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DND staffers burned by Phoenix payroll system

A payroll system meant to automate and streamline government pay administration functions is causing problems for a number of employees at the Department of National Defence.

In 2009, the government transitioned to the Phoenix payroll system to replace a payroll system that had been in place since the 1970s. The Transformation of Pay Administration (TPA) initiative aimed to employ technology that would centralize payroll services to simplify and standardize pay administrative functions. The government said it realize savings amounting to $70 million per year starting 2016-2017 dues to cost efficiency.

But ever since the switch over there have been numerous complaints about the system with many government employees saying their salaries have been delayed.

Now, some DND staffers are reporting that the long-running technical glitches of the Phoenix system are causing problems for them.

There have been reports of DND employees not receiving their payroll checks regularly and public servants either getting to either less or more than what they are entitled to.

For example, Carolyn MacLellan, a kitchen worker at Canadian Forces Camp Aldershot,in Kentville, N.S.  told the CBC that due to technical issues with the payroll system, she has not been paid for six week and is owed $2,900 for 190 hours of work.

She said she was not prepared for the situation and is now falling behind on bills because she was “led to believe that it (money) was going to be there and everything was going to be worked out.”

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Scott Brison, Treasury Board president and MacLellan’s MP said his Liberal party “inherited a mess.” He said the previous government allowed the system to deteriorate and “when they finally acted there was a flawed implementation of the new Phoenix system.”

The CBC has been posting personal stories of people who have been having trouble with the system. Another example is that of a student who working for the DND who has not been paid since January this year.

“Each time I contact the Pay Centre (I am able to get through once or twice a week, at most), I am given conflicting instructions and information every single time, and it seems as though no progress has been made whatsoever to remedy this situation,” the student said. “… I have contacted Minister Judy Foote’s office, but to no avail. Minister Foote’s office lost my emails three times so far, and whenever I call back, I am told that they have no record of me.”

Read the student’s full account, here.

Since the story was published, the student has received $1,478 in back pay but is still owed by the government about $9,000.

Author: Nestor Arellano

Nestor Arellano is editor of Vanguard Magazine. Nestor is a seasoned journalist who has written extensively on defence and military industry issues as well as technology and business developments. He is also associate editor of Vanguard's sister publication, IT in Canada.

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