Implementation of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government (Year-1) Self-Assessment Report


I. Introduction and Background

The Government of Canada remains committed to the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) core principles of greater availability of information, civic participation, professional integrity, and the use of technology for openness and accountability. These principles are the cornerstones for any modern democracy, and we are working to ensure that they govern and drive Canada’s open government activities. Building on a long history of accountability to its citizens, the Government of Canada launched its Open Government initiative in 2011. It committed to accelerating the release of government Open Data and Open Information, and fostering a two-way Open Dialogue with Canadians to better engage them in the delivery of government policy and programs.

Canada first signalled its intent to join the OGP in September 2011, and subsequently formally joined the Partnership in April 2012. Given the clear alignment of the OGP’s declaration of principles with the Government of Canada’s own initiative, Canada’s membership in the OGP is a key opportunity to further our open government objectives. The OGP required that Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government be developed for tabling at the first OGP Summit in April 2012, which limited the time we had for effective public consultation to develop the plan. This is a key area on which we will certainly improve moving forward.

The first version of Canada’s Action Plan is a multi-year plan to advance Open Government activities along three streams: Open Data, Open Information, and Open Dialogue. The 12 commitments outlined in the plan, many of which have a particular focus on technology solutions, are designed to establish a stable foundation for future open government activities, and are aligned with the four core principles set by the OGP. Canada is proud of its first Action Plan, but recognizes that it can be enriched in the future to better address the expectations of citizens, as well as the principles and challenges set out by the OGP.

Open Government Directive Diagram

Figure 1: Our Commitments - Text version

Figure 1 lays out OG commitments in a circular model with 3 layers of rings. The foundational commitments which are the OG Directive and the OG Licence are placed in the centre ring. The second ring contains the three OG streams with their activities as follows:

  1. OG Open data
    2. OG Resource Management Data
  2. Open dialogue
    1. Consulting Canadians
    2. Open Regulation
  3. Open Information
    1. Modernizing the Administration of ATI
    2. Virtual Library
    3. International Aid Transparency Initiative
    4. Opening Government of Canada Records
    5. Advancing Recordkeeping in the GC - GCDocs
    6. User-Centric Web Services - GCWeb

The outer ring of the circle contains the four OG challenges: 1. Availability of Information, 2. Professional Integrity, 3. New Technologies and 4. Citizen Participation.


The commitments address three specific grand challenges identified by the OGP: increasing public integrity, improving public services, and effectively managing public resources. The plan identifies specific milestones to be completed within the first year of implementation in support of these commitments, and also includes activities to take place over subsequent years.

Action Plan Commitment Diagram

Figure 2: Figure 2: Summary of Action Plan Commitments by Grand Challenge - Text version

Increase Public Integrity

  • Open Government Directive (Foundation Commitment)
  • Modernizing the Administration of Access to Information (Open Information Commitment)
  • Opening Government of Canada Records (Open Information Commitment)
  • Consulting Canadians (Open Dialogue Commitment)

Improve Public Services

  • Open Government License (Foundation Commitment)
  • Virtual Library (Open Information Commitment)
  • User-Centric Web Services (Open Information Commitment)
  • Open Data ( (Open Data Commitment)

Effectively Managing Public Resources

  • International Aid Transparency Initiative
  • Advancing Record Keeping in the GC - GCDocs
  • Government of Canada Resource Management Data
  • Open Regulation

This Self-Assessment Report reviews the Government of Canada’s progress to date in implementing Year 1 deliverables for each of the commitments and speaks to challenges and lessons learned along the way. While not quite all first-year deliverables in Canada’s Action Plan were fully implemented, work continues to advance each of our commitments. The next version of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government, to be developed with greater support from citizens and civil society, will be published in March 2014. It will feature updated deliverables and targets for existing commitments, and will set out a few new commitments that will further our open government objectives within the spirit of enhanced transparency and continued fiscal restraint, both of which are key priorities for the Government of Canada.

II. Process Overview

Developing Canada’s First Action Plan on Open Government

It was recognized at the outset that it would be challenging to deliver on all of the commitments in Canada’s Action Plan within a single twelve-month period. Thus, the plan was developed to be delivered over a three-year period, with concrete Year 1 deliverables defined for each of the Action Plan commitments.

Given our tight timeframes for developing the plan, we were not able to conduct as much public consultation on the definition of commitments as would have been in keeping with the full spirit of the OGP. That said, public consultations were undertaken to engage citizens, the private sector, civil society, and other levels of government to support the definition of Canada’s open government commitments, and to ensure responsiveness to Canadians. Consultation activities were publicized online and using social media. Stakeholders were initially engaged through an online consultation launched in early December 2011 that sought public input on potential initiatives along our three Open Government activity streams. 

On December 15, 2011, the Honourable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for leading the Government of Canada’s Open Government agenda, hosted the government's first-ever Tweet Chat, leveraging the popular social media platform Twitter to communicate with Canadians directly about potential open government initiatives. Furthermore, in February 2012, the President created an Advisory Panel on Open Government comprised of Canadian and international experts on open government drawn from civil society, academia, and the private sector to advise him on the way forward for Canada’s Open Government Action Plan.

While these efforts to consult Canadians helped us to refine our thinking on Action Plan commitments, the Government of Canada recognizes that more could have been done to reach out to citizens and civil society, and to more fully engage them in the Action Plan development process. We also acknowledge the need to provide Canadians with more advance notice of consultation opportunities, and to broaden the use of different consultation channels.

Internal consultations were also completed with key departments and agencies across government with the support of a new Assistant Deputy Minster-level Open Government Steering Committee to drive ongoing implementation. The plan subsequently received endorsement from the Public Service Management Advisory Committee (PSMAC), a deputy minister-level committee chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury Board, and was announced in April 2012 by Minister Clement on behalf of the Government of Canada.

Implementing the Plan

The Open Government Steering Committee (OGSC), under the leadership of the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), is responsible for enterprise-wide governance of all federal Open Government initiatives, including the implementation of the commitments in Canada’s Action on Open Government. For each commitment in the plan, a lead department or agency has been identified and charged with the implementation of that component within their existing resource levels. Commitment leads provide regular updates to the OGSC and work together to share best practices. A dedicated Open Government Secretariat within TBS manages overall coordination monitoring, and reporting of implementation activities.

Completion of Action Plan deliverables has been informed by consultations and collaboration with citizens, the private sector, civil society, and other levels of government. Key examples include:

  • Online consultations and multi-jurisdictional collaboration to support the development of Canada’s new Open Government Licence;
  • Roundtable discussions with open data users to explore requirements for the next-generation open data platform;
  • Use of social media technology platforms (e.g., Twitter) to support ongoing consultation with Canadians; and
  • Discussions with the Advisory Panel on Open Government on the new Directive on Open Government.

III. Delivering on Canada’s Action Plan Commitments (Year 1)

Methodology for Self-Assessment Report

This document provides an assessment of progress to date in implementing Year 1 deliverables in Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government.  Our ongoing work in Years 2 and 3 of our Action Plan on all commitments will be evaluated as part of our next self-assessment as per guidance provided by the OGP.  Each of the Year 1 deliverables published in our Action Plan released in April 2012 has been assessed to be at one of the following four levels provided by the Open Government Partnership:

  • Fully implemented: All of the Year 1 deliverables for the commitment have been completed
  • Partially implemented:  Some of the Year 1 deliverables for the commitment have been completed, with outstanding work to be done
  • In progress: Work has been initiated, but no Year 1 deliverables have been completed for the commitment.
  • Not implemented: No work completed on Year 1 deliverables for the commitment.

Consultation on Year 1 Progress

The assessment was further informed by input received through a four-week online consultation that invited Canadians to share their views on Canada’s progress in completing its Year 1 deliverables as described in the Action Plan.  Participation in this consultation was lower than anticipated.  We recognize that we must take additional steps to increase public awareness of both Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government, and of the next set of opportunities for Canadians to provide feedback and direction on the Plan. 

A draft of Canada’s Self-Assessment Report was shared with the national and international open government experts from civil society, academia, and the private sector on Canada’s Advisory Panel on Open Government for their review, comments, and input.  Additional input is still welcomed on the Self-Assessment Report, which has been posted on, and the Government of Canada looks forward to working with the members of the OGP’s Independent Reviewing Mechanism to support their review of Canada’s Year 1 progress.

Overview of Assessment

Having completed an assessment of our overall progress in implementing Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government, we can report that Canada has fully implemented the Year 1 deliverables for ten of its twelve commitments, several of which have been advanced further and more quickly than anticipated.  For each of the two outstanding Year 1 deliverables, progress has been made, and we anticipate full completion of the deliverables by March 2014.  (Note: For clarity, the original text of each of our commitments has been included as part of the assessment of our progress on Year 1 deliverables below.)

Foundational Commitments

1. Directive on Open Government

Action Plan Commitment: In Year 1 of our Action Plan, we will confirm our policy direction for Open Government by issuing a new Directive on Open Government. The Directive will provide guidance to 106 federal departments and agencies on what they must do to maximize the availability of online information and data, identify the nature of information to be published, as well as the timing, formats, and standards that departments will be required to adopt. Our ongoing consultations with our Open Government Advisory Panel will inform the development of the Directive.

Moving forward in Years 2 and 3, we will progressively implement the Directive in order to establish consistency and standard practices with regard to open publishing across government departments and agencies. The clear goal of this Directive is to make Open Government and open information the 'default' approach.

Progress Assessment of Year 1 Deliverables:
The new Directive on Open Government will guide departments and agencies on how to further enhance the Government of Canada’s commitments to transparency and accountability. While always viewed as a foundational component in our Action Plan, analysis completed over the last year to define policy requirements for the Directive has further demonstrated its potential to catalyze the effective implementation of federal open government activities moving forward.

A draft of the Government of Canada’s new Directive on Open Government has been developed to support internal consultations with government departments and agencies to be completed this fall. The draft Directive provides proposed direction to departments and agencies on specific requirements to maximize the release of government data and information to the public. Departments and agencies would be required to develop and publish a Departmental Open Government Plan that would include specific information on what data and information is to be published and by when. Consultations with members of the President’s Advisory Panel on Open Government have also been used to review key concepts for inclusion in the Directive.

In support of the Government of Canada’s overall policy direction for open government, the Prime Minister of Canada formally announced Canada’s adoption of the G8 Open Data Charter on June 18, 2013, committing to the proactive release of high-value data, and to setting standards for data quality, interoperability, and comparability. A key principle of the Charter is “open data by default” and Canada will soon publish its plan for meeting the requirements of the Charter in October 2013. The completion of the Directive on Open Government has been delayed to ensure that direction out to government departments and agencies reflects and supports all commitments related to the G8 Open Data Charter.

Implementation Status: Year 1 deliverables have been Partially Implemented (to be completed later this year)

Moving Forward:
We will issue the Directive on Open Government later this year to ensure that it is effectively aligned with our adoption of the G8 Open Data Charter.


2. Open Government Licence

Action Plan Commitment: To support the Directive and reduce the administrative burden of managing multiple licensing regimes across the Government of Canada, we will issue a new universal Open Government Licence in Year 1 of our Action Plan with the goal of removing restrictions on the reuse of published Government of Canada information (data, info, websites, publications) and aligning with international best practices. In developing this new licence we will also coordinate with other OGP members to allow more seamless collaboration across borders.

The purpose of the new Open Government Licence will be to promote the re-use of federal information as widely as possible. It is our goal that federal departments will have adopted this new universal Open Government Licence by the end of Year 2 of the Action Plan.

Progress Assessment of Year 1 Deliverables:
The Government of Canada issued its new Open Government Licence (OGL) on June 18, 2013. Prior to the release of the new licence, open data users were often required to wade through lengthy and complex legal language to understand what rights were granted to them. Under the new OGL, the rights granted to users for unrestricted re-use of government data and information are now written in clear, concise, plain language. All open datasets currently available on the Government of Canada’s open data platform are now licenced under the OGL.

Development of the new licence was informed by significant feedback received from citizens and civil society on proposed drafts of the OGL that were posted on in 2012/13. In addition, on December 11, 2012, the Honourable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board, held an interactive discussion on Twitter, which provided useful feedback on the licence. Our call for comments also generated a number of thoughtful blog posts and community discussions. Cumulatively, this constructive feedback on the licence helped to ensure that it will meet the needs of the users of government open data and information moving forward.

Having established the new OGL based on international best practices, and in consultation with our OGP colleagues (e.g., United Kingdom), we were pleased to learn that Canada’s OGL has been assessed as meeting the Open Definition standard – the international standard for open licensing. This is important for open data users as recently noted by Herb Lainchbury, a member of the Open Definition Advisory Panel:

"Knowing that a licence is conformant with the Open Definition solves the problems of having to understand multiple licences and knowing whether the licences are interoperable. A user can ensure that the data they want to use is usable and interoperable by simply checking if the licence is conformant to the definition."

Sub-national collaboration with provincial government officials was also very important to the development of our licence in order to maximize alignment and interoperability of licensing across several jurisdictions. Though not part of our original Action Plan commitment, Canada has made progress in standardizing the use of the Open Government Licence as a single, common licence for all levels of government across the country. The Governments of Canada, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and several municipalities have already adopted the OGL. This helps to break down the barriers to reusing and combining government data and information from different jurisdictions to create richer, more contextualized information and applications.

Implementation Status: Year 1 deliverables have been Fully Implemented, and Year 2 activities for this commitment are underway.

Moving Forward:
Interest in adopting the OGL continues to grow, a strong indicator of the shared commitment of Canadian governments to openness and transparency. This has enabled us to move in the direction of a national licencing standard far more quickly than anticipated and work in Year 2 will continue toward further adoption of a standard OGL across Canada.


Open Information Commitments

3. Modernizing the Administration of Access to Information

Action Plan Commitment: To improve service quality and ease of access for citizens, and to reduce processing costs for institutions, we will begin modernizing and centralizing the platforms supporting the administration of Access to Information (ATI). In Year 1, we will pilot online request and payment services for a number of departments allowing Canadians for the first time to submit and pay for ATI requests online with the goal of having this capability available to all departments as soon as feasible.

In Years 2 and 3, we will make completed ATI request summaries searchable online, and we will focus on the design and implementation of a standardized, modern, ATI solution to be used by all federal departments and agencies.

Progress Assessment of Year 1 Deliverables:
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Government of Canada’s Access to Information (ATI) Act and efforts to modernize the administration of this important service to Canadians in the past year have proceeded well. On April 9, 2013, the Government of Canada launched the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Online Request pilot project which enables Canadians to request and pay for access to information requests electronically for the first time (three participating departments: Citizenship & Immigration Canada, Shared Services Canada, and Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat). The goal of the pilot is to streamline the request process and facilitate faster access for Canadians. Early results have been very positive with over 10,000 ATIP requests received in the first five months of operation, and with over 90% of clients rating the service as “easy” to “very easy” to use.  The Government of Canada is extending the pilot to 20 additional federal departments in the next year.

As of January 2012, all institutions subject to the Access to Information (ATI) Act are required to post summaries of completed ATI requests on their websites. Although originally scheduled for Year 2, these published summaries of completed ATI requests have now been made searchable online from a single location ahead of our original schedule. This makes it easier for Canadians to search, locate, and request government information of interest to them. Open Data on completed ATI summaries and ATIP statistical information from across government institutions has also been made available for download on

Implementation Status: Year 1 deliverables have been Fully Implemented, and Year 2 activities for this commitment are underway.

Moving Forward:
We recognize that much more can be done to modernize the administration of Access to Information in order to continue to bolster the right of access of Canadians to government information resources. Work is proceeding to define a new modern, whole-of-government solution for the administration of ATIP. We plan to issue a Request for Information (RFI) in the fall of 2013 to advance the analysis of options for outsourcing of technology services to support a whole-of-government ATIP solution


4. Virtual Library

Action Plan Commitment: To simplify access to a range of government information available to the public in Year 1, we will begin the design of an online searchable repository of published Government of Canada documents of all kinds (e.g. publications, consultant reports, ATI summaries, government research, presentations, white papers, etc.).

Moving forward in Years 2 and 3, we will launch this Virtual Library through a pilot which will provide public access to federal publications and documents via a single window. Public input will be sought throughout this pilot to make sure that the Virtual Library reflects the needs of citizens.

Progress Assessment of Year 1 Deliverables:
As part of the Government of Canada’s efforts to renew the way that open information is made available to citizens, work has been initiated on the design of a Virtual Library for federal documents. A preliminary conceptual design has been drafted to support internal consultations on the Virtual Library as an online searchable repository of published Government of Canada documents. The draft conceptual design considers user experience requirements for discovering and using Virtual Library documents, as well as how content from multiple online document repositories (e.g., and could be integrated into a single Virtual Library. In addition, the design is being aligned with the direction being set by the Government of Canada’s overall Web Renewal initiative (GCWeb) to ensure that documents are made available within the federal Web presence in the most efficient and citizen-centric way possible. Additional information on key concepts for the Virtual Library will be made available on in the fall of 2013.

Implementation Status: Year 1 deliverables have been Fully Implemented, and Year 2 activities for this commitment are underway.

Moving Forward:
In Year 2, we will work toward the launch a pilot of the Virtual Library, and to engage Canadians on the ongoing development of the service.


5. International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI)

Action Plan Commitment: The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) will make information about Canadian aid spending easier to find, use, and compare. Transparency is key to fostering accountability which is a hallmark of Canada's tradition in providing international aid. Those involved in aid programs will be able to better track what aid is being used for, and what it is achieving, helping us to ensure that each dollar goes as far as possible toward stated goals.

In Year 1, we will review all IATI requirements and publish our plan to make information about the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) activities available and accessible.

In Years 2 and 3, we will focus on implementation and reporting. As a result, donors, partner countries, civil society organizations and citizens will be able to access and use Canadian information and compare it with the data from other participating organizations and countries.

Progress Assessment of Year 1 Deliverables:
Canada has taken important steps to give Canadians access to open data and information about international aid and development efforts. In November 2011, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) joined the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) as part of its commitment to transparency. Having completed a detailed review all IATI requirements, CIDA published its implementation schedule for the IATI standard in December 2012, which outlines when various types of aid data and information required in the IATI standard will be released. The publication of this plan fulfills the Year 1 deliverables in Canada’s Action Plan for the IATI commitment.

Publication of quarterly data files under the IATI standard has already started with releases in October 2012, January 2013, April 2013, and July 2013. The first international aid donor to publish data bilingually, CIDA also reported on implementation through the first IATI Annual Report published in April 2013.


Implementation Status: Year 1 deliverables have been Fully Implemented, and Year 2 activities for this commitment are underway.

Moving Forward:
Following the amalgamation of CIDA and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade earlier this year, the new department, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) will continue to expand the scope and quality of international aid data available in accordance with Canada’s IATI implementation schedule.


6. Opening Government of Canada Records

Action Plan Commitment: The Government of Canada archives contain a wealth of documentary heritage, and it is important that Canadians have access to this information. In Year 1 of our Action Plan, we will increase access to archived federal documents held by Library and Archives Canada by removing restrictions on this information wherever possible, thereby ensuring ongoing access to the preserved historical record of the Government of Canada. Additionally, in Year 1, we will issue new mandatory policy to drive consistent document classification practices across the federal government to reduce the volume of classified documents in the future.

In Years 2 and 3, we will work with departments to progressively make the classified documentation already held within the archives of the Government of Canada available online through Web 2.0 platforms and in formats accessible on mobile devices where possible.

Progress Assessment of Year 1 Deliverables:
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is the custodian of Canada’s documentary legacy; however, many Government of Canada records in LAC’s holdings are not necessarily accessible to the public due to classification restrictions. To meet Year 1 deliverables, LAC has led a proactive, risk-informed effort to opening government records held at LAC. To date, LAC has already effectively increased access to archived federal documents by removing restrictions on nearly 3.2 million pages of its Government of Canada document holdings. Moving forward, departments and agencies will need to ensure that records are open and free of any access restrictions in advance of transferring them to LAC to be archived (subject to the Privacy Act).

A mandatory policy instrument to ensure the accurate and consistent classification of government information and assets is being developed to enhance the public’s access to these resources. The new Standard on Security Identification and Categorization of Assets (SISCA) will drive consistency in document classification practices across the federal government and effectively reduce the volume of restricted documents in the future. A draft of the SISCA has been developed by a multi-departmental working group, and internal consultations with departments are in progress in support of a winter 2014 release.

Originally targeted for release within the first year of the Action Plan, the issuance of this policy will now be synchronized with revisions being made to a number of other federal security policies and standards that will be issued together in early 2014.

Implementation Status: Year 1 deliverables have been Partially Implemented (to be completed by March 2014).

Moving Forward:
The new Standard on Security Identification and Categorization of Assets, to be released early in 2014, will reinforce the core idea that information should be categorized at the lowest reasonable level. This will facilitate the openness of information via regular information management processes undertaken by departments and agencies.



7. Advancing Recordkeeping in the Government of Canada - GCDocs

Action Plan Commitment: To support the implementation of recordkeeping policies and directives, and an advanced government-wide recordkeeping regime, we will establish a hosted government-wide solution for records and documents management to service government departments and agencies. During Year 1, we will deploy wave one of an enterprise solution for electronic record and document management across a number of departments.

Building on lessons learned, in Years 2 and 3, we will pursue deployment across the federal government.

Progress Assessment of Year 1 Deliverables:
A robust records and documents management system is a critical, foundational requirement to ensure the effective management of the Government of Canada’s information assets which, in turn, facilitates access to government information. GCDocs is the Government of Canada’s enterprise solution for organizing, structuring, and protecting documents and records across federal departments and agencies to meet business needs and facilitate access to government records.

Wave 1 of the implementation of the hosted GCDocs solution has been completed as planned for Year 1. This work included the definition of a standardized information management configuration for the solution, as well as the establishment of a formal intake process to support departments to assess their readiness for GCDocs and to guide them through implementation. Four departments (Justice Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Public Works and Government Services, and Veterans Affairs Canada) are currently in the application deployment phase, and 24 additional departments are in preparation for implementation.

Implementation Status: Year 1 deliverables have been Fully Implemented, and Year 2 activities for this commitment are underway.

Moving Forward:
By driving consistency in the implementation of GCDocs across federal departments in Years 2 and 3, we will improve the stewardship of information to support faster response to access to information requests and efficient program and service delivery.


8. User-Centric Web Services - GCWeb

Action Plan Commitment: Throughout our consultations with Canadians, it became clear that a more organized and accessible web presence for the Government of Canada is a key enabler for openness and transparency. To facilitate access to the wealth of information and services available to Canadian through the Web channel, we are committed to the development of an approach for a new user-centric, consolidated web presence for the Government of Canada within the first year of our Action Plan.

In Years 2 and 3, we will initiate the implementation of this new platform, which will include a one-stop, federated search window to government information to provide simultaneous searching of federal web pages, data, and publications.

Progress Assessment of Year 1 Deliverables:
The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of its Web presence for Canadians, and continues to enhance access to government information and services online. Currently, federal departments publish information in a department-centric rather than a user-centric fashion. To date, this approach has produced over 1,500 websites, which often requires citizens to know how the Government is structured in order to access online information and services. Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2013 highlighted the Government of Canada’s plans to consolidate the 1,500 individual websites into one website at

To meet Year 1 deliverables, a Request for Information (RFI) was posted in the summer of 2013 to explore the potential for an outsourced Web publishing service to support the consolidated website for the Government of Canada. Through the RFI, the federal government sought to gain insight and information from industry to develop a procurement strategy to support the Government of Canada’s Web presence, and to enhance the transparency and competitiveness of any required procurement activity.

The growth in Canadians’ use of mobile technologies provides key opportunities for the Government of Canada to connect with citizens and business to deliver programs, services, and information right to the palm of their hand. Additional work on GCWeb over the past year also saw the development of a new Standard on Optimizing Websites and Applications for Mobile Devices, which came into effect on April 1, 2013, and will ensure that all federal websites and Web applications are optimized for mobile devices. The Web Experience Toolkit (WET), a collaborative open source code library, was also updated in April 2013 to help federal organizations build innovative websites that are accessible, usable, interoperable, and optimized for mobile devices. The use of WET by federal departments will assist in the transition of online information and services to the consolidated website at

In addition, a pilot project for a government-wide Web search service was successfully conducted between November 2012 and March 2013 to examine a whole-of-government web search solution. Full implementation is now underway, and the new government-wide web search solution will be incorporated into the website.

Implementation Status: Year 1 deliverables have been Fully Implemented, and Year 2 activities for this commitment are underway.

Moving Forward:
The first release of the new website will be launched by December 31, 2013 to be followed by the systematic migration of departmental specific content. The website will focus on enabling citizens to quickly complete tasks and find information online, and will be optimized for mobile devices and better use of social media.


Open Data Commitments


Action Plan Commitment: During the public consultations on the Digital Economy Strategy and Open Government, Canadians called for open data to be made available in more usable and accessible formats. Building on the successful open data pilot launched in 2011, we will implement the next generation platform for the delivery of open data. Over the past year, we have expanded the number of non-geospatial data sets available from 800 in April 2011, to more than 11,000 in April of 2012. When geospatial datasets are included, the total comes to more than 272,000 unique data sets. During Year 1 of our Action Plan, we will continue to expand on the number of datasets made available through the existing portal, and we will complete our requirements for the next generation platform.

In Years 2 and 3, we will design and initiate implementation of the new portal, as well as further improve the level of standardization of data published by departments. The Government will make use of crowdsourcing, particularly among Canada's open data community, to make sure that this new open data portal meets the needs and expectations of those who will use it most, and provides the best possible opportunity to support entrepreneurs eager to make use of Government of Canada data.

Progress Assessment of Year 1 Deliverables:
Open Data continues to grow as a priority for governments around the world focused on empowering citizens and business to use government data in innovative and value-added ways that drive economic and social benefits. In response, the Government of Canada has continued to increase the availability of open datasets for Canadians, with 25 federal departments and agencies now making data available via Extensive work has also been completed to enhance the catalogue to improve data integrity, and to ensure that it effectively aligns with industry publishing standards. In many cases, this has resulted in a repackaging of datasets to enhance discoverability and facilitate analysis by users.  Currently there are nearly 200,000 datasets and data series featured on

In Year 1, Canada accelerated its efforts to develop its next-generation platform for the delivery of federal open data ( significantly ahead of schedule. Engagement of citizens and the open data community played an important role in the design of the next-generation  Beginning in March 2013, a series of cross-country roundtable discussions were completed with Canadian open data enthusiasts in five major cities across Canada (Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal) to learn more about their expectations for the kind of functionality and content needed for a state-of-the-art open data gateway.  The results of this consultation helped to shape the design of the portal, and will continue to guide the ongoing evolution of as a key source of open data for Canadians.

The Government of Canada’s next-generation open data portal ( launched on June 18, 2013. In response to consistent feedback from users, overall enhancements have been made to improve the user’s capacity to search open data in a multi-faceted way with the ability to filter search results based on multiple criteria (department, format, date, etc.). A refreshed user experience has also been implemented that simplifies navigation and enhances the discoverability of information, tools, and services on  Interactive social media and Web 2.0 features have also been introduced on, including the capacity to rate and comment on individual datasets, and to share them with friends and colleagues on various social media platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Google+).

The next-generation was developed using leading-edge, open source software including the Open Government Platform (OGPL) and the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN).  By applying our own Web Experience Toolkit to the implementation of these open source solutions, we were able to make them more accessible, more mobile friendly, and able to manage data in multiple languages.  We have shared our enhanced code and lessons learned with the OGPL and CKAN communities, and hope that these improvements will enhance the value of these solutions for countries developing their own open data platforms. Moving forward, we will continue to contribute our innovations and lessons learned to the open source community as we continue to learn from them.

Implementation Status: Year 1 deliverables have been Fully Implemented, and Year 2 activities for this commitment are underway.

Moving Forward:
Expansion of high-value datasets on will continue in Years 2and 3, including efforts to link dataset expansion more closely to information being requested through Access to Information requests. The desired effect of this would be to increase access for Canadians to the data they want most. We also plan to accelerate efforts to provide more user engagement opportunities via to support the ever growing Open Data community in Canada.


10. Government of Canada Resource Management Data

Action Plan Commitment: To fulfill its statutory responsibilities, the Government collects resource allocation and performance management information from all departments and agencies; not all of this information is currently provided online, nor is it easily searchable across departments. Through this initiative starting in Year 1, the government will use information collected from federal organizations to publish resource management and performance data through the open data portal.

Years 2 and 3 will build on usage and feedback to provide enhanced search and data visualization tools.

Progress Assessment of Year 1 Deliverables:
In fulfilling the Year 1 deliverables for this commitment, the Government of Canada has made available extensive expenditure and performance data for the last three years via the platform. Data on statutory forecasts and budgetary expenditures can be downloaded in machine readable formats and analyzed to note trends. In addition, information collected from federal organizations, previously released through the Public Accounts of Canada, has been incorporated into a new searchable online Expenditure Database that was launched in April 2013 to provide Canadians with financial information on departmental spending. The database enables Canadians to search for spending information for all federal departments across three categories: by Authorities and Expenditures (which compares the amount of funding that was authorized to what was actually spent), by Standard Object, (which details itemized government spending), and by Program. By clicking on any value presented in the database, users can compare and visualize one department’s spending data alongside that of any other organization in the federal government. This gives Canadians a quick picture of how taxpayer dollars are spent, and allows Parliamentarians to better analyze government expenditures. In addition to fulfilling Year 1 deliverables for this commitment, the Expenditure Database also delivers on a commitment made by the Government to Parliamentarians to provide a more accessible online financial database of information on departmental spending.

Implementation Status: Year 1 deliverables have been Fully Implemented, and Year 2 activities for this commitment are underway.

Moving Forward:
The Government will work to continue to expand the breadth of information available in the Expenditure Database Tool, while enhancing overall functionality and visualization abilities for users.


Open Dialogue Commitments

11. Consulting Canadians

Action Plan Commitment: To simplify access and participation in online consultations by Canadians, we will explore options in Year 1 for the development of a new Web 2.0 citizen engagement platform that federal organizations can use to conduct public consultations. Also in Year 1, we will develop a standard approach to the use of social media and Web 2.0 by federal departments to augment their engagement activities with citizens and businesses, as well as pilot a crowdsourcing initiative to involve Canadians in developing ideas and solutions for greater online dialogue and engagement on public policy initiatives.

In Years 2 and 3, we will enable the use of common online tools to support engagement activities.

Progress Assessment of Year 1 Deliverables:
Having explored options for the development of a new Web 2.0 citizen engagement platform as part of our Year 1 deliverables, this commitment will now be accelerated through its inclusion in the GC Web Renewal initiative (GCWeb). As part of GCWeb, a new enterprise-wide platform will be developed to enable all federal organizations to consult with citizens online, featuring two-way dialogue and the ability to link between consultations of similar topics and/or targeted at similar audiences.

The policy foundation for enabling effective citizen engagement has been strengthened as part of the first year of implementation under this commitment. The Government of Canada’s new Standard on Social Media Account Management and Technical Specifications for Social Media Accounts have been developed to enable a standardized, strategic, and coherent approach to the management of the Government of Canada’s presence on social media platforms. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was also recently released to procure an enterprise social media platform management tool to administer and coordinate the growing number of Government of Canada social media accounts.  In addition, the new Policy on Acceptable Network and Device Use will help drive open access to the Internet for Government of Canada employees, including social media tools to support enhanced communication and service delivery to Canadians.

In addition, crowdsourcing and consultation solutions have been tested over the past year to support improvements to the GC’s overall approach to engaging Canadians. Lessons learned were harvested from a crowdsourcing pilot completed in February 2012 by the Canadian Transportation Agency to support the development of Air Services Price Advertising Regulations. In November 2012, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) launched the Call for Concepts for Social Finance, an innovative web-based public policy process that leveraged social media and other Web 2.0 technologies. The goal was to seek ideas from Canadians and groups across all sectors of society to help government identify new ways to address social and economic issues. The Call for Concepts issued a challenge to Canadians: “What would you do to harness the power of social finance?” The response from Canadians exceeded expectations, with more than 150 submissions received from across the country, confirming the value of crowdsourcing and that Canadians are eager to participate in creating solutions to better meet their needs.

Finally, the August 2013 Request for Information (RFI) posted to Canada’s buy-and-sell tendering site on the potential new Web service also explored options for the new citizen engagement platform. The results of this RFI will help inform future activities to support the Consulting Canadians commitment moving forward in Years 2 and 3.

Implementation Status: Year 1 deliverables have been Fully Implemented, and Year 2 activities for this commitment are underway.

Moving Forward:
Fully defined requirements for Consulting Canadians will be completed and incorporated into the ongoing development of the new consolidated Web presence for the Government of Canada, to be further detailed in the next version of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government.


12. Open Regulation

Action Plan Commitment: To increase public engagement on regulatory activities in Year 1, federal regulators will be required to electronically post their forward regulatory plans so as to make the regulatory system more predictable and give Canadians and businesses early warning of upcoming changes and the opportunity to engage on regulatory plans. Regulators will also be required to post service standards and policies that clarify when stakeholders can count on receiving guidance in writing.

In Years 2 and 3, we will continue to simplify engagement activities to support more efficient and responsive regulatory activities, including posting annual scorecards on streamlining administrative burden.

Progress Assessment of Year 1 Deliverables:
Canada is internationally recognized as one of the best places in the world to do business. If Canada is to maintain its competitive edge, increase productivity, and spur innovation, we must constantly strive to improve the conditions for doing business. After extensive input from Canadian businesses, the federal government launched one of the world's most ambitious regulatory reform packages, the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan, in October 2012. This plan’s systemic reforms are bringing a new discipline to how the Government regulates, creating a more predictable environment for businesses. The Government remains resolute in its commitment to eliminate unnecessary red tape from Canada’s regulatory system, while maintaining Canada’s high standards for safety and protection. Through the publication of this plan, the Government of Canada has delivered on its Year 1 commitment to establish requirements for federal regulators to post forward regulatory plans, service standards, and policies that clarify when stakeholders can count on receiving guidance in writing.

Under this plan, federal government departments and agencies are required to make their forward regulatory plans publicly available on their websites annually. These plans must describe upcoming regulatory proposals that departments or agencies plan to introduce over a 24-month period. By making information about the government's regulatory initiatives available to Canadians on a proactive and ongoing basis, it enables business, consumers, and all Canadians to be informed of, and engaged in, the regulatory process at the earliest possible stage. Thirty-two (32) forward regulatory plans have now been posted online to give consumers, business, other stakeholders, and trading partners greater opportunity to inform the development of regulations and to plan for the future. The Treasury Board Secretariat provides links to forward regulatory plans government-wide on its website to facilitate a more transparent and common user experience in line with the principles of Open Government.

To further increase predictability in the regulatory system, the federal government is also implementing service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations (e.g., permits, licences, and certifications) that specifically address the timeliness of decision making. Twenty-four (24) service standards have been posted on departmental and agency websites, including timeliness commitments and public feedback mechanisms, which allow Canadians to lodge a complaint if service expectations have not been met. Finally, under the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan, federal regulators are now required to publish interpretation policies to provide clarity on how they interpret regulations, including when they will provide answers to questions from stakeholders in writing about requirements to be met. Regulators will begin posting their interpretation policies on their organizational websites at the end of 2013.

Implementation Status: Year 1 deliverables have been Fully Implemented, and Year 2 activities for this commitment are underway.

Moving Forward:
As part of the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan's broader commitment to accountability and public reporting, the President of the Treasury Board will publish an Annual Scorecard, reviewed by an external advisory committee, to provide evidence that the systemic reforms (e.g. Forward Regulatory Plans, Service Standards for High Volume Regulatory Authorizations, and the One-for-One Rule) are being implemented and are making a difference.


Additional Open Government Activities

Our adoption of the Declaration of Principles for the OGP and our implementation of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government have begun to have a catalytic effect across the federal government. Though not included in our first Action Plan, a significant number of other Open Government-related initiatives have been completed since April 2012 that support Canada’s work to address the OGP’s grand challenges for increasing public integrity, improving public services, and increasing corporate accountability. Examples include:

  • Canada-Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Monitoring Portal: Users can now access data and information related to the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring, including maps of the monitoring region, details of the monitoring sites, the most up-to-date data collected by our scientists in the field, and scientific analysis and interpretation of the data and results. As this site evolves, the environmental monitoring data and information available on this site will enable concerned parties to conduct their own analysis and draw their own conclusions.
  • Expanded Integrity Framework:  The Government of Canada’s Public Works and Government Services (PWGSC) department has a strong framework in place to support accountability and integrity in its procurement and real property transactions that includes policies, procedures, and governance measures to ensure fairness, openness, and transparency. Numerous measures have been put in place that demonstrate a commitment to doing business with companies and individuals that respect the law and act with integrity. Under its integrity framework, PWGSC, on behalf of the Government of Canada, cannot enter into a contract, a real property transaction, or accept bids from individuals or companies that have been convicted of defined list of offences.  Furthermore, PWGSC may terminate a contract or lease should a conviction occur during its duration. In July 2012, this list of offences was expanded to include: money laundering; participation in activities of criminal organizations; income and excise tax evasion; bribing a foreign public official; and offences in relation to drug trafficking.  For the first time, PWGSC also applied its integrity provisions to all real property transactions (which includes leasing agreements for all uses, letting of commercial crown-owned space and the acquisition and disposal of crown-owned properties). In November 2012, PWGSC removed leniency as an exemption which allowed an applicant to come forward, cooperate, and plead guilty in exchange for lenient treatment in sentencing. Given the seriousness of the infractions identified in the integrity provisions, PWGSC no longer does business with individuals and companies found guilty of these offences, unless exceptional circumstances require it for the public interest.
  • Intergovernmental Forum: Building on cross-jurisdictional successes achieved as part of Canada’s Open Government Action Plan (e.g., common open licensing across jurisdictional boundaries), an intergovernmental working group has been established with representation from all levels of government to function as a forum for sharing best practices and collaborating on the development, implementation, and governance of common open government solutions across Canada at the sub-national level. Canada’s open government activities have not been restricted to the domestic arena.
    In addition to our efforts to implement the International Aid Transparency Initiative as part of our Action Plan, we have also undertaken several other activities that are helping to promote the principles of open government to countries around the world.
  • Open Data in Developing Countries: Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is funding the first global study examining how open data is being put to use in different countries and contexts across the developing world. The project “Open Data in Developing Countries” is coordinated by the World Wide Web Foundation and includes a network of 17 research teams in 14 countries, which will assess how opening data can contribute to more accountable public spending, better urban governance, and better sanitation and education, among other topics. Also, the research will contribute to an Open Data Barometer, which will focus on comparative measurement of the conditions for, availability of, and impacts of, open government data around the world. The research agenda started during the 2012 OGP Summit in Brazil and research teams were selected via a global competition. Case study findings will be compared and synthesized, contributing to the development and testing of common methods and tools for designing and evaluating open data initiatives. An interim progress update will be provided at the 2013 OGP Summit in October.

IV. Conclusion

Through implementation of the first year of its Action Plan on Open Government, Canada has taken important steps to strengthen its position as a global open government leader. The progress outlined in this self-assessment report demonstrates our ongoing commitment to advance our open government activities at an accelerated pace, and much has been learned that will help us to more effectively implement our open government activities moving forward.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

More Consultation Needed

Citizens and Civil Society:
First and foremost, the engagement of Canadian citizens and civil society organization will continue to be critical to the successful implementation of key deliverables within Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government. While we have undertaken various engagement activities to support our Open Government initiatives, we will have to raise the bar moving forward. In this context, the Government of Canada also recognizes the need to increase engagement in particular with Canadian civil society organizations in the development and implementation of our open government activities in the future. The Advisory Panel on Open Government will also be a critical sounding board on the implementation of both current and future commitments. There is a wealth of expertise and creativity outside of government that can add value to our Open Government commitments.

Multiple Channels:
Given Canada’s diverse population and size, consultations on a national scale pose a particular challenge that we will need to address through the use of multiple channels, including face-to-face roundtable discussions, online consultations, and social media.

Raise Awareness:
There is much more that can be done to raise general awareness of the Government of Canada’s open government efforts, provide more lead time in advance of consultation activities, and enhance our capacity to identify and engage citizens and communities to help address the development and delivery of Open Government plans and initiatives.

More Detail on Concrete Deliverables

In order to better support the measurement of progress toward our Open Government commitments, we have also recognized that the level of detail used to define the initiatives in Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government must be increased, with specific metrics against which our progress can be assessed. Part of our efforts to expand on our Open Government commitments moving forward will focus on the development of companion metrics and communication of concrete initiatives to be completed within set timeframes. By more clearly defining our objectives, we will drive increased accountability for results, facilitate assessment of our progress, and support clarity in our public consultations.

More Pan-Canadian Collaboration

Finally, effective collaboration among Canada’s various levels of government is needed in order to drive better open government services for all Canadians. Canada is composed of federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments with different areas of responsibility. Some of these responsibilities are exclusive, while others (e.g. health care, agriculture, trade) are shared or entail high levels of intergovernmental coordination. When collaborating with other levels of government, practical challenges are often encountered in many areas, such as information and data ownership, open licensing, and citizen and community engagement. To ensure Canadians have access to public sector data and information from multiple levels of government, collaboration and common solutions are needed. To this end, sub-national collaboration will be an important focus of Canada’s Open Government activities moving forward, and the Intergovernmental Forum that has been established will be an important mechanism for advancing our open government commitments.

Moving Forward

Transparency, accountability, and openness remain key priorities for the Government of Canada. Good progress has been made in the first year of Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government that will help to drive these priorities, as well as promote innovation and economic value for Canadians. There remains much more to do, and in the coming months we will be developing version 2.0 of Canada’s Open Government Action Plan, supported by ongoing public engagement and consultation. This updated plan will detail how each of our existing commitments will continue to be advanced, and will identify a few new commitments to further address the grand challenges set by the OGP. We look forward to continuing our work with Canadians, civil society, other levels of government, and our international OGP partners to advance our shared commitment to open government.

Courriels sur le Gouvernement ouvert

Receive updates about Open Government

Sign up to receive updates about Open Government and hear about new datasets, new information resources, upcoming consultations, and current blogs.

Mid-Term Self-Assessment Report on Canada's Action Plan on Open Government 2014-16

Read about our progress on Canada’s Open Government Action Plan.

A map of Canada - Une carte de Canada

Open government across Canada

Explore open government programs and events from coast to coast to coast, get information and tools to help build your own portal, including implementing the Open Government Licence in your jurisdiction.