Government is updating its accounting system with new software that will help collect revenue, Premier Andrew Fahie said in the House of Assembly on Oct. 17 before admitting that he could not provide figures for arrears currently owed to the government even though a 2015 estimate put the number at around $50 million.
Over the past 25 years, government has been using the JD Edwards Green Screen/World Platform, which Mr. Fahie said is “now considered obsolete.”
The Denver-based software company was purchased in 2005 by the California technology company Oracle Corporation, which still sells JDE products, according to the premier. That is why the 2017 budget estimates included funding for the Ministry of Finance to upgrade the JDE software, which is used across several ministries and departments, he explained.
The transition from JD Edwards World Platform to JD Edwards EnterpriseOne began on Sept. 23, and is being implemented in two phases.
The new platform, Mr. Fahie said, is more user-friendly and will reduce unnecessary overhead costs, along with providing other capabilities.
“The new software also offers all stakeholders the opportunity to establish and document operational and procedural measures as necessary,” he said.
A few glitches during the transition resulted in delayed payments of salaries to public officers last month, the premier acknowledged. However, “99 percent” of those employees received their salaries by Oct. 1, he said.
He added that the payments for the Oct. 15 pay period were successfully processed outside of a few problems, and in some cases they were processed earlier than normal.
However, there are still some “additional programming adjustments” being made related to administering direct deposits and housing allowances for eligible officers, the premier said.
As a result, government employees were asked to review their direct deposits and to report any pay inconsistencies to the Department of Human Resources’ Compensation and Benefits Unit.
“Your continued patience is requested as the implementation team works with the consultants towards resolving these inconsistencies,” Mr. Fahie said.
The Finance Ministry is exploring how to introduce additional features like electronic signatures, he added.
The premier later admitted in response to questions from opposition member Mitch Turnbull that he could not provide figures for uncollected revenue.
“For several years now, most of the revenue collection officers have not routinely filed the returns of arrears, which would normally indicate what should have been collected and what was actually collected,” he said.
Mr. Fahie added that he is hopeful that the new system would remedy the situation and provide an efficient way to report the necessary data.
He added in response to further questions from Mr. Turnbull that no effort currently is being made to calculate the outstanding revenue owed to the government.
He said the government’s first priority is implementing the new software system and ensuring the timely payment of salaries, and that measuring outstanding revenue was one of the features he had asked consultants to incorporate into the new system.
Starting ‘from scratch’
Mr. Turnbull (R-D2) expressed concern that the new system would not be able to resolve the issue if the data is unavailable.
“Systems don’t work: People work,” he said, adding, “If there is no one assigned to identify it, if it doesn’t exist within the bodies that collect revenue, then we’re going to have to start from scratch.”
Mr. Fahie promised to look into the matter, but acknowledged that the government indeed might have to “start from scratch.”
Mr. Turnbull said an estimate from 2015 showed $50 million in outstanding revenue, and asked if Mr. Fahie meant to disregard that revenue.
The premier clarified that not all data was necessarily lost, and that by “start from scratch” he meant searching for figures in individual departments.
“So when we start from scratch, it isn’t starting from ground zero,” he said. “We’re starting from scratch in terms of getting someone to go around and do it. But I cannot guarantee you that now, because to explain what is happening now in my best term would be the transition is very heavy. To add on one more task at this time would be very, very, very [difficult] for them.”