Technological Change Committee

Minutes of the Technological Change Sub-Committee Meeting

November 2, 2007

BETWEEN THE CANADA REVENUE AGENCY AND THE UNION OF TAXATION EMPLOYEES

opening remarks

Ms. Pamela Abbot, Regional Vice-President, Pacific Region, and Union Co-Chair, welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked Management for accommodating the Union’s schedule.  The Union also appreciated the quick turn-around time in distributing the minutes of the previous meeting.

Ms. Barbara Slater, Management Co-Chair, stated that the branches had been very busy with numerous activities over the last six months, and she looked forward to a productive dialogue on the meeting’s agenda items.

family orders and agreement (foa) enforcement interaction via the electronic interjurisdictional set-off system (eiso)

Management informed the Union that the current Family Orders and Agreement (FOA) Enforcement component of the T1 Accounting systems needed to be updated to meet the requirements of the Department of Justice (DOJ) of Canada.  Following a review of the situation, it was agreed that the administration of the FOA program would be done through the Electronic Interjurisdictional Set-Off (EISO) system, which would provide an automated service where tax refunds for individuals would be set-off to pay debts owed by taxpayers under federal, provincial or territorial programs.  The transfer of funds would be fully automated and processed immediately, as opposed to waiting for the DOJ to confirm the amount.  Furthermore, this system would resolve current issues and system limitations and ensure that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) met its commitment to support the FOA program more rapidly, efficiently, and at a lesser cost.  This would also eliminate the need to produce over 300,000 pieces of correspondence.

Management stated that the FOA Interaction via EISO System would be implemented in February 2008, during the annual CRA systems conversion.  Management expected that this change would bring a net reduction of two indeterminate CR-04s at the FOA/Set-Off Unit at the Ottawa Technology Centre by April 1, 2008.  The loss of this workload would be managed internally.  Additionally, there would be an impact in the T1/T3 Accounting Enquiries and Refund Set-Off Section in Headquarters of one FTE at the PM-05 level by December 2009, which would be resolved by attrition and/or retirement.

all revenues table (art)

Management stated that the All Revenues Table (ART), which was part of the Integrated Revenue Collections initiative, was an inventory management tool for Accounts Receivable (A/R) files, providing user-friendly access to data using the Cognos Inc product ReportNet.  It would serve as a reporting tool for performance measurement.  Release 1 had been deployed in March 2006, and reported on Tax Services Office Responsibility (TSOR) A/R inventories.  Release 2 would bring the remaining A/R from the Revenue Enforcement Management Information & Tracking System (REMITS), and future releases would include the ability to incorporate new workloads such as Compliance, Non-Filer and Non-Tax accounts.

Management indicated that there would be no HR impacts, and that training would be provided to employees.  Furthermore, this initiative would not be used for performance review purposes, as it was an inventory management and information tool only. 

The Union asked if the employees that previously compiled the information would be affected by this technology.  Management replied that the employees who extracted the data to produce current statistics would continue to do so using the new system. 

automating memorandum assessment

Management stated that presently, memorandum assessments were filed manually and it was difficult to find information in a timely manner.  As a result, a new memorandum assessment mechanism was being developed in the Automated Collections and Source Deductions Enforcement System (ACSES), for Revenue Collections Officers.  By filing the assessments electronically, officers could quickly identify accounts; improve reporting; minimize errors; avoid unnecessary appeals being filed; avoid issuing clearance certificates to third parties that have already been assessed; minimize the need to print the forms; and eliminate the creation of manual controls within the Tax Services Offices.  Implementation of this initiative was planned for April 2008, and no workforce impacts were expected.

Furthermore, Management indicated that this initiative was inline with comments from the Office of the Auditor General, which indicated that there was little reporting done on the work completed and the levels of success. 

The Union asked if this initiative would have an impact on employee productivity, and if it would be used for employee performance appraisals.  Management replied that it would have a positive impact on productivity, as it would automate a highly manual process.  However, the system would not be used for employee performance appraisals.  It was seen as an enhancement of the tools already available, and would not replace the work currently done in the Tax Services Offices (TSO).

trust examination audit system (teas)

Management stated that the Taxpayer Services and Debt Management Branch (TSDMB) had developed a Trust Examination Audit System (TEAS) that would be used by Trust Accounts Examination Officers and Senior Trust Accounts Examination Officers to calculate outstanding payroll remittances from employers. 

In 1997, the Trust Accounts Division released the first version of the Trust Examination Software System (TESS), to accommodate the Windows platform.  However, as of December 31, 2007, the manufacturer would be discontinuing the support for the Visual Basic interface that was linked to the window platform.  Consequently, the Information Technology Branch would continue to support TESS until TEAS was fully deployed.

Management indicated that, in future releases, TEAS would integrate the current Employer Compliance Audit Reporting Tool (ECART), which used a similar Excel-based workbook.  Future TEAS developments would also accommodate the usage of Branch approved system macros currently being developed by the End User Application Section.

Management anticipated that the TEAS v 1.0 would be released April 1, 2008, and that deployment would take place in the spring and summer of 2008.  Full deployment and replacement of TESS would be implemented by October 1, 2008.

A TEAS team would provide training and technical support to the field examiners.  An internal communications strategy was also being developed to inform the examiners, their team leaders and managers on the need for this type of tool to bring consistency and efficiency to the Trust Accounts Examination reporting.  Management did not expect any human resources impacts as a result of this initiative.

basic access for individuals

Management stated that the Basic Access Service for Individuals initiative would provide Canadians with immediate online access to a very limited amount of information, currently available on My Account for Individuals.

The goal of the Basic Access Service was to address a void in electronic service take-up from taxpayers and benefit recipients demanding immediate access to basic information, such as the status of tax refunds; GST/HST payments; Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) and Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) payments; and RRSP deduction limits.  Refund and payment amounts would not be available through this service.  A prototype had been in development during the summer 2007, focus and usability testing had taken place in October 2007, and implementation was scheduled for February 2008.

Taxpayers would need to enter their Social Insurance Number, date of birth and line 150 from their most recent Income Tax returns every time they wished to view their information.  However, they would not need to register for an epass, and no CRA Security Code would be issued.

Management did not expect any human resources impacts from this release, as it was simply providing taxpayers quicker access to limited information that was already offered on My Account for Individuals.  It went on to assure the Union that this system would not allow for the completion of any transactions, and that the information would not be available to third parties.  Management also noted that the limited information available from this system was also available by phone, with the same requirements to prove one’s identity as noted above.

benefits workflow consolidation

Management informed the Union that the CRA would be implementing a new two-part system to coordinate the various workflow applications used by the Benefit Programs Directorate in the Tax Centres (TC) and call sites.

This first part of the system would make use of the current T1 and Benefit Case Management System, which allowed for the tracking and recording of all steps taken to resolve a case.  The second part of the system would provide employees a single point of entry to access various tools and applications to complete benefit workloads.  These new systems would replace the current Electronic Revenue Accounting (ERA) System.

Management stated that, similar to the case system for the T1 Processing Review Program, this system would allow TCs to electronically create and maintain inventories of their benefit programs workloads so that files could easily be assigned to employees.  It would also allow staff to view a benefit recipient’s history and facilitate better tracking of files.  Furthermore, this system would provide field offices with a single electronic system to plan, manage and report on their work. 

These two systems would be designed in a graphical user interface format (GUI); i.e., Windows based compared to the current 3270 screens.  The new system would be piloted in October 2009 in one TC, which has yet to be determined, with a phased-in rollout to all TCs and call sites by February 2010.  Other than additional training requirements for staff due to the new GUI format, Management did not expect any human resources impacts from the introduction of this initiative.

transfer of work between tax centres

Although this was not strictly considered a technological change, Management provided the Union with a briefing on the principles that would be used when allocating work to the Tax Centres (TCs). 

Of particular concern are workloads that were managed out of only one TC.  In order to minimize risk, a second TC would be identified to either share the workload or act as a backup.  While employees would not be technologically impacted as a result of this initiative, they could be asked to use equipment or systems they had not previously used.

Management had developed a set of principles to allocate processing workloads in a fair and transparent manner among the TCs, and to ensure that the TCs were fully utilized and would continue to be a solid foundation upon which the CRA could realize the future Agency vision.  These principles cover not only physical aspects of TCs but also human resources.  A copy of the principles and factors used to evaluate where the workloads should be allocated would be shared with the Union.

The Union stated that Management should give consideration to the use of seasonal employment, in order to provide a rotating nucleus of qualified employees.  Management replied that the use of seasonal employment had already been discussed and reiterated that it preferred the flexibility offered by term employment.

UTE also brought to Management’s attention the need to consult the Union before a decision was made on the allocation of workloads if the change would involve the use of hours of work outside the collective agreement.  Management thanked UTE for bringing this issue to its attention.

written updates

(link to written updates)

For the record, the Committee agreed to remove the T2 2D Bar Coding, Change My Return, Non-Profile to Profile, GST/HST Redesign – Compliance Aspect, and Universal Child Care Benefit written updates from the next meeting’s agenda. 

National Quality and Accuracy Learning Program

Management agreed to provide the Union with an example of a quarterly report.

My Account for Individuals – Tax and Benefits

The Union asked for the number of FTEs doing the work prior to Release 1, compared to the number currently doing the work.  Management replied that there were no resources allocated to that work before Release 1.  The volume and length of calls from taxpayers had increased as a result of the increasing complexity of the tax system, the regular growth of tax filers, and the amount of information now available to taxpayers.

T1 2D Bar Code

The Union asked for clarification of the table outlining the number of determinate employees that were affected by this initiative.  Management offered to hold a separate meeting to discuss the findings.  The Union agreed, and asked that this item be kept in the written updates for the next meeting.

Pre-Authorized Payment Plan on Internet

The Union asked for uptake numbers for this initiative at the next meeting.  Management agreed.

T1 Non-Business

The Union asked that this item be linked to the Integrated Revenue Collections issue for the next meeting, as they were related.  Management agreed.

My Business Account

The Union asked that any new services be identified in the written updates, if possible.  Management stated that the most important new service added in October 2007 was the possibility of designating a third party to gain access to the business account.

closing remarks

Both Management and the Union thanked everyone for their participation at the meeting and wished everyone happy holidays.

Original Signed By

Original Signed By

Barbara J. Slater
Assistant Commissioner
Assessment and Benefit Services Branch
Canada Revenue Agency

Betty Bannon
National President
Union of Taxation Employees

February 27, 2008

February 20, 2008

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