Report finds B.C. Government’s $182 million Integrated Case Management system plagued with “fundamental deficiencies”

The B.C. Ministry of Child and Family Development has issued an interim report by a consultant hired to review the problem-plagued Integrated Case Management System, and the results are damning.

The report outlines a laundry list of weaknesses in the system, which is meant to streamline government service provision by linking and sharing citizen data across government departments. From “unclear lines of accountability across the end-to-end project life cycle,” to insufficient implementation resources and a “paucity of IT experience” among project workers, the report finds fault on nearly every front.

“The scope and range of the problems detailed in the report is staggering,” said Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA). “It shows that from the ground up–from procurement to governance to training and finally to implementation–this is a flawed initiative.”

The findings confirm many of the concerns that civil society groups have been raising since the ICM was first proposed. “Our position has always been that a project of this scale, that absorbs so much sensitive personal information and shares it so widely across discrete arms of government, cannot reliably serve the people of British Columbia while protecting their personal information,” said Gogolek.

“This is why we have been calling for a public inquiry into this system since the summer,” he added. “This thing was botched right from the beginning, and this report only deals with the implementation by MCFD. There are three more phases to come.”

The review of the ICM system was promised by the B.C. Government after B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, released a statement last July, slamming the system as “problem-plagued’ and declaring “I strongly believe that ICM is not adequate to provide safety to vulnerable children, youth and families in B.C.”

In response this report, Turpel-Lafond has renewed her criticism, telling the Times Colonist that the ICM is a “colossal failure.” “We’re in deep trouble,” she said.

The ICM debacle also raises serious concerns over other government IT and identity management projects like the new B.C. Services Card, set to launch in mid-February. “If we’re seeing this level of mismanagement with the ICM, not to mention other government IT programs like JUSTIN and BCeSIS, it’s a pretty safe bet we will see more of the same with the new ID cards. It’s time for a public inquiry into data linkage systems across government before more money is wasted and personal information is compromised.”

For FIPA’s 2010 report on Integrated Case Management, “Culture of Care or Culture of Surveillance?” click here.