The Service Canada Initiative
Technology played an important role in this project by providing an infrastructure for remote access at little cost to the taxpayer. Moreover, it provided very efficient support for the personnel responsible for providing information in person at the various access centres. In fact, these employees often find the information and support they need at the Canadian government’s website, newly organized by subject area.
But it was not all high-tech, especially when it came to integrating the various call centres. In fact, the 1-800 basic service provides front-line information, but if someone needs specialized information, calls cannot be transferred to the appropriate department with the existing infrastructures. Although the technology is there, the costs are exorbitant. At the website, the development of electronic forms also proved problematic because it took longer than expected and because of the transactional security difficulties that arose. Telephone support for citizens accessing the government website also ran into problems even though the project provided voice support for lost visitors. Lastly, remote access from very distant regions was often completely missing or highly costly. Even where Internet access was available, not everyone could use it for lack of computer literacy. And when services are available, they are all too often piecemeal with little integration. It should be noted, however, that these problems are endemic to all efforts to develop service portals and not just to the project under discussion.