Dude, where’s my data?

I will keep coming back to the main theme of this post in the future, because it is worth pointing out.

I came across a job (EO-2017-90, for the curious) with Elections Ontario, an independent Government of Ontario agency charged with conducting elections. The Ontario government has an elegant careers website that is simple and easy to use and also very transparent. While bodies like Elections Ontario could be argued to  fall outside of the regular Ontario government recruitment, all salaries are paid out of the same one Consolidated Revenue Fund. And in the end, they are all government employees, perhaps covered by different union agreements, but serving the same one province of Ontario.

Now, given that the province has a pretty good careers website and it is open to Elections Ontario and other provincial agencies to use (and many do use it), I wonder why Elections Ontario chose to go with a US website to do its recruiting? The applicants for the job in question were required to submit their applications here. The Ontario government has used HR Associates before – the Ontario Internship Program applications are processed by them and have been for almost a decade now. My issue is that the form was ultimately based on a US website that was acquired by SurveyMonkey.

The first issue is that Ontario taxpayer dollars are being used to conduct hiring by using a US website when there are perfectly fine Ontario options.

The second and more important issue is that of data sovereignty. By putting my data on a US server, it is subject to US laws. When there is a perfectly valid Ontario option available to the government, why is Elections Ontario turning over Canadian data to the US? The form says that the applications will ultimately be sent to the hiring manager. Well, why then not use the traditional Ontario careers website?Why have the data routed through the US? If E.O. was unaware that HR Associates is going to use a US based website, then it is very strange. HR Associates has been used extensively by the E.O. and data sovereignty is an issue that should be at the top of the mind of recruiters especially the government.

As an aside: By asking for the quoting of the job number in the subject line, E.O. can eliminate some applications at the beginning itself. There are other filters that E.O. can use. And quite frankly, I am not sure why having so many qualified applicants apply for the job is a problem. The government constantly talks about attracting talent and here you have it in plenty. I digress.

I am posting on this website because the servers are based in Canada. At least that is what the hosting company says on their website and I am sure that is the case. If I as a computer-novice can care about this, why doesn’t a well-funded government organization like E.O.?

I really do wonder what exactly E.O. gained by using HR Associates and its US based form.