She became the Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Bonavista-Burin-Trinity in Newfoundland and Labrador (N&L) in the 2015 federal election after spending more than a decade in provincial politics. She has served in N&L’s cabinet as minister of development and rural renewal; minister of industry, trade and technology; minister of education; and minister of industry, trade and rural development.
Now, she heads the department that serves as the “central purchasing agent, real property manager, treasurer, accountant, pay and pension administrator, integrity advisor and linguistic authority” for other federal agencies.
Foote’s most high profile area is Shared Services Canada (SSC), the branch of her department that spends almost $2 billion a year operating, reducing and merging the government’s IT and telecommunications services into a more manageable core.
In 2016 she faced allegations that Shared Services bungled its work for the RCMP after CBC News revealed behind the scenes complaints from the head of the force that the takeover of the Mounties’ IT support has been a costly disaster.
Things are so bad, according to documents CBC News obtained through access to information, that RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson at one point refused to give SSC any more control over the Mounties’ information technologies.
Among the more serious complaints the documents say Paulson laid at the foot of SSC president Liseanne Forand at a meeting last September was that during the October 22, 2014 terrorist attack on Parliament Hill Shared Services shut down the forces’ disaster recovery site so the government could have more bandwidth to deal with the flood of public information coming in.
Despite the setback, Foote took some action by announcing SSC is launching a consultation to seek feedback from Canadians, federal public servants, client departments, and industry on its IT Transformation Plan. “The plan will drive the overall modernization of IT in government, and will help Shared Services Canada ensure the successful delivery of online federal services to Canadians,” Foote said in a statement.
Through the public services and procurement ministry, the Canadian government rolled out the Phoenix payroll system to all federal public service employees and it didn’t take long for the issues to start up. Since its unveiling, reports of employees being underpaid, overpaid and not paid at all have dogged the minister, and despite vowing to fix the backlog of almost 100,000 cases, CBC News reported that there were still more than 7,000 lingering by the end of January 2017.