Government of Canada – E Services

Its seldom that people say nice things about paying there taxes but I have to give some serious credit to Canada Revenue Agency for their e-pass services. E-pass is the federal government’s electronic record service. A single account can be used across multiple federal services. Access to each services requires a specific security code that is emailed to your address of record. It isn’t pure two-factor authentication but it is stronger than most online services offered for sensitive records. The fact that the entire process is opt-in for each service you want to enable to your account is also a great feature.

For the purpose of your taxes, you can see returns back several years (for me it was 2003 and later) including the critical lines in the tax return. (see list from the FAQ below)

The Help page also includes specific directions for individual browsers and shows at least basic support for most of the major choices, the exception may be Chrome:

Many people will get nervous about enabling electronic access to this type of information but for those of us who prefer not to archive larger and larger piles of paper every year this is a great option. Nice Job and at least the Web site looks more inviting that their headquarters:

From CRA’s FAQ list:

What can I do on My Account?

With My Account you can see information about your:

  • tax refund or balance owing;
  • direct deposit;
  • RRSP, Home Buyers’ Plan, and Lifelong Learning Plan;
  • Tax-Free Savings Account;
  • NETFILE access code;
  • tax returns and carryover amounts;
  • disability tax credit;
  • account balance and payments on filing;
  • instalments;
  • Canada Child Tax Benefit and related provincial and territorial programs payments, account balance, and statement of account;
  • GST/HST credit and related provincial programs payments, account balance, and statement of account;
  • Universal Child Care Benefit payments, account balance, and statement of account;
  • children for which you are the primary care giver;
  • Working Income Tax Benefit advanced payments;
  • pre-authorized payment plan;
  • authorized representative; and
  • addresses and telephone numbers.

With My Account you can also manage your personal income tax and benefit account online by:

  • changing your return(s);
  • changing your address or telephone numbers;
  • applying for child benefits;
  • arranging your direct deposit;
  • authorizing your representative;
  • setting up a payment plan; and
  • formally disputing your assessment or determination.


WhiteHouse.gov Goes Drupal

WhiteHouse.gov has gone Drupal. After months of planning, says an Obama Administration source, the White House has ditched the proprietary content management system that had been in place since the days of the Bush Administration in favor of the latest version of the open-source Drupal software, as the AP alluded to in its reporting several minutes ago.

via WhiteHouse.gov Goes Drupal [Updated] | techPresident.

While the utility of Open Source software has always been clear,  public sector organizations have not adopted them due to concerns over supportability and the vagaries of the procurement process.

The old joke used to be ‘no one got fired for buying IBM’ – this was the sense that going with a name brand was insulation from getting caught with a non-functioning product. In the incredibly risk-averse government sectors this is still a common attitude.

The second problem is the procurement of ‘solutions’. Government purchasing has frequently been tainted by claims of incompetence, ineptitude to down right corruption. Most of this comes from criticism of ‘bad procurement choices’. The fact it government procurement is seldom anyones ‘choice’ it is a competition where the scoring mechanism are set up ahead of time. At the end, you look up at the scoreboard and whoever has the most points wins.

This works well for hard goods, commodity items, and services with simple deliverables. It is not great for complex solutions where the best way to do something is not always clear before you look at the alternatives. To write a procurement after reviewing the options tends to look, to an outside critic, as bid fixing.

Open source solutions, where consulting services are your biggest cost doesn’t fit into this procurement model. It is much simpler to ask for a finished product and score the solution on what you see. In reality these ‘off the shelf’ solutions are seldom ‘off the shelf’. They need modification and configuration to work in an enterprise environment. It has only been recently that the idea of a procurement where the end result is not pre-defined has become an option. So called Joint-solution Procurements allow the selection of a provider based on capability then work with that provider on a solution.

Hopefully this high visibility endorsement of an open source solution will signal the build vs buy decision is again a legitimate question.

Judge tosses much of S.F. computer-hijack case

The long running story of the San Francisco Network Admin continues. 12 months in jail awaiting a trial because bail was set at $5 Million. Now all the hacking charges have been dropped only one charge regarding withholding password access remains.

A San Francisco judge tossed out three hacking charges Friday against a jailed former San Francisco city computer engineer, but preserved a lone count that he deliberately locked authorities out of the city’s main network last year.

via Judge tosses much of S.F. computer-hijack case.

What’s your Quality Adjusted Life Year number?

First one to make a “Quality adjusted life year” calculator app for the iPhone wins a free doughnut.

Credits to Talking Point Memo and Daring Fireball

The U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) basically figures out who deserves treatment by using a cost-utility analysis based on the “quality adjusted life year.”

via IBDeditorials.com: Editorials, Political Cartoons, and Polls from Investor’s Business Daily — How House Bill Runs Over Grandma.

The E-Lection – Esquimalt-Royal Roads

The main campain for the May election has started and my local race has had its online start.

You start with the basic info about the constituency at Elections BC or  Wikipedia. Followed by the local media coverage.

The Candiates have their presence established

Maurine Karagianis (NDP) Website: http://maurinekaragianis.bcndp.ca/ Twitter Facebook

Carl Edward Ratsoy (BC Liberal ) Web: http://www.carlratsoy.ca/

Green Jane Sterk Web: http://www.janesterk.ca/ Twitter Facebook Youtube

Jane Sterk as a Party leader has the most complete list of stuff. Maurine Karagianis an incumbent MLA so there is a little work there. Carl Ratsoy brings up the rear with a basic website – Twitter, Youtube, Facebook point back to the Party sites.