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B.C. deletes premier's award nomination for troubled computer system

B.C. auditor general Carol Bellringer is pictured outside the provincial legislature in Victoria, B.C.
Image Credit: Charted Professional Accountants/Photo by Jesse Hlady
April 03, 2015 - 7:01 AM

VICTORIA - A troubled government computer system criticized by British Columbia's auditor general for being incomplete and not meeting expectations has been deleted from the shortlist of a civil-service award.

The $182-million Integrated Case Management system was designed to improve service delivery for the province's most vulnerable children and families, but Auditor General Carol Bellringer said this week it's one-third complete, has been prone to crashes and operates in conjunction with costly, outdated computer equipment.

The project was nominated last fall for the annual Premier's Awards of Innovation and Excellence.

The government's Public Service Agency confirmed in a statement issued Wednesday the computer system did not make the final cut for the award ceremony scheduled for later this month.

"Every year there are far more nominations than can be recognized in the award process," said the statement.

"This year there were 143 nominations for approximately 20 awards at the regional and provincial levels. Over 120 of this year's nominations will not be selected for awards."

Nominations go through a two-part judging process that includes evaluations by a panel of independent, external adjudicators, said the statement.

The statement said the adjudicators and judges are government, business and community leaders and volunteer their time.

The statement did not say if Bellringer's audit played a part in the project being left off the short list.

Bellringer's audit concluded the province spent seven years and $182 million trying to modernize aging computer systems but failed to replace two thirds of the old system.

The audit concluded the computer system did not adequately protect sensitive personal information.

It made eight recommendations, including regular monitoring of the system for inappropriate access and activity and preparing full accounting of its capital and operating costs.

At a news conference earlier this week, Bellringer said she only recently became aware the project was nominated for a civil-service award.

Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell said the computer system is providing services to 200,000 clients, and the audit’s eight recommendations are already in place.

Stilwell said the ministry will continue to work towards replacing the remaining older systems with the ICM model.

The ICM project dates back to 2008 and was meant to replace outdated computer systems used to deliver social programs, including child protection, child-care subsidies and income assistance.

The system crashed regularly last May and frustrated staff, but the government said it was still able to meet the needs of social-services' clients.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s independent representative for children and youth, has raised concerns about the system in the past, saying vulnerable people could be at risk because information for social agencies and police is not being properly processed.

A July 2012 report by Turpel-Lafond prompted the Ministry for Children and Family Development to admit its computer program needed fixing.

Opposition New Democrat social development critic Michelle Mungall said the system remains an ongoing government failure.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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