Technological Change Committee

Minutes of the Technological Change Sub-Committee Meeting

May 10, 2004

BETWEEN CANADA REVENUE AGENCY AND
THE UNION OF TAXATION EMPLOYEES

OPENING REMARKS

Mr. David Miller, Assistant Commissioner, Assessment and Collections Branch, and Management Co-chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and looked forward to productive discussions on the issues. He also introduced the new Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Barbara Slater, who looked forward to engaging in future dialogue with the UTE.

Mr. Sabri Khayat, Union of Taxation Employees (UTE), Regional Vice-President, Montreal Region, and Union Co-Chair also greeted the participants. The Union congratulated David Miller on his upcoming retirement. He took the opportunity to commend Mr. Miller on his commitment to work with UTE on issues of concern. The Assistant Commissioner had been instrumental in establishing a positive working relationship that earned him the respect of both Union and Management throughout the Agency. The Union presented David Miller with a token of appreciation and wished him well in his retirement.

1. 2D BAR CODE

The Committee was informed that millions of Canadians purchased software packages to complete their income tax returns, yet instead of filing electronically, they continued to mail in a printed hard copy, referred to as computer generated returns. Approximately 6.4 million returns are filed in this manner annually. Consequently, Management intended to introduce a 2 Dimensional Bar Code technology option into the tax preparation software, enabling the generation of a bar code on the printed output. This bar code, printed on the income tax return, would contain the data already present on the income tax return and the schedules. The bar code would be read and the data loaded directly into the mainframe computer for processing similar to an electronically filed return. The result will be a more efficient, convenient and effective, less costly, more secure, and less labour intensive method of processing tax returns.

In response to the Union’s question as to the type of equipment required for this initiative, Management stated that different options were available and would be considered over the next few months. Furthermore, other plans included developing the request for proposal, the purchase of scanning equipment, and addressing such issues as training, preparation of manuals, and a communication package. Management hopes to launch the technology in February 2005.

The Union went on to ask how many tax returns were normally received, and if the 2D Bar Code would be on all income tax returns. Management replied that the CRA annually received 24 million income tax returns. Of those, approximately 10 million returns were filed electronically, 6.4 million were computer generated (3.4 million prepared by professionals) with the balance being paper-generated returns. Management stated that the 2D Bar Code would be only available through the return preparation software packages.

The bar code technology would be implemented in two phases, beginning with returns prepared by professional tax preparers, followed by those prepared by individuals using commercial software packages. Management intended to visit with the software companies, and work together to produce the bar code. The technology would not only eliminate the need to manually capture data but increase the accuracy of the information.

The Union expressed concern regarding the potential human resource impacts, specifically in the DACON community. UTE urged the Agency to retain the skill set of those employees and provide training for alternate positions. Management stated that current projections showed that indeterminate employees would not be impacted. However, the Union would be kept informed of any human resource impacts. Furthermore, it was premature at this stage to discuss any placement approach until more concrete information was available.

2. GST/HST REDESIGN

Management stated that the purpose of the GST/HST Redesign Project was to continue the movement to common business platforms that had already commenced with both the T2 and OL Business Lines. This shift enabled the Agency to provide improved client services by moving closer to a common account view for business clients while at the same time improving the compliance capabilities within GST/HST. The scope of the project was large, considering that the system and some of the work processes needed to be redesigned. However, this initiative would not only assist in the processing of returns, payments and refunds but would also put the Agency in a better position to develop new partnerships with provinces and territories, as well interfacing with the Ministère du Revenue du Québec (MRQ) and the harmonized provinces.

Although there would be impacts as a result of the initiative, the extent would not be available until a human resources review had been conducted. Management reassured the Union that they would be kept up to date on the situation. At the same time, affected employees would be informed of changes and provided with training should new skills be required as a result of the redesign. Implementation of the new system was scheduled for May 2006.

The Union asked if the redesign was a standard progression for the work conducted or if it was a result of the need to interface with other partners. Management replied that the system needed to be redesigned regardless of any future partnerships. If the plans remained on schedule for 2006, the next step would be to increase the information received from companies, while at the same time making additional system modifications should there be any future policy or legislative changes. The CRA has asked the Department of Finance to postpone making those kinds of changes until such time as the current system was fully functioning.

The Union wanted to know if this initiative would also impact TSOs. Management replied that the standard processes would be moving to a common platform, therefore changes to the system would be expected. This initiative was actually the third major revenue line to be integrated, the first two being Corporate Tax and Excise Tax of the Other Levies. Once the GST/HST Redesign proved workable, changes to PAYDAC would follow.

3. NETRAP

Management stated that the CRA receives 2 million client requests for adjustments every year, tying up approximately $27 million to reassess returns. The Agency wanted to offer clients another avenue for making these requests while supporting the GOL commitment to increase service options via the Internet. This new initiative, a self-serve option, NETRAP, available to Canadians, would improve service to clients; while at the same time reduce costs. By introducing the self-serve option, processing client requests could be reduced to within one week. Implementation would be in 2 phases:

Phase I (2004-2005)

  • October 2004 for individual Canadian clients (those who send in a request instead of going through an authorized third party)
  • Will accommodate most changes now requested by phone or mail with some exceptions (e.g. bankruptcy, multiple jurisdiction, non-residents, etc.)
  • All requests received for the first 6 months will be reviewed manually
  • No human resources impact; Phase I intake is not expected to exceed program growth
  • Ongoing consultation with TC management and staff

Phase II (2005-2006)

  • Targeted for October 2005 with full impact expected in 2006/07
  • Allow third parties with client authorization to request changes
  • Human Resource impacts to be determined; employee knowledge/skills transferable to other programs
  • More information to be provided as it becomes available

The Union asked how the implementation of this initiative would impact employees. They also wanted to know the site chosen for the pilot. Management replied that the service would first need to review results and determine client use. For the first six months, all requests would continue to be reviewed manually. With respect to the human resource impacts, the Union would be informed in more detail after the next six months. Management stated that NETRAP workload would be applicable to all TCs, within the Client Services division.

Management agreed with the Union’s request to place NETRAP on the verbal agenda for the next meeting.

WRITTEN UPDATES

Prior to the discussion on the following written updates, the Union articulated its concerns regarding HR impacts.

The Union expressed concerns that the verbal and written updates did not take into account the peripheral human resource impacts associated with the various initiatives or the fact that term employees would be first in line to be affected. For example, in the Electronic Bill Presentment update there was no mention of human resource impacts expected on employees receiving or processing payments or the staff working in the mailroom. The Agency was one of the biggest employers of terms and as such needed to proactive by providing training/learning opportunities to all employees during times of organizational change. This approach would provide the Agency with a skilled workforce and at the same time allow employees to continue in their careers. Management acknowledged the Union’s concerns and agreed to take them under advisement.

In the future, in order to be fully informed of the HR impacts, the Union requested that more detailed information be provided within the written updates, specifically in the following initiatives: Authentication Management Systems; NETFILE; Warehouse Rationalization Project; Electronic Bill Presentment, My Account-Benefit Payment Online/My Account Phase II (Electronic Statement of Account for February 2004) and Processing Efficiencies. Management agreed to this request to the extent possible.

The Union took the opportunity to mention the recent changes to the Official Languages Policy, which stated that most bilingual positions would be staffed on a bilingual imperative basis. The implementation of theses changes would have a significant impact on the CR and PM population. Consequently, the Agency needed to step in and provide language training on a timely basis or many skilled employees would no longer be eligible for career progression.

National Quality and Accuracy Learning Program

UTE appreciated the opportunity to review the draft guidelines for the National Quality and Accuracy Learning Program prior to the meeting. The Union did not provide comments other than the fact that the draft guidelines had been well thought out and proved to be user friendly. UTE drew attention to the good working relationship that developed between the Union and Management during this initiative and used this program as an example to follow when dealing on other issues.

Management agreed to provide the Union with an official copy of the guidelines once they had been finalized.

T1 National Pool for Collections

Management stated that it was still waiting for Treasury Board’s position on the language of work versus service to clients issue. However, once a decision was received, any further discussions would be held in a different forum and removed from the agenda, as this subject matter was not related to technology.

The Union agreed to removing it from the tech change agenda.

Child Disability Benefits (CDB)

The Union asked if the data provided reflected current or cumulative numbers of FTEs. Management stated that those were actual numbers of employees allocated to the CDB program.

Government On Line (GOL) Income Verification Project

Management stated that as of March 2004, the number of participating programs in production or testing had grown to 14, out of the targeted number of 15 to 20, with 10 additional being negotiated.

For the record, Management and the Union agreed to remove the following written updates from the next meeting’s agenda:

  • GST/HST Enhanced Registration Review (GERR), and
  • T1 National Pool for Collections (to be removed once decision received from Treasury Board on the Language of Work issue)

CLOSING REMARKS

The Union reiterated its appreciation for the vision that became a reality under the leadership of David Miller. Mr. Miller was a person who led by example, developing a thorough understanding of the Union’s issues, which in turn fostered a good relationship both within and outside the committee environment.

Mr. Miller thanked the Union for their considerable contribution in making the Technological Change Sub-Committee meetings such a success over the past years. The Union played an important role in the process and demonstrated its willingness to dialogue in order to reach a resolution that would benefit all stakeholders.

Both Co-chairs thanked the participants for their contribution and hoped for continued success.

(Original signed by) (Original signed by)
Barbara Slater
A/Assistant Commissioner
Assessment and Client Services Branch
Canada Revenue Agency
Betty Bannon
National President
Union of Taxation Employees
August 17, 2004
Date:
August 9, 2004
Date:

Technological Change Sub-Committee Meeting
May 10, 2004

WRITTEN UPDATES

Written Updates – May 10, 2004

  1. SERVICE STRATEGY
  2. AUTHENTICATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (AMS)
  3. CORPORATION INTERNET FILING
  4. NETFILE
  5. EFILE ON-LINE
  6. MATCHING REDESIGN
  7. GST/HST ENHANCED REGISTRATION REVIEW (GERR)
  8. NATIONAL QUALITY AND ACCURACY LEARNING PROGRAM (NQALP)
  9. STANDARDIZED ACCOUNTING ELECTRONIC SERVICE DELIVERY (ESD)
  10. WAREHOUSE RATIONALIZATION PROJECT (WRP)
  11. T1 NATIONAL POOL FOR COLLECTIONS
  12. ELECTRONIC BILL PRESENTMENT
  13. MY ACCOUNT-BENEFIT PAYMENT ONLINE (BPO)/ MY ACCOUNT PHASE II: ELECTRONIC STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT FOR FEBRUARY 2004
  14. INTERACTIVE INFORMATION SERVICES (IIS)
  15. CHILD DISABILITY BENEFITS
  16. GOVERNMENT ON LINE (GOL) INCOME VERIFICATION PROJECT
  17. PROCESSING EFFICIENCIES
  18. MANUAL NOTICE PREPARATION PROGRAM
  19. MICROFILM EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENT

1. SERVICE STRATEGY

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, Management confirmed that all Directorates had updated the Service Strategy document and that the English version was available on the new website, to be followed shortly by the French version. Once completed, all material contained in the database would be verified by the responsible program areas and a keyword search index would be finalized. Management anticipated the database to be operational by the end of the fiscal year.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

  • “Service Strategy and Roadmap” first introduced in 2000 to provide a framework for some 200 A&C initiatives planned or underway and show the linkages to the Agency’s overall vision, mission and strategic goals;
  • Much progress has been made on many of the initiatives in the original document;
  • Updates reflecting this progress and identifying changes to future development were consolidated and input into an initial database and website in the Fall of 2003;
  • Test pilots of the database and website, as well as its possible application a communications tool for employees, were launched in November 2003. This also included testing of a key word search facility that was developed for one Directorate;

The pilots showed:

  • certain elements of the document (i.e. pictograms, etc.) were cumbersome when loaded into the database;
  • there was a need to re-visit and/or simplify the strategy given discrepancies in information across Directorates;
  • a further major update was required to provide more comprehensive, timely information and to ensure consistency across all Directorate submissions;
  • a more formal, regular process for maintaining the database and website was required information; and
  • technical database and website functionality and funding issues needed to be addressed.

Work is currently underway to address the foregoing, including the preparation of a project plan to chart future deliverable and outcomes.

2. AUTHENTICATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (AMS)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

The Secure Channel infrastructure has been in operation since September 27, 2002, enabling the Address Changes Online application. The CCRA has been operating the Secure Channel helpdesk during this time and will continue until June 30, 2003, at which time it is expected that the operation will be moved to a Government of Canada common service. Management continues to work closely with the Secure Channel stakeholders to bring the infrastructure to its next level – that of enabling additional applications and other government departments. As indicated previously, the secure channel is an authentication solution for the Government and is not the direct cause of any significant HR impacts.

At the May 8, 2003 meeting, the Union asked if Management would be able to provide information on the number of clients using the system. Management indicated that access to AMS through the Secure Channel infrastructure was very complex and that clients were not comfortable using this system. Until more applications were made available or AMS simplified, clients would not be inclined to use this service. The next steps would include providing additional online services such as the Employment Insurance Application.

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, Management stated that AMS would allow for a common approach to authenticating clients prior to gaining access to a variety of electronic services offered by the Agency. To date, approximately 110,000 clients obtained an Epass. However, the process continues to be complicated and clients still to this date do not have a comfort level with the system. The Agency is now working with the Treasury Board and PWGSC to improve the current Epass process to provide Canadians with a more user-friendly experience. This is targeted for late 2004 or early 2005.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Work continues on the development of the Common Registration Service (CRS) under Secure Channel. The intent is to deploy My Account (which includes Address Changes Online) to CRS by early 2005. Calls concerning Secure Channel will continue to be sent to the Helpdesk. As well, the information technology representatives within CRA are working with Secure Channel to improve client accessibility to the System. We hope that improvements in this area will resolve many of the current client complaints.

3. CORPORATION INTERNET FILING
(Nee T2 NEFILE)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, Management stated that the overall results of this initiative continued to be positive

  • Approximately 7,500 returns have been Internet-filed.
  • Over 93% of the Internet-filed returns were processed through the CORTAX system in five days or less. This clearly indicates the ease of logging onto the Web Site and transmitting a return.
  • Notices of Assessment were issued in ten days or less for 94% of the Internet-filed returns received to date.
  • All major developers of software for T2 returns now have Internet components available on the market.

Management continues to work with the Public Affairs Branch on the existing communications strategy to examine other opportunities to market and promote the product.

Assessment and Collections will work with ITB, IRPP and the Security Directorate to develop, build and test a link to the T1 EFILE On-line Registration Facility for pilot implementation in April 2004. This link would provide “agents” (e.g. accounting firms) a one-stop registration process that would simplify our filing process and ease our reliance on the Web Access Code security protocol.

The longer-term plan is to:

  • Explore a joint-Internet filing process with the Provinces of Alberta and Ontario, which would benefit those common clients who are required to file federal and provincial returns.

  • Examine the feasibility of developing a batch-filing facility where third-party accountants could file multiple returns in one Internet transmission.

Management is not yet able to predict with any degree of certainty what the take-up rate for internet filing, will be, consequently cannot estimate the impact on term keying resources.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Corporation Internet Filing continues to make steady progress. As of March 31, 2004:

  • 25,723 returns have been Internet-filed.
  • Over 95% of the returns were transmitted on the first attempt with no transmission errors.
  • Notices of Assessment were issued in ten days or less for 96% of the Internet-filed returns.

We are on schedule to implement our partnership with the EFILE On-Line service to provide “one-stop” registration to tax professionals who file both individual and corporation income tax returns for their clients. Starting April 12, 2004, tax professionals were able to register and use one EFILE On-Line number and password to transmit all corporation income tax returns. This simplified our filing process and eased our reliance on the Web Access Code security protocol.

These changes were well received and are making it easier for accountants and other tax professionals to use Corporation Internet Filing.

4. NETFILE

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

The Agency expects to receive about 2.5 million Netfiled returns for the season (a 25% increase over last year).

For the 2003/2004 fiscal period, reductions are planned for staff levels answering NETFILE related calls at the e-services helpdesk. Every effort is being made to structure staffing levels so employees will be deployed when filing volumes and customer demand are highest.

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, the Union was informed that approximately 2.4 million returns were filed using NETFILE this program, a 20% increase from the prior year, although less than originally projected.

The NETFILE program continues to evolve into a mature program, with repeat clients possessing a good understanding of the process. The maturity of the program had also allowed for an analysis of demand – peak volumes, low volumes etc. By structuring the Helpdesk availability to correspond with these demands, the Helpdesk would be able to provide the maximum benefit.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

We are structuring the NETFILE Helpdesk to accommodate the demands of the program. In addition, we have merged this helpdesk with others to form a consolidated e-services helpdesk. We have also provided more on-line functionality, such as the ability to retrieve a web access code. The e-services helpdesk will be moving to Winnipeg in early May 2004, with a back-up helpdesk opening in St-John's in early 2005. There are no planned reductions to the NETFILE component of the e-services helpdesk.

5. EFILE ON-LINE
(nee: EFILE INTERNET)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the May 8, 2003 meeting, Management confirmed that no HR impacts would be expected as a result of this initiative, as this was solely a change in technological support.

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, Management reiterated that they did not expect any HR impacts as a result of this initiative. The proprietary VAX channel had been discontinued; effective September 30, 2003, and all existing clients would be migrated to the Internet platform. All new clients will use the Internet platform.

Staff from all Taxation Centres will be attending training in Ottawa during the last two weeks of October 2003, to receive updates on the changes as a result of Phase II modifications. These modifications allow the EFILE Preparer to manage their account in a self-service environment, however the support features of the Efile Help Desk would still be required.

The Agency will continue to market and promote EFILE ON-LINE to third party tax practitioners.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Staff from all Taxation Centres attended Training Sessions on EFILE Modernization Phase II. There were no reductions to the EFILE Help Desks as a result of this initiative.

6. MATCHING REDESIGN

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative:

BACKGROUND

Several key deliverables pertaining to components of the new online case management system were not achieved, which meant that the new system could not be implemented as planned for 2002. The Phase 1 delivery on those online components has, therefore, been delayed until September 2003.

Phase 2 is now scheduled for delivery in 2004, which will include further refinements to the risk management capabilities.

A new training course has been developed, and will be made available to staff in September 2003. Train-the-trainer sessions are being scheduled for early September 2003, in Ottawa and Shawinigan.

Based on the development work completed it was possible to generate paper discrepancy output for the new T3 information slip workload. Therefore, field office staff was able to process the new workload using the old legacy environment.

There are still no negative impacts anticipated to human resource levels. In fact, program resource levels are expected to eventually increase with the new workloads identified.

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, initial implementation of the new system had been scheduled for mid November 2003.

The train-the-trainer sessions had been completed and all Tax Centres have commenced their staff training activities in preparation for program start-up.

As indicated in previous updates, there will be no negative impacts anticipated to human resource levels. In fact, program resource levels are expected to increase with the new workloads identified

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The Matching Action Review System (MARS) went into production on November 13, 2003. Some implementation difficulties were encountered and they are being addressed on an ongoing basis. Headquarters staff visited every tax center after the implementation to meet with the users of MARS.

MARS will remain available for use until April 30, 2004. The system for the 2004/05 Matching program is scheduled to be available on September 20, 2004.

7. GST/HST ENHANCED REGISTRATION REVIEW (GERR)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

The GERR pilot project in the St. John’s TC has proven to be very successful. The GERR initiative will be implemented on a national basis starting in June 2003 with a phased in approach. In June 2003, the workload in St. John’s will be expanded to include all new GST/HST registrations done in Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. In September 2003, the Winnipeg TC will commence reviewing new GST/HST registrations occurring in the Yukon, North West Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, and the federally administered GST/HST accounts in Quebec.

The Assessment & Collections Branch will obtain additional resources for the two TCs to handle this increased workload. Workload volumes and budgetary requirements are currently being reviewed.

At the last meeting, the Union suggested that the next written update for GERR should include the increase in FTEs as a result of this initiative. Management agreed.

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, Management explained that GERR has been successfully implemented in the St. John’s and Winnipeg TCs as scheduled. The resource allocation for 2003/04, a partial year, is 21.9 FTEs in total. Ongoing annual costs are estimated at 29.3 FTEs (CR03 group and level).

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The positions responsible for the administration of GERR have been re-classified to the CR04 group and level. Ongoing annual resources are estimated at 28.0 FTEs (CR04 group and level). Management recommends that this item be removed from further updates.

8. NATIONAL QUALITY AND ACCURACY LEARNING PROGRAM
(nee: QUALITY ASSURANCE MONITORING)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the May 8, 2003 meeting, the Union requested that future written updates on this initiative clearly articulate the Union’s role. Management agreed. They would also share the QAM pilot findings with the Union in the fall, prior to the establishment of the action plan.

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, the Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver sites had provided their comments on both the program and the evaluation report. A proposal for a revised program is being developed and would be presented to the union once a draft framework is available for discussion. The overall objective would be to have a national program that would incorporate the good points of the QAM implemented in MTV and which would have applicability to our other call centres as well.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

A set of draft guidelines for the program has been developed and shared with the Union through Labour Relations.

The National Quality & Accuracy Learning Program (NQALP) document reflects existing monitoring practices already in place in our call centres across Canada (e.g.: side-by-side listening, walk around observations, etc.). It is applicable to all call centres. In MTV, “remote quality listening” is an additional tool which requires voluntary participation by Agents. This aspect of the program will continue to be done only in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, and participation will continue to be voluntary, as in the past.

The NQALP builds on existing best practices, designed to provide the Client Services Agent with a learning tool to assist in their development as an accurate and quality Agent; to assist in promoting accuracy and quality; and to assist in ensuring our clients receive quality and accurate service.

9. STANDARDIZED ACCOUNTING ELECTRONIC SERVICE DELIVERY (ESD)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

E Request for Business Clients

Phase 1 of the E-Request for Business Clients initiative was successfully implemented in the first week of October 2002.

Phase 2 development was successfully implemented on April 8th 2003.

In excess of 1300 Online Requests have been received to date.

Phases 3 and 4: expected to be implemented in April 2006. The delay is due to other priorities.

As previously noted at the last two meetings, there are neither training nor human resources impacts forecast for any of the phases of this initiative. Through every phase, where auto-created cases are required, Taxation Center staff will be involved in resolving the client’s request using existing technology.

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, Management explained that the E-Request for Business (Phases 1 and 2) is fully operational and has now been extended to all four of the Other Levies program types in addition to the T2 program. After one full year in operation, the Agency received in excess of 3600 online requests.

Implementation of phases 3 and 4 continue to be expected at the same time, in April 2006.

As noted in the last three meetings, there are neither training nor human resource impacts forecast for any of the phases of this initiative. Through every phase where auto-created cases are required, Taxation Center staff will be involved in resolving the client's request using existing technology.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Phase 1 of the E-Request for Business Clients initiative was successfully implemented in the first week of October 2002.

Phase 2 development was successfully implemented on April 8th 2003.

In excess of 5400 Online Requests have been received to date.

Phases 3 and 4 are now expected to be implemented at the same time in April 2006. The delay is due to other priorities.

As previously noted at the last two meetings, there are neither training nor human resources impacts forecast for any of the phases of this initiative. Through every phase, where auto-created cases are required, Taxation Center staff will be involved in resolving the client’s request using existing technology.

10. WAREHOUSE RATIONALIZATION PROJECT (WRP)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the May 8, 2003 meeting, Management indicated that a key result of work done over the last year for the WRP was the move from eleven Distribution Centers (DCs) to two, with Mississauga and Winnipeg becoming the consolidated sites for forms distribution. The key objectives for WRP remained the improvement in productivity and quality of core DC functions, specifically client service levels, management controls over the operations, and also realizing projected benefits for the Agency.

In order to achieve these objectives for ‘ideal warehouses’, Management was planning the introduction of technology not yet used in the CCRA (Carousels), as well as maximizing the use of technology already available in DC (Bar-code scanners). Carousels mechanically conveyed forms and publications to an operator who picked customer delivery orders while bar code scanners scanned the inventory. It was expected that these technologies would significantly improve productivity.

The next step was to complete the two Requests for Proposal (RFP) processes to confirm successful bidder(s). The RFP for Carousels would reflect the requirement to supply and install the technology and provide the training. Implementation was expected to take place by the next filling season recognizing, however, that it was a very ambitious timeline given that RFPs were not yet finalized.

Management acknowledged that the introduction of these technologies would have an impact on human resources but it could not, as of yet, determine to what extent.

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, the written update explained that the introduction of the barcode scanners and the carousels had been delayed to such an extent that neither of them would be introduced this filing season. They are at the specification-writing phase, which would be followed by the issuance of the Request for Proposals. The process of selecting the successful bidder(s) takes several months. As noted at the last meeting, human resources impacts would be determined once the technology had been selected. Management would share the information concerning human resources impacts.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The RFP for Carousels was posted at the end of March, 2004. The procurement process is expected to take approximately six (6) months, followed by a 4-5 month implementation. Based on these timelines, implementation will only take place after the next filing season. HR impacts can only be determined after the procurement phase. Nevertheless, the large determinate population at the Eastern Distribution Centre will provide flexibility and hence reduce the number of indeterminate employees who may be subject to work force adjustment as a result of the introduction of Carousel technology.

There is a possibility that bar-code scanners will be introduced prior to the next filing season. Benefits of this technology include enhanced inventory accuracy and the ability to track orders throughout the various stages of processing; the HR impact is negligible.

11. T1 NATIONAL POOL FOR COLLECTIONS

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the May 8, 2003 meeting, it was confirmed that as a result of the successes of the Inter-regional pool, the Prairie pool and the SOR New Intake Centre projects, the Accounts Receivable Program implemented a T1 National Pool on April 1, 2003. This virtual pool receives new T1 accounts under 50K from all the regions. The accounts continue to go through several steps prior to being included in the national pool i.e., notice of assessment, collection letter, call centers and then transferred to the national pool. Should the accounts not be resolved at the pool level, they would be sent to TSOs, based on traditional geographical allocation. A communication strategy had been finalized and issued to TSOs, as well as posted on Infozone.

For the current fiscal, 120 collectors are assigned to the pool, approximately 10 teams of 12 located in: Sydney, Bathurst, Montérégie, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Toronto North, Regina, Saskatoon, and Penticton. Management mentioned that it did not expect any negative impact on human resources, as this approach was launched to better manage work volume in Collections.

The Union expressed its view that pool intakes increased the work complexity of TSO accounts. Management stated that complex accounts were always part of TSO workloads and that TSOs have already reduced team size and mix of PM1s and PMs over time to reflect the different mix of accounts reaching TSOs. However, it confirmed that it would be monitoring workload changes on an ongoing basis.

The Union reiterated its concern with the issue of recording client information (diary notes) in the employee’s preferred official language vs. that of the client’s. The Union stated that it noted inconsistencies in the application at the local level and asked management to confirm that, as per the Language of Work Policy, employees could choose their preferred official language when writing notes in a client’s file. After further discussions with the UTE National President, Management requested an interpretation from Treasury Board concerning the language of work / service to clients. The letter was sent on October 16, 2003.

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, Management stated that specific meetings had taken place with the Union on the T1 National Pool and the initiative currently implemented.

Further to the language of work, on October 16, 2003, the Assistant Commissioner, Assessment & Collections Branch, had written to the Official Languages Branch of the Treasury Board Secretariat requesting clarification of the Official Languages Policies concerning language of work and language of service to the public.

Management recommended that this issue be removed from the Technological Change list of issues, as specific bilateral discussions are ongoing with the Union.

On November 17, 2003, Management and the Union met with Treasury Board representatives to provide clarification on the Revenue Collections/Client Service workloads and the impact of the language of work versus language of service to the public.

As of February 27, 2004 Treasury Board had not provided a response on the language of work issue.

Management suggested that the T1 National Pool for Collections initiative be taken off the written update list however the Union requested that this initiative remain on the agenda for the time being. Management agreed.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

It is suggested that this initiative be renamed the Revenue Collections Pool. The Revenue Collections Directorate is responsible for administering the Accounts Receivable and Trust Accounts programs. This will reflect the changes to the pooling of work concept with the addition of Trust Account’s GST compliance workload.

The GST compliance workload will be migrated from the current Regional Intake Centres to a national pool in April 2004. This is the first compliance revenue line to be worked nationally.

The Accounts Receivable pool will encompass both T1 and GST accounts in a national workload. As of March 15, 2004, the sites for this pool activity are currently being determined, but it should be noted that the Québec sites will be collecting GST accounts from tax debtors and requesting delinquent GST filers to file on accounts located outside of Québec.

The T1 pool experimented with the use macros to prepare garnishee actions. This was limited to a small sample of accounts. A formal evaluation of the experiment will be conducted during April and May 2004. Collection officers were still required to review the action and approve or refer the action as appropriate. The technological change committee will be informed if management decides to proceed further with this initiative.

As of March 15, 2004, Treasury Board had not provided a decision on the language of work issue. Once a decision has been received from Treasury Board, the language of work issue will be discussed through ad hoc meetings as this subject matter is not related to technology.

12. ELECTRONIC BILL PRESENTMENT

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the May 8, 2003 meeting, Management informed the Union that the objective of the initiative is to save on outbound postage costs in relation to source deductions (PAYDAC System). This Bill Presentment initiative will allow employers to submit their payments electronically through service agents such as Epost, Eroute or through their financial institution. Implementation is anticipated for January 2004.

This initiative would take advantage of the rapid growth of Internet and electronic commerce, and to allow the Agency to offer its services by way of a new service channel. Postage savings were expected as a result of the reduction in statements issued in paper format and the consequent reduction in the cost of stamps. Actual take up is not known and will be influenced by how service providers or banks market this new service offering. At this point, Management confirmed that it did not expect any reduction of staff.

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, the CCRA had issued its Request for Proposals (RFP) to potential suppliers. Planned implementation would be dependent on the outcome of the current RFP and implementation, which is now planned for April to June 2004.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

A contract was signed in January with the only bidder, BCE Emergis, to offer the service to the clients who bank at CIBC, TD Canada Trust, Royal, Nova Scotia, National Bank and Caisse Centrale Desjardins. Development work is now underway with planned implementation of July 2004.

13. MY ACCOUNT-BENEFIT PAYMENT ONLINE (BPO)/
MY ACCOUNT PHASE II: ELECTRONIC STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the November 3, 2003 meeting the Union was informed that My Account service would be implemented in phases. The initial release had been done on June 16, 2003, followed by the second release on October 6. A third release would be scheduled for February 2004.

June 16, 2003 release:

IRPPD: Clients could view their tax refund information, current address and telephone numbers, current and prior year tax returns status as well as payment and installment information.

Benefit: Clients could view information on their Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Credit (GST/HST Credit) and related provincial/territorial programs such as their latest benefit payment and payment calculation details information.

October 6, 2003 release

IRPPD: Clients could view this additional information:

  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) “room” statement information, undeducted RRSP contributions, and deductions taken;
  • Home Buyer’s Plan and Lifelong Learning Plan statements;
  • A detailed statement of account; and
  • More detailed information about the assessment of the individual income tax returns.

Benefit: Benefit Program Directorate did not have anything for this release.

February 2004 release

IRPPD: Funding not approved as of this date.

Benefit: Clients will be able to view the Benefit Electronic Statement of Account (ESA) and understand its accounting and financial transactions for a specific period.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The My Account service is being implemented in phases. The initial release was on June 16, 2003. There were 83,834 successful logons from the initial to the second release on October 6. For Phase II, the period of October 6, 2003 to February 5, 2004, the number of successful logons was 129,594. A third release was implemented on February 9, 2004.

We are investigating moving Address Change Online (ACO) to My Account, until such time as Common Registration Service (CRS), (version 6.1) is available in production.

IRPPD portion (George Arsenijevic)

No impact on human resources is expected from the addition to My Account of more detailed financial information from the current year assessment.

Benefit portion (Kathy Turner)

Since February 9, 2004, our clients can now see on My Account/Benefit Payment Online their Benefit Electronic Statement of Account (ESA). As the description stated previously, the Benefit ESA helps the client understanding the accounting and financial transactions that occurred on his/her benefit account for a specific period.

For the March 19, 2004 CCTB payment issuance, the Child Disability Benefit (CDB) will be added to the CCTB calculation where applicable and will be displayed to the CCTB screen on My Account/BPO where applicable.

Management do not expect any HR impacts on either Benefit additions.

14. INTERACTIVE INFORMATION SERVICES (IIS)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

The Interactive Information Services initiative, which was implemented a year ago to provide clients with information and assistance relating to general inquiries, had been successfully expanded to provide the public with web content for Small and Medium Enterprises and Benefit Programs. Since January 2003, the CCRA-IIS received 3.2 million page requests including 50,000 requests per day during peak filing season. The service will surpass the previous year’s filing season total of 3.5 million page requests.

The pilots to assess the utility of CCRA-IIS as an agent resource tool at the Toronto and Hamilton call centers were well received by call center agents. The IIS would also be used as a training and reference tool for employees. It specified that next steps would look at expanding IIS with additional and more complex topics, as well as providing more Etools to employees.

Management indicated that, based on past experience, it did not expect any HR impacts.

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, the number of daily page requests had doubled and as a result of the connect-the-unconnected initiative, it would be possible to make IIS available to client service agents across the country. In so doing, they would be able to use it as both a training and reference tool.

In expanding IIS content to include enquiries commonly dealt with on the phones or at the counter, field staff had confirmed the 400 most frequently asked questions. During December to March, IIS would be available on the web page.

As reported previously, Management would be piloting an enhanced link from the CCRA-IIS to the telephone call centres starting in February 2004. The purpose is to assess the value of referring IIS clients directly to telephone agents with specific content knowledge in order to better respond to client enquiries. This linking facility would also be used for gathering additional intelligence on client activity on the website, challenges the client faced and how the experience could be improved. The one or two call centres to be involved have not been identified as yet.

Management’s focus on the Internet continued to provide clients with a level of service equitable to what they would receive from telephone or counter channels.

Furthermore, the Internet metrics and monitoring capabilities had been enhanced in order to better evaluate client use of and satisfaction of the website, including IIS. With information obtained during the upcoming filing season Management anticipated being able to better understand future impact on the telephone and counter channels.

Benefit: No update since the last update.

Management explained that since February 7, 2003, the Interactive Information Service (IIS) provided the Canadian taxpayer up-to-date and accurate information about benefit programs such as the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Credit (GST/HST Credit) and related provincial/territorial programs. This automated service can be accessed through the Child and family benefits link on the CCRA Web site main page and it gives taxpayers answers to their general enquiries.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Benefit portion (Kathy Turner)

No update since the last update.

Client Services Portion (Marj Ogden)

There is no longer a separate Interactive Information System on the website for clients to access directly. Significant new content has been added to the CRA website in a revised organization and the content from the IIS system has been fully integrated into this redesign. The use of ‘decision trees’ to allow clients to ‘get to yes or no’ answers remains in much of the content presentation on the web.

Access to the CRA website again increased this year by close to 50% in terms of page hits. However, there was no reduction in overall requirements for CRA call centre agent time as a result. Overall caller demander is down 3% however call duration is up 8%.

A “Smartlink” pilot was initiated in February 2004. Clients using our website are provided with a link into call centre agents with specific content knowledge. Small teams of CRA agents in Edmonton and Calgary handle these calls and use the website as their primary tool. They also use the opportunity to get additional information from the client on how the client is using the site and what changes or additions could be made to enable them to avoid having to call in the future. To date less than one thousand calls have been handled but already website changes have been made as a result and the pilot has been extended to at least the start of summer.

15. CHILD DISABILITY BENEFITS

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, the Committee was informed that the 2003 Federal Budget announced legislative changes to the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) and the Children’s Special Allowances (CSA) programs by including a Child Disability Benefit (CDB). As a result, the CCRA would be introducing changes to the administration of the CCTB and CSA programs by including a new supplement that would provide additional financial assistance to qualified families and agencies caring for children with disabilities.

Although the new program would not go into operation until the end of March 2004, it would include a retroactive payment for the July 2003 through March 2004 period. The client must meet all of the existing eligibility requirements of the CCTB or CSA program with respect to the child and the child must meet the eligibility requirements of the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) Program.

The next steps would include building automated links between the workflows of the two existing programs (CCTB and DTC applications). Furthermore, an extensive review would be conducted of the existing clients participating in the DTC program to determine their eligibility for the new supplement, and to convert the records for automatic inclusion in the new Program. Management noted that while there would be an increase in the volume of DTC applications received and in general account maintenance activities, the impacts would be minimal.

Management indicated that the Tax Centres currently doing the CCTB and DTC work would be taking on the new program including the Client Services Offices having a 1-800 number. Management also noted that the funding for the Program had been secured and the initial allocations provided to the field, however, the allocations for subsequent years would need to be reviewed. Most of the funding had been provided to the Taxation Centre (TC), while a portion had been allocated to the Client Services Operations in the field. The training materials were being finalized and field training would roll out in the near future.

The Union asked to be provided with the number of FTEs allocated to the Child Disability Benefit Program and the Client Services Directorate. Management agreed.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The development and testing of the system changes were completed on schedule for February 6, 2004.

TC staff in the DTC program were trained on the new system during the week of February 9th, 2004, and have been processing DTC applications using the new system since that time. TC and Call Centre staff working in the CCTB program area were trained during the week of March 8th, 2004, to enable them to answer client enquiries following the March 19th CCTB issuance which included the first payment of the CDB.

For fiscal year 03-04, the number of FTE’s that were allocated to the CDB program are as follows:
HQ Benefit Programs Directorate: 11.5
Benefit Programs field staff: 72.0
HQ Client Services Directorate: 0.79
Client Services field staff: 25.48

For fiscal year 04-05, the number of FTE’s that were allocated to the CDB program are as follows:
HQ Benefit Programs Directorate: 9.5
Benefit Programs field staff: 58.1
HQ Client Services Directorate: 0.03
Client Services field staff: 2.37

16. GOVERNMENT ON LINE (GOL) INCOME VERIFICATION PROJECT

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, the Committee was informed that the Income Verification Project would be moving from a manual process to an electronic process via a secure File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Internet-based platform. This process would allow the provinces/territories to deliver a wide range of benefits and services to their residents for programs requiring income testing. Furthermore, the consent of the client, as well as an MOU with each of the provincial ministries would ensure that the client’s data continued to be properly protected. The Agency would in turn provide the information to these agencies through an automated process using the FTP platform. There are currently eight programs in either production or in the later stages of testing with additional provincial programs being added once the Agencies have implemented the necessary technical and administrative changes. By March 2004, it is estimated that approximately 15 to 20 agencies would be using the FTP platform.

Management stated that for many of these programs, clients had been asked to provide Notices of Assessment by obtaining a printout from the CCRA, then submitting the information to the provincial or territorial agency. By implementing this initiative, the income verification process would become more efficient, less costly, less labour intensive and more secure. Instead of a client waiting up to six months for the data required to support a provincial-territorial program, a real time access would be available. Although this process would result in a reduction in thousands of requests for printouts or duplicate notices at both the TC’s and TSO’s, the base budget would not be reduced. Also, this would allow the agents to spend more time on value-added activities such as processing enquiries for the core business lines.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

There have been no new developments in this initiative except that, as of mid-March 2004, the number of participating programs in either production or testing has grown to 14, out of the targeted number of 15 to 20.

17. PROCESSING EFFICIENCIES

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, the Committee was informed that due to a 5% reduction in the field budget for the 2003-2004 fiscal period the Benefit Programs Directorate had undertaken two new measures to reduce processing costs, while maintaining the CCRA’s established service standards. The procedures used for processing the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) application, which is used to apply for the CCTB if a child comes into the client’s care whether by birth, adoption or a change in custody, were changed to remove a greater proportion of the review from the initial processing stage. This part of the review is now conducted on a risk assessment basis after the fact, through a verification process.

Changes were introduced to the way marital status and citizenship information are being captured.

Management stated that that any reduction in human resources would be re-invested to ease the overall pressures on Benefit workloads, improve the turnaround time, and reduce inventory levels.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

As expected, the introduction of the new measures has reduced the number of referrals from the routine workflow (CR3 level) to the non-routine workflow (CR4 level). The processing costs of benefit applications have been reduced. Inventories appear to be current in most Benefit workloads, and the turnaround time has been shortened.

18. MANUAL NOTICE PREPARATION PROGRAM

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, the Committee was informed that the Notice Production teams situated at each of the nine Tax Centres were responsible for preparing manual notices of (re) assessment where a system generated (re) assessment would not be possible due to system limitations. Approximately 225,000 of these notices were produced each year for all revenue lines, using various software programs. Currently, there was no consistency in how Notice Production teams prepared manual notices and updated explanation verses; therefore, each centre needed to maintain and update the verses and notice templates annually, resulting in a duplication of work, and a high rate of human error.

A system using only Adobe Acrobat software had now been developed to produce the notices. This would not only cut down on the time required to complete the verse and notice updates each year but also provide a common system for everyone to use.

The new manual notice preparation system would be tested at a pilot site beginning November 24, 2003. Implementation would be conducted in two phases:

  • Phase I would include clerks using the Adobe Acrobat to produce T1 and T3 notices while continuing to use the old system for all other notices. The planned implementation date is February 9, 2004.

  • Phase II would include the rest of the notices and verses for all other (re) assessment types, beginning in February 2005.

The Electronic & Print Media Directorate (EPMD) would develop a User Manual and the Individual Returns and Payments Processing Directorate would conduct hands-on training sessions at each TC prior to February 2004.

Management confirmed that it did not expect any Human Resources impacts as a result of this initiative.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The Phase 1 implementation was delayed until March 15, 2004. The delay was mostly due to additional security steps that had to be included in our solution.

Testing of the new manual notice system was done at the International Tax Services Office pilot site during the last 2 weeks of February followed by the certification process in early March.

We are currently training employees in the field.

The Phase 2 discussions are scheduled to start in mid April.

19. MICROFILM EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENT

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the November 3, 2003 meeting, the Committee was informed that the deterioration and breakdown of aging microfilming equipment had been causing delays in the deposit of money to the Receiver General bank account. As a result, a decision was made to replace the current microfilm equipment. The CCRA solicited a proposal from PWGSC/CRCD to provide a remittance image archiving and retrieval service for both Tax, and in the long term, GST/HST payments processed at the TSOs, TCs and the OTC. The proposed solution would involve the creation of a central repository of CCRA payment source documents at the Cheque Redemption Control Directorate (CRCD) of PWGSC, while at the same time address the requirements to endorse and imprint an audit line on cheques. To mitigate development and implementation risks, the solution would be built in seven phases over three fiscal years, starting this fiscal.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Phases one and two (Proof of Concept and Pilot at the OTC) were completed last fiscal year and phase three (OTC Production) started April 1, 2004. During phase three we will implement the system/process changes at the OTC starting on July 15, 2004 ending on September 17, 2004. Staff from the OTC collaborated with the project team and used the new technology during phase two of the project. Much of the training required to work with the equipment was provided last fiscal year.

We believe the implementation of the new imaging technology will address concerns raised by staff on the current state of the microfilm equipment as well as the use of chemicals. Replacing the current microfilm equipment will have no impact on resources.