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Government not doing enough to address the aging of IT systems

Many of the information technology systems that the federal government relies on to deliver programs and servi...


April 21, 2010  


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Many of the information technology systems that the federal government relies on to deliver programs and services to Canadians are aging, and several are at risk of breaking down, says Sheila Fraser, the Auditor General of Canada, in a report that was tabled this week in the House of Commons.

 

“Even if systems are currently working, a breakdown could have severe consequences,” said. Fraser. “At worst, some government programs and services could no longer be delivered to Canadians.”

 

The audit looked at five government entities and three major systems that deliver essential services to Canadians. It found that the audited organizations have all identified aging IT as a significant risk that, if left unaddressed, could threaten their ability to meet business needs. Although they have taken some steps to address this, the audit found that only one of the five organizations has a long-term plan with funding options to renew aging systems.

 

The audit also found that the Chief Information Officer Branch (CIOB) of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat has known for over a decade that the aging of IT systems poses significant government-wide risks. In spite of this, it has not formally identified the issue as an area of importance for the government. Nor has it established or implemented government-wide strategic directions to address the issue.

 

“The renewal and modernization of IT systems can take many years and significant investments that must be planned and budgeted for over the long term,” said Fraser. “The Treasury Board Secretariat should prepare a report on the state of aging IT systems across government and develop a plan to address it.”