Bureaucrat in charge of Phoenix pay system shuffled into new role

The bureaucrat who oversaw the Phoenix pay system has been shuffled into another role at Public Services and Procurement Canada.

Rosanna Di Paola, the department’s associate assistant deputy minister of the accounting, banking and compensation branch, has accepted a new role as a special adviser.

“This new role will see her focus on several important projects related to pay modernization that require extensive pay and benefits expertise,” wrote department spokeswoman Me’shel Gulliver Bélanger in an emailed statement.

Di Paola — whose involvement with the modernization of the pay system dated back to 2006 — will no longer have responsibility for making key decisions about the Phoenix pay system, sources told CBC News.

Her replacement is Marc Lemieux, who most recently served as an executive director and acting vice-president at Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, according to Public Services and Procurement Canada.

Phoenix Pay 20160811

Di Paola, left, sits next to Public Works and Government Services deputy minister Marie Lemay during a technical briefing on the Phoenix pay system on Aug. 11, 2016. Di Paola was noticeably absent from the department’s last two technical briefings on the Phoenix situation. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Oct. 31 deadline to clear backlog cases approaches

The move comes as the government’s Oct. 31 deadline nears to clear a backlog of tens of thousands of cases of public servants who have experienced problems with their pay since the system rolled out earlier this year.

During a tribunal hearing on the Phoenix pay system’s problems last month, Di Paola testified the problems were due to a lack of training, not the software.

“To do it over again, I would have made training absolutely mandatory,” she told the hearing in September. “We underestimated the time it took people to adapt to the new technology. The learning curve just seemed to be much longer than we expected.

“The information is not being entered into the departmental HR system in a timely way or correct way. The second root cause we found is the processing time in Miramichi [N.B.] has been slower than expected.”

After her testimony, Di Paola was noticeably absent from the department’s next two technical briefings on the Phoenix situation. Prior to her testimony, she had attended most of those briefings.

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