Technological Change Committee

Sub-Committee Meeting Written Updates

March 14, 2005
  1. WAREHOUSE RATIONALIZATION PROJECT (WRP)
  2. SERVICE STRATEGY
  3. AUTHENTICATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (AMS)
  4. CORPORATION INTERNET FILING
  5. NETFILE
  6. EFILE ON-LINE
  7. MATCHING REDESIGN
  8. NATIONAL QUALITY AND ACCURACY LEARNING PROGRAM (NQALP)
  9. STANDARDIZED ACCOUNTING ELECTRONIC SERVICE DELIVERY (ESD)
  10. ELECTRONIC BILL PRESENTMENT
  11. MY ACCOUNT FOR INDIVIDUALS – TAX AND BENEFITS
  12. INTERACTIVE INFORMATION SERVICES (IIS) / SMARTLINK
  13. CHILD DISABILITY BENEFITS
  14. GOVERNMENT ON LINE (GOL) INCOME VERIFICATION PROJECT
  15. PROCESSING EFFICIENCIES
  16. MANUAL NOTICE PREPARATION PROGRAM
  17. MICROFILM EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENT
  18. 2D BAR CODE
  19. GST/HST REDESIGN

1. WAREHOUSE RATIONALIZATION PROJECT (WRP)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resources impacts.

BACKGROUND

Management has provided ongoing written updates regarding the implementation of carousel and radio-frequency (barcode scanners) technologies.

Human resources impacts due to the implementation of carousel technology (Eastern Forms Distribution Centre, Mississauga) can only be determined once the technology has been introduced (implementation takes approximately four to five-months)

The large number of determinate employees will reduce the number of indeterminate employees who maybe subject to work force adjustment as a result of the implementation of this technology.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

On November 15, 2004, the Union was provided with a status report on the Warehouse Rationalization Project. There was a requirement to rearrange shelving in preparation of the arrival of the carousel, and management wanted to brief local unions in advance of the inevitable questions that employees would raise as to why shelving needed to be rearranged.
A contract for the installation of a Horizontal Carousel at the Eastern Distribution Centre in Mississauga was awarded in December 2004. Configuration work is currently being conducted between Administration Directorate F&A, ITB and the Contractor. Installation will begin on March 2, 2005 and be complete by March 18, 2005. Software testing will be complete by March 27, 2005. Due the CBSA split in CAS the operational activation of the Carousel will not take place until the June CAS Release (June 20, 2005). Once the Carousel has been fully operational for a period of time we will be in a position to advise of the HR impacts.

The contract for the radio frequency (RF) bar-code scanning equipment is imminent. The RF Access Points installation will be complete by February 25, 2005. The technology required to operate the equipment is due to be rolled out with the CAS June 2005 release and will be implemented initially in Winnipeg, followed by Mississauga a few days later. There are considerable benefits in the areas of inventory accuracy and tracking orders and the HR impact is expected to be negligible.

2. SERVICE STRATEGY

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resource impacts.

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.

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, the Union was informed that the “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. Updates reflecting the progress and identifying changes to future development were consolidated and input into an initial database and website in the Fall of 2003. The test pilots of the database and website, as well as its possible application as 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 that:

  • 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.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The preparation of a project plan to chart future deliverables and outcomes, as well as a detailed costing, has been completed. Given the current financial restraints that we are currently experiencing, it has been decided to hold off on this project until such time that it can be properly funded. Having said this, A&CSB and RCB initiatives that have human resource impacts are already covered off individually under other Tech-Change Written Updates. Since the Service Strategy itself does not have any HR impacts, Management respectfully requests that further updates on the Service Strategy be replaced by individual projects where the HR impacts are contained.

3. AUTHENTICATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (AMS)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resource impacts.

BACKGROUND

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.

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, the Union was informed that work was continuing on the development of the Common Registration Service (CRS) under Secure Channel. The intent was to deploy My Account (which includes Address Changes Online) to CRS by early 2005. Calls concerning Secure Channel would 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. It is anticipated that improvements in this area would resolve many of the current client complaints.

MANAGEMENT WRITTEN RESPONSE

Work continues on the development of the Common Registration Service (CRS) under Secure Channel. The product was made available for testing to the CRA on September 27, 2004. The expected date for migrating the My Account application to this infrastructure is February 14, 2005. At that time, a new authentication management solution will be deployed requiring clients to register for an epass before they can access their My Account information. This solution includes the separate mail out of an activation code needed for clients to finalize their registration process. Subsequent access to My Account would be controlled with only a username and password. Any difficulties within the registration process experienced by the client can be directed to CRA's e-service helpdesk.

4. CORPORATION INTERNET FILING
(Nee T2 NEFILE)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resource impacts.

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 was continuing 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 was 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 was not then 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.

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, Management stated that the Corporation Internet Filing continued to make steady progress. As of March 31, 2004, 25, 723 returns had been Internet filed and over 95% of the returns were transmitted on the first attempt with no transmission errors. Furthermore, Notices of Assessment were issued in ten days or less for 96% of the Internet filed returns.

Management was on schedule to implement its 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 would be able to register and use one EFILE On-Line number and password to transmit all corporation income tax returns. This simplified the filing process and eased the reliance on the Web Access Code security protocol.

These changes had been well received and made it easier for accountants and other tax professionals to use Corporation Internet Filing.

MANAGEMENT WRITTEN RESPONSE

Progress remains steady, but slow. Since April 1, 2004, 5.28% of all returns filed were submitted via the Internet. Since this initiative has been completed and no significant change is envisioned, it is recommended that this item be removed from further updates.

5. NETFILE

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resource impacts.

BACKGROUND

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.

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, the Union was informed that the NETFILE Helpdesk was being structured to accommodate the demands of the program. In addition, the helpdesk had been merged with others to form a consolidated e-services helpdesk. This provided more on-line functionality, such as the ability to retrieve a web access code. The e-services helpdesk would 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.

MANAGEMENTS WRITTEN RESPONSE

As of September 29, 2004, approximately 3 million returns have been filed using NETFILE, a 20% increase from the previous year.

There are no planned reductions to the NETFILE component of the e-services helpdesk. Staff from the Winnipeg and St. John’s Taxation Centres are scheduled to attend e-service Helpdesk training sessions in Ottawa during the weeks of November 15 to November 26, 2004. The NETFILE training is scheduled for November 17, 2004.

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

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

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.

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, Management stated that 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.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

As of September 29, 2004, approximately 7.3 million returns were filed using the EFILE On-Line service, a 7% increase over last years program. The VAX was removed from service without incident or HR impacts.

At this point, EFILE Modernization can be considered completed. There are, however, some minor modifications to the EFILE systems, such as including Agents who prepare Corporate Tax Returns in the AGENT system.

The modifications are of such a minor nature that EFILE Helpdesk staff will not be attending training sessions in Ottawa this program. There are no planned reductions to the EFILE Helpdesk resources.

The Agency will continue to market and promote EFILE ON-LINE to third party tax practitioners. In fact, additional resources were provided to the EFILE Helpdesks during the summer of 2004 to participate in research and promotion activities.

7. MATCHING REDESIGN

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resource impacts.

BACKGROUND

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

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, the Union was informed that 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.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The 2004/05 version of MARS was made available to all tax centres on September 20, 2004. Human resource levels were increased for the current program. In addition, funding was sought to complete a Matching program on T3 slip reporting.

We are examining the possibility of adding new workloads for upcoming programs.

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

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resource impacts.

BACKGROUND

The NQALP is designed as a uniform national approach for developing our employees, and to identify the tools and training they need to do the best job they can. It will also help promote accuracy and quality, and assist in ensuring that our clients receive quality and accurate service. The NQALP will provide meaningful data for the management of the CRA, and identify areas for improvement at a local, regional and national level.

The 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.

In April 2004, a copy of the draft guidelines developed for the National Quality & Accuracy Learning Program (NQALP) was shared with the Union. At the May 10, 2004 meeting, the UTE noted their appreciation for the opportunity to review the draft guidelines for the NQALP prior to the meeting. The Union did not provide comments other than the fact that the draft guidelines had been well thought out and proven to be user-friendly.

Further to the NQALP documents provided to the Union on April 21, 2004, we provided the Union on November 24, 2004, with an updated manual, consent form, checklist and reporting template for the program, as well as the following supporting items:

  • Certified Listener / Observer Training Module
  • Introduction to Giving and Receiving Feedback (Powerpoint)
  • Agent Orientation (Powerpoint)
  • NQALP Training Profile
  • Certified Listener / Observer Feedback Form

The complete set of documents was sent to all Call Centres on November 4, 2004 for review.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The NQALP was discussed at the Regional Operating Committee meeting of November 18, 2004, in Ottawa, at which time it was decided that a limited pilot of the NQALP should be conducted in a few offices. Seven offices have volunteered to participate in the mini-pilot from January to March 2005, to see how each of the tools works in practice. This will give us the opportunity to iron out any remaining wrinkles in preparation for a national launch after the 2005 filing season.

9. STANDARDIZED ACCOUNTING ELECTRONIC SERVICE DELIVERY (ESD)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resource impacts.

BACKGROUND

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, Management stated that:

  • Phase 1 of the E-Request for Business Clients initiative had been 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 three meetings, there were 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 would be involved in resolving the client’s request using existing technology.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Over the course of the past two and a half years, in excess of 8600 Online Requests have been received to date.

The implementation date for Phases 3 and 4 is still under discussion and no firm date has been established. The delay is due to legal, funding and technology issues. However, we remain committed to this initiative and work efforts continue in this regard.

As previously noted, 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 Centre staff would be involved in resolving the client’s request using existing technology.

10. ELECTRONIC BILL PRESENTMENT

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resources impacts.

BACKGROUND

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.

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, the Union was informed that a contract had been signed in January with the only bidder being, 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 was underway with a planned implementation date of July 2004.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

All developmental work and testing have been completed. The project was to have been implemented on July 26, 2004.

However, on July 8, 2004 it was announced that epost acquired BCE Emergis Bill Presentment Service -webdoxs. From July 8th until December 22, 2004, all implementation work on this initiative stopped while outstanding contractual and PKI issues were addressed. Technical and infrastructure issues arising out of the epost/webdoxs migration strategy must now be resolved.

If/when it does proceed, HR impacts are negligible. The estimated take up rate for this initiative is approximately 2 % for the first year. Some of the savings will be in reducing the requirement to data key the PD7A statement received from employers.

11. MY ACCOUNT FOR INDIVIDUALS – TAX AND BENEFITS
(nee. MY ACCOUNT-BENEFIT PAYMENT ONLINE (BPO)/
MY ACCOUNT PHASE II: ELECTRONIC STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resource impacts.

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.

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, the Union was informed that the My Account service continued to be 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.

Management is thinking of moving the Address Change Online (ACO) to My Account, until such time as Common Registration Service (CRS), (version 6.1) was available.

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

Benefit portion: Since February 9, 2004, 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) would be added to the CCTB calculation where applicable and would be displayed to the CCTB screen on My Account/BPO where applicable.

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

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

IRPPD portion: The fourth release of My Account took place on November 8, 2004. It included the interactive application “Change my return”. A verbal update on this service, internally referred to as NETRAP, will be provided at this meeting.

This release also provided an online medium for clients to “Disagree with an Assessment”, by submitting details through My Account. The client will be asked for the following information:

  • The reasons why he or she disagrees
  • The facts that support of the disagreement
  • A telephone number where we can reach the client during the day; and
  • The date and/or the number of his or her Notice of Assessment or Determination; or the taxation year.

Finally, enhancements to the established Benefit Payments Online service allow for a new Benefit Payments Main menu screen including a CCTB Application Status Indicator and a new Benefit Payment Summary screen showing prior, current and expected payments.

The number of successful logons to My Account from the date of its inception on June 16, 2003, to December 31, 2004, is 2.3 Million. Upcoming changes slated for February 2005 include the migration of My Account under the Secure Channel, requiring clients to register for an epass to access their My Account information. At the same time, Address Change Online will be moved under My Account.

Expected human resource impacts due to additions to My Account:

Online Notice of Objection: Management expects that potential human resource impacts will be minimal. The objection process will not change; however, the method of filing an objection will. Minor impacts may affect the mailroom.

Benefit Programs: Management does not expect any human resource impacts related to the Benefit Programs additions.

Secure Channel and Address Change Online migrations: Management does not expect any human resource impacts related to these changes.

Change my return: Management does not expect any human resource impact with the introduction of this service for individuals only.

Benefit Portion: Since November 8, 2004, the ‘Benefit payments’ page was established as a single entry point for My Account users looking for payment information on the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), the GST/HST credit, and related provincial and territorial programs. This page also includes an application status indicator for the CCTB, through which clients are notified when a recently submitted application has been received and processed.

Also on November 8, 2004, a series of ‘payment summary’ screens was introduced. Here, clients can view a two-year summary (current benefit year and previous benefit year) of prior, current, and expected payments for the CCTB, the GST/HST credit, and related provincial and territorial programs. From these screens, clients can select each individual payment and view additional details concerning that payment.

The Benefit Programs Directorate did not implement changes for the release that was implemented on February 14, 2005.

For November 2005, the functionality of existing BPO features is being streamlined and updated to better accommodate future enhancement. This initiative will be largely transparent to the client, except for the addition of information on payments containing a retroactive component.

12. INTERACTIVE INFORMATION SERVICES (IIS) / SMARTLINKS

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the last meeting, management explained that there is no longer a separate Interactive Information Service (IIS) 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 integrated into this redesign. The use of the decision tree to allow clients to “get to yes or no” answers remained in much of the content presentation on the Web.

A Smartlink pilot was initiated in February 2004. Clients using the website were provided with a link into a team of call centre agents in Edmonton and Calgary. The agents who handled these calls are presented with the same web page as the client, reducing the time it takes to reply to client’s questions, and use the web as their primary reference tool. They also use the opportunity to get additional information from the client using web-survey tools on how the client was using the site and what changes or additions could have been made to avoid the necessity to call in future when using the site and improve the level and quality of service.

Smartlinks agents have handled 4694 calls to date.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Client Services portion: The Smartlinks initiative remains available to users and continues to provide valuable information to web developers. The pilot to test the technology and the usefulness of the Web as an agent tool will continue to mid 2005.

Benefit portion: There is no longer a database driven Benefit Interactive Information Service (IIS) system since July 22, 2004 on the Child and Family Benefit website. All IIS content was converted into HTML coding and resides under the same link on the CFB website therefore transparent to our clients. Since IIS delivers the same content (decision tree format) through a different mechanism, management does not see any HR impact.

13. CHILD DISABILITY BENEFITS

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resource impacts.

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.

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, Management stated that the development and testing of the system changes had been completed on schedule for February 6, 2004.

The TC staff in the DTC program had been trained on the new system during the week of February 9th, 2004, and had 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 were 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

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

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The CDB program was delivered on March 19th, 2004, as scheduled. Since that initial issuance, monthly payments continue to be issued to all qualified recipients as part of their monthly CCTB or CSA payment. There are no planned changes or modifications to the program and, as such, it is recommended that consideration be given to remove this initiative from future updates.

14. GOVERNMENT ON LINE (GOL) INCOME VERIFICATION PROJECT

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resource impacts.

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.

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, there had 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.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The current number of agencies in production has grown to 13 while 8 other agencies are in testing.

15. PROCESSING EFFICIENCIES

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resources impacts.

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.

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, Management explained that as expected, the introduction of the new measures had reduced the number of referrals from the routine workflow (CR3 level) to the non-routine workflow (CR4 level). The processing costs of benefit applications had also been reduced. Inventories appeared to be current in most Benefit workloads, and the turnaround time had been shortened.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

In June 2004, a new initiative was introduced in order to speed up the processing of client applications for benefits beyond the legislated 11-month limit. These cases had all been processed partly in the routine workflow and then completed in the non-routine workflow, but now a significant portion can be fully processed in the routine workflow.

This initiative, along with the ones introduced in 2003; have resulted in improvements in turnaround times with clients receiving their benefits in a more timely manner. Managers are able to re-direct their resources to keep their other inventories current and to have their staff participate in various projects initiated by Headquarters.

16. 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.

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, Management stated that the Phase 1 implementation had delayed until March 15, 2004. The delay was mostly due to additional security steps that had to be included in our solution.

The testing of the new manual notice system had been done at the International Tax Services Office pilot site during the last 2 weeks of February followed by the certification process in early March. Employees in the field are currently being trained and the Phase 2 discussions were scheduled to start in mid April.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Phase 1 was a success and their workload has been maintained. A User Manual was sent to the employees as promised.

The Detailed Business Requirements and the work order for Phase 2 are completed. Scheduled implementation date is February 14, 2005.

Phase 2 will include all other verses and forms for the remainder of the workloads (T2000, T1-OVP, T4, T5, etc.).

Testing of the program will be done in Ottawa in early December.

The program will be delivered to the field 2 weeks prior to the implementation date (by Feb. 2, 2005).

Phase 2 will have no human resources impact.

17. 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 2003-2004.

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, Management stated that 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, implementation of the system/process changes at the OTC started 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.

It was anticipated that the implementation of the new imaging technology would 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 would no longer impact on resources.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

  • Due to strike activity at the OTC, phase three (OTC Production) was not completed on September 17, 2004 as planned. The project was put on hold until the strike was over and the OTC completed processing inventories accumulated during the strike.
  • Phase three (OTC Production) re-started November 8th and the training of all staff at the OTC was completed on November 29, 2004.
  • Phase four started November 30, 2004 and is scheduled to be completed July 29, 2005. In phase four the new equipment will be installed, staff will be trained and the imaging process for tax payments implemented at all CRA Tax Centres. There will be no reduction in FTEs related to this initiative.

18. 2D BAR CODE

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resource impacts.

BACKGROUND

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, the Union was informed that 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. 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.

Over the next few months Management would be looking into the equipment that would be used in this initiative as well as developing the request for proposal, the purchase of scanning equipment, and addressing such issues as training, preparation of manuals, and a communication package. Management hoped 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.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Research and analysis of the 2 Dimensional Bar Code technology continues.

IRPPD representatives met with software developers in Toronto at the end of May and all agreed that 2D bar codes were a viable alternative for computer-generated T1 returns. Formal computer specifications were created and will be provided to the developers.

The Information Technology Branch acquired a 2D bar code scanner and conducted several tests. Results are encouraging and development is progressing according to the original schedule with implementation of Phase 1 still planned for February 2005 Conversion. Training and learning activities related to the 2D development are being undertaken.

A formal communications plan is under development. We still expect that tax centres will be able to manage the human resources impact by a reduction in the number of new seasonal hires for the program and, in some areas, reductions in the rehiring of seasonal determinate data capture operators. The estimated intake of affected computer-generated T1 during phase 1 is 3.4 million.

19. GST/HST REDESIGN

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative, including any human resource impacts.

BACKGROUND

At the May 10, 2004 meeting, the CRA Management verbally informed the Union of the GST/HST Redesign Project underway. The purpose of this project is to continue our migration to the Agency’s common business platforms that has already commenced with the T2 and Other Levies business lines. Such a move enables the Agency to improve our compliance capabilities and client service by moving us closer to a common account view for business. The project scope will also position us to be able to develop new partnerships with provinces and territories and addresses how we will interface with Revenu Québec and the harmonized provinces.

  • The implementation of these new systems will have an impact on the current programs workload processes. The relative impact on human resources will be shared with the Union as soon as it is available.
  • We will ensure that the affected employees are informed of any changes throughout the project. Any staff required to perform new functions as a result of redesign will be provided the necessary training.
  • The implementation date for the new systems to interface with the common platforms has changed from May 2006 to October 2006.

Management responded to the following questions:

  • A major technical change is not anticipated as the applications are mainframe driven.
  • The system needed to be redesigned regardless of any future partnerships. Future plans may include additional system modifications resulting from:
    • increasing the information received from companies; and
    • any future policy or legislative changes. The CRA asked the Department of Finance to postpone making those kinds of changes until the systems are fully functioning.
  • Employees working in TSOs will also be affected by this redesign.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The purpose of the GST/HST Redesign Project is to continue our migration to the Agency’s common business platforms to:

Improve client service:

  • Offer clients options for consolidated payments and statements;
  • Enable clients to move payments between different tax accounts;
  • Make it easier to report tax information.

Ensure simple and efficient processes:

  • Improve business processes;
  • Replace manual intervention with automated processes, where feasible;
  • Manage the client functionally rather than by revenue line.

Develop partnerships with provinces and territories:

  • The project positions us to develop new partnerships with the provinces and territories;
  • It addresses how we interface with Revenu Québec and the harmonized provinces.

Promote responsible enforcement:

  • Increase debt recovery across programs through the use of offsets of GST/HST refunds and rebates;
  • Refine our risk management approach with comprehensive and balanced compliance strategies.

Improve systems delivery:

  • Replace Keyfast keying with new document capture systems for returns and rebates;
  • Capture all payments through Financial Input Processing (FIP);
  • Process General Adjustment Forms (GAFs) through a new online adjustment system;
  • Move GST/HST accounting to the SA platform.

As of November 2004:

  • Systems are being built and/or adapted;
  • Procedures for the new systems are being drafted and will be used to develop training materials. Once the procedures are finalized, workloads will be reviewed to determine the impacts, if any, on the current jobs/positions.
  • A training plan/strategy has been drafted.
  • The first of a series of newsletter to inform the GST/HST systems users has been published (planning a quarterly or “as needed” distribution).

Resource Levels

  • There are approximately 5,000 employees at CRA Tax Centres, Tax Services Offices and Headquarters and 3,800 employees at Revenu Québec who are currently using the GST/HST systems.
  • It is still too early to determine the impacts on the human resource levels.