Reading between the lines: the government of Canada has a mess on their hands in terms of their technology. Of course, it is just an opinion from some director in the HRSDC’s technology shop. To put the $70 million and $300 million in perspective, Public Works spends somewhere north of $2.5 billion on information technology. That is a significant spend courtesy of the Canadian taxpayer.
The Canadian government spent $70 million on mainframes last year, despite plans to scrap big iron machines 10 years ago, an executive with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada admitted Wednesday.
The mainframes, which in some cases date back to the 1960s, are still using Cobol and other older languages, and the Government of Canada still employs some 600 programmers who keep things up and running. This is on top of the 1,600 applications and more than 650 databases that create massive complexity within the federal public sector, said Andrew Bystrzycki, HRSDC”™s director of data management services.
Bystrzycki used these examples as part of a presentation he delivered at the Open Group”™s 23rd annual Enterprise Architecture Practitioner”™s Conference. Like TD Bank Financial Group and many of the other organizations that attended the three-day event, the Canadian government is struggling to contend with consistent views of citizen data, efficient delivery of services and compliance with privacy legislation, Bystrzycki said. Dealing with technological changes is a big part of the puzzle, he said.
“During Y2K, in the event our insurance systems failed, directors were prepared to stand there and hand out cash,”? said Bystrzycki, referring to the so-called Millennium Bug which threatened to bring down older systems on Jan. 1, 2001. “Only the government would come up with a plan like that.”?
The government employs more than 20,000 employees and has a budget of around $300 million to manage IT. “But we aren”™t agile,”? he said, stressing that his opinions were his own and not that of the government itself. “We may say we are, but we”™re not.”?