First, the problem at hand, as reported by Tiffany Crawford and Rob Shaw in the VSun last week:
...“This is an immediate safety risk, it’s completely unacceptable,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the province’s independent Representative for Children and Youth. “Frontline staff is calling me in flat-out panic. It affects child safety, and worker safety.”
Turpel-Lafond cited several consequences of the computer failure, such as a father of three young children unable to get an income assistance cheque from government to feed his family, and police officers responding to a domestic violence call but unable to tell if any children at the address had been abused in the past or if there were firearms in the residence.
The paper backup system doesn’t allow provincial staff in one part of the province to properly share information, such as with hospitals. And it has left the system with by a mountain of paperwork to enter into the computer, she said.
“This is a disaster,” said Turpel-Lafond. “ There needs to be a proper independent review of this.”
At issue is the government’s custom-built $182-million integrated case management computer system, which went into operation in April 2012 and was intended to allow sharing of information between ministries about social assistance, disabilities, domestic violence, and child welfare....
Second, the response of one of the Snooklandian ministers allegedly 'in charge':
...“It’s a new computer system, and to say there won’t ever be hiccups is something we can’t do,” (Social Development Minister Don McRae) said. “Look at Windows 8, it didn’t go very well.”...
But here's the thing...
It is not a new system and this most definitely is not the first time that problems have arisen.
Case in point, the following is taken from a consultant's report, released in early 2013, on what had to be done to even start making the 'product', purchased from Siebel/Oracle (thanks NVG!), even remotely servicable:
The following next steps need to be completed prior to this review being able to conclude on the question of whether the Siebel product can meet the needs of child protection. In particular, we recommend that steps, 9, 10, and 12 be completed prior to finalization of this review and provision of the final report.
9. With the re-commitment to a shared vision for ICM, work should proceed on redeveloping system requirements and should include the following major steps:
-Review best practices from other jurisdictions;
-Work with a core group of subject matter experts to identify and drive a full set of requirements from the restated child protection practice model. This work should be aimed at enabling actual user workflows, which should form the basis of requirements;
-Confirm and consolidate requirements with stakeholder groups, both to ensure that stakeholders see that that have been “heard”, and that requirements are accurate and will meaningfully improve users’ work processes.
10.Complete a gap fit assessment of requirements to the current solution. This process should include the development of prioritized needs, business cases and options for proceeding to address revised requirements.
12. Complete detailed budget, timelines and contractual impact analyses to ensure that the appropriate resources are in place and that revised timelines are feasible and will not result in unacceptable contractual obligations or ramifications.
Sound like a little hiccup with Windows 8 to you?
I've read the entire report cited above.
And I realize that this effort was originally mounted in good faith with a goal to actually try and make good on the Hughes report.
But the long running ineptitude of the powers-that-be behind this thing really does make one wonder if this is just another more crony-run effort gone bad (remember Maximus?).
Regardless, when I think of the time, effort and huge resources wasted to make the incredibly hard job of front-line workers, workers who actually deal with our fellow citizens and children most in need, even harder?
It's impossible for me to keep my outrage meter out of the red when I recall how hard the same powers-that-be worked to 'demonstrate' that they hadn't changed a 'policy' (rather than a long standing 'practice') to allow those same front-line workers to buy kids stuck in the system without a family an extra present at Christmas time.
And just so you know...I really have been working hard to keep that outrage meter safely down in the green for a while now...Honest I have.
On that Maximus thing...At last count we were into it for at least a half a billion...And it is neither fast nor a ferry (or even, it would appear, scrap metal)...