continue to share issues and functionality problems identified with all TACT users via the Wiki space. Issues were prioritized and would be addressed accordingly through future releases. Management would continue to work with the Information Technology Branch to resolve any outstanding issues by ensuring that TACT “builds” were tested thoroughly prior to issuing releases to correct any functional problems as has been the practice to date.

Management was monitoring the impact of transitioning to TACT from the previous tool and was documenting all events with TACT that could impact performance. Any fixes or changes to be supplied in a future release of TACT would be issued on a gradual basis in 2014.

The Union stated that they had received feedback from IT Support that they did not have the required information to support local users and asked if users were aware that an update was issued every Friday. Management said that they would look into issues around post-production support and the connection with local IT and respond.

AUTOMATION OF LEDGER POSTINGS

Management explained that a decision had been made to consolidate the Automated Subsidiary Ledger (ASL) and Revenue Ledger (RL) programs into fewer Tax Centres (TCs) that would allow for the funding of Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) while providing sufficient workload coverage. Headquarters would take several factors into consideration when determining the location of the Centres of expertise, such as the coverage of the program workload across various time zones for the processing of high priority refunds, the availability of bilingual staff, and potential work force adjustment (WFA) impacts.

The ASL and RL workloads would be realigned to two Centres of expertise with 3 ASL and 6 RL FTEs funded per office for a total of 18 FTEs nationally. The Centres that would retain these workloads would be announced in the coming months.

Management was conducting a HR impact analysis and should it be determined that this initiative would result in WFA impacts, Management will ensure that the WFA provisions of the collective agreement are respected. Management would endeavor to provide the Union with the number of term employees impacted, as soon as this information became available.

Management would adopt a phased in approach for these workloads, with the transitional period scheduled to start next spring and the changes to be fully implemented in June 2014.

Given that the information on the reduction in FTEs that had been provided in previous meetings, the Union asked if a decision had been made with respect to the WFA impacts of this initiative. Management responded that the HR impact analysis was being conducted. The Union stated that they would raise this matter with their WFA technical advisor for follow up on this matter.

SECURE ONLINE SERVICES

Management stated that work continued on the various Secure Online Services (SOLS) initiatives and the implementation dates remained unchanged with the exception of the Representatives component of the e-Delivery project.

E-Documents, or Submit Documents service, was implemented in October 2012 for the T2 Corporate Assessing Review Program and as anticipated, volumes were low. As of September 21, 2013, 367 businesses had chosen to submit e-documents. The T1 Processing Review (T1PR) program was implemented in April 2013 and as of the first week of November 2013 there were close to 150,000 submissions received for this program, a take up rate of approximately 15 per cent. At the end of the T1PR program Management would conduct a post-mortem review of the implementation and address any issues identified.

Management would continue to analyze the impact on human resources, monitor take-up rates, and inform the Union as more information became available.

Management advised that 12,391 business owners had registered for the e-Delivery service for business, through My Business Account as of November 8, 2013. The implementation dates had changed for the e-Delivery service for Representatives (available via Represent a Client) with e-Delivery service for Discounters now scheduled to be implemented in February 2014; e-Filers and Level 2 and 3 Representatives were now scheduled to be implemented in October 2014. The e-Delivery service for Individuals (My Account) remained in the Options Analysis phase and a progress report would be presented to the Resource and Investment Management Committee on November 26, 2013.

Management explained that the E-Payments initiative, Pre-authorized Debits (E-Pads) for individuals was now scheduled to be released in February 2014; E-Pads for business was scheduled to be released in October 2014.

ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE PLATFORM

Management explained that the Accounts Receivable Platform (ARP) had been developed as part of Phase I of the Integrated Revenue Collection (IRC) project that created automated tools to support officers in their work.

ARP was a Mainframe Macro Application designed to help collections officers analyze and manage their workloads. It supported the delivery of four major revenue types: individual, corporate, payroll, and GST accounts. This productivity tool reduced the time spent on activities such as browsing, gathering data and updating accounts as it automatically compiled requested information from a variety of sources and presented an integrated view of the information to the end user via a graphical user interface.

ARP was launched for local users in May 2010 and approximately 2,400 users received training. Train-the-trainer sessions were held for trainers from all regions that provided training to employees in the local offices. At that time, training was not provided to supervisors as ARP did not include supervisory functionality.

In 2013, a supervisor function was added to the ARP and this enhancement was communicated to the field in July 2013. This functionality gave collections team leaders the ability to work with the same tool as their employees, and provides enhanced end user functions on activities such as reviewing accounts from several different inventories at the same time, reviewing and approving referrals, and flagging accounts that required immediate review by the employee. A national training session of potential users of the supervisory function would occur between October 2013 and March 2014.

There were no human resources impacts with the implementation of ARP.

The Union inquired if this tool would assist Trust Examiners in finding inventory. Management would look into this and confirm, although this was unlikely. The All Revenues Table (ART), as opposed to ARP, was an inventory tool that provided that functionality. The Union asked for the number of ARP users. Management would confirm the numbers and reply.

ELECTRONIC INSOLVENCY DOCUMENT PROCESS

Management explained that the Electronic Insolvency Document Process was being considered to replace the existing paper submission process with an email process that would have insolvency practitioners / trustees sending insolvency documents to CRA Central Mailboxes electronically. There were no HR impacts expected.

The potential electronic communication would be one-way only, meaning that the trustees would submit their comments; however the process would not be used for communication between collectors and trustees.

Presently, insolvency practitioners / trustees submitted insolvency documentation to CRA by mail or fax. If documents were sent to the wrong office this could result in delays that impacted CRA’s ability to take appropriate actions in a timely manner.

This process was being developed to allow insolvency practitioners to send documentation to the CRA electronically; by using compressed files, designated secure e-mail addresses and standardized formatting. The documents would be received and routed automatically to the appropriate office for action.

The benefits of the new process included: burden and cost reduction for the trustees and CRA, reduced paper documentation, decreased opportunities for misdirected mail and timely receipt of documentation for CRA to risk assess and take appropriate action.

A pilot of the new process could begin in spring 2014 and run for approximately six months at the Edmonton Regional Intake Centre for Insolvency. The pilot would deal with initial insolvency notifications that included notices of bankruptcy, proposal, receivership, and Company Creditors Arrangement Act, as well as related follow-up documentation, for tax only. Up to five designated trustees would be invited to participate. Should the pilot be successful and proceed, then it would be expanded to additional offices.

The Union asked if a confirmation number would be provided to insolvency practitioners / trustees. Management took note of the Union’s suggestion.

E-FILING FOR PARTNERSHIP INFORMATION RETURNS

Management stated that Partnership Information Returns (T5013 Financial Returns and the Summary and slips) could be filed electronically starting in January 2014. The T5013 slips were not captured previously so Management was unable to determine how many slips would be received in 2014. No impact on human resources was anticipated as this was a new return being filed electronically.

CLOSING REMARKS

The Union asked if an update would be provided on Compliance Systems Redesign. Union-Management Relations representative responded that the function had confirmed that they would provide an update.

Both Management and the Union thanked everyone for the fruitful discussions.

Original signed by

 

Original signed by

Rick Leigh
Deputy Assistant Commissioner
Assessment and Benefit Services Branch
Canada Revenue Agency

Bob Campbell
National President
Union of Taxation Employees

Date:  January 28, 2014

Date: January 21, 2014