Old equipment hampering Canada statistics agency: former head

Wed Sep 21, 2016 3:51pm EDT
 
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By Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Changes to the data infrastructure at Canada's main statistical department have put the release dates of major economic reports at risk, the former head of the agency said on Wednesday, days after he stepped down to draw attention to his concerns.

Obsolete equipment and staff that do not always understand Statistics Canada's operations have led to data processing problems and other technological difficulties, including delays with its website, former chief statistician Wayne Smith said.

In an arrangement under the previous Conservative government, responsibility for StatCan's informatics infrastructure was transferred to Shared Services Canada, the department that oversees information technology services government-wide.

"When we had full control over our infrastructure and operations, we were able to perform to a very high level and that's now at risk," Smith said.

StatCan releases the country's official economic data on everything from jobs to trade.

Smith said equipment that is not being maintained is causing an increasing number of incidents and problems in data processing.

"When I left, at that point, we did not have the capacity to operate another 12 months with the existing infrastructure," said Smith, who left last Friday, the second chief statistician to quit in recent years.

"We're running on extremely high-risk equipment," he later added.   Continued...