Toronto Human Resources Dept. Glitchgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
TORONTO (CP) - The federal Human Resources Department is trying to stamp out its latest public relations brush fire, this one involving a computer glitch, student loans and hundreds of tax notices sent to the wrong people. The department issued a statement Sunday saying that it is "taking immediate action to correct errors resulting from the conversion of data in the Canada Student Loan Information System."
At least 1,000 people have complained about getting notices from Revenue Canada saying their upcoming income tax refunds would be withheld until their student loans are repaid.
Many of the people who got the notice say their loans have already been repaid or are being repaid on time.
Human Resources on Sunday blamed the problem on a "system conversion error."
The department will run the computer program again this week with corrected information and mail new notices by the end of the week, a department spokesman said Sunday night.
More than 20,000 notices have been sent out but Human Resources doesn't know how many were in error. The notices normally are sent by Revenue Canada to people who are in default of student loans administered by Human Resources.
People who have received inaccurate information can contact the department at 1-888-819-2516 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday.
But that line is often jammed by 10 a.m., a woman answering that number said Sunday night. She said calls are diverted to a message centre when Human Resources can't handle the volume.
The Human Resources Department and its minister, Jane Stewart, have been under attack for weeks since the release of an internal audit that found problems with the administration of billions dollars in government programs.
Stewart was under fire Friday over a memo drafted by Human Resources media advisers last Aug. 30 in anticipation of a public relations storm.
The document warned that preliminary results from an internal audit "indicate that the administration of grants and contributions programs in the department could do with improvement."
In the end, the audit concluded that up to $1 billion a year was being spent by Human Resources without adequate administrative controls.
A later draft referred to an October or November release. In fact, the audit was not made public until January, sparking charges that Stewart had tried to hush it up.
Stewart, who was not in the Commons on Friday, has repeatedly said she was not briefed on the audit findings until last Nov. 17.
She says she delayed the public release until Jan. 19 so officials could work out an action plan to fix the problems.
-- Antoine Neron (email@example.com), March 06, 2000