Ottawa Slams Bell for Failing to Modernize Email on Time, Despite $245 Million Deal

The Federal Government has gone public to CBC News to slam Bell Canada for failing to meet its commitment as part of a $245 million contract to modernize email systems. The project is overdue by more than two years.

Ssc canada

Shared Services Canada (SSC), Ottawa’s main support agency, told CBC News, “The vendor, Bell Canada, has yet to deliver the complete email service with all business features required by the contract,” adding “Shared Services Canada expects Bell Canada to honour its obligations and deliver the complete email service.”

Bell Canada won a contract in June 2013 to help migrate 550,000 mailboxes from 63 different email systems over to a more uniform domain. Bell promised to make the email systems more secure and efficient, while also saving taxpayers $50 million annually.

The progress to date? “Fewer than 15 per cent of government employees are using the new system today,” said the SSC spokesperson.

The project was scheduled to be completed in March 2015 but was delayed by hardware problems. It eventually continued but the spring of 2016 saw the rollout pause again, due to “functional issues.”

Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, says the government should not have outsourced the project, because internal staff were more than capable of doing the job. Daviau says Bell has let everyone down.

“We built and maintained these systems for 40 to 50 years. It’s not like we haven’t proven our ability to do so. We did it when it was really, really hard,” she said.

Bell did not answer questions from CBC News, with communications director Marc Choma saying “We never discuss specifics of our business or government contracts except with our customers, so I would refer you to Shared Services.”

The SSC says it has stopped providing a timeline of updates for employees, only to say Bell’s contract with the government expires in 2020.  The new system is still suffering from regular email outages and difficulties when communicating with protected email formats, says Daviau.

Why has this come to light just now? She says the plagued Phoenix public service payment system has taken the limelight away from this email issue.

That’s nearly a quarter billion of your tax dollars to migrate and modernize government email. Yikes.