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1998-06-08 20:14:41


Canada's Technology Czar Quits



The man in charge of the y2k program for the Canadian government has quit.

He won't be the last.

This is from the OTTAWA CITIZEN (June 6).

* * * * * * * * *

The federal government's technology czar is leaving in the middle of the largest technology project in federal history: fixing the millennium bug problem.

Paul Rummell, who took the job as Canada's first chief information officer 18 months ago as a temporary posting, has accepted a senior position with KPMG as a technology consultant specializing in financial institutions, effective in August. His departure comes at a critical time in the federal countdown to have its major systems fixed and ready for final testing by early 1999.

With the deadline looming, the government has yet to reach the halfway mark in its repairs of the 44 computer systems considered critical to "the health, safety and economic well-being of Canadians."

But Mr. Rummell said a third survey of progress, which has yet to be released, shows the major systems are "on track" to meet the target. . . .

"We're making a lot of progress and the results are encouraging, but there is still a lot to be done," Mr. Rummell said.

Mr. Rummell, a former partner at Ernst and Young, said he is leaving because he "fulfilled his mandate" to map out the "strategic vision" for the use of information technology in government over the next four years. He said he's also anxious to return to Vancouver, where he lived for 18 years. . . .

Reform Treasury Board critic John Williams worries that Mr. Rummell is "bailing out" because he fears that the government's systems won't be ready on time.

And Mr. Williams lays much of the blame on Treasury Board for seeing its role in managing the Year 2000 problem as one of monitor and co-ordinator and not as enforcer. As a result, he says, Treasury Board didn't give Mr. Rummell the authority to "rap knuckles and crack heads" to force departments to speed up the repairs.

"I suspect he's leaving because he knows that no matter what he does under the current mandate he's bound to fail, so better to throw in the towel today than on Jan. 1, 2000, when the systems fail and the government is looking for a scapegoat. And I say rightly so because he simply wasn't given the authority to get things done."

Mr. Williams said the government needs a Year 2000 czar who fits the description that Year 2000 guru Peter de Jager presented to government: "A machiavellian SOB -- the ugliest, meanest person you can find." . . .

But Mr. Rummell says he had plenty of support and that Treasury Board is ready to step into "crunch mode" if progress slackens or systems risk failure.


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