In 2013, the Canada Revenue Agency won the top honours in the Security category at the World Mail Awards in 2013, one of the most prestigious and sought-after prizes in the international mail and logistics industry.
The mail system and security at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) have to be world-class; the CRA has a public responsibility for the security of the hundreds of millions of tax-related documents and materials, including those containing taxpayers’ personal information, that pass through its internal systems in any given year.
There are a number of technologies available to help organizations keep a watchful eye on their mail during transit, but what the CRA recently proposed to achieve was nothing less than 100 percent tracking and tracing for every item in transit throughout the entire supply chain. The CRA’s first pilot of the Secure Shipment Management System (SMS) took place in 2008, in collaboration with Canada Post and their service provider, Lyngsoe, an early creative blend of government and industry.
Prior to the development of the SMS, the CRA used barcoding tools that required employees to write down tracking numbers. This manual process made it difficult and costly for both the CRA and Canada Post to track delayed or misdirected shipments and documents.
To enhance its mail tracking system, the CRA combined its barcode system with Canada Post’s radio frequency identification technology. RFID uses specialized radio frequency tags that can be read remotely by mobile or fixed readers. Although RFID technology is widespread in both the public and the private sectors, the level of tracking that the CRA proposed was new to both the RFID and postal industries. Using a combination of barcode, RFID, and its new SMS software platform now allows the CRA and Canada Post to monitor shipments in real time, from “hand-off” at the dispatch facility, through the Canada Post system, to “hand-over” at the CRA receiving facility. The SMS tracks assets across six time zones and through 60 CRA facilities and additional Canada Post facilities across the country with impeccable results.
With real-time monitoring of our internal shipping network, the CRA can now track 100 percent of all its internal shipments at all times, ensuring the security of material shipments throughout the internal supply chain, and allowing third-parties the ability to monitor their own high-value or sensitive shipments from the moment they enter the CRA’s shipping network to final delivery. The business intelligence and performance metrics available through the system also allow the CRA to quickly adjust workforce requirements to meet changing demands, and to simplify procedural and policy requirements for employees processing internal shipments.
The system has also enabled the CRA to implement and manage internal business transformation initiatives by providing a clear snapshot and historical record of its logistics network and emerging trends. For example, the data now available through use of the system has allowed the CRA to consolidate its internal logistics network, resulting in a more cost effective and dynamic distribution network.
Designing and integrating the SMS at the CRA wasn’t without its challenges. It required in depth knowledge of current technologies and the development of relationships with our external partners. Overall success was only possible because of the willing collaboration with Canada Post and actively participating CRA employees.
During pilot testing, CRA employees played a crucial role designing and measuring system capabilities, identifying key indicators, and developing business intelligence and critical process procedures to take full advantage of the available technology. Their energy was a key driver.
Great minds and good technology, a willingness to collaborate and exchange information and ideas across government organizations, and partnership with industry, aren’t the only ingredients in the successful transformation of government. At the CRA, maintaining public trust by approaching every task and responsibility with integrity is part of the foundation of our core business. Successful transformation of government processes isn’t just about saving money, trying new things, or winning awards, it’s about doing the right things for the right reasons. In this regard, the World Mail Award is positive recognition of the CRA’s ongoing commitment to business transformation and improved service delivery.