Technological Change Committee

Minutes of the Technological Change Sub-Committee Meeting

November 3, 2003

 

 

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

OPENING REMARKS

Mr. Sabri Khayat, Union of Taxation Employees (UTE), Regional Vice-President, Montreal Region, and Union Co-Chair welcomed the participants to the meeting. He commended the sub-committee members for their continued good work and contribution in making this a successful committee.

Mr. David Miller, Assistant Commissioner, Assessment and Collections, and Management Co-Chair, also welcomed everyone to the meeting today and looked forward to good discussions on the issues.

1.      CHILD DISABILITY BENEFITS

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.

2.      GOVERNMENT ON LINE (GOL) INCOME VERIFICATION PROJECT

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.

The Union agreed that it was a positive step forward.

3.      PROCESSING EFFICIENCIES

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.

4.      MANUAL NOTICE PREPARATION PROGRAM

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.

A User Manual would be developed by the Electronic & Print Media Directorate (EPMD) 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.

The Union asked to be provided with the location of the test pilot site. Management agreed.

5.      MICROFILM EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENT

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

The Union asked what impact the microfilm equipment replacement would have on jobs. Management did not anticipate any significant human resource impacts from this initiative.

WRITTEN UPDATES

The Union requested clarification on the following written updates shared with the Committee prior to the meeting.

Service Strategy

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.

Thin Client

Management stated that the Thin Client Sudbury Report (French version) would be provided to the Union.

The Union asked whether Management would continue to use the Thin Client platform in Sudbury. It went on to ask if Management would consider implementing Thin Client in the other TC’s. Management replied that, as Thin Client proved successful in Sudbury, it would continue to be used until the end of its lifecycle. The Information Technology experts believe that although the costs are comparable, it would be best to use PCs in a “tied down” mode, which have been piloted successfully in the Edmonton TSO.

The Union asked if part of this process would include the elimination of green screens currently in place at the TC's. Management stated that the “tied down” PCs would eventually eliminate the green screens for everyone in TCs except for the direct data input employees.

Authentication Management Systems (AMS)

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.

Corporation Internet Filing

The Union asked how many returns would have been filed if every corporation that had been issued an invitation had accepted to internet-file. Management replied that approximately 20,000 invitations have been extended for the pilot phase. The companies that have the majority share of the software market began to offer this product in the spring, consequently an increase is expected in the number of returns filed through the Internet.

The Union asked for the total number of T2s filed in one year, whether all companies would now be eligible to internet-file, and how many of them did the Agency expect would use this service. Management replied that approximately 1.3 million returns were filed, including the nil returns. With a few exceptions, all companies would be in a position to Internet-file. With new services such as this one, a 10% take up rate could be expected in the first full year.

Netfile

The union asked whether this initiative would result in any human resource impacts. Management replied that NETFILE, like EFILE before it, has led to an increase in the filing of electronic returns (1 million more electronic returns in the 2003 tax filing program). This has had impacts in the mailroom and front-end operations and data-entry areas.

Matching Redesign

The Union asked for clarification on the purpose of the Matching Redesign initiative, including the reason behind the delays in implementation. Management explained that the Matching Redesign initiative would ensure that clients continued to correctly report income from a variety of sources, while at the same time allowing the Agency to process beneficial adjustments for clients who omitted to claim a tax deduction made at the source.  Implementation of the Matching Redesign program had been delayed by one year due to issues surrounding several key deliverables pertaining to components of the new system.

The Union asked if the T5018s sent in by the contractor would continue to be part of the process. The T5018s have never been part of this program, and there are no plans currently in place to incorporate them into the T1 Matching program.

Quality Assurance Monitoring (QAM)

The Union expressed concerns with the use of the QAM program and its impact on employee performance assessments. It asked Management to confirm the Program objectives and basic principles.

Management stated that the QAM was an ongoing but optional training program that was put in place to ensure a clear and common understanding of the client service program, as well as offering feedback and coaching in support of employee development.  They added that the QAM findings report should be available early in the New Year.

T1 National Pool for Collections

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

My Account-Benefit Payment Online (BPO)/My Account Phase II: Electronic Statement of Account

The Union reminded Management that human resources impacts might be encountered not only when positions became obsolete but also when jobs were being enhanced and possibly reclassified at a higher level. In the latter, incumbents may not possess the appropriate set of competencies to perform the duties associated with more complex inquiries which would lead to human resources impacts.

Management replied that this would be taken into consideration and reviewed on a case- by-case basis. For example, as discussed at previous meetings, Client Service Call Centres have moved to using primarily PM-1 staff to handle both CCTB and GE calls as opposed to the CR4 s used in the past. While they recognize that the simpler calls are now being handled by automated response systems and that the PM 1 s are trained to handle the more difficult enquiries, in many sites agents are cross trained and move between these workloads to meet the call demand.

Interactive Information Services (IIS)

The Union asked for clarification on how and where Management was planning to expand the Interactive Information Services.

Management stated that it was planning to provide IIS clients with a link, in the form of a 1-800 number, or refer them directly to a particular team of agents that would be able to focus on detailed questions.  They added that no timelines had yet been determined for the technology requirements, nor any decisions made on the call centre sites or the timelines of this initiative.

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

  • Thin Client, Individual Identification Changes on the Internet, 1-800 Child Tax Benefit Program, T3 Automation, GST/HST Netfile, CPP-EI Case Management, Other Levies-Endorsing and Securing, Other Levies Assessing System and the Tax Payment by Debit Card at TSOs.

CLOSING REMARKS

The Union reiterated its appreciation for the work conducted that made the Technological Change meeting a success and looked forward to the next meeting.

Management also thanked the participants for the continued good work.

  (Original signed by)                                  

  (Original signed by)                                  

Dave Miller

Assistant Commissioner Assessment and Collections Branch

Betty Bannon National President

Union of Taxation Employees

Date:  March 8, 2004

Date:  February 19, 2004

Written Updates – November 3, 2003

  1. SERVICE STRATEGY
  2. THIN CLIENT
  3. AUTHENTICATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (AMS)
  4. INDIVIDUAL IDENTIFICATION CHANGES ON THE INTERNET
  5. CORPORATION INTERNET FILING
  6. 1-800 CANADA CHILD TAX BENEFIT (CCTB) APPLICATION BY TELEPHONE PROJECT
  7. NETFILE
  8. EFILE ON-LINE
  9. T3 AUTOMATION
  10. MATCHING REDESIGN
  11. GST/HST NETFILE
  12. GST/HST ENHANCED REGISTRATION REVIEW (GERR)
  13. CPP-EI CASE MANAGEMENT
  14. QUALITY ASSURANCE MONITORING (QAM)
  15. OTHER LEVIES – ENDORSING AND SECURING
  16. OTHER LEVIES – ASSESSING
  17. TAX PAYMENT BY DEBIT CARD AT TSOs
  18. STANDARDIZED ACCOUNTING ELECTRONIC SERVICE DELIVERY (ESD)
  19. WAREHOUSE RATIONALIZATION PROJECT (WRP)
  20. T1 NATIONAL POOL FOR COLLECTIONS
  21. ELECTRONIC BILL PRESENTMENT
  22. MY ACCOUNT-BENEFIT PAYMENT ONLINE (BPO)/ MY ACCOUNT PHASE II: ELECTRONIC STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT FOR FEBURARY 2004
  23. INTERACTIVE INFORMATION SERVICES (IIS)

1.      SERVICE STRATEGY

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

Since the “Service Strategy and Roadmap” was first introduced, much progress has been made on many of the initiatives contained in the document.  At the present time, it is being updated to reflect the progress made to date, and to identify changes to future development. Once this is complete, these changes will be incorporated in the document. The material on the web is also being expanded to include a fuller description of each of the initiatives.  The material is also being tagged and a key word index is being prepared.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

All Directorates have now updated the Service Strategy. A new website containing the English version has been created and a French version is underway. Once complete, all material contained in the database will be verified by the responsible program areas and a keyword search index will be finalized.

2.      THIN CLIENT

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

The pilot’s objectives were to validate the CCRA Thin Client platform for a large site set up with a “remote” site connection, and to determine whether the Thin Client technology represents a viable 3270 terminal replacement solution and an affordable PC alternative for connecting unconnected users. It is clear that thin client is ideally suited to a TC environment and less so for a TSO environment.

The Sudbury users, supervisors, IT support staff, and the client completed surveys, with overwhelmingly positive results. The addition of network laser printers, large colour monitors, and programmable keyboards were frequently mentioned as huge steps forward in quality and reliability.

IT support data gathered during the project maintenance phase showed a support ratio requirement of 1 FTE for every 104 devices or 1 FTE for every 189 users. Support needs must continue to be measured and assessed over a period of at least a full year to establish a valid support ratio for decisions about future similar Thin Client deployment. The cost benefits of Thin Client hardware versus PCs are less clear.

At the last meeting, it was confirmed that implementation of Thin Client in the TCs would depend on cost, as well as infrastructure readiness. It was premature to confirm any impact on employees who provided technical support. A commitment had been made to provide the number of potential employees that could eventually be impacted as part of the transition plan.

The Sudbury report was shared with the union on July 21, 2003, to be followed by the French translation.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The Thin Client Sudbury report is now available in French and a copy will be distributed to the Union. As noted in the final report, there are significant savings in support costs over the traditional PC. These savings should allow all unconnected A&C users to be connected, as capital funds permit. However, the savings are no greater than if PCs are tightly managed (no customized desktops); a decision has therefore been made to roll out PCs to those still unconnected, subject (at present) to a local agreement in each site to work with the standard desktop. Calgary and Edmonton TSOs have conducted successful pilots of this agreed approach, finding significant support cost savings as with Thin Clients.

A&C plans to equip all unconnected CSD users with PCs before this filing season, and half the remaining Revenue Collections users. Next year, funding permitting, we will complete the Revenue Collections users and begin connecting some TC users. It should be noted that it is not the plan to connect data entry staff, who will continue to have access to the cyber cafes in TCs.

This item is now considered completed, and will not be reported upon further.

3.      AUTHENTICATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (AMS)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

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

At the last meeting, the Union had asked if Management would be able to provide information on the number of clients using the system. Management indicated that access to AMS through the Secure Channel infrastructure was very complex and that clients were not comfortable using this system. Until more applications were made available or AMS simplified, clients would not be inclined to use this service.

The next steps would include providing additional online services such as the Employment Insurance Application.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

CCRA no longer provides Help Desk service to Secure Channel (SC), as this temporary arrangement came to an end on June 30, 2003. To date, approximately (no accurate stats provided from SC) 100K clients have obtained an Epass. In the last few months, only 7% of users have said they were satisfied with the service. Discussions are taking place between SC and CCRA to address the deficiencies identified with the current client experience. No date has yet been identified for the implementation of these required changes.  It is estimated that the changes could be in production next year in the late Fall.

4.      INDIVIDUAL IDENTIFICATION CHANGES ON THE INTERNET (Nee CHANGE OF ADDRESS ON THE INTERNET)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

Phase 2 has not commenced due to budget restraints and other priorities.

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. We propose that this initiative be removed off the agenda for future meetings. When we reinitiate working on this initiative, we will inform the Union.

5. CORPORATION INTERNET FILING (Nee T2 NEFILE)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

Phase 1.0 of the Corporation Internet Filing project concluded on March 31, 2003. The results were very positive.

  • 1,124 Corporation Income Tax Returns were Internet-filed during this phase.
  • Notices of assessment were issued within 10 days for 82% of the Internet-filed returns.
  • 5 Internet-capable software packages are available on the market. Two other packages (from the biggest commercial developer) are forthcoming.

Phase 1.5 commenced on April 7, 2003. We amended the eligibility criteria and started extending monthly invitations to a much larger target audience.  We are also continuing to work with commercial software developers to ensure that the remaining Internet software packages are made available to clients as quickly as possible. Depending on the take-up rate, we should start seeing some operational impacts. We should also be in a better position to start estimating potential savings for the 2004/2005 fiscal.

In terms of Phase 2.0, we have had some preliminary discussions with the Provinces of Ontario, Alberta and Quebec regarding a joint Internet filing process, but feedback from the corporate and accounting communities has indicated a strong need to further simplify the Internet filing process and ease our reliance on the Web Access Code (WAC) security protocol.  Our clients have suggested that we eliminate the need to obtain a WAC for each filing and register “agents” (e.g. accounting firms) similar to the T1 EFILE On-line System.

Management believes this initiative to be a major step forward in simplifying our current process and generating a much higher volume of Internet-filed returns. The increased interest and traffic will also position us very well to offer other enhancements such as batch filing and a joint-filing process with interested provincial partners.

At the last meeting, Management does not expect any HR impacts in 2003/2004. As the system becomes more popular and the take-up increases, Management will be in a better position to estimate operational impacts on term keying staff for 2004/2005.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

After one full year of implementation, the overall results of this initiative has been 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.

We are continuing to work with the Public Affairs Branch on our existing communications strategy to examine other opportunities to market and promote our product.

We are currently working 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.

In the longer-term, we plan to:

  • Explore a joint-Internet filing process with the Provinces of Alberta and Ontario. This would be of benefit to 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.

We cannot yet 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.

6.  1-800 CHILD TAX BENEFIT PROGRAM (CCTB)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

At the last meeting, the Union was informed that the business case conclusions were still in the process of being written. The pilot continues to be evaluated and initial comments from clients and employees were positive.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

On July 1, 2003, the CCTB application by telephone pilot project service was discontinued.

The human resources were re-invested to ease the overall pressure on the paper application processing.

We are continuing to explore ways to have clients apply by telephone, using new technological advances which will reduce or eliminate the need for manual intervention by a live agent.

7.      NETFILE

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

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

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

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

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

(nee: EFILE INTERNET)

ISSUE

8. EFILE ON-LINE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

Core features for the first phase of EFILE Modernization were planned to be introduced for the 2003 filing program while enhancements would be introduced in the next phase.

The core features include:

  • Real-time requests for SEND (System for Electronic Notification of Debts),
  • Internet batch filing of T1 returns,
  • Internet retrieval of acknowledgement files,
  • Self serve re-acknowledgement should the original be misplaced by the client,
  • List server e-mail services to provide news and bulletin board messages to users.

All features of EFILE On-Line Plus were launched on time, starting with real-time SEND on December 16, 2002. Client acceptance has been very gratifying. Cumulatively, some 43% of all SEND requests have been made through the new Internet option compared to 100% through the traditional proprietary channel last year.

The use of the new Internet batch filing option has also grown steadily to the point that year to date returns processed has exceeded the proprietary channel. Only 1/3 of current daily volumes are now being processed through the proprietary channel. Going forward, the Agency is well positioned to maintain and grow the EFILE program, still our main source of e-commerce transaction processing.

During November 2002, staff from all Taxation Centres attended training in Ottawa. The training for the new system was delivered by headquarters staff and was more in-depth and extensive than anything previously provided to field staff. During their full week of training, they were permitted access to the testing systems so they could observe first hand how all the new features would operate and how back end systems had been modified to accommodate Internet processing. This approach was very well received and TC staff felt they were well equipped to assist clients for the new filing season.

Given the Federal Government’s emphasis on promoting e-commerce, the Agency will continue to actively market EFILE On-Line Plus to tax professionals in the coming years.

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

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Again, we are not expecting any HR impacts as a result of this initiative. The proprietary VAX channel has been discontinued, effective September 30, 2003, and all existing clients will 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 will still be required.

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

9.      T3 AUTOMATION

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

The Unions were advised 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 system for assessing the new T3GR would be implemented in October 2002. Due to delays, the system was not implemented until December 2002. The Union has previously been advised of the affected jobs as a result of the automated notice and of new T3GR.

During 2002, new tasks were implemented under Phase 3B such as 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 automated Notice of Reassessment was implemented in October 2002. No loss of staff occurred as a result of Phase 3B.

During November 2002, Headquarters, in conjunction with systems and taxation centre staff, reviewed the T3 Automation project and developed a plan for the future. Since a revised business case has not been put forward for Phases 4 and 5 of T3 Automation, no approval to proceed for the project has been given.

At the last meeting, the Union had asked for an update on Phases 4 and 5 of the T3 Automation. It was confirmed that Phases 4 and 5 were being reviewed and that the Union would be kept informed of the progress.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

There are no imminent plans to move forward with Phases 4 and 5. Due to a lack of resources, the continuation of this project is now in abeyance.

10.     MATCHING REDESIGN

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative:

BACKGROUND

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

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

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

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

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

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Initial implementation of the new system is now scheduled for mid November 2003.

The train-the-trainer sessions have 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.

11.     GST/HST NETFILE

(Leslie-Ann Scott)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

The GST/HST NETFILE was implemented nationally on April 7, 2003. Management continues to estimate a reduction of 7.5 FTEs (indeterminate employees), which would be reallocated to other workloads within the TCs.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Now that both the GST/HST NETFILE and GST/HST TELEFILE projects have been implemented nationally, the reduction of the 7.5 FTEs has been absorbed across all six Tax Centres over the past two years. Although take up rates continue to slowly rise for GST/HST NETFILE, most filers are switching from TELEFILE to NETFILE, hence not increasing the overall take up rate. Therefore, we would request that any further reporting on GST/HST NETFILE be taken off any future updates to the Union.

12.     GST/HST ENHANCED REGISTRATION REVIEW (GERR)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

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

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

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

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

GERR has been successfully implemented in the St. John’s and Winnipeg TCs as scheduled. The resource allocation for 2003/04, a partial year, is 21.9 FTEs in total. Ongoing annual costs are estimated at 29.3 FTEs. The work will be done at the CR03 group and level.

13.     CPP-EI CASE MANAGEMENT

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

A business case reflecting IT costs for the system changes have been reviewed and approved by HRDC. This project will be developed over a 6-month period, followed by a 6-month pilot project.  The full implementation schedule of the electronic link is forecasted for April 2004.

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.

At the last meeting, Management confirmed that implementation of this initiative had been delayed due to resource issues at HRDC. The Union would be kept informed of the progress and as this was solely a change in how HRDC communicated information to the CCRA, there would be no HR impacts.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

No further progress has been achieved or is planned in the next 6 months.

14.     QUALITY ASSURANCE MONITORING (QAM)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

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. 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.

Preliminary discussions will be held with the Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver call centres to discuss an action plan for updating the QAM program. Further work has been delayed until after the T1 filing season.

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

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver sites have provided their comments on both the program and the evaluation report. A proposal for a revised program is being developed and will be presented to the union once a draft framework is available for discussion.

Our overall objective is to have a national program that will incorporate the good points of the QAM implemented in MTV and which would have applicability to our other call centres as well.

15.     OTHER LEVIES – ENDORSING AND SECURING

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

Release 4

The Other Levies Endorsing and Securing system was successfully implemented on April 7, 2003. The training was delivered as originally planned to all affected employees at headquarters, in the Summerside Tax Centre and in the TSO Centres of Expertise. Some work has been re-allocated from the Summerside Tax Centre to the Centres of Expertise. However, there will be no FTE impacts and no workload impacts on Summerside as a result of OLES.

Release 5 Update

The Other Levies Assessing System is on schedule for the July 1 implementation. The conversion of the data from the Excise Commercial System will take place on June 27th and the implementation of OL will occur from June 28-30.

The training package has been developed and the training schedule is being finalized. The following training schedule is being proposed:

OLAS – July Implementation

  • Training of HQ staff (A&C, CPB, P&L, Appeals) – 4th week of May
  • Training of TSO staff (P&L, CPB) – 1st, 2nd and 3rd   weeks of June
  • Training of Summerside TC staff  - 4th week of June

The OL team will also be working together with Standardized Accounting and Policy and Legislation Branch to provide a co-ordinated training schedule and to relate the contents of the three training courses together for the end users.

HR Issues

No change from the previous information provided. There have been no FTE impacts as a result of the shift in work to the Centres of Expertises and there are no FTE impacts expected with the July release.

In terms of the human resources impacts, there might be a need to reallocate the type of work performed. The system will permit Other Levies users in the TSO Centres of Expertise to do some work that is currently being done in the Summerside Tax Centre”.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The Other Levies system, which includes the Endorsing and Securing System (OLES) and the Assessing System (OLAS), has been in full production since July 1, 2003.

There are no changes from the previous information provided. There have been no FTE impacts as a result of the system implementation.

This item can be removed from the Agenda.

16.     OTHER LEVIES ASSESSING SYSTEM

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

On July 1, 2003, the Other Levies Assessing System will join the other common component systems of BCCS, SA, and Case to replace ECS. This will complete the successful migration of the second line of business to the Business Suite of Systems.

The number of FTEs in the Excise Unit at the Summerside Taxation Centre will remain unchanged at 1 MG3, 1 PM 2 Technical Advisor, 9 PM 1s and 6 CR 3s. The work carried out by the CRs will remain unaffected as will the work performed by the PM1s who are currently responsible for accounting and assessing issues.

While the standardized accounting process is being performed for CORTAX by a separate accounting unit, Summerside management and the Headquarters do not anticipate migrating the accounting function to that unit. It is imperative that the critical mass of technical expertise regarding the Excise program, during this eventful period, be retained in the Excise Unit. In this regard, thought is being given to creating another PM 2 Technical Officer to deal solely with issues related to standardized accounting.

PM 1 officers will undergo extensive training to enable them use the Standardized Accounting System. Two weeks of accounting training is scheduled for the period of June 9 to June 20 followed by training on the OLS during the week of June 23 to June 27 (this training will be given to all staff in the Excise Unit). Then, the PM 1 officers will work with and receive guidance from the Standardized Accounting function for a minimum period of 6 months following implementation of the OLS. Additional accounting training will be scheduled for the fall of 2003.

The accounting workload allocation will be reviewed jointly by Summerside management and Headquarters, to determine whether the all accounting functions should be performed by one group (for CORTAX, Excise and GST), when the third business line (GST) joins the Business Suite of Systems in 2005.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The Other Levies system, which includes the Endorsing and Securing System (OLES) and the Assessing System (OLAS), has been in full production since July 1, 2003.

There are no changes from the previous information provided. There have been no FTE impacts as a result of the system implementation.

This item can be removed from the Agenda.

17.     TAX PAYMENT BY DEBIT CARD AT TSO

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

Phase 1 was implemented on time and within budget. Procedures were provided to the field and training was staggered to allow Project Team members to be on site for the training and start-up. Training was on live work. Several offices complimented the training and most have indicated that they enjoy the debit card payment option.

Details of Phase 2 are being finalized. Offices have been cabled and debit card terminals have been ordered. To accommodate summer holidays, training and implementation will be in two blocks – May/June and September/October. Offices are currently aware of which block they are in and a detailed schedule is being prepared to provide them with the actual date (s) of their training.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The national rollout of the Debit Card project was completed on October 24, 2003. There were no problems and general feedback from the offices is that they like debit cards. The employees initially had concerns that it would be time consuming but have found it to be a very quick process.

18.     STANDARDIZED ACCOUNTING ELECTRONIC SERVICE DELIVERY (ESD)

ISSUE

The Union would like an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

E Request for Business Clients

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

Phase 2 development was successfully implemented on April 8th 2003. In excess of 1300 Online Requests have been received to date.

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

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

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

E-Request for Business (Phases 1 and 2) is fully operational and has now been extended to all four of the Other Levies program types in addition to the T2 program.

After one full year in operation, we have received in excess of 3600 online requests.

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

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

19.     WAREHOUSE RATIONALIZATION PROJECT (WRP)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

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

In order to achieve these objectives for ‘ideal warehouses’, Management was planning the introduction of technology not yet used in the CCRA (Carousels), as well as maximizing the use of technology already available in DC (Bar-code scanners).

Carousels mechanically conveyed forms and publications to an operator who picked customer delivery orders while bar code scanners scanned the inventory. It was expected that these technologies would significantly improve productivity.

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

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

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The introduction of the barcode scanners and the carousels has been delayed to such an extent that neither of them will be introduced this filing season. We are at the specification-writing phase, which is followed by the issuance of the Request for Proposals. The process of selecting the successful bidder(s) takes several months. As noted at the last meeting, we will only be able to determine the human resources impact once the technology has been selected. We are committed to sharing information concerning human resources impacts as soon as it is available.

20. T1 NATIONAL POOL FOR COLLECTIONS

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

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

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

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

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

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

Specific meetings were held with the Union on the Tl National Pool and the initiative is currently implemented

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

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

21.     ELECTRONIC BILL PRESENTMENT

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

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

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

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The CCRA has issued its Request for Proposals (RFP) to potential suppliers. Planned implementation is dependent on the outcome of the current RFP and implementation is now planned for April to June, 2004.

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

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

This initiative was part of the Government On Line (GOL) initiative involving a partnership between the Individual Returns and Payments Processing and Benefit Programs Directorates. It was intended to give individual clients the ability to view certain personal tax and benefit information on the Internet. The initial release was planned for June 4, 2003.

A handout describing the process was provided to the Union. Future releases would provide the client with information on RRSPs, HBPs and LLPs, as well as more details on the individual’s tax account.

The Union asked Management if any HR impacts were expected, specifically in Call Centers, as the number of calls from clients should be reduced over time. Management indicated that while it was expecting a reduction in the number of simple client enquiries, past experience had shown that such services led to an increase in more complex and detailed inquiries.

The Union suggested that an upward classification of front line positions could become necessary because of the increased complexity of client enquiries.

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

The My Account service is being implemented in phases. The initial release was on June 16, 2003 and the second release occurred on October 6. A third release is scheduled for February 2004.

WHAT INFORMATION CAN A CLIENT VIEW FOR RELEASE 1? (JUNE 16, 2003)

IRPPD Portion

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

Benefit portion

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.

WHAT INFORMATION CAN A CLIENT VIEW FOR RELEASE 2? (OCTOBER 6, 2003)

IRPPD Portion

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 portion

Benefit Program Directorate did not have anything for this release.

WHAT INFORMATION CAN A CLIENT VIEW FOR RELEASE 3? (FEBRUARY, 2004)

IRPPD Portion

Funding not approved as of this date.

Benefit portion

Clients will be able to view this additional information:

  • Benefit ESA Online: The Benefit Electronic Statement of Account (ESA) will help the client understanding its accounting and financial transactions that occurred on its benefit account for a specific period.

Child Disability Benefit: The Child Disability Benefit (CDB) is a non-taxable supplement to the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) and Children’s Special Allowances (CSA).

CDB will be added to the CCTB calculation where applicable and to the CCTB screen on My Account as of March 2004.

23.     INTERACTIVE INFORMATION SERVICES (IIS)

ISSUE

The Union will request an update on this initiative.

BACKGROUND

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

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

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

MANAGEMENT’S WRITTEN RESPONSE

This year has seen a doubling in the number of daily page requests from a year ago.

As a result of our connect-the-unconnected initiative, we will be able to make IIS available to client service agents across the country. In so doing, they will be able to use it as both a training and reference tool.

In expanding IIS content to include enquiries commonly dealt with on the phones or at the counter, we have confirmed with field staff the 400 most frequently asked questions. From December to March, we will be integrating them into IIS and our web pages.

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

Management’s focus on the internet continues to be in providing clients with a level of service equitable to what they would receive from our telephone or counter channels.

We are enhancing Internet metrics and monitoring capabilities in order to better evaluate client use of and satisfaction of the website, including IIS.  With information we expect to obtain during the upcoming filing season we anticipate being able to better understand future impact on the telephone and counter channels.

Benefit portion

  • No update since the last update.

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