OTTAWA — The department in charge of creating a single email system for the federal government says work has been put on hold indefinitely amid technical problems.
Shared Services Canada says work to move civil servants to the @canada.ca email platform was halted in November after the company building the system, Bell Canada, found hardware issues.
The agency says work on the project won't continue until Bell Canada shows it has resolved all issues and can keep the government's email running.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a meeting with his cabinet. (Photo: Justin Tang/CP)
Some 375,000 email accounts in 43 of the heaviest information technology users in the government are supposed to be on the new system by September.
The original deadline for the project had been last March.
Since the email migration began just over a year ago, 12 of the 43 organizations have moved 51,700 email accounts and 12,100 BlackBerry users to the new system.
The Hill Times newspaper reported this week that the Privy Council Office, the central bureaucracy that aids the prime minister and cabinet, and Global Affairs Canada are rethinking whether to join the new email system. Shared Services Canada says the two departments have been part of planning for the new system from the outset "and fully support the initiative."
Huge setbacks with project
The delay is the latest setback in a project started under the previous Conservative government that was designed to increase digital security and save the federal treasury up to $50 million a year.
In the briefing binder prepared for agency president Ron Parker when he took office, officials wrote that affected departments had been given dates for joining the new system "only for them to be withdrawn due to key system functionalities either not being ready or being insufficient to begin migrations.''
At the time of the briefing, the concern was about moving ahead with version 1.1 of the email system and getting it out by July 19. A delay on the release could have meant an increase in costs and possibly not meeting savings targets, says the briefing material obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
Shared Services Canada says the release got out on time. The next version, 1.15, is being tested.
Portions of Parker's briefing binder suggest problems with the email project had created a perception within the public service that the agency wasn't transparent about issues with projects, even if they seemed to be on time and on budget.
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