Technological Change Committee

Minutes of the Technological Change Sub-Committee Meeting

November 21, 2012

BETWEEN THE CANADA REVENUE AGENCY AND THE UNION OF TAXATION EMPLOYEES

PARTICIPANTS

Management                                                Union

Rick Leigh                                                     Doug Gaetz
Lynn Livingston                                              Denis Lalancette
Donna May                                                    Gary Esslinger
Ted Gallivan                                                   Brian Oldford
Joanne Heidgerken                                         Pierre Mulvihill
Tessie Jokinen
Wayne Antle
Jean-Louis Soucy
Josée Labelle
Lucie Desjardins
Leanne Given
Jean Stewart

OPENING REMARKS

Mr. Doug Gaetz, Regional Vice-President, Atlantic Region, and Union Co-Chair, welcomed everyone to the meeting. He requested an update on Vision 2020 and any associated HR impacts. The Union also expressed concern and requested clarification about Management’s decision to change the committee Co-Chair.

Mr. Rick Leigh, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Assessment and Benefit Services Branch, and Management Co-Chair, also welcomed the participants. He responded that he would consult with Labour Relations and respond to UTE on the two issues that they had raised. Labour Relations confirmed that Vision 2020 would be discussed at the upcoming National Union Management Consultation Committee.

AUDIT TRAIL RECORD ANALYSIS TOOL

The National Audit Trail Monitoring Program Section (NATMP) ensures the CRA employs a strategic and standardized approach to the monitoring of employee accesses to taxpayer information and has developed the Audit Trail Record Analysis Tool (ATRAT) to assist the regions and branches in reviewing employee accesses.

The ATRAT will display the audit trail records using a web based application, identify the systems and screens accessed by the employee, and highlight possible areas of concern using business rules. This tool will also allow for the centralization of the random selection of employees and the creation of the files for review by the immediate supervisors.

The centralized program will lead to the sunset of the Online Audit Trail System (OATS) as all audit trail reports will be extracted and produced by the NATMP Section using the Audit Trail System interface.

The use of ATRAT rather than OATS by managers to monitor their employees’ accesses will have no impact on resourcing levels.

Given the information that has been provided, Management maintains that this is not a technological change. The use of the ATRAT to conduct monitoring activities does not replace existing technology, it is an interface. The Union responded that they may not agree with Management’s interpretation. UTE would consider the matter further and share their position with Labour Relations.

Management provided additional information on the system and explained how the changes would be implemented. The Union requested the communication strategy and information on timelines. Management agreed to provide these documents once developed.

The Union requested that the HR impacts be shared with the committee once this information was available. Management agreed to share this information. In addition, UTE asked to be kept apprised of changes as the project progressed. Management stated that they were preparing a training manual and would share the document.

MY BUSINESS ACCOUNT

Management proposed a name change for this agenda item to Electronic Services for Business to encompass a broader range of services offered to businesses. The Union agreed to consider this request.

Management provided an update on the number of accesses of My Business Account; there were 537,407 accesses in 2010, roughly 900,000 in 2011 and 1.2 million so far this fiscal year.

Management explained that human resource impacts would continue to be managed through attrition, including assignment to other workloads. Three examples of workloads that could absorb impacts were the enhanced GST/HST review program, Corporate Assessing Review Program (CARP), and the GST/HST Enhanced Registration Review Program (GERR). Business Returns Directorate has made a significant investment in these three programs.

To support the transition of SP-01 and SP-02 employees to new opportunities, Management emphasized three measures:  employees prepare learning and development plans annually, the current financial per-employee training allocation and the direct-indirect ratios that provide for employee salary while on training has been maintained, and upcoming selection processes are communicated so employees could prequalify for expected vacancies and opportunities.

The Union asked if Management had more specific information about the potential human resources impacts resulting from the initiative and requested that Management provide information in terms of employees, indeterminate and determinate, rather than FTE’s. Management would update the committee should there be HR impacts.

TRUST ACCOUNTS CALCULATION TOOL

Management stated that the Trust Accounts Calculation Tool (TACT) pilot was launched on November 6, 2012, following extensive testing in Headquarters. Eight Tax Services Offices (TSOs) in five different regions would be involved with the pilot on a staggered schedule, which would provide good feedback for Management to identify and address issues. Management shared the pilot schedule with the Union.

Management would provide two days of training to the pilot sites with the TSOs selecting which Trust Accounts Examination Officers, Team Leaders and Trust Accounts Examination Compliance Officers would participate.

Management remained optimistic that TACT would be rolled out early next fiscal, but stressed the importance of ensuring that the tool was stable. Management would wait for feedback before establishing a schedule for the tool’s release and would share the schedule with this committee. Prior to the roll out there would be a three-day training session for trainers from each TSO.
 
The Union asked about the involvement of a committee member in the pilot. Management agreed to look into this further and report back to the committee.

The Union asked about the potential human resources impacts of this initiative. Management responded that there would be no impacts on human resources as a result of TACT implementation.

Taxpayer Services correspondence workload

Management explained that a 2009 review of the Taxpayer Services correspondence workload had revealed that there was no national inventory tracking system and offices had various manual processes to track inventory. There was no consistent quality assurance process or standards for correspondence. Correspondence was processed in 34 locations and cost per unit varied greatly.

In July 2010, the Correspondence Tracking Inventory System (CTIS) database was introduced. All incoming correspondence was entered into CTIS at the correspondence centres and the database generates reports on the number and types of correspondence received, completed and the aging of the inventory.

In October 2011, the workload was centralized into five centres, one in each region, to achieve greater efficiencies in quality, consistency and cost of outputs.

Management stated that a National Quality and Accuracy Learning Program (NQALP) for correspondence would be implemented this fiscal year, mirrored after the program in existence at the enquiries call centres. Information gathered from this program would only be used for coaching and training purposes, not for the performance review process. New agents would have all their work reviewed for the first two weeks and three accounts would be reviewed monthly for experienced agents.

To further enhance efficiency and capitalize on local capacity, correspondence would be managed from a national inventory. Correspondence would be scanned locally and would be saved on an electronic shelf. An algorithm for self-assigning items in CTIS would be developed based on item status, user and item language, priority and date an item was received. This will ensure that work is distributed fairly across the correspondence centres.

Overall these tools and processes will enhance the management of the correspondence workload and will not have any human resources impacts.

The Union asked if there was any thought about going down to fewer than five centers. Management responded that this was not being considered at this time. The Union asked if Management was looking at the work descriptions with these changes. Management confirmed that this was being done.

TAXPAYER INFORMATION PHONE SERVICE

Management explained that they anticipated an increase in demand on telephone services in 2013 and were exploring the use of automation to reduce the pressure on call centres. The two call drivers that would be addressed through automation were requests for paper remittance vouchers (RVs) and requests for Income and Deductions (INCDED) printouts.

Taxpayer requests for INCDED printouts are consistently one of the top call drivers for the Individual Income Tax Enquiries call centres. The call centres and the Tax Services Offices (TSOs) processed approximately 700,000 requests for these types of printouts in 2011/2012. Of this amount, approximately 50,000 requests were initiated in the TSOs. These will be re-directed to My Account and the telephones as the CRA moves away from in-person service.

Reductions in the mail out of paper RVs will also result in call centres receiving a significant number of requests for paper RVs in 2013. A facility is currently being added to the Taxpayer Services Agent Desktop-Individuals (TSAD-I) to allow agents to request that an RV be generated. This type of request is also one that can be automated. Allowing individuals to self-serve for an RV will assist taxpayers who would prefer to pay manually with a voucher, rather than migrating to electronic payment options.

The Information Technology Branch and Shared Services Canada are developing new interactive voice response (IVR) options that will offer callers the option of requesting either an INCDED printout or an RV without speaking to an agent. The new IVR option for RVs will complement the new option that is being added to Quick Access on CRA’s Web site. Adding these options to the existing IVR applications will provide individuals with more options to obtain the RVs and INCDED printouts that they require. The two new IVR options are expected to be available as of February 2013.

If for some reason the automated service is not able to issue the printout or RV, the caller will be provided with the opportunity to speak to an agent.

With respect to human resources impacts, the two new IVR options are being introduced as a means of mitigating potential increases in call demand to the call centres. As such, no human resources impacts are anticipated.

The Union requested a list of the services that are available through TIPS and statistics on the number of calls that were received. Management agreed to provide this information.

The Union stressed that the HR Impact should be based on the amount of work that needs to be done and was concerned that Management was underestimating the potential HR impacts. The Union expressed concern with IVRs and the potential impacts that this could have on their members.

AUTOMATED BENEFITS APPLICATION

At the May 2012 meeting, Management advised that the February 2012 system enhancement to automatically update mid-year address changes would reduce the volume of manual reviews of Automated Benefit Applications (ABA). The change was incremental to the overall employee impacts assessed in 2009.

The original HR impact analysis conducted in 2009 indicated that the decrease in workload resulting from full ABA project implementation could be absorbed in the tax centres. The 2009 assessment was based on the annual birth rate and national integration of all provinces and territories.

The workload decrease was estimated at that time to be 45 FTEs across all tax centres at the SP-2 and SP-3 levels. Employees at the SP01, SP04, SP05, and MG levels were excluded from the analysis since the percentage of time spent processing newborn applications was minimal or based on indirect time.

The ABA project is now available to 90% of the birth population in Canada, even though there are still three smaller provinces and three territories set to launch the service in 2013 and 2014. The system enhancement of February 2012 resulted in further processing efficiencies related to 10 FTEs across all tax centres, bringing the cumulative FTE impact since 2009 to 55.

At the last meeting Management committed to conduct an impact analysis and has confirmed that the additional 10 FTEs could be absorbed within the tax centers with no FTE reductions.

In addition, Management requested that the Union consider removing this item from the future agendas as the initiative was largely implemented. Management committed to come back to the committee if they had any changes to report. UTE would consider this request and provide a response to Labour Relations.

The Union requested that information on HR impacts be presented in terms of employees, rather than FTEs as 55 FTEs could translate into 70 persons. Management agreed to contact the tax centres to request this information.

SECURE ONLINE SERVICES

In response to a question raised at the last meeting, Management stated that the accessibility requirements would be met by the July 2013 deadline.

Management provided an update on e-Documents; a secure method for taxpayers and their representatives to submit supporting documentation and receipts to the CRA. The e-Documents solution was implemented in October 2012 for the T2 Corporate Assessing Review Program by invitation only. The next release for e-Documents would be in April 2013 for the T1 Processing Review (T1PR) program.

Due to low volumes anticipated for the T2 program, Management anticipated that any HR impacts would be managed within the Tax Centres.

For the T1PR program, Management would analyze the HR impacts; however, volumes and take up rates were not anticipated to be high.

The e-Delivery of correspondence would advise Canadians, by electronic notification, that they have new correspondence or an action request from the CRA to view in a secure portal. The e-Delivery core service solution would be implemented in April 2013 for the business suite; e‑Delivery for Representatives would be implemented in April 2014. An implementation date for e-Delivery for Individuals was not yet confirmed.

The e-Payments initiative included the electronic Pre-Authorized Debits (e-Pads) project. E-Pads would authorize the CRA to withdraw a pre-determined payment amount directly from an individual’s or business’ account at a Canadian financial institution on a pre-determined date. E-Pads for business release was scheduled for October 2014 and would be expanded for individuals in February 2014.

The Union asked about HR impacts and Management responded that no HR impacts were anticipated as take up rates tend to be low.

T1 SYSTEMS REDESIGN

In 2011, the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) approved funding for the Agency to address the aging T1 systems.

The project has completed a preliminary planning exercise in order to prepare a high-level plan that outlined how the project will be managed over its nine year lifespan. This plan included the preliminary scope, cost and schedule of the project and was pending approval by TBS and the Agency Management Committee (AMC).

The focus of the project was IT Sustainability and the modernization and rationalization of the T1 systems and databases. These technological upgrades would result in some necessary program changes (e.g. responding to near real time processing), as well as some opportunities to modernize the work (e.g. more pre‑assessment matching).

The full extent of those changes would not be known until the project moved through the Resource and Investment Management Committee gating process and the design of the new system was developed.

The project was still in the planning and scoping phase; therefore, it was premature to consider HR impacts.

Taxpayer relief program

Management explained that the Taxpayer Relief Program (TRP) was established in April 2011. In the past, TRP requests were handled by employees across the Agency and the Taxpayer Relief Registry (TRR) system was used to record details of the relief requests. With the centralization of the TRP program to the Appeals Branch, Management would like to add workload management functionality, by attaching the TRR system to the Case-Appeals system.

There are 200 persons presently assigned this workload at the SP02, SP03, SP04 and SP05 levels. Approximately 160 officers could be required to manage this workload in the future. Management clarified that additional resources were allocated to address excessive workload and aging inventory; the final resource requirements would be re-evaluated as the program matured.

The implementation of the Case-Appeals system would not impact the program’s staffing levels. This change could have small efficiency gains but these could help officers to manage their workload.

Management stated that they would conduct a training session for Appeals officers and would implement a modified training package for users outside the Appeals Branch that would need to use the TRR system. Management anticipated that this change would not have a significant impact on staff and would allow Management to better manage the TRP inventory across the four regions.

The Union requested clarification on the status of the 200 employees that were presently supporting the program, with Management’s expectation that fewer employees would be required for the program in the future. Management explained that the additional employees were temporarily assigned to the program.

CLOSING REMARKS

Both Management and the Union thanked everyone for their attendance and participation.

The Union emphasized the importance of discussing the issues surrounding technological change and the impact it has on people. UTE reiterated that they would like HR impacts to be presented in terms of persons rather than FTE’s in future.

Original signed by                                          Original signed by

 

 

 

Rick Leigh
Deputy Assistant Commissioner
Assessment and Benefit Services Branch
Canada Revenue Agency

Bob Campbell
National President
Union of Taxation Employees

Date:  February 25, 2013

Date: February 15, 2013