WorldReach Software

The Flightless Phoenix

Gar Pardy

Hill Times, February 21, 2018

Garbage fed into the creation of the Phoenix system means plenty of garbage to take out for those left to clean up the mess.

Out of the mists of the ancient Mediterranean comes the story of the birthing of a Phoenix from the ashes of a predecessor; a story that lives on to remind us of the unique myths that helped our ancestors cope with the fates and the gods.  The ongoing saga of our modern Phoenix, a seemingly similar mythical bird, brings much angst and no delight to those who toil for the government of Canada.

The modern Phoenix, perhaps with a hubristic Icarus onboard, has two wings. One was to create a new centralize pay system out of a labour-intensive, successful decentralized service based on the knowledge of the experienced.  The other wing was to carry a replacement for the 40-year old cheque issuance system used by 101 governmental departments and agencies.

This bird has yet to fly is as evident as that from the old pictures depicting the attempts to get a heavier than air machine of the ground. As with those early machines, their designers observed the birds.  It was only when da Vinci-like minds examined how birds flew, the first successful heavier than air machines marched us successfully into the technological marvel of flight.

In the haste associated with our new budding and still building technological marvel of the computer, we often forget that the machine cannot and will not do the thinking for us.   The thinking must come first and when that is ignored, the old adage associated with computers rears its ugly head.  Even Charles Babbage, the generally accepted originator of the digital programmable computer, in the early 19th century was asked “if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?”

The answer of course is GIGO, or garbage in, garbage out.  This is largely forgotten when dreams of large financial savings are combined with promised enormous new efficiencies and sold to uninformed and largely ignorant minds on matters technological.

The thinking for the old systems was done by some 2,000 experienced pay advisors across the 101 departments and agencies.  Some 1200 of these pay advisors were eliminated by early 2016 just as the modern Phoenix was to fly and realize dreams of $70 million in annual savings.  Today, no one mentions those savings, instead the emphasis is on the conclusion that the total cost of Phoenix, assuming those involved in its implementation persevere, will come close to a billion dollars

The experienced pay advisors were replaced by 460 newly hired pay advisors in a new Pay Centre in Miramichi, in northeastern New Brunswick.  This cadre of pay advisors along with software adapted out of a commercial 1987-era product, PeopleSoft, owned by Oracle, had to deal with 80,000 pay rules flowing out of more than 105 collective, changeable agreements in addition to individual employment contracts.  To make this work, Phoenix also included more than 200-custom built programs.

The Auditor General in a report to Parliament in November provided many of the above numbers but also noted that as of last June the number of outstanding pay change requests continued to grow to nearly half a million (494,500). Periodic updating of these numbers since gives no confidence that the modern Phoenix will outdistance these problems in any meaningful way and at some point, soar with the eagles.

Sadly, the Phoenix debacle is not unique.  Since the introduction of the Internet some twenty-five years ago and development of a variety of associated speciality applications meant to speed and create efficiencies – sold largely on the basis of large financial savings they represented – governments everywhere, and the private sector as well, is littered with failures.  Every area of human activity is included ranging from space to hospitals to passports to social services to financial management and even the management of weapon systems and the avoidance of war.

In foreign operations alone, COSICS (an early several hundreds of millions of dollars failure for secure communications at Foreign Affairs), passport issuance and immigration processing all had significant failures. Even a government-wide financial system (FINEX) ran into problem when it was introduced at Foreign Affairs and it was discovered that it did not have provision for dealing with currency exchange.

It does not have to be this way.  The most fundamental of errors is the distance between those who have done the work and know its intricacies and those who seek to replicate it in a digital format.  More often than not the latter dominate within this process and those who should provide an overview are blinded by possibilities that some magical system will be produced leading to great success.

Some twenty-five years ago I was directly involved in the development of a complex system designed to support the delivery of services to Canadians overseas.  The first contract for the system was signed in February 1993 and within a few years the system – now called COSMOS – was implemented and deployed to over two hundred diplomatic offices overseas.    

Today the COSMOS system continues in full operation and, giving value to its effectiveness, the technology has been purchased by seven other countries to assist in the delivery of their consular services.  The cost of the system over the last quarter of a century is less than fifty million dollars. (Details on the system can be found at WorldReach Software, the Ottawa based developer.)

The debate still rages as to whether the government should walk away from Phoenix or persevere in the hope that the bird will eventually fly.  There is no answer to the question except that if those involved does not include those with expertise of the work that has to be done by the system, then there is no hope for a fix.  Garbage in will always result in garbage out in the world of computers.

Gar Pardy is retired from the Canadian foreign service and throughout his career was involved in the application of computers to support the work of the Department.

Published with the permission of the author

WorldReach – ID at the Borders Conference 2017 Gold Sponsors

April 4, 2017

WorldReach Software is proud to be a Gold Sponsor and presenting at the Biometrics Institute Conference: Identities at the border and the movement of people 2017, which will be held at the Mercure Hotel Frankfurt Airport in Germany on April 25-26, 2017. This annual event in Europe brings together the critical players in the borders community and focuses on the user perspective with key decision makers providing updates to the industry on border management, travel facilitation and security, and migration management.

The two main event themes this year are the global migration crisis and identifying and creating capabilities for effective and secure border management. The migration sessions will include: dealing with people movement, preventing human trafficking and stopping criminal activity and terrorism.  The border management portion of this event will apply to: air, land and sea border security, intelligence programmes, immigration procedures and counter-terrorism.

WorldReach President, Gordon Wilson, will be presenting on April 25th at 2:10 pm in the Focus: Airports and Seamless Passenger Travel Session.  He will be covering “Extending the virtual border – Key building blocks: Applying Biometrics at the intent to travel stage to improve facilitation and security.”

If you are interested in setting up a meeting at this event with Gordon or Steven Grant, Director of Business Development,  please contact us directly.

Additional details on this ID at the Borders Conference (Europe) can be found by visiting: http://www.biometricsinstitute.org/events.php/626/id-at-the-borders-conference-europe-site-visit-to-frankfurt-airport

 

About WorldReach Software

WorldReach Software supplies consular, passport and eVisa/Electronic Travel Authorization software and fosters best practices used by more than 3000 daily users in over 950 sites. WorldReach Software helps ensure traveller safety and security worldwide through its systems for both government consular organizations as well as individual travellers. Customers include government ministries and departments from Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands.For more information contact: www.worldreach.com

Press contact:

Shelley Bryen, WorldReach Software,   (613) 742-6482

Global Consular Forum Adopts 1st Statement on Global Consular Cooperation

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SEOUL, Oct. 27 (Yonhap) — The Global Consular Forum (GCF) adopted a statement on Thursday, documenting countries’ resolve for closer cooperation on consular issues, the first statement adopted by the high-level government body since it was launched in 2013.

The GCF, which aims to better protect tourists and residents in foreign countries, adopted the Seoul Consensus Statement on Consular Cooperation at the closing of its three-day gathering in the city of Songdo, west of Seoul. It was the third meeting of the GCF since its inaugural gathering in London.

Senior consular officials from 33 countries including the U.S., China, Japan, France and Britain joined the global forum. Also, 19 international organizations and private companies such as South Korean mobile telephone operators and airlines joined to discuss their contribution to improving consular services.

The participating countries shared their understanding for international collaboration in providing better consular services to their nationals traveling or residing in foreign countries, especially amid an increasing number of cross-border threats by terrorists and natural disasters.

The countries committed to enhancing multilateral cooperation in key areas like promoting safe travel culture, responding to crises and disasters, and providing consular services to migrant workers, according to the statement,

They also agreed to focus on the GCF format in further strengthening consular cooperation.

“We note that 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations coming into force in 1967. The convention enables and facilitates the delivery of consular services,” a copy of the statement read. “Meetings of the (Global Consular) forum provide an opportunity to discuss the past and future benefits and challenges in the practical implementation of the convention.”

The Vienna Convention, an international treaty ratified by 179 countries, allows consuls to operate in host countries to protect the interests of their countrymen and deepen bilateral relations between host and sending countries.

On the sidelines of the latest forum, South Korea held bilateral talks with senior consular officials from Britain, Mongolia, the Philippines and Mexico.

“The forum has provided an opportunity to share experiences and opinions of many countries on the consular field and its development,” said South Korea’s Ambassador for Overseas Koreans and Consular Affairs Han Dong-man, who also co-chaired the forum.

“Officials from international organizations and private companies joined the forum for the first time to discuss ways they could contribute to consular services. Their participation has been very meaningful,” he said

Also see: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/2016/10/27/0200000000AEN20161027009400315.html?input=rss

WorldReach at Global Consular Forum in the Republic of Korea

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October 24, 2016

WorldReach Software is honoured to be participating in the Stakeholders Day of the Third Meeting of the Global Consular Forum (GCFIII) to be held at the Incheon Oakwood Premier in Songdo, Republic of Korea October 25, 2016.

The Global Consular Forum is an informal, broadly based grouping of countries interested in achieving excellence in the delivery of consular and emergency services through dialogue, practitioners’ cooperation and multi-stakeholders partnerships. 60+ senior consular participants from 40 countries are expected to attend this 2016 event.  This year’s focus revolves around unresolved challenges and emerging trends in the industry from the perspective of consular prevention and intervention. WorldReach has been invited to share their expertise and insights on the world of consular protection services (defined as the assistance provided to citizens travelling, living or working abroad. These services range broadly from the provision of travel advice and advisories, to providing direct service to citizens abroad, such as delivering urgent assistance during consular and emergency crises). 

Both Gordon Wilson, President, and Steven Grant, Director of Business Development will be representing WorldReach at this by-invitation-only, prestigious consular event. WorldReach is also a proud sponsor of the Global Consular Forum.

Global Consular Forum discussions – Yonhap News

About WorldReach Software

WorldReach Software helps ensure traveller safety and security worldwide through its systems for both government organizations as well as individual travellers. WorldReach supplies consular, passport/ePassport and eVisa/Electronic Travel Authorization software and fosters best practices used by more than 3000 daily users in over 950 sites, making it the leading company providing global consular software solutions for Foreign Affairs.  Customers include government ministries and departments from Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands. For more information contact: www.worldreach.com

Press contact:

Shelley Bryen, WorldReach Software,   (613) 742-6482

The International Consular Officers Forum Reaches 3000 Members

icof-3000

September 13, 2016

(Ottawa, ON  Canada) The International Consular Officers Forum on LinkedIn continues to grow at an incredible rate, now reaching 3000 members!

This industry forum, created by WorldReach as a neutral but active advocate for the consular community, is the first of its kind focused solely on the topics that concern consular officers.  Forums exist elsewhere for passports and visas, for honourary consuls and ambassadors, for crisis management and emergency preparedness. But this LinkedIn Forum is the only place for consular officers, who may be responsible for some or all of these tasks, to come together and share news, consular trends and best practices, problems and successes.

While our members are mainly consular officers, we also have consuls and ambassadors, as well as trade commissioners, development professionals, aid workers, migration managers, accountants, HR managers, and students. Members also encompass virtually every country in the world, making this open dialog venue a truly global affair.

For more information on this forum, or if you would like to join, please visit: International Consular Officers Forum

International Consular Officers Forum Passes the 2500 Members Mark

ICOF Banner

July 13, 2016

(Ottawa, ON  Canada) One day shy of the International Consular Officers Forum’s first anniversary, membership has reached more than 2,500 members – a number that WorldReach Software organizers never expected to reach so quickly.

This industry forum, created by WorldReach as a neutral but active advocate for the consular community, is the first of its kind focused solely on the topics that concern consular officers.  Forums exist elsewhere for passports and visas, for honourary consuls and ambassadors, for crisis management and emergency preparedness. But this LinkedIn Forum is the only place for consular officers, who may be responsible for some or all of these tasks, to come together and share news, consular trends and best practices, problems and successes.

While our members are mainly consular officers, we also have consuls and ambassadors, as well as trade commissioners, development professionals, aid workers, migration managers, accountants, HR managers, and students. Members also encompass virtually every country in the world, making this open dialog venue a truly global affair.

For more information on this forum, or if you would like to join, please visit: International Consular Officers Forum

 

 

The United States and the Philippines Launch Global Guidelines to Protect Migrants

micic_logo

June 13, 2016

(Washington, DC) On June 10, 2016, under the leadership of the United States and the Republic of the Philippines, the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative published the “Global Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Experiencing Conflict or Natural Disaster.”  The initiative was co-led by the United States and the Republic of the Philippines and, recognizing that no country is immune to conflict or natural disaster, publication of the guidelines follows two years of consultations with governments in all regions of the world and with a wide range of private sector employers, civil society, diaspora and migrant organizations.  Expert input and promising practices were incorporated into this set of Guidelines that promote the principles of saving lives, call for migrants to get assistance in emergencies without discrimination, and foster respect for the human rights of migrants, regardless of immigration status.

The United States and the Republic of the Philippines will formally launch the Guidelines at the United Nations (UN) in New York on June 15 and in Geneva on June 28.  The MICIC Initiative is supported by a working group of representatives.  In addition to the United States and the Philippines, other group members represented Australia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, the European Commission, the International Organization for Migration, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for International Migration, the International Center for Migration Policy Development, and Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration.

For more information contact  or go to http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/06/258415.htm

WorldReach at MICIC in Costa Rica, Feb. 17-18, 2016

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February 16, 2016

(Ottawa, ON) WorldReach Software has been invited to speak at the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative Regional Consultation for Latin America on 17-18 February 2016 in San José, Costa Rica.

The MICIC Initiative is a government-led effort created following the 2nd UN High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in October 2013 in New York. The overarching aim of the MICIC Initiative is to improve the ability of States and other stakeholders to prepare for and respond to the needs of migrants caught in countries experiencing crisis, whether as a result of conflict or natural disaster, including by protecting their rights and dignity and alleviating suffering.

Regional consultations aim to facilitate the development of MICIC global guidelines by building consensus on approaches to be followed by governments and other international actors to protect migrants in countries in crisis and strengthen preparedness.

Calling upon WorldReach’s decades of consular best practices experience, Steven Grant, Director of Business Development, has been asked to speak on “Consular Crisis Management Systems” as it relates to the pre-crisis phase.

More than 25 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean have been invited to participate in this important global event.

For more information about the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative, please visit: http://micicinitiative.iom.int/.

 

About WorldReach Software

WorldReach Software helps ensure traveller safety and security worldwide through its systems for both government consular organizations as well as individual travellers. WorldReach Software supplies consular, passport and eVisa/Electronic Travel Authorization software and fosters best practices used by more than 3000 daily users in over 950 sites, making it the leading company providing global consular software solutions for Foreign Affairs. Customers include government ministries and departments from Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands. For more information please visit: www.worldreach.com

Press contact:

Shelley Bryen, WorldReach Software,   (613) 742-6482

PATA Issues & Trends – 2H2015, written by WorldReach, is Now Available

PATA Insights & Trends issue, featuring the latest statistics and diagrams regarding the effects of crises worldwide on governments and their citizens.

PATA Insights & Trends issue, featuring the latest statistics regarding the effects of crises worldwide on governments and their citizens.

September 10, 2015

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Issues & Trends – 2H2015 is now available to purchase and download at the new PATA Store.

The second edition of Issues & Trends for 2015, written by Shelley Bryen and Steven Grant of WorldReach Software, examines the issue of consular contingency planning and crisis management. With the rise of hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, pandemic outbreaks, terrorist attacks and other events, governments must be able to quickly react and reach citizens in urgent need of assistance. The report also looks into the problem, some recent history and the rationale for governments to have the capacity to engage with incidents taking place far from their shores.

PATA Issues & Trends is complimentary for PATA members, and priced at US$225 for chapter members and US$300 for non-members. The report is provided on a subscription basis (2 editions) for non-members.

About PATA
Founded in 1951, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a not-for profit association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region. The Association provides aligned advocacy, insightful research and innovative events to its member organisations, comprising 87 government, state and city tourism bodies, 25 international airlines, airports and cruise lines, 59 educational institutions, and hundreds of travel industry companies in Asia Pacific and beyond. Thousands of travel professionals belong to the 43 local PATA chapters worldwide. The chapters organise travel industry training and business development events. Their grassroots activism underpins PATA’s membership of the Global Travel Association Coalition (GTAC), which includes ACI, CLIA, IATA, ICAO, WEF, UNWTO and the WTTC. The PATAmPOWER platform delivers unrivalled data, forecasts and insights from the PATA Strategic Intelligence Centre to members’ desktops and mobile devices anywhere in the world. PATA’s Head Office has been in Bangkok since 1998. The Association also has official offices or representation in Beijing, Sydney, Dubai, and London. Visit www.PATA.org