On May 29th, 2018, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada released seven reports, including “Building and Implementing the Phoenix Pay System” which was focused on whether Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) effectively and efficiently managed and oversaw the implementation of the Phoenix Pay System.
The Auditor General, Michael Ferguson, was scathing in his assessment, calling the Phoenix project “an incomprehensible failure of project management and oversight.” The report found that the executives involved prioritized schedule and budget over functionality and security. Warnings from the Miramichi Pay Centre and involved departments and agencies were not heeded or well-understood. In the Auditor’s opinion, “the decision by Phoenix executives to implement Phoenix was unreasonable according to the information available at the time.”
Lack of oversight was a significant issue – there was a detailed project management structure but no place at all for independent oversight. Ferguson said in a press conference that "it's as if the Phoenix project was set up to avoid responsibility." As a result, Ferguson says “Phoenix has not met user needs, has cost the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars, and has financially affected tens of thousands of its employees.”
These findings reinforce what we have known for more than two years – that the Phoenix pay system is depriving retirees of income security. Many retirees have waited nearly two years for severance pay and other compensation that was earned and promised. Fixing Phoenix needs to be a top federal priority.
The report is available here.