Technological Change Committee

Minutes of the Technological Change Sub-Committee Meeting

November 7, 2002

BETWEEN THE CANADA CUSTOMS AND REVENUE AGENCY AND THE UNION OF TAXATION EMPLOYEES

OPENING REMARKS

Mr. Sabri Khayat, the newly appointed Union Co-Chair, opened the meeting by commenting on the excellent quality and clarity of the documentation that had historically been prepared for these meetings. He further commented that this was indicative of the commitment of both parties to open and transparent union-management consultation.

Mr. Khayat also took the opportunity to introduce Mr. Shawn Bergeron as the new union representative on the Committee.

Mr. David Miller, Assistant Commissioner, Assessment and Collections, and Management Co-chair, welcomed the new committee members and agreed that the strength of the Committee was the open dialogue that leads to a clear understanding of the technological issues.

Both co-chairs looked forward to continuing in that vein.

• WORKFORCE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

Management informed the Union that as part of the ongoing improvements of the Collections Call Centre (CCC) operation, the Workforce Management Scheduling and Forecasting software would be installed to improve the CCC agent scheduling process. Agents will receive their daily workload via e-mail and will be able to view their work schedule on the CCC Web site. The new specialized software would replace the currently used, MSExcel based, manual process with an automated, software-based process. It would not result in the reduction of any CCC staff. Vendor-trained professionals would provide the training to all users of the Software Solution. Implementation was planned for the first quarter 2003. The impact would be limited to the primary user of the Software Solution, i.e. the scheduler, Senior and Junior Traffic Controllers as well as the Team Leaders.

The Union agreed that the Workforce Management Scheduling and Forecasting software was a positive advancement to the operational environment.

• INTER-REGIONAL POOL PILOT PROJECT FOR COLLECTIONS

The Union requested an update on the Inter-Regional Pool Pilot Project for Collections.

Management stated that the Inter-Regional Pool project created a Virtual Office in the Organization (ORG) System that was accessed by the four regions (Pacific, NORO, Quebec and Atlantic ) participating in the project. The Pool consisted of all new intake of DAC2, T1 Accounting files under $50,000.

The project began June 3, 2002 with 67 collection officers. The complement rose to 94 for August, September and October and would remain at 94 until January 2003 when it was expected to drop down again to 64. This was in response to the fluctuating T1 workload. The HQ Accounts Receivable Division project leader conducted the site visits. The preliminary results seemed encouraging. Management expected to extend the pilot onto the next cycle. Furthermore, the pilot project results would be evaluated with a view to expand the concept to others business lines.

At last count, 60,000 files were in the pool, 10,000 of which had been settled for a total of $28M. Management noted that, while the Prairie and SORO regions had instituted similar pilots, they were not tied to this initiative.

The Union asked whether the issue of language of work had been considered. The Union expressed concern with a directive that had been issued advising employees that any written notes or comments added to a file was to be in the client's preferred language rather than the employee's language of choice. Management agreed to look into the issue.

• CORPORATION INTERNET FILING (NEE: T2 NETFILE)

The Union requested an update on the Corporation Internet Filing (NEE: T2 Net File), specifically, whether Management anticipated any human resources impacts.

Management confirmed that Phase 1.0 of the Corporation Internet Filing project had been implemented on October 7, 2002 , on time and on budget. Help desks in Shawinigan and Winnipeg Tax Centres were now fully operational. The estimated take up rate during Phase 1.0 of the project would be 5% of the 20,000 corporations invited to file their 2002 Corporation Income Tax Return via the Internet. No human resource impacts were anticipated at this point in time. Management did not expect to receive many filing returns until December and January when most of the invited corporations traditionally file.

Invitations would be extended to a larger group of corporations during Phase 1.5 planned for April 2003. Depending on the take-up rate, the Agency could start seeing some operational impacts. This would put Management in a better position to start estimating potential savings for the 2004/2005 fiscal year.

Preliminary meetings had been held with representatives from the Ontario Ministry of Revenue, Alberta Revenue and Revenu Québec, to discuss the feasibility of a joint Internet filing initiative for October 2003. The Agency was also interested in examining the feasibility of developing a batch-filing component.

• OTHER LEVIES – ENDORSING AND SECURING

The Union requested an update on Releases 4 through 7 of the Other Levies – Endorsing and Securing initiative. In particular, the Unions wanted to know about the human resources impacts.

Management advised that it did not have anything new to report since the last meeting. As previously indicated, there could be a need to reallocate the type of work performed; however, no human resources impacts were expected. The system would permit Other Levies users in the TSOs to do some work that was currently being done in the Summerside Tax Centre.

The Union expressed concern that as with many new initiatives, it was difficult to predict future human resources impact. It was of the view that changes to employee workloads as a result of this initiative constituted a technological change. Management explained that the work required of employees was covered in the generic work description. Management however agreed to review the generic work description with a view to ensuring that anticipated changes were accurately reflected.

Management then went on to explain that extensive training strategies for the new functionalities had been finalized. The Assessment and Collections Branch had worked closely with the Policy and Legislation, Compliance Programs, and the Appeals Branches to ensure all users in Headquarters, Tax Service Offices, and the Summerside T.C. received the necessary system training.

5. TAX PAYMENT BY DEBIT CARD AT TSOs

The Union requested an update on the Tax Payment by Debit Card at TSO/TC Counters initiative.

Management stated that this pilot was being introduced as a response to lobbying from the clients and the business community who were showing a preference for using debit cards for payments rather than cheques. Management explained that the initiative was on time and within budget. Phase 1 would be implemented, as scheduled in January 2003, in 6 TSOs ( Halifax , Outaouais, Ottawa , Toronto West, Calgary and Vancouver Island ). Phase 2 would see debit cards rolled out to all cash counter locations by October 2003.

The training plans for Phase 1 were being finalized. Although the training would be relatively simple, it would encompass training on changes to the payment processing system (the Financial Input Processing or FIP system), as well as on the standalone debit card terminal. Management noted that the training mode of the debit card terminal does not typically represent CCRA's scenario. In addition, the opportunity does not exist to simulate end-to-end processing (payment processing, reconciliation between FIP and the debit card terminal and settling with ScotiaBank) in a training environment. Furthermore, 2 days of training per site would allow trainers to be on site to provide assistance/guidance for 2 days of processing, closing and settling. Training would occur on live work.

The ScotiaBank had a national Helpdesk to assist with the training and to provide on-going support should CCRA staff encounter difficulties in processing, balancing or settling.

Procedures were being drafted as components of the system were finalized.

• STANDARDIZED ACCOUNTING ELECTRONIC SERVICE DELIVERY (ESD)

The Unions requested an update on the Standardized Accounting Electronic Service Delivery (ESD) initiative.

Management stated that Phase I had been implemented in October 2002, providing business clients the opportunity to contact the Agency via the Internet to request certain types of communication and financial actions be undertaken. The development of
Phase 2 remained on schedule for delivery in April 2003 and would see the initial service enhanced by having the communication type requests auto-responded to by the Business Client Communication System (BCCS) and requested items centrally printed and mailed to the client within 24 hours. Phase 3, tentatively scheduled for October 2003, would allow some electronic delivery of requested communications items, e.g. current statement of account, to those clients who opted for the service. Phase 4, planned for April 2004 would allow authorized clients to access their financial and communication accounts, and to complete certain actions themselves rather than having to request them. Phase 4 would only be implemented if the security software were in effect at that time.

The workload was currently performed in the taxation centres and was expected to remain in the centres. Management stressed that this ESD initiative would be phased in very gradually.

As mentioned at the last meeting, there were no training or human resources impacts anticipated for any of the phases of this initiative. Taxation Centre staff would be involved in resolving the client's request using existing technology, through every phase, where auto-created cases were required.

In response to the Union 's continued concern with human resources impacts, Management agreed that it was difficult to assess impacts since the take up rate was unknown. However, Management was confident that the resource levels would be maintained with the growth of provincial programs. Furthermore, technological changes allow employees to do more value added work.

• WRITTEN UPDATES

The Union requested clarification on a number of written updates shared with the Committee prior to the meeting.

Thin Client

Management noted that Thin Client was best suited to a TC environment. Consequently, a variation of a “tied-down” PC was being considered for TSOs.

The Union requested a copy of the Sudbury Pilot Report. Management agreed to provide a copy as soon as it was available.

Authentication Management Systems (AMS)

In response to the Union 's concern that there could be a greater human resources impact than expected, Management stated that the impact would be at the application level rather than on the Authentication Management Systems infrastructure.

Management also clarified that the service would be available on a 7/21 rather than a 7/24, basis, due to mainframe maintenance.

Management explained that AMS was a tool to be used in other applications. The first step was to allow other applications to plug in. A timetable and strategies needed to be worked out in terms of next applications to come on board. Management advised that future impacts on duties and responsibilities in the taxation centres would be determined through a series of projects that will be brought forward to the Committee, for consultation purposes.

1-800 Child Tax Benefit Program (CCTB )

In response to the Union as to when the draft business case would be ready, Management confirmed that the first draft business case was expected in the first quarter of 2003.

Netfile

Management confirmed that the e-services help desks were located in the Winnipeg and Ottawa TCs. T he staff had been given expanded responsibilities; in addition to NETFILE calls, employees also took calls for the address change on-line application. Management explained that CR-4 staff handled the first line calls to e-services help desks whereas
PM-01's were resource and training officers.

T3 Automation

The Union requested a copy of the revised T3 Automation business case. Management agreed, noting that there no changes had been made to the human resources data.

Quality Assurance Monitoring (QAM)

The Union asked about expansion plans for the Quality Assurance Monitoring program. Management stated that the expansion would take place within Montreal , Toronto and Vancouver only, due to the lack of technical support to go beyond these sites.

Management acknowledged the varying views concerning the program in that some managers were comfortable with it being a training tool, as it was intended, while others wanted to use it as a performance assessment tool. Management agreed that better communication on the intent was required.

The Union stated that the program was viewed as a positive tool because of its voluntary nature. Management assured the Union that there were no plans at this time to deviate from the current approach.

CLOSING REMARKS

The Union Co-chair was pleased with the transparent exchange of information, and looked forward to future discussions.

(Original signed by)
Dave Miller
Assistant Commissioner
Assessment and Collections Branch
Date: 12/02/03

(Original signed by)
Betty Bannon
National President
Union of Taxation Employees
Date: 10/02/03


WRITTEN UPDATES

INDIVIDUAL IDENTIFICATION CHANGES ON THE INTERNET
(Nee CHANGE OF ADDRESS ON THE INTERNET

ISSUE

The Unions would like an update on this initiative.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Phase 2 of this initiative forms part of our long-range plans; however, specific timeframes, deliverables, etc., have not been identified at this time.

NOTE: On September 27, 2002, ePass was implemented as the authentication tool for the Address Changes Online service.

 

1-800 CANADA CHILD TAX BENEFIT (CCTB) APPLICATION BY TELEPHONE PROJECT

ISSUE

The Unions would like to know of any further undertakings regarding this initiative.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The pilot project has been extended to December 2002.

Due to the success of the pilot project, we are continuing to explore further means of reducing application processing time and time that a live agent must spend on the phone.

A business case outlining all long-range plans, including human resource impacts, is being developed. Any reduction in human resources would be re-invested to ease the overall pressure on application processing, improve the turnaround time and reduce inventory levels.

QUALITY ASSURANCE MONITORING (QAM)

ISSUE

The Unions would like an update on the evaluation of the QAM pilot sites and would like to know if an expansion of the Monitoring Program is anticipated.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The evaluation was conducted during July and August 2002, by an outside consultant. We now have the report and are analyzing the findings and recommendations in order to meet with the Managers of the 3 call sites in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. We will be meeting with them in December or early January to discuss and formulate a plan of action in response to the report. The findings indicate that the program was well received by both management and staff. However, some fine-tuning is proposed prior to expanding the use of the program. Our plan of action will be shared with the union once we have met with the 3 offices.

INTERACTIVE INFORMATION SERVICE (IIS) (Nee: ELECTRONIC ENQUIRIES SERVICE - ESS)

ISSUE

The Unions would like an update on this initiative and would like to know if the chat session link with agents has been established.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The CCRA-IIS continues to be well received by users. Since becoming available, the main English and French menu pages of the Service have recorded approximately 196,000 visits, totalling over 3.5 million page requests for CCRA-IIS.

We are updating and expanding topic content for individuals in time for the upcoming tax filing season. Two lines of business which are new to the Service – Benefit Programs, Small and Medium-size Enterprises – are preparing content that will be available to the public in January, 2003.

The Toronto Call Centre is taking part in testing to determine the utility of the Service as an additional resource tool for agents when responding to clients, and as a training aid. Based on their feedback, the system will be amended for use as a more extensive pilot during the upcoming filing season.

AUTHENTICATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (AMS)

ISSUE

The Unions would like an update on the AMS model and would like to know of any human resources impacts.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

With Secure Channel now in operation, it is expected that CCRA will operate the epass helpdesk service at least until March 31, 2003 . Otherwise, these initiatives alone should not be the cause of any significant HR impacts.

NETFILE

ISSUE

The Unions would like an update on this initiative and would like to know of and staff reductions or other human resources impacts.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

As expected, the Agency received over 2 million NETFILE returns for the 2001 tax season. We are projecting this number to increase to 3.1 million (2.3 million plus 800,000 take up) in the next program. Consequently, we also expect the number of calls to increase by approximately 10%. Call duration and complexity, however, should remain static. The increased call volume will require a corresponding increase in staffing resources. To maintain and improve the level of service to Canadians, the Agency now operates two e-services Help Desks.

EFILE ON-LINE (nee: EFILE INTERNET)

ISSUE

The Unions would like an update on this initiative.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Management has previously informed the Unions on the need to migrate EFILE from the DATAPAC delivery network to one that is Internet based. Subsequent to that report, Management has been informed that the Value Added Network on which the T1 EFILE EDI system was predicated will also no longer be supported. It is anticipated, therefore, that a significant proportion of the 1 million plus returns received via EDI this past program will migrate to the Internet. However, the receipt of these returns via the Internet will not negatively impact staffing levels in the field offices.

Documentation outlining the new features of EFILE On-Line (referred to as EFILE On-Line Plus) has been distributed to the field offices. Internet technology and terminology training for the EFILE Help Desks in the Taxation Centers has been scheduled for the weeks of November 18th and November 25th. This training will ensure that the field staff is well versed with the features of the new system before it is introduced in January 2003.

T3 AUTOMATION

ISSUE

The Unions would like an update on this initiative.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

At the last meeting Management advised the Unions that Phases 1 and 2 were complete and that there were no loss of indeterminate jobs. The T3 Automated Notice of

(Re)Assessment, a Phase 3 initiative, was implemented at conversion in 2002 and is working well. The estimated annual savings of $1.2 million will be lower than expected in 2002/2003 due to system problems but will be realized in future years. At the previous meeting Management told the Union that the system for assessing the new T3GR would be implemented in October 2002. This has been delayed until December, 2002 but annual savings of approximately $1.5 million will still be realized. The Union has previously been advised of the affected jobs as a result of the automated notice and of the loss of determinate jobs due to the new T3GR.

During 2002 we also implemented Phase 3B. This phase included the following tasks: new locator number; automatic loading of variables in explanation verses; changes to assessing screens; balancing logic; and new error clues. During this period there was a lot of work done to implement T3 reassessing. The automation of the Notice of Reassessment resulted in a number of unforeseen changes being required to the system logic for T3 reassessments. No loss of staff occurred as a result of Phase 3B.

During November 2002, Headquarters, in conjunction with systems and taxation centre staff, will be reviewing the T3 Automation project and developing a plan for the future. We are looking at T3 NETFILE; T3 accounting and sub-ledger systems; enquiry screens; error validities; automatic charge in of returns; reducing number of manual notices, etc.

A revised business case with costs, savings and human resource impacts will be completed by the end of December, 2002.

MATCHING REDESIGN

ISSUE

The Unions would like an update on this initiative:

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Certain technical considerations have resulted in our decision to delay full phase one implementation of the new Matching system until September 2003, and in the interim, release a limited pilot version of the new system in January 2003. The pilot release is expected to include the new on-line case management component. All necessary training will be provided to staff prior to both this pilot release and next September's full Phase I release.

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.

SERVICE STRATEGY

ISSUE

The Unions would like to know when Management expects to have the Strategy put on InfoZone.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Nothing further to report at present.

THIN CLIENT

ISSUE

The Unions would like an update on this initiative and would like to know if the final report was issued in June 2002.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The report on the Sudbury pilot is still being prepared, but is expected to be completed in the 3 rd quarter. Meanwhile an additional pilot in Edmonton and Calgary TSO will connect all CSD users with PCs and establish a baseline for the IT support costs for a controlled (no locally introduced changes) desktop before this filing season. The new pilot is based on the early cost-benefit results of the Thin Client, which shows that these devices are most cost-effective when used in locations of more than 250 users.

ELECTRONIC LINK WITH CPP-EI CASE MANAGEMENT

ISSUE

The Unions would like an update on this initiative and would to know of any impacts on staff.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

A business case for HRDC's review and approval is currently being prepared with the evaluation of IT costs for the system's changes. Upon HRDC's approval, the development of the project should be completed within one year, followed by a pilot project. The full implementation of the electronic link will take approximately 18 months but at this point in time, HRDC has not made any commitment as to when they will be ready to begin.

The goal of this project is to allow both organizations to obtain files electronically via secure channels instead of using faxes. As a result, this will increase the efficiency and contribute to reduce the turn around time due to the mailing process. However, there will always be information/files that will require to be received in the traditional fashion (fax and mail). Therefore, this will not result in any job cuts.

GST/HST NETFILE

ISSUE

The Unions would like an update on this initiative and would also like to know if to estimated reduction of 7.5 FTE's in the TCs would be indeterminate or determinate staff?

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The GST/HST NETFILE pilot has received approximately 2,000 filed returns since the April 2002 implementation. No major problems or issues have been encountered, and the tentative date for national expansion remains April 2003.

Once GST/HST NETFILE is available nationally, the intent is to adjust the keying operations staffing levels to reflect the electronic take-up rates. We continue to estimate a reduction of 7.5 FTEs (indeterminate employees), which would be reallocated to other workloads within the TCs.

GST/HST ENHANCED REGISTRATION REVIEW (GERR)

ISSUE

The Unions would like an update on this initiative and would like to know of the anticipated impacts on human resources.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The GERR project is still operating out of the St.John's TC. An evaluation of the project was completed in August and it was determined that although the new client base gave the CCRA a much better perspective of the quality of the data in the BN database and an improved method of identifying high-risk registrants up-front, there was insufficient time to fully analyze the Audit case results and completely refine the GERR procedures.

Due to the lack of Audit case results, the decision was made to extend the project until December 31 st , 2002. The Compliance Programs Branch is providing funding for this extension.

An evaluation of the project will be completed during the fourth quarter of the 2002-2003 fiscal year with clearly defined recommendations based on the results achieved.

AUTO RELEASE OF PENSIONABLE AND INSURABLE EARNING REVIEW (PIER)

ISSUE

The Union would like an update on this initiative and would also like to know if the human resources impacts remain at less that 3.58 term FTEs.

MANAGEMENT'S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Our figures support the human resource impact as less that 3.58 term FTEs. We have observed that the automating of the easier workload through this initiative eliminated simple files that were a training vehicle for new agents. Because of the steeper learning curve, this initiative did not reduce human resource levels as originally anticipated.