Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: federal government

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to the Federal Government.

Can “Deliverology” Help Government IT Projects?

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

Can "Deliverology" Fix the Real Challenges in Government IT Projects“Deliverology” is the term of the day in Government and no we’re not talking about who delivers executive lunches. These days, deliverology is all the rage in the bureaucratic halls of the new Trudeau government as the philosophical foundation with which his government hopes to present a federal civil service capable of successfully delivering on the promises of the most recent campaign. The current guru of Deliverology is Michael Barber, the creator of the UK government’s Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU) in the Tony Blair government and, closer to home, used by Ontario’s previous McGuinty government. Mr. Trudeau has twice brought Mr. Barber to speak to public service executive community. It is an ambitious governance model, and certainly not without its detractors, that seeks to make poor performing departments and projects in to successful ones through the use of delivery units. Detractors need only point to the huge increase costs and budget associated with the Ontario government’s use of deliverology in both the Education and Health sectors.

This article will not seek to fully explain deliverology but rather, with deliverology on our lens, let’s focus our discussion on IT projects and their success or lack thereof in government. This new government will have to tackle what every executive bureaucrat and politician fears the most: the dreaded major IT project (just Google SSC and Email). We know that a significant number of IT projects are not delivered on time or under budget and that in and of itself is worthy of several blogs, but it is particularly acute in government. However, are there fundamental reasons that are tough to avoid that make it especially challenging in government?

Let me offer a few for considerations: 

Procurement in most government is not sophisticated, it is often slow, cumbersome and ill equipped to keep pace with technology… not even close. Although not stated very often, the “process” is far more concerning to the bureaucracy than the outcome; for instance the importance of transparency and fairness are paramount. There are often other key factors and stakeholders to consider in a Public Sector procurement that are not at play in Private Sector, awarding points to minority business or regions or even security considerations. Public procurement has evolved but it is nowhere near the sophistication of private and with some of the aforementioned factors, nor will it likely be very soon.

Can "Deliverology" Fix the Real Challenges in Government IT ProjectsStatus quo in government is not the Bogeyman as it is just about everywhere else. There is very little to gain both professionally and financially for taking risk in government and that certainly plays in to career paths and decisions made as a result. And let’s face it, these are taxpayer dollars and this is not Silicon Valley where risk, reward and failure are part and parcel of modern organizations — taxpayers want their governments to be efficient and bring value, not hit home runs in technology. Innovation is talked about extensively but I think we can agree it is “measured” innovation.

Finally, and perhaps as significantly as others, we have to analyze careers and how they are advanced in Government. We’ve established that risk taking is not at the top of the reward heap when it comes to advancing one’s civil service career but it has become just as apparent that varied and diverse department and project experience is. No longer is a Federal employee who expects to grow his or her career expected to stay at any one department for 30 years and retire, but rather it is expected to include a series of different departments, agencies and projects along the way, often for stints less than 2 years. While this may make for a more well-rounded and diverse experience portfolio for the employee, it presents a number of issues when the vast majority of the fast track government executives and leadership are never in one department or one project long enough to see through the life of a typical IT project.

Not sure how deilverology will tackle some of these over time, but I do know it will make for some interesting months ahead. In the meanwhile, I’m headed to the dock and working on the deliverology of my summer refreshments!

2015 in Review: Working in the Federal Government

2015 in Review: Working in the Federal GovernmentIndependent contractors who have worked with government clients know that the experience can be completely different from working in the private sector. There are often more processes and longer timelines, with various hoops to jump through.

In the past year, David O’Brien, Eagle’s Vice-President of Government Services, has shared a few important pieces on this topic, specifically with the Federal Government. If you’re in the National Capital Region and haven’t already seen some of these posts, have a look:

Organization Security Screening & Federal Contractors

David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice-President, Government Services at Eagle

Private Sector Organization Screening (PSOS) – Answers to IT independent contractors’ frequently asked questions

Private Sector Organization Screening (PSOS) - Answers to independent contractors' frequently asked questionsA little over a year ago, I posted about the Canadian Industrial Security Directorate’s (CISD – a division of PWGSC) requirement for all independent contractors doing business with the Feds to clear their incorporated entities under the Private Sector Organization Screen (PSOS). Since then, many contractors at Eagle have been through the process and we all learned more about it, including some of the common questions. Here are the answers to some of the questions we hear, as well as a few tips to help you through the PSOS process:

Wait, what’s happening?

Independent contractors working in the Federal Government have always been required to get personnel security screening at some level (ex. Reliability Status, Secret Clearance, etc.). These clearances were completed by the organizations through whom they were subcontracting. For example, when contractors work through Eagle, we either submit a request for a new personnel clearance or duplicate their current one. Regardless of what happens, Eagle ends up “owning” the clearance and, at least in the eyes of CISD, the contractor is considered part of Eagle’s personnel (even though that is not the case). Eagle is able to submit and own security clearances because we have a Facility Security Clearance (FSC), meaning Eagle, as a corporation, is security cleared.

In 2012, CISD implemented a new process. Rather than incorporated independent contractors having a personnel clearance owned by many different organizations, they are instead required to gain clearance for their own corporation. Once that is complete, their corporation will hold their personnel clearance.

What’s the process to get this done?

Upon signing your new subcontract, the prime contractor (often a staffing agency) is responsible for ensuring both your corporation and the personnel completing the work (you) hold the proper clearance. If your corporation is not already cleared, the prime contractor will be responsible for “sponsoring” your corporation to receive the appropriate clearance.

The prime contractor will complete the necessary paper work to initiate the process and submit it to PWGSC.  Once that paper work is processed (usually a couple weeks), you will receive an email from PWGSC containing some forms.

You will need to complete and submit the forms within 30 days. After which, PWGSC may come back to you with some more questions and request a brief interview. You can find the complete step-by-step process here.

What security level will I be cleared to?

Security fingerprintYour corporation will either require Designated Organization Screening (DOS) or Facility Security Clearance (FSC).  This will depend on the security requirement of your contract. If you’re only required to hold Reliability Status, you will be cleared for DOS. If you require Classified, Secret or Top Secret Security Clearance, you would require FSC.

In some cases, a contractor’s corporation may already hold one status but require a higher level for the new contract. In this case, the prime contractor would have to sponsor the corporation for an upgrade.

How can I get started?

You cannot be sponsored for PSOS unless you are on an active contract that requires security clearance.

How long will it take?

The process varies, but we’re hearing from contractors who have already completed it that it takes approximately 1 year.

How can I prepare?

If you are expecting to start the process soon, you can prepare by gathering some of the information that will be asked in the initial Application for Registration, including:

  • Business Procurement Number – this is a mandatory requirement to do business with the Federal Government. As long as you have an HST number, you can get your PBN here.
  • The owners of the corporation and their ownership percentage – For an independent contractor, this is usually just themselves and, in some cases, their spouse or a business partner.
  • Company Security Officer (CSO) and Alternate Company Security Officer (ACSO) – The CSO would be the independent contractor (you). The ACSO is only required if you have more than one employee.
  • Any Key Senior Officials (KSOs – owners, officers, directors) – Again, this is usually just the independent contractor and maybe one other person.
  • Security Clearances for the CSO, ASCOs, KSOs, and any personnel who will be performing work – In many cases, you will wear all of these hats. You also probably already have the necessary clearance. If you are in a situation described above where you have another ACSO or KSO and they are not cleared, contact your agency to see if they can help get that process started immediately.
  • Review the other forms that will come your way – some of the initial forms that PWGSC sends you can be found online, including:

Will I need to go through the entire personnel security clearance process again?

No. If you already have a valid personnel security clearance, you will only need to complete the Personnel Security Screening Form. At the top, in Section A, you would select “Transfer” so your personnel clearance would be brought over to your corporation after it gets cleared.

How will this change the way I do business?

There will be very few changes in how you do business, although you will see some benefits such as:

  • You will no longer have to duplicate your clearance every time you start working with a new agency
  • You will be able to work directly with PWGSC to issue your own security clearance renewals and ensure it does not expire.
  • You will no longer be considered “Personnel” of your agency, which helps further separate you from being an employee in the eyes of the CRA

Will it affect my current contract?

Your current contract will not be affected by the PSOS process. According to CISD regulations, a subcontract should not begin until PSOS is complete; however, PWGSC recognizes that this would have significant impact on business and are allowing a transition period. Your contract will be allowed to start using your personnel clearance owned by your agency.

What if I decide not to do this?

As noted above, there is a grace period to get your corporation cleared; however, that will not last forever. If you choose to ignore the forms and not clear your organization, eventually you will not be able to work on Federal Government contracts that require security clearance.

Hopefully this helps clear things up for you. If you do have any other questions, or would like to share your personal experience with the PSOS process and some tips for getting through it, please feel free to do so in the comments below.