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Canada

Provide and Preserve Open Information (CA0045)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Canada Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat; Library and Archives Canada; Public Services and Procurement Canada

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

E-Government, Records Management

IRM Review

IRM Report: Canada End-Term Report 2016-2018, Canada Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Provide and Preserve Open Information Why do this: Canada has made significant progress on improving public access to government data under its last two Action Plans. By improving access to other forms of government information and ensuring preservation of this information, the Government of Canada can promote and maintain informed participation and sound decision-making. How will it be done: The Government of Canada will provide enhanced, centralized, one-stop access to digital content from departments and agencies across government. Guidance will be provided to The Government of Canada will integrate performance indicators for openness and transparency into a Performance Management Framework for Open Government. ensure the ongoing preservation of this information through the application of consistent standards and practices for long-term preservation.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

4. Provide and Preserve Open Information

Commitment Text:

The Government of Canada will establish government-wide initiatives, platforms, and tools to ensure that open information is discoverable and accessible for use by future generations.

Milestones:

4.1. Enhance the Open Information Portal on open.canada.ca to improve access to digital publications made available by the federal government and develop a strategy to ensure the sustainability of access over time.

4.2. Develop and publish clear guidelines on the preservation and retention of digital content.

4.3. Increase Canadians’ access to records documenting the continuing memory of the Government of Canada.

4.4. Update Library and Archives Canada’s online archive of the Government of Canada’s web presence to ensure Canadians’ long-term access to federal web content.

4.5. Expand the implementation of the government-wide information technology solution for the effective management of federal records and documents (GCDOCS) as a foundation for improved transparency:

Roll out this common solution managed by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to 125,000 government workers across government departments by June 2018.

Responsible institutions: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat; Library and Archives Canada; Public Services and Procurement Canada

Supporting institution(s): N/A

Start date: Not specified

End date: Not specified.

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full commitment text, visit: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Canada_AP3.pdf.

Context and Objectives

This commitment aims to resolve challenges to the preservation and accessibility of information that result from a lack of clear government guidance around how information should be found, used, shared, and preserved. This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information by helping to ensure that a proper paper trail is maintained for potential requesters.


This issue was the subject of a major legal battle between the Information Commissioner and the government when, in 2015, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police destroyed gun registry records that were subject to a request.[Note47: Bruce Cheadle, 'Constitutional challenge of retroactive Tory law on gun registry data in limbo,' Canadian Press, 29 March 2016. Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/court-challenge-gun-registry-data-law-1.3511277.] The development of a clear policy on the preservation of digital material was also one of five ‘SMART’ recommendations included in Canada’s 2015 IRM report. However, although the commitment addresses an important area, most of the milestones, except for Milestone 4.5, suffer from a lack of specificity. For example, the commitment does not outline how the Open Data Portal will be enhanced, or how Library and Archives Canada will be updated. The low specificity makes it difficult to accurately assess progress and ultimately limits the potential impact that can be scored in this assessment. Moreover, the organisation of this commitment is somewhat confusing, as it includes some milestones related to data preservation, but others that seem more connected to Commitment 3: Expand and Improve Open Data.

Completion

The government self-assessment reports limited progress on Milestone 4.1, including the relaunch of both the Open Information Portal[Note48: See: http://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset?portal_type=info&q.] and registry.open.canada.ca, the latter of which replaces three distinct publishing platforms. Four government departments (Canadian Heritage, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat) are collaborating on the development of an Open by Default Pilot Project.[Note49: See: http://pilot.open.canada.ca/en/open-by-default-pilot.] Future steps contemplated in the self-assessment include providing guidance on the scope of open information as well as the accessibility and official language requirements for new content. There is no reason to believe that the government will not achieve this milestone, as written, by June 2018, though the vague nature of the phrasing makes progress difficult to assess critically.

According to the self-assessment, the task of developing guidance on retention and disposition rules for digital content (Milestone 4.2) has been delegated to the Open Government Resource Development Working Group. Draft guidelines were developed and released for public comment to government stakeholders as well as the Open Canada Working Group (which comprises provincial and territorial partners).[Note50: The draft guidelines are available at: https://gccollab.ca/file/group/29260/all# (registration required).] In response to follow-up queries from the IRM researcher, the Treasury Board Secretariat reported that they aim to publish the final version on open.canada.ca by the end of December 2017. Substantial progress has been made, and this milestone is on track for completion.

The self-assessment notes that a large number of files have been placed online by Library and Archives Canada, including 8,161,794 pages of government records, 150,000 personnel files from the First World War, and 45 historical datasets.[Note51: See: http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/personnel-records/Pages/personnel-records.aspx.] By June 2018, the government estimates that a further 240,000 pages, 160,000 personnel files, and 45 datasets will be released. This is certainly a large volume of information, suggesting the commitment is on schedule, though again the lack of specificity in the milestone makes a proper assessment of progress difficult.

Regarding Milestone 4.4, the government self-assessment reports that Library and Archives Canada has collected 3.34 terabytes from the Government of Canada web domain, and an additional 1 terabyte of information from Government of Canada YouTube Channels.[Note52: The draft self-assessment is available at: http://open.canada.ca/en/mtsar/draft-consultation-mid-term-self-assessment-third-biennial-plan-open-government-partnership.] The self-assessment reports that this information is still being indexed, and once that is done the material will be publicly available. This is substantial progress and the milestone is on schedule.

Regarding Milestone 4.5, the self-assessment reports that the GCDOCS program has been rolled out to 85,000 federal government workers thus far, giving them access to a standardised archiving and records management system which ensures consistent information infrastructure across participating institutions.[Note53: At the time of research, in October 2017, that number had grown to 94,000, according to figures shared by Public Services and Procurement Canada with the IRM researcher.] This is substantial progress and the milestone is on schedule.

Next Steps

The development of a clear policy on the preservation of digital material was one of five ‘SMART’ recommendations included in Canada’s 2015 IRM report. However, if Milestone 4.2, which addresses this issue most directly, is not fully implemented in the current action plan, the IRM researcher recommends carrying it forward to the next action plan. In consultations around the government’s open data and open science policies, Dr. Tracey Lauriault suggested that the government should consider equivalent preservation policies toward raw research data, which can be of tremendous use to researchers.[Note54: Interviewed in Ottawa, 19 September 2017.] Preservation policies are particularly important to consider in light of data which has been taken down from government sites under the federal Web Renewal Initiative, in some cases leaving significant gaps for researchers.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

4. Provide and Preserve Open Information

Commitment Text: The Government of Canada will establish government-wide initiatives, platforms, and tools to ensure that open information is discoverable and accessible for use by future generations.

Milestones:

4.1. Enhance the Open Information Portal on open.canada.ca to improve access to digital publications made available by the federal government and develop a strategy to ensure the sustainability of access over time.

4.2. Develop and publish clear guidelines on the preservation and retention of digital content.

4.3. Increase Canadians' access to records documenting the continuing memory of the Government of Canada.

4.4. Update Library and Archives Canada's online archive of the Government of Canada's web presence to ensure Canadians' long-term access to federal web content.

4.5. Expand the implementation of the government-wide information technology solution for the effective management of federal records and documents (GCDOCS) as a foundation for improved transparency:

Roll out this common solution managed by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to 125,000 government workers across government departments by June 2018.

Responsible institution: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat; Library and Archives Canada; Public Services and Procurement Canada

Supporting institutions: N/A

Start Date: Not specified

End Date: Not specified

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment was abridged for formatting reasons. For full commitment text, visit http://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Canada_AP3.pdf.

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to resolve challenges to the preservation and accessibility of information. Such challenges result from a lack of clear government guidance around how information should be found, used, shared, and preserved. The commitment planned to:

Enhance the Open Information Portal on open.canada.ca;

Develop and publish guidelines on data preservation;

Increase access to historic records;

Update Library and Archives Canada's online archive; and

Expand the implementation of the government's GCDOCS to effectively manage federal records and documents.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

The midterm assessment rated substantial overall progress on this commitment, including the relaunch of the Open Information Portal (Milestone 4.1).[Note30: See “Open Government Portal,” Government of Canada, http://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset?portal_type=info&q.] The Open Government Resource Development Working Group developed draft guidelines on retention and disposition of digital content for public comment (Milestone 4.2).[Note31: The draft guidelines are available at: https://gccollab.ca/file/group/29260/all# (registration required).] Library and Archives Canada placed several hundreds of thousands of historic files online (Milestone 4.3),[Note32: See “Personnel Records of the First World War,” Library and Archives Canada, http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/personnel-records/Pages/personnel-records.aspx.] and it collected an additional 4.34 terabytes of material for indexing (Milestone 4.4).[Note33: The draft self-assessment is available at http://open.canada.ca/en/mtsar/draft-consultation-mid-term-self-assessment-third-biennial-plan-open-government-partnership.] According to the government's midterm self-assessment of Milestone 4.5, the GCdocs programme was rolled out to 85,000 federal government workers by the end of the action plan's first year.[Note34: Available at “Provide and Preserve Open Information—Commitment 4,” Government of Canada, https://open.canada.ca/en/commitment/mtsar/2016-2018/commitment-4-provide-and-preserve-open-information.]

End of term: Substantial

All milestones, apart from 4.2, were completed.

The vague phrasing of Milestone 4.1 makes it difficult to assess, but it appears to have been completed. Completion includes the launch of the government's Open Government Metadata Application Profile and consolidation of multiple search functions on the open.canada.ca website.[Note35: See “Open Government Metadata Application Profile,” Government of Canada, https://open.canada.ca/ckan/en/dataset/dbe5e27e-cc10-5e2e-b116-8d9b977ae6fd.] Regarding Milestone 4.2, discussion of the draft guidelines on retention and disposition of digital content are ongoing, according to the government's end-of-term self-assessment. The government has thus far been unable to reach consensus.[Note36: The self-assessment is available at https://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/9da9faf5-deb1-48db-8f16-91055d942d65.] Under Milestone 4.3, the government released substantial additional material. According to the self-assessment, the government made available 10,498,631 pages through block review and 7.8 million images of historical military records.[Note37: See, for example, “Personnel Records of the First World War.”]

Under Milestone 4.4, the self-assessment states that approximately six terabytes of data were made available during the second year of implementation.[Note38: The self-assessment is available at https://open.canada.ca/data/en/dataset/9da9faf5-deb1-48db-8f16-91055d942d65.] The self-assessment also notes that the data is being migrated to a new platform. The new platform will expedite data publication. Regarding Milestone 4.5, the self-assessment reports that the GCdocs programme was rolled out to 133,526 federal government workers over the course of the action plan. Of these programmes, approximately 50,000 participated in the second year of implementation. The number of programmes falls well ahead of the 125,000 targeted in the milestone.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

This commitment intended to address one of the IRM SMART recommendations included in Canada's 2015 IRM report, namely to develop a clear policy on the preservation of digital material. It also includes other measures aimed at enhancing the findability and digitization of historical data. The government also made available a large volume of additional material and improved the Open Information Portal. However, the data preservation policy was not completed. This constituted an important action area. The large volumes of information made available under Milestones 4.3 and 4.4 are relatively limited in scope. Enhanced information management stands as a potentially more important development (4.5). However, the GCDOCS system (4.5) has been rolled out to only a proportion of the federal public service, and the broader impacts of this rollout remain to be seen. This commitment is coded as having a marginal impact. It likely would have scored higher had the data preservation policy been completed.

Carried Forward?

The data preservation policy (4.2), which was not completed under the third action plan, has not been included in the fourth action plan. In response to queries from the IRM researcher, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat said that it was working with Library and Archives Canada to determine next steps. The two bodies will also identify how the work done thus far should be utilised going forward. This has implications particularly for developing the upcoming Government of Canada Digital Policy and regarding the broader work related to Canada's data strategy.[Note39: Email received on 28 August 2018.] In line with the recommendations in the 2015 midterm assessment—and reiterated in the 2017 midterm assessment—the IRM recommends that Canada develop a clear policy on the preservation of digital material. Ideally, the policy should also apply to raw research data.


Commitments

  1. User-Friendly Open Government

    CA0064, 2018, Capacity Building

  2. Financial Transparency and Accountability

    CA0065, 2018, E-Government

  3. Corporate Transparency

    CA0066, 2018, Beneficial Ownership

  4. Digital Government and Services

    CA0067, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Open Science

    CA0068, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Healthy Democracy

    CA0069, 2018, Civic Space

  7. Access to Information

    CA0070, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. Feminist and Inclusive Dialogue

    CA0071, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Reconciliation and Open Government

    CA0072, 2018, Capacity Building

  10. Open Government Community

    CA0073, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Enhance Access to Information

    CA0042, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  12. Streamline Requests for Personal Information

    CA0043, 2016, E-Government

  13. Expand and Improve Open Data

    CA0044, 2016, E-Government

  14. Provide and Preserve Open Information

    CA0045, 2016, E-Government

  15. Define an Approach for Measuring Open Government Performance

    CA0046, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Develop Open Government Skills Across the Federal Public Service

    CA0047, 2016, Capacity Building

  17. Embed Transparency Requirements in the Federal Service Strategy

    CA0048, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Enhance Access to Culture & Heritage Collections

    CA0049, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Enhance Openness of Information on Government Spending and Procurement

    CA0050, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Increase Transparency of Budget and Other Department of Finance Information

    CA0051, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Starred commitment Increase Transparency of Grants and Contributions Funding

    CA0052, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Improve Public Information on Canadian Corporations

    CA0053, 2016, E-Government

  23. Increase the Availability and Usability of Geospatial Data

    CA0054, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Increase Openness of Federal Science Activities (Open Science)

    CA0055, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Stimulate Innovation through Canada’s Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0056, 2016, E-Government

  26. Align Open Data Across Canada (Open Data Canada)

    CA0057, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Implement the Extractives Sector Transparency Measures Act

    CA0058, 2016, Capacity Building

  28. Support Openness and Transparency Initiatives Around the World

    CA0059, 2016, Aid

  29. Engage Civil Society on Open Government

    CA0060, 2016, Public Participation

  30. Enable Open Dialogue and Open Policy Making

    CA0061, 2016, Capacity Building

  31. Promote Open Government Globally

    CA0062, 2016, Capacity Building

  32. Engage Canadians to Improve Key Canada Revenue Agency Services

    CA0063, 2016, Civic Space

  33. Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0030, 2014, Open Data

  34. Starred commitment Open Data Canada

    CA0031, 2014, Open Data

  35. Canadian Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0032, 2014, Capacity Building

  36. Open Data for Development

    CA0033, 2014, Capacity Building

  37. Open Data Core Commitment

    CA0034, 2014, Open Data

  38. Starred commitment Open Science

    CA0035, 2014, Science & Technology

  39. Starred commitment Mandatory Reporting on Extractives

    CA0036, 2014, Extractive Industries

  40. Open Contracting

    CA0037, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  41. Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures

    CA0038, 2014, Fiscal Transparency

  42. Digital Literacy

    CA0039, 2014, Capacity Building

  43. Open Information Core Commitment

    CA0040, 2014, Right to Information

  44. Consulting Canadians

    CA0041, 2014, Marginalized Communities

  45. Starred commitment International Aid Transparency Initiative: Publish Plan to Make CIDA Activities Available and Accessible

    CA0010, 2012, Aid

  46. International Aid Transparency Initiative: Implement Plan

    CA0011, 2012, Aid

  47. Opening Government of Canada Records: Increase Access to Archived Federal Documents at Library and Archives Canada

    CA0012, 2012, Records Management

  48. Opening Government of Canada Records: Issue New Mandatory Policy on Document Classification

    CA0013, 2012, Records Management

  49. Opening Government of Canada Records: Make Classified Information Available Online

    CA0014, 2012, E-Government

  50. GCDOCS: Deploy Wave One of Electronic Record and Document Management Solution

    CA0015, 2012, E-Government

  51. GCDOCS: Deploy Across Federal Government

    CA0016, 2012, E-Government

  52. GCWEB: Develop Consolidated Web Presence

    CA0017, 2012, E-Government

  53. GCWEB: Implement New Platform

    CA0018, 2012, E-Government

  54. Data.Gc.Ca: Expand Number of Datasets Available

    CA0019, 2012, E-Government

  55. Data.Gc.Ca: Implement Data.Gc.Ca Portal

    CA0020, 2012, E-Government

  56. Data.Gc.Ca: Improve Standardization of Data

    CA0021, 2012, E-Government

  57. Government of Canada Resource Management Data: Publish Resource Management and Performance Data

    CA0022, 2012, E-Government

  58. Government of Canada Resource Management Data: Enhance Search and Data Tools

    CA0023, 2012, E-Government

  59. Consulting Canadians: Develop New Platform for Consultation

    CA0024, 2012, E-Government

  60. Consulting Canadians: Develop Standard Approach to Use of Social Media

    CA0025, 2012, E-Government

  61. Consulting Canadians: Pilot a Crowdsourcing Initiative

    CA0026, 2012, E-Government

  62. Consulting Canadians: Enable Use of Common Online Tools

    CA0027, 2012, E-Government

  63. Open Regulation: Federal Regulators to Post Forward Regulatory Plans

    CA0028, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  64. Open Regulation: Simplify Engagement Activities

    CA0029, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  65. Open Government Directive: Issue Directive on Open Government

    CA0001, 2012, E-Government

  66. Open Government Directive: Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0002, 2012, E-Government

  67. Starred commitment Open Government Licence: Issue Open Government Licence

    CA0003, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  68. Starred commitment Open Government Licence: Adopt Open Government Licence

    CA0004, 2012, Records Management

  69. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Pilot of Online Request and Payment Service

    CA0005, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  70. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Implement ATI Solution

    CA0006, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  71. Modernising Administration of Access to Information: Make Completed ATI Request Summaries Searchable

    CA0007, 2012, Right to Information

  72. Virtual Library: Begin Design of Virtual Library

    CA0008, 2012, E-Government

  73. Virtual Library: Launch Virtual Library

    CA0009, 2012, E-Government