Tax-fil­ing soft­ware glitch cost $2.4 mil­lion to fix: re­port

‘Patch’ pre­vented thou­sands of tax­pay­ers from fil­ing re­turns elec­tron­i­cally

Cape Breton Post - - NATIONAL - BY DEAN BEEBY

rary work­ers home without pay across Canada, in­clud­ing 387 in Win­nipeg and 315 in Shaw­ini­gan, Que. They were later re­called when the sys­tem was back in op­er­a­tion.

Tech­ni­cians re­moved the patch soon af­ter the glitch was dis­cov­ered, but the com­puter did not re­store prop­erly. The agency needed about 10 days in to­tal to get the sys­tems back in ser­vice.

One post-mortem re­port says the soft­ware patch “was im­ple­mented and thor­oughly tested in mul­ti­ple test en­vi­ron­ments, prior to pro­duc­tion with no ad­verse ef­fects.”

But agency of­fi­cials ap­par­ently con­cluded the test­ing was not ap­pro­pri­ate to the size of the tax sys­tem com­put­ers.

“ The fact that this prob­lem is only likely to oc­cur in large or­ga­ni­za­tions, and with large data­bases process(ing) large amounts of trans­ac­tions, ex­plains why it was not de­tected in our test en­vi­ron­ment,” says one doc­u­ment.

The re­leased ma­te­rial in­di­cates that Com­puter As­so­ci­ates, now known as CA Canada, sent con­sul­tants to Ottawa to help re­pair the dam­age and did not charge the Canada Rev­enue Agency for those ser­vices.

A spokesman for the agency says a set­tle­ment was reached with the con­sul­tant over the $2.4 mil­lion in costs, which in­cluded $115,000 for pub­lic re­la­tions.

But Noel Carisse said the de­tails re­main con­fi­den­tial.

“A set­tle­ment was ne­go­ti­ated be­tween the Canada Rev­enue Agency and Com­puter As­so­ci­ates, which in­cluded a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment, which pro­hibits the dis­clo­sure of the terms of the set­tle­ment,” Carisse said in an email.

A spokesper­son for CA Canada, which re­mains a con­trac­tor for the agency, was not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment. An in­ter­na­tional ex­pert on heart re­pair says he would rarely rec­om­mend the type of heart surgery New­found­land and Labrador Premier Danny Wil­liams re­ceived ear­lier this month at a Mi­ami hospi­tal be­cause its only long-term ben­e­fit is cos­metic.

Dr. Thierry Me­sana, chief of car­diac surgery at the Uni­ver­sity of Ottawa Heart In­sti­tute, said Tues­day he would only con­sider of­fer­ing the “min­i­mally in­va­sive” pro­ce­dure to young women hop­ing to avoid a chest scar.

The mi­tral valve re­pair Wil­liams re­ceived Feb. 4 at Mount Si­nai Med­i­cal Cen­ter in­volves sur­geons mak­ing a five-cen­time­tre in­ci­sion on the side of the chest, near the armpit. Slen­der sur­gi­cal tools are then in­serted be­tween the ribs to re­con­struct the valve.

The tra­di­tional method re­quires a 10-cen­time­tre in­ci­sion in the mid­dle of the chest and cut­ting through the breast bone, or ster­num.

A dam­aged mi­tral valve can cause blood to leak back­wards in the heart, caus­ing heart in­fec­tions, an en­larged heart and heart fail­ure.

Me­sana is­sued a state­ment say­ing a sur­vey pub­lished last month by the So­ci­ety of Tho­racic Sur­geons ex­pressed “cau­tion” about the less in­va­sive pro­ce­dure be­cause the rate of com­pli­ca­tions — strokes in par­tic­u­lar — is higher.

“Many world-renowned ex­perts do not ad­vo­cate it,” the state­ment said.

“It is done in Canada, but again, with cau­tion. I pro­pose it only for cos­metic rea­sons in a young woman who dis­likes the idea of hav­ing a scar vis­i­ble in sum­mer.”

How­ever, the doc­tor con­firmed there are short-term ad­van­tages, in­clud­ing a more rapid re­cov­ery, less need for blood trans­fu­sions and less like­li­hood of an ir­reg­u­lar heart­beat af­ter surgery.

Mar­lene Or­ton, a spokes­woman for the Heart In­sti­tute, stressed that Me­sana was not com­ment­ing specif­i­cally on Wil­liams’s case or his choice of treat­ment.

Me­sana is con­sid­ered one of the world’s top au­thor­i­ties on mi­tral valve re­pair, hav­ing re­cently coau­thored an ex­pert guide for the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine.

Hugues Jean­mart, a car­diac sur­geon at the Montreal Heart In­sti­tute and nearby Sacre Coeur Hospi­tal, dis­agreed with Me­sana, say­ing the less in­va­sive surgery is as safe and ef­fec­tive as tra­di­tional meth­ods, with fewer com­pli­ca­tions.

As well, he said the ad­van­tages of the pro­ce­dure, which has been around since the 1990s, are more pro­nounced than Me­sana sug­gests, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to re­cov­ery.

“(Pa­tients) have less pain, they have less chance of bleed­ing (and) the risk of hav­ing a chest in­fec­tion is very, very low,” Jean­mart said in an in­ter­view from Montreal.

“The pa­tient can leave the hospi­tal and, as soon as they’re home, they can do what they want.”

Re­cov­ery from the larger chest in­ci­sions, known as ster­notomies,

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