Technological Change Committee

Minutes of the Technological Change Sub-Committee Meeting

November 7, 2006

BETWEEN THE CANADA REVENUE AGENCY AND THE UNION OF TAXATION EMPLOYEES

OPENING REMARKS

Ms. Barbara Slater, Assistant Commissioner, Assessment and Benefit Services Branch and Management Co-Chair, welcomed the participants to the meeting.  She stated that a great deal of work had been accomplished over the past six months and was pleased with the opportunity to update the Union on a number of initiatives.  Furthermore, in keeping with the mandate of the Committee to discuss the full range of technological changes with the Union, representatives of the Finance and Administration Branch and the Legislative Policies and Regulatory Affairs Branch were also present at the meeting.

Mr. Sabri Khayat, Regional Vice-President, Montreal Region, and Union Co-chair, also welcomed everyone to the meeting.  He was pleased to note the productive work that had been conducted on the issues, specifically, the excellent information provided in the written updates. 

The Union asked to be provided with the specific number of term and indeterminate employees impacted, before and after initiatives had been implemented, rather than the number of FTEs.  Management agreed; however, in order to advise UTE on all planned technological changes at the earliest possible time, the first available data would be the FTEs. 

UNIVERSAL CHILD CARE BENEFIT (UCCB)

Management stated that, in the 2006 Federal Budget, the Government announced the Universal Child Care Benefit Program (UCCB).  The UCCB was a taxable $100 monthly payment made to eligible families to provide direct financial support for their childcare choices for children under the age of six years.  Approximately 1.5 million Canadian families would be receiving the UCCB on a monthly basis.  This translated into an additional 18 million payments issued on an annual basis.

The UCCB program had been implemented on July 1, 2006, and the first UCCB payments were made on July 20, 2006, on behalf of Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC).  The Agency was responsible for determining the applicant’s eligibility, issuing the UCCB payments and/or notices on a monthly basis, answering enquiries, providing a UCCB statement of income to all benefit recipients on an annual basis, collecting debts resulting from overpayments, and finally, reporting issuance details to HRSDC.  With the implementation of the UCCB, the CRA was expected to process approximately 275,000 supplementary CCTB/UCCB joint application forms over the next two years.  Management mentioned that, during the transition period, the call centre capacity with peak workloads had to be increased, resulting in more part-time employment. 

As a result of this new program, the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) had approved the Agency’s request for 32 new FTE’s for the delivery of the UCCB program in the Benefit Programs section at the TCs. Management confirmed that the funding was permanent.

The Union asked to be provided with the number of term and indeterminate employees involved in the UCCB initiative.  Management agreed to provide the breakdown of the FTEs. 

MY BUSINESS ACCOUNT

Management reported that the first version of the My Business Account was released on September 25, 2006.  It allowed for some basic operations online such as filing corporate income tax returns and online requests.  Additional functionality would be added in subsequent releases. 

Management stated that the next releases had been scheduled for April 2007 and October 2007, and would provide taxpayers with access to view information regarding GST, to conduct more complex operations, and eventually, to allow a third party to view information on their client’s accounts.

UTE expressed concern that, by allowing a third party to make changes in the system, work would be taken away from its members.  The Union asked whether third party privilege only included being able to view information on the My Business Account or if it also permitted changes to be made on the system.  Management replied that, as the CRA moved forward, business owners, or a third party acting on the owners’ behalf, would be able to make transactions.  The owner of a business must file an RC59 Business Consent Form to grant a third party authority to act on their behalf. 

INTEGRATED SPEND MANAGEMENT (ISM)

Management stated that the Administration Directorate had recently been awarded a contract for an enterprise-wide Integrated Spend Management (ISM) suite of software.  This would allow the procurement process to be more effective through the elimination of low value added work and the physical transmission of paper, while at the same ensuring compliance to the contractual terms and conditions. 

Management stated that the ISM initiative would be installed in phases, beginning with a development and a test environment for the configuration of the system, separate from the eventual production environment.  It was anticipated that the initiative would be eligible for implementation in May or June of 2007-2008, subject to the standard release cycle of other systems, such as CAS.

Management explained that as a result of the implementation of the contracting software applications, employees working in the accounts payable and contracting sites would be impacted by the ISM initiative.  Headquarters compliance and procurement staff would also be affected. 

The Union requested to be provided with the number of FTE’s in Headquarters, specifically within compliance and procurement, as well as a complete breakdown of all the term and indeterminate employees affected by this initiative.  Management replied that the number of FTEs for Headquarters ranged between 70 and 80.  Furthermore, once the human resources impact analysis had been completed, Management would provide the Union with more detailed information.  

The Union requested clarification regarding the configuration of the software.  Management replied that the suite purchased was a “commercial off the shelf (COTS)” that would be reconfigured to meet CRA requirements.

Management would continue to brief the Union on this initiative, as appropriate.

INTEGRATED CHARITIES SYSTEM (ICS)

Management reported that, in March 2004, the Government initiated the Charities Regulatory Reform to modernize the charities regime.  As a result, three major technological initiatives would be implemented within the Charities Directorate: the Integrated Charities System (ICS), NETFILE of the T3010 Annual Charities Return, and the website redesign with a link to the My Account feature. 

The business goals of the ICS initiative would provide employees with improved search tools and file management abilities, while Management would benefit from the enhanced information reporting capabilities, as well as the development and maintenance of the program service standards.  Management stated that it did not anticipate any WFA impacts or changes to job classification levels as a result of the ICS initiative.

The ICS initiative would be implemented in six phases, beginning with development of the Task Management (TM) system and the Content/Document Management (CDM) system.  The TM would capture the key steps for better reporting and managing workloads and the CDM allowed for the electronic storage of key information.  The planned release for these two phases was scheduled for early 2007-2008; however, since the two systems had not been integrated, decisions needed to be made on how the information would be programmed into the database.  Phase three consisted of the communications feature, while Phase four involved the installation of the appeals system.  In Phase five, the new compliance aspect of the process would be integrated into the system, and the sixth and final phase of the project would refine the decision support aspects. 

Further to the Union’s request, Management would share the percentage of determinate employees working in the Assessments, Determinations and Monitoring Division and the Client Interface and Service Division of the Charities Directorate. 

In response to the Union’s question as to whether there was a backlog in the Determinations section, Management stated that there were approximately 2,000 cases that needed to be completed.

The Union also asked whether the appeals and compliance workloads were part of the Charities Directorate.  Management replied that while the Appeals Branch managed the appeals workload, compliance work was considered part of the Charities Directorate.

Management committed to keep the Union informed as the initiative progressed.

WRITTEN UPDATES

For the record, the Committee agreed to remove the following written updates from the next meeting’s agenda: NETFILE, Government Online Income Verification Project, Expanded Use of Business Number by Ontario and the Disability Tax Measures initiative.

The Union asked that certain items, such as My Account for Individuals and Benefits Online, be grouped together for ease of reference.  Management agreed.

My Account for Individuals

Management clarified that the chart within the written update represented the total number of log-ins to the system, and not a reduction in the number of calls.  Management also stated that there was no relationship between the number of log-ins and the number of people who had used other avenues of communication with the Agency. 

The Union asked why there was a log-in gap between the information provided at the May 8, 2006 meeting, and the information provided in the November written update.  Management would look into the matter and provide the Union with a response at a later date.

Interactive Information Services (IIS) / Smartlinks

Management provided the Union with a copy of the electronic Smartlinks Taxpayer Survey. 

T1 2D Bar Code

The Union asked for the potential capacity of the T1 2D Bar Code given that 3.6 million returns had been processed to date.  Management replied that the capacity was between 4.5 and 5 million returns, however, due to late changes to the Income Tax legislation, many tax preparation software companies had to adapt or modify the bar code application, with the result that the total number of returns was somewhat lower than anticipated.

The Union asked to be provided with the number of term and indeterminate employees affected by this initiative.  Management agreed.

The Union also requested that the T1 2D Bar Code initiative remain on the agenda. Management agreed.

GST/HST Redesign

Management stated that resourcing issues pertaining to the GST/HST Redesign initiative needed to be addressed by the Agency Management Committee. Therefore, a written update on this initiative would be shared with the Union once more concrete information was available.

The Union requested to be provided with the number of term and indeterminate employees affected by this initiative.  Management agreed.

Change My Return

The Union requested to be provided with the number of term and indeterminate employees affected by this initiative.  The Union also asked that this issue remain on the agenda, as it expected more impacts from this initiative for 07/08.  Management agreed.

Non-Profile to Profile

The Union wanted to know whether any employees would be impacted by the Non-Profile to Profile initiative.  Management agreed to look into the issue and get back to the Union.

Disability Tax Measures Initiative (DTMI)

Before removing this item from the agenda, the Union requested to be provided with the number of term and indeterminate employees affected by the Disability Tax Measures initiative, separated by site.  Management agreed.

Post-dated Cheque Redesign

The Union requested to be provided with the number of term and indeterminate employees affected by this initiative.  Management agreed.

The Union also asked that new acronyms be spelled out in the written updates.  Management agreed.

CLOSING REMARKS

Management appreciated the Union’s perspective on the issues and thanked everyone for their contribution during the meeting. 

The Union thanked Management for the work conducted in between the meetings and for keeping the lines of communication open. 

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 26, 2007

February 20, 2007

Date: 

Date: