Tax-filing software glitch cost $2.4 million to fix: report
‘Patch’ prevented thousands of taxpayers from filing returns electronically
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,