15 September 2011

Throat Punch Thursday: Shared Services Canada

Holy crows. I missed Throat Punch Thursday. Already. It's only been three weeks and I missed two. You'll forgive me if you hear about my week. Which you won't, because I'm repressing it.

Today's Throat-Punch goes to the Harper Government for Shared Services Canada. SSC is a new department, that is supposed to streamline all of the tech services from various "data centres" into one department. It's supposed to close down multiple centres and save money. Ha. Ha ha. Hahahaha. (That's supposed to sound like the laugh that the carnies on the Simpsons made when they stole the Simpsons' house from them. If you don't know that episode, what is wrong with you?)

From their press release:
The Government has over 100 different email systems, over 300 data centres, and over 3,000 network services within the Federal Public Service. This is inefficient and wasteful. The Government will move to one email system, reduce the overall number of data centres from 300 to less than 20, and streamline electronic networks within and between government departments. This will improve services to Canadians, make IT more secure and reliable, and save taxpayers’ dollars in line with the Government of Canada’s plan to return to balanced budgets.

One email system?! Are you shitting me? So when one of them goes down, ... OH WAIT, then the whole civil service email system is down. GREAT PLAN! And if one gets hacked into or compromised, you guessed it, the entire thing is. Fantastic plan. Remember last year when the email system of the finance department and the treasury board got hacked, and none of them were allowed to use the internet at work any more? Remember how they had to use internet cafes? No? I do. Shall we do that to the entire government?

Streamline electronic networks? What exactly does that mean? Moving servers to those <20 data centres. So when the server for, oh, say the Department of Fisheries and Oceans goes down at 2pm, but the server is in Ottawa, 3 hours ahead at 5pm, well, too bad. You can wait until tomorrow. Maybe. If the email is working.

And what exactly is a data centre? Pretty much any federal building has servers with data stored on it. And pretty much none of them are exclusively that. So define it?

You know how they could save money? They could stop spending millions and millions of dollars on software and look into open source software. The MS Office licenses alone... geez. Here's another idea: Skype meetings. Way too much money goes into travel for meetings. WAY too much.

And seriously, are you going to tell me that it's not going to cost a metric buttload of money to set this shit up? Of course it is. Migrating it, hiring new staff (another kick in the teeth. they're laying people off here and there, but they're posting public job announcements? The unions are unimpressed to say the least.) So how long until this allegedly will save them money? Right. In about thirteen years. If we're lucky. Shared Services Ontario supposedly worked and saved taxpayers money, but the Shared Services model that the Western Australian government tried backfired magnificently and cost the government way more than the original set up, and also managed to cut jobs. So they totally hosed up the lives of some civil servants, and then charged them for the pleasure of doing it to them. Nice. Or not.

Brilliant idea, guys. Brilliant. Throat punches for all.