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Canada

Digital Government and Services (CA0067)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Canada Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC); Canada School of Public Service (CSPS); Library and Archives Canada (LAC); Privy Council Office (PCO); Statistics Canada (StatCan); Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED); Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS); other departments and agencies across the Government of Canada

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Automated Decision-Making, Capacity Building, Data Stewardship and Privacy, Digital Governance, E-Government, Legislation & Regulation, Public Participation, Science & Technology

IRM Review

IRM Report: Canada Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Digital government and services
Issue to be addressed
The Government of Canada is going digital, and that means we need to fundamentally change
the way we work. We want our investments in digital government to make Canadians’ lives
better, and we want the benefits of digital government to reach as many people as possible. To
achieve this goal, we need to follow the principles of transparency, accountability, and
accessibility in implementing new and evolving government digital technologies and services.
Commitment
The Government of Canada will apply the principles of openness to its digital services, allowing
it to meet evolving user expectations while enhancing transparency and inclusion. We will:
• develop a Government of Canada digital policy and data strategy roadmap for the
federal public service
• engage with Canadians on what digital and data transformation means for them
• create a performance dashboard to track service to Canadians
• publish analytics on Canada.ca website traffic
• prioritize open source code in developing digital solutions
• improve transparency and awareness of the Government’s use of artificial intelligence
(AI)
Lead department(s)
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC); Canada School of Public Service (CSPS);
Library and Archives Canada (LAC); Privy Council Office (PCO); Statistics Canada (StatCan);
Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED); Treasury Board of Canada
Secretariat (TBS); other departments and agencies across the Government of Canada
Milestones
What will we do? How we will know we succeeded? What is our
deadline?
4.1 Create a digital policy for
the Government of Canada
(TBS)
Canadians are engaged on the
development of a Treasury Board digital
policy. Public input is solicited and
accepted via online platforms
June 2019
25
What will we do? How we will know we succeeded? What is our
deadline?
Input received is included in a summary
report to be released publicly
November 2018
A Treasury Board digital policy is
published. The policy will integrate
requirements with respect to service,
information technology, information
management and data, as well as
components of cybersecurity
June 2019
4.2 Develop a data strategy
roadmap for the federal public
service
(PCO/StatCan/TBS)
A data strategy roadmap is developed for
the federal public service to strengthen
the government’s management and use
of data for decision-making. The strategy
will:
• foster trust in the government’s data
stewardship
• demonstrate to Canadians that the
government uses data for decisions
that can improve their lives
December 2018
4.3 Engage with Canadians on
what digital and data
transformation means for
business, civil society, and
Canadians6
(ISED)
Canadians are informed and engaged,
offering bold ideas through online forums
and at least 25 in-person events
Feedback from diverse stakeholders helps
to inform future policy work
December 2018
4.4 Create a performance
dashboard to track service to
Canadians
(TBS)
Data on service delivery performance for
all major service departments is collected
and published via a dashboard on
open.canada.ca.
The dashboard indicates which services
are available online, and specifies service
December 2019

6. For more information, see the website for Canada’s National Digital and Data Consultations.
26
What will we do? How we will know we succeeded? What is our
deadline?
standards, fees, volumetric data, and
performance results
4.5 Publish analytics on
Canada.ca website traffic in a
timely manner, in the spirit of
sites like
http://analytics.usa.gov
(ESDC)
As a first phase, analytics are
understandable and available and for
public review for the top pages on the
Canada.ca site and key service portals
June 2019
4.6 Prioritize open source code
in development and
procurement of digital
solutions
(LAC/TBS)
Code for all new projects presented to
the Enterprise Architecture Review Board
(EARB) is publicly released within
6 months of launch, or a justification is
published
March 2019
Guidance is provided to departments on
how to remove barriers for developers by
publishing source code under open
licenses
Guidance is provided to departments on
the use of open standards
A business case for Open Source is
published
September 2018
A registry of open source code and open
source software is established to provide
consolidated access to government open
source resources
September 2018
Source code used in LAC’s Co-Lab
crowdsourcing tool is opened up and
available publicly for other institutions to
use
March 2019
An open source day event is organized September 2018
27
What will we do? How we will know we succeeded? What is our
deadline?
4.7 Improve transparency and
awareness of artificial
intelligence (AI) supported
public services
(CSPS/ISED/TBS)
AI supply arrangements and other
procurement vehicles are available to
support departments in experimentation
and innovation
September 2018
A Treasury Board directive on decision
support systems is developed to set rules
on how departments can use AI ethically
to make decisions
January 2019
An algorithmic impact assessment tool is
available to help institutions better
understand and mitigate the risks
associated with automated
decision-making systems
July 2019
An international conference on AI is
hosted by Canada in fall 2018. The
Summit will focus on themes of the G7
Statement on AI, in particular, enabling
environments that facilitate responsible
adoption of AI
December 2018
Through the CSPS Digital Academy, an AI
curriculum is established at the Canada
School of Public Service to help build
literacy on AI among federal public
servants. Curriculum will support the data
analyst community, raise awareness of AI
supported public services across the
government, and help to reach common
nomenclature aligned with existing best
practices
January 2019
Workshops, conferences, and AI days are
organized to increase awareness and
assist public service to skill-up on AI and
other emerging technologies. Where
possible, events will be open to other
sectors and to the public
Ongoing

IRM Midterm Status Summary

4. Digital Government Services

The Government of Canada will apply the principles of openness to its digital services, allowing it to meet evolving user expectations while enhancing transparency and inclusion. We will:

  • develop a Government of Canada digital policy and data strategy roadmap for the federal public service
  • engage with Canadians on what digital and data transformation means for them
  • create a performance dashboard to track service to Canadians
  • publish analytics on Canada.ca website traffic
  • prioritize open source code in developing digital solutions
  • improve transparency and awareness of the Government’s use of artificial intelligence (AI)

Milestones

4.1 Create a digital policy for the Government of Canada (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

4.2 Develop a data strategy roadmap for the federal public service (Privy Council Office / Statistics Canada/Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

4.3 Engage with Canadians on what digital and data transformation means for business, civil society, and Canadians (Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada)

4.4 Create a performance dashboard to track service to Canadians (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

4.5 Publish analytics on Canada.ca website traffic in a timely manner, in the spirit of sites like http://analytics.usa.gov (Employment and Social Development Canada)

4.6 Prioritize open source code in development and procurement of digital solutions (Library and Archives Canada/Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

4.7 Improve transparency and awareness of artificial intelligence (AI) supported public services (Canada School of Public Service/Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada/ Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

For more details about the commitment text, milestones, self-identified success criteria, and estimated completion dates see, https://open.canada.ca/en/content/canadas-2018-2020-national-action-plan-open-government#toc3-4

Start Date: August 2019

End Date: Varies according to milestone

Commitment Overview

Verifiability

OGP Value Relevance (as written)

Potential Impact

Completion

Did It Open Government?

Not specific enough to be verifiable

Specific enough to be verifiable

Access to Information

Civic Participation

Public Accountability

Technology & Innovation for Transparency & Accountability

None

Minor

Moderate

Transformative

Not Started

Limited

Substantial

Completed

Worsened

Did Not Change

Marginal

Major

Outstanding

1. Overall

Assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

Assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

Context and Objectives

This commitment builds on Commitment 6 from Canada’s third action plan. It is anchored in the Treasury Board Secretariat’s efforts to support the GoC’s transition to digital government through the development of a digital policy, and to establish a single integrated set of guidelines and rules to support federal departments and agencies in how they manage service delivery, information and data, technology, and cybersecurity. [25] The commitment is built around a proposed course of action but does not provide any indication as to what exactly are the “evolving user expectations” that are meant to be addressed and the specific “benefits of digital government” it seeks to ensure “reach as many people as possible.” Echoing views expressed by various contributors to the July-August google docs request for comments about the draft commitment, [26] one is left pondering:

What exactly is the problem here? Is it the “need to fundamentally change the way we [federal public servants] work” that is the perceived problem? Is it the need to ensure that principles of openness are applied and upheld to government digital services? Is the problem something else?

Commitment 4 aligns with the OGP values of Access to Information and Civic Participation. The extent to which the milestones align with OGP values is mixed. Four of the seven milestones [27] and their accompanying success indicators may contribute, in varying degrees, to altering the way federal public servants work while enhancing transparency and inclusion. This said, the many digital inequalities with which many Canadians must contend [28] point to the need for caution in equating the implementation of new and evolving government digital technologies and services with the harnessing of the benefits they afford.

Milestones 4.1, 4.3, and 4.6 are deemed to be directly relevant to the OGP value of Civic Participation insofar as the activities and processes set out for each of these actions involve opening up decision making to interested members of the public. Milestones 4.4 and 4.5 are likewise deemed to be directly relevant to the OGP value of Access to Information because they pertain to releasing government-held information. Milestones 4.2 focuses on internal government activity and is based solely on consultations with government departments [29] and agencies. Milestones 4.7 focuses foremost on diffusing information about artificial intelligence (AI) within the federal public service. Based on the value definitions provided in the IRM Procedures Manual, it is unclear how these two latter milestones align with any of the four OGP values.

Milestones 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, and 4.5 are all easily verifiable (i.e., either the propose activity has taken place, or it has not). However, and as noted in the public comments received via google docs regarding the July-August 2018 draft commitment, a number of the proposed indicators of success are of questionable merit given that they outline processes or activities to be completed rather than tools for measuring the extent to which an intended outcome has materialized. The verifiability of milestones 4.6 and 4.7 requires some degree of interpretation with regard to their measurability. Here too, the validity of the success criteria subject to question (i.e., do they actually measure/reflect what they claim to measure?) because it is activities to be completed that are specified rather than indicators for measuring whether these activities result in expected outcomes.

Nonetheless, Commitment 4 is an incremental positive step in working toward transforming existing rules governing the management of service delivery, information management, information technology, and cybersecurity that may complement the fostering of a culture of open government in the federal public service. Whether these changes ultimately contribute to enhancing transparency and inclusion will be subject to the digital policy itself, how it is implemented, and its acceptance by federal public servants. The Commitment is deemed as having a minor potential impact on open government in Canada.

Next steps

Commitment 4 is anchored in the notion of changing the way public servants and politicians do their work. Whereas milestones 4.4 and 4.5 deal with the creation of a performance dashboard and the delivery of performance analytics, the other five milestones are oriented toward developing and implementing administrative processes and procedures to further a cultural shift toward the internalizing of principles of transparency, accountability, and accessibility in the design, implementation, and delivery of government services.

Though its ambition is commendable, missing from the commitment is a clear articulation of, and a more precise focus on, the specific challenges and/or policy problems the application of “the principles of openness to its [government] digital services” is meant to redress. Throughout the consultations undertaken in preparing this report, civil society stakeholders acknowledged the political necessity and strategic utility of including a commitment oriented around public sector and service delivery reform in the action plan while simultaneously lamenting both the commitment’s breadth of scope and its perceived conflation of digital government with open government. Of particular concern in this regard, is the perceived risk of the momentum for open government losing ground to the notion of digital government; a concept that large swathes of the Canadian population encounter on a day-today basis. While digitalization and digital government complements and facilitates the implementation of open government, these concepts are by no means synonymous or otherwise equivalent. [30]

In moving forward with Commitment 4, it will be important to:

  • ensure that internal and external government communications about OGP action plan initiatives clearly delineate between activities conducted under the auspices of digital government versus open government, and those where elements of both are at play;
  • specify: (i) the government service delivery mechanisms that require modifying and why; (ii) which modifications will be implemented; and (iii) the indicators to be used to measure whether the modifications are resulting in the desired behavioural outputs and outcomes;
  • for Milestones 4.4 and 4.5, to determine the types of data to be published, the target users of the data (e.g., average citizen, researchers, journalists, government departments), and the participating government departments and agencies.

Milestones 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3 are already well on track to be completed by the end of this action plan cycle. Work relating to Milestones 4.4 and 4.5 is ongoing and likely to require being carried forward into Canada’s 5th action plan. With regard to Milestones 4.6 and 4.7 the issue is not whether these commitments, or some variation thereof, should be carried forward. Rather, any decision about this matter should rest, in large part, on first identifying what are the specific policy challenges and/or national priorities with which the Canadian government must contend and for which prioritizing open source code and/or improving transparency and awareness of artificial intelligence (AI) are likely to contribute to ameliorating within the context of an OGP action plan.

[25] See, Benay, Alex (May 10 2018). Our ongoing transition to digital government, https://open.canada.ca/en/blog/our-ongoing-transition-digital-government; D’Andrea, Teresa (September 10, 2018). Improving government services in the digital age, https://open.canada.ca/en/blog/improving-government-services-digital-age; and Benay, Alex (November 7, 2018). Update on Development of a New Digital Policy https://open.canada.ca/en/blog/update-development-new-digital-policy. See also, Treasury Board Secretariat (November 7, 2018) Digital Policy – Report on What We Heard – Phase 2 (High-Level Policy Requirements) – October 2018, https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/topics/information-technology-project-management/information-technology/report-what-we-heard-phase-2-high-level-policy-requirements-october-2018.html
[27] Milestone 4.5 was originally presented as an indicator of success for the current Milestone 4.4 – Creating a public dashboard in the version of the draft commitment that was posted for comments on google docs in July and August 2018. It was transformed into a milestone after the online consultation period had finished. The incorporation of the phrase “roadmap for the federal public service” likewise was a change that occurred after the period of requests for comment. See, https://docs.google.com/document/d/12m4FfPRHrbF-fkdFml2WmT3w5aLR2hXVoDEiaa_rwLc/edit
[28] See, for example, Ruimy, Dan (2018). Broadband Connectivity in Rural Canada: Overcoming the Digital Divide. Report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. April. https://www.ourcommons.ca/Content/Committee/421/INDU/Reports/RP9711342/indurp11/indurp11-e.pdf. See also, Huynh, Annalise, and Malli, Nisa (2018). Levelling Up: The quest for digital literacy. Brookfield Institute. June https://brookfieldinstitute.ca/wp-content/uploads/Level-Up-report-FINAL-online.pdf
[29] Government of Canada (2018). Report to the Clerk of the Privy Council: A Data Strategy Roadmap for the Federal Public Service. https://www.canada.ca/en/privy-council/corporate/clerk/publications/data-strategy.html
[30] See, Clarke, Amanda (2019, January 28). Digital government doesn’t equal democratic government. Policy Options. https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/january-2019/digital-government-doesnt-equal-democratic-government/

Commitments

  1. User-Friendly Open Government

    CA0064, 2018, Access to Information

  2. Financial Transparency and Accountability

    CA0065, 2018, Access to Information

  3. Corporate Transparency

    CA0066, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  4. Digital Government and Services

    CA0067, 2018, Automated Decision-Making

  5. Open Science

    CA0068, 2018, Access to Information

  6. Healthy Democracy

    CA0069, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  7. Access to Information

    CA0070, 2018, Access to Information

  8. Feminist and Inclusive Dialogue

    CA0071, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Reconciliation and Open Government

    CA0072, 2018, Access to Information

  10. Open Government Community

    CA0073, 2018, Access to Information

  11. Enhance Access to Information

    CA0042, 2016, Access to Information

  12. Streamline Requests for Personal Information

    CA0043, 2016, E-Government

  13. Expand and Improve Open Data

    CA0044, 2016, Access to Information

  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, Access to Information

  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, Access to Information

  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, Access to Information

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

    CA0057, 2016, Access to Information

  27. Implement the Extractives Sector Transparency Measures Act

    CA0058, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  28. Support Openness and Transparency Initiatives Around the World

    CA0059, 2016, Access to Information

  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, Access to Information

  32. Engage Canadians to Improve Key Canada Revenue Agency Services

    CA0063, 2016, Access to Information

  33. Implement Directive on Open Government

    CA0030, 2014, Access to Information

  34. Starred commitment Open Data Canada

    CA0031, 2014, Access to Information

  35. Canadian Open Data Exchange (ODX)

    CA0032, 2014, Access to Information

  36. Open Data for Development

    CA0033, 2014, Access to Information

  37. Open Data Core Commitment

    CA0034, 2014, Access to Information

  38. Starred commitment Open Science

    CA0035, 2014, Public Participation

  39. Starred commitment Mandatory Reporting on Extractives

    CA0036, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  40. Open Contracting

    CA0037, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  41. Open Information on Budgets and Expenditures

    CA0038, 2014, Fiscal Openness

  42. Digital Literacy

    CA0039, 2014, Capacity Building

  43. Open Information Core Commitment

    CA0040, 2014, Access 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, Access to Information

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

    CA0020, 2012, Access to Information

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

    CA0021, 2012, Access to Information

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

    CA0022, 2012, Access to Information

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

    CA0023, 2012, Access to Information

  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,

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

    CA0005, 2012, Access to Information

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

    CA0006, 2012, Access to Information

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

    CA0007, 2012, Access to Information

  72. Virtual Library: Begin Design of Virtual Library

    CA0008, 2012, E-Government

  73. Virtual Library: Launch Virtual Library

    CA0009, 2012, E-Government

Open Government Partnership