Digital principles

October 26, 2017


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Notice to Readers

The opportunity for providing feedback is now closed. Please find the final version of the Government of Canada Digital Standards here.

We are developing a set of principles to guide digital development in the Government of Canada. These will shape how we approach managing our information, our technology, and providing services. We have based these on international best practices and we’re looking for feedback. From October 26 until December 8, 2017, you will have the opportunity to comment on our draft set of principles, either by filling in the comment box at the bottom of this post, or by sending us an email at Feedback received will be summarized and included in a “What We Heard Report” which will be published on this site.

Government is changing. Big time.

The world is transforming. As we shepherd in a new digital era, government must adjust to meet evolving user expectations. But what does “digital” really mean? Being digital is greater than the sum of its parts. A digital organization is one which can thrive in the digital era, and continue to meet raised expectations of its users.

It’s about putting users first, managing data and information, making sure that people’s information is private and secure, being open and transparent in how we conduct ourselves, and of course using the best technology to underpin it all. At the heart of everything we do are the people we serve. Everything government does is for the people. So as we design new services and look again at existing ones, we focus on the needs of our people first and foremost. This includes not just transactional services, but also how people find and use information and data.

So how does a government tackle a massive digital transformation? A good place to start is by defining a set of guiding principles which can provide a common understanding of what good digital development looks like. They set the stage for everything that comes afterwards, a foundational piece upon which to build and grow. They provide guidance for making decisions and help us make explicit the concepts that we will prioritize when developing services and choosing technologies.

But why start from scratch? The whole premise of being “open” is re-use, and guiding principles are no exception. Other governments have done a fantastic job of defining their principles and re-defining the way they serve their people. For example, we looked to the UK (GDS), to the United States (the USDS), Australia (AusDTO), and closer to home in the province of Ontario (Ontario Digital Service). We love the way that these groups have come together, burst open the door, and re-defined their service models from the top down. That takes guts. We borrowed from the best but gave ours a distinctly Canadian twist.

The Alpha Version

We’re sharing with you a raw, unfiltered, first draft of our digital principles hoping you’ll help make them better. While we should recognize that these won’t ever be set in stone but will evolve over time as the context changes, we are keen to get your input so that we can quickly move to a version we can test in practice.

  1. Understand users and their needs

    Start with user needs and build for them, and with them. Conduct ongoing testing with users. Do the hard work so that they don’t have to.

  2. Iterate and improve frequently

    Develop in an agile manner using alpha, beta and live phases. Test end-to-end and continuously improve in response to user feedback. Test early and often.

  3. Build the right team

    Create and empower multidisciplinary teams, linking policy with delivery.

  4. Build a service-oriented culture

    Lead and implement a team and departmental culture focused on users.

  5. Work in the open

    Share and collaborate in the open, plan to make data open from the start.

  6. Integrate proportionate security and privacy from the outset

    Consider business context. Manage risks.

  7. Build in an open and interoperable way

    Give equal consideration for open source. Use open standards. Build in an interoperable and reusable way.

  8. Use the right tools for the job

    Use common government solutions and platforms. Build cloud first.

  9. Design and deliver transparent and ethical services

    Be open and transparent in the use of automated systems and comply with ethical guidelines.

  10. Be inclusive and provide support for those who need it

    Build in inclusiveness, official languages, and accessibility by design.

  11. Know your data

    Manage data in line with standards. Implement analytical tools and use the data you collect.

  12. Be accountable to Canadians

    Define user-centred performance metrics. Publish real time data.

  13. Develop open and innovative partnerships

    Recognize that an organization can’t have all the best ideas. Create partnerships and collaborate.

  14. Spend money wisely

    Enter into sensible contracts and comply with procurement standards.

  15. Test services with the Deputy Minister and/or Minister

    Test all new public-facing services with the Deputy Minister and/or Minister responsible.

Tell us what you think

As I reflect on the immense changes that have occurred over the past few decades, from programming using punch cards in the ‘70s to today’s Internet of Things, I wonder what the next 30 years will have in store for us.

One thing I am sure of is that government should travel this journey with us. Supporting us as we age, and as digital transforms the way we live, work, and play. So in the spirit of collaboration and openness, we want to hear from you. It’s your country. It’s your government. Tell us how you expect your government to embrace the digital era by providing feedback on our principles either by filling in the comment box below, or by sending us an email at

Thank you,

Teresa D’Andrea

Senior Service Strategy Lead
Services and Open Government Division
Chief Information Officer Branch
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

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Submitted by Diane Spencer on December 08, 2017 - 9:46 PM

I'd like to see something here on digital preservation. Content fuels service. Content fuels innovation. Content is our history.

Submitted by Debbie Menard on December 06, 2017 - 5:59 PM

My hope is to keep the human aspect ever present in the process of catching up and evolving. When we digitize and make electronic process its sometimes hard to talk factor in communication with a real person. I hope that with all this new technology that we can improve on that and keep that as a very important Human factor. As a user I always find that if an issue arises its more effective to speak directly to a live person, I hope this is still factored in in a good delivery process/service.

Submitted by Daniel Levesque on December 01, 2017 - 6:29 PM

My comment is with regards to these principles in your draft list: 7. Build in an open and interoperable way Give equal consideration for open source. Use open standards. Build in an interoperable and reusable way. 8. Use the right tools for the job Use common government solutions and platforms. Build cloud first. I can't help but feel that we as a government can do a better job of this in terms of creating a government-wide registration portal for all Canadian citizens. As it stands today, each department is building their own individual portals and there is no over-arching one to bring it all together. A single citizen may need to register into 10 different portals because they happen to need access to 10 different branches of the federal government. I propose an open source solution to this called the xRM Community Edition Portal which we could implement on top of the common Shared Case Management System (SCMS) platform that many departments are already using. Anyways, I can be contacted at if anyone from TBS is willing to entertain this idea.

Submitted by Bonnie Clark on November 29, 2017 - 5:41 PM

I think there is a missing element of "planned sustainability" in the principles. Digital information and technology is fragile because software and hardware can have short life spans. The Government of Canada needs to make responsible decisions to ensure that systems and information remain usable for as long as necessary. This includes capital replacement planning, ensuring retention and disposition functionality are included in GC systems and used, and ensuring that information relevant to the Government of Canada and Canadians can be accessed over time. Digital preservation and retention will have to come to the forefront of discussions on digital. It is fine to open information and data, but who will maintain it over time? And should they? It is a small subset of what we create that truly requires someone maintain it forever. It is wonderful to think about digital service delivery, but we need to think both short and long term: will we need this system or information in 50 days? 50 months? 50 years? 500 years? The approach we take to planned sustainability is VERY different depending on our answer, as are the costs. We can maintain public trust by having a planned approach and ensure long-term considerations (migration costs, etc.) are considered up front.

Submitted by Tanya Janca on November 28, 2017 - 2:31 PM

I don't see an item for security. How about "Make Security Usable: The most secure way to do something should also be the easiest way to do something."?

Submitted by open-ouvert on November 28, 2017 - 6:40 PM

Hello, This comment system leads to the team responsible for transparency and accountability work in the public service. We host datasets and records about many things, including historic statistics on immigration and visa applications, but we do not deal with these services directly. You can go to the following website to learn more about immigration: Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada: Refugees and Asylum: You can email your local IRCC office for direct help: Best Regards, Momin The Open Government team

Submitted by Manmeet Singh on November 26, 2017 - 1:56 AM

“Test services with the Deputy Minister and/or Minister” should be changed to: “Require Deputy Minister and/or Minister to observe people trying to use their top services.” Reasoning: The goal of this principle is effectively to break the empathy barrier between organizations and the people using their services. By focusing on observing live/recorded usability tests involving people, we will be more inclined to empathize with them. Also, DMs may have context that may make it easier for them to understand complex language that members of the public may not. By focusing on top services, we encourage departments to prioritize and fix what matters most to people first. Without top task prioritization, resources will likely be spent observing and fixing things that matter to the department, instead of the people it serves.

Submitted by Teresa D'Andrea on November 24, 2017 - 8:58 PM

Just so that we're on the same page, I will be working with a very dedicated team to review EVERY single comment made here, on social media, and sent to us via email. We will consider and discuss every idea that you've shared with us. Know that your input will help shape these principles, which in turn will help shape how your government serves you. So thank you. We couldn't do this without you.

Submitted by Alexandre Gran… on November 21, 2017 - 3:37 PM

Bonjour, Félicitations pour ce beau travail de réflexion. La seule chose que je soulignerais, au sujet du numéro 15, est que "Signer des contrats de façon sensée"/"Enter into sensible contracts" est une formule complètement inusitée sur la plan linguistique et pratiquement vide de sens dans son contenu. Peut-être que les notions de "responsabilité" ou d' "optimisation" seraient plus descriptives de l'idée visée? Tout les contrats "font du sens" pour au moins un des partis.

Submitted by Mathieu Gauthi… on November 21, 2017 - 2:17 PM

À l'instar du GDS britannique, il faut oser donner la priorité au logiciel libre, ce que FACiL recommande à tous les niveaux de gouvernement depuis des années aux côtés de l'April (France) et d'autres organismes de défense et de promotion du logiciel libre et des communs numériques à travers le monde. La manière dont le Royaume-Uni a donné la priorité au logiciel libre est digne de mention. Elle a consisté à ériger en principe l'ouverture par défaut du code source des logiciels (pas seulement l'ouverture par défaut des données d'intérêt public), pour tous les nouveaux projets impliquant l'écriture de code : 8. Make all new source code open / Make all new source code open and reusable, and publish it under appropriate licences (or provide a convincing explanation as to why this can't be done for specific subsets of the source code). Cette approche peut et doit être adoptée minimalement par le gouv. fédéral du Canada. Pour le reste de l'argumentaire de FACiL sur cette question et d'autres, voir nos plus récents mémoires :

Submitted by Anonymous on November 20, 2017 - 11:13 PM

For #3, "Build the right team", I'd add, "Create and empower DIVERSE, multidisciplinary teams, linking policy with delivery." As Minister Bryson said in his Sept. 22 blog post, Spotlight on Open Government at the United Nations, "...openness in government is about more than just data and information. It’s about inclusiveness. This means being open to different cultures and people, and to a diversity of views and new ways of thinking." This must include who gets hired on the Open Government team.

Submitted by Anonymous on November 20, 2017 - 7:10 PM

#7 Using open standards cannot be emphasized enough: - Applications and versions matter less - Libreoffice, Office 2016, Office 2013, GoogleDocs all work from the same document format. - Web applications are not tied to particular client operating system versions, which makes client OS uprades less troublesome and less costly. - Procurements are more open, rather than restricted to one vendor. ETI is restricted to one vendor's proprietary client.

Submitted by David Best on November 20, 2017 - 6:41 PM

The specified Digital principles is a good start, but this list uses very generic language. I would like to see principles that clearly define the purpose for the principle. Far too often usable accessibility is sacrificed at the cost of principles that are too vague to interpret. 1. We need to shift government thinking from an "us and them" to a more inclusive model. Understanding users needs, building for the user, and conducting tests with the user, is a digital design model that will fail. Marginalized Canadians, such as those with vision loss, must be integrated into the design, development, and decision making process. Experts may understand accessibility issues, but do not necessarily experience them. 2. Iterative testing, early and often, throughout the processes is critical, but evaluating user feedback can be a challenge and often leads to bigger end-user accessibility issues. 3. Building the right team is important, but who defines what that means. If people with disabilities are not given an opportunity to be an active partner on the management team, then the design and development is not inclusive. Currently the CDS team does not represent blind Canadians. 4. I am not sure what a service-oriented culture means, but the focus should be on inclusive design and not digital delivery. 5. Open collaboration is important, but that does not necessarily mean inclusive collaboration. Assistive technology users that struggle to interact with the internet, tend to be excluded from online social media discussions. This will lead to a bias understanding of accessibility needs. 6. For the most part, IT security and privacy concerns tend to trump the accessibility needs of disabled users, which then marginalizes them while they wait for a solution. 7. Yes, use open standards, but be sure the design and development tools and processes comply with those standards. 8. Use the right tools. Right for whom? 9. Automated systems must be accessible at both the design and delivery stages. 10. Accessibility by design? This is a phrase that has little meaning out of context. Many websites are built according to the WCAG standards, and yet are unusable by blind screen reader users. 11. Unfortunately accessibility experts collect bias user experience data, that tends to reflect their perception of the disability. 12. Be accountable to all Canadians, particularly those are most effected by digital communication services. We need a better partnership between government IT decision makers and those that live with vision loss. 13. Create partnerships with grass root organizations that represent the various disability sectors, and not just with service organizations and health experts. 14. One of the biggest employment barriers for blind Canadians is the broken government procurement processes and restrictive ICT contracts that eliminate competition and innovation. 15. Inclusive accessibility, not just accessibility standards, must be understood by those responsible for digital government design, development, and delivery.

Submitted by Teresa D'Andrea on November 24, 2017 - 8:49 PM

You're right - we are very "us and them". Let's change that. Thank you David for following up with us and providing this feedback. Much appreciated.

Submitted by Teresa D'Andrea on November 20, 2017 - 4:32 PM

Thank you all for taking the time to contribute. Very well thought-out comments.

Submitted by Anonymous on November 20, 2017 - 3:59 PM

I want to submit some information around principle 10e inclusive and provide support for those who need it Build in inclusiveness, official languages, and accessibility by design. I believe strongly that the above statement is a good starting direction. I think it is critical that we not forget the lessons learnt and work done in the past. Specifically by areas like AAACT Also, that we identify that the minimum of what must be met isn't "inclusive" but simply sets the lowest common denominator that should be present in government activities. Meeting the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.x at a double A level of conformance is simply being compliant to court order: see: We should adopt the EU Accessible Procurement Standard and related toolkit as our new minimum. This puts us in alignment with Australia and other federal governments who have recognised this as the modern minimum. We should report on our compliance in an open way that shares information and best practices at a global level with the EU standard as the foundation. We should exceed these requirements and strive for continuous improvement above that minimum. Internally inside the government of canada, there is a lot of additional work to be done to create an inclusive environment for people with disabilities. For example, see: ACCESSIBLE CANADA CONSULTATION: SUBMISSION FROM THE ASSOCIATION OF FEDERAL PUBLIC SERVANTS WITH VISION IMPAIRMENTS… Despite having a center of expertise and knowledge area with training courses, modern processes and mentoring for areas, these are rarely taken of advantage of before a complaint. They should be mandatory - See AAACT offerings: Inclusive Design of Information and Communication Technology requires a holistic approach that includes accessibility standards, inclusive practices, usability or user acceptance testing that includes people with disabilities and exception management. Overall, ICT Digital Inclusion falls into 3 areas: Procurement/development, Implementation and Support. There are 3 major areas of focus: • Enterprise systems (e.g. GCDocs, PSPM, etc.), • Workplace devices (e.g. PC, mobile, MFDs) • Adaptive Technologies ____________________________________________________________________ Enterprise systems (e.g. GCDocs, PSPM, etc.), Examples of Issues to consider relating to Enterprise systems: • Procurement/Development o Software is designed, developed and procured without following accessibility standards and without verifying compliance.  “Lack of “virtual wheelchair ramps” • Implementation o Enterprise systems and Software is implemented or customised and implemented without following accessibility standards, verifying compliance. o No compatibility testing with common Adaptive Technology tools o Usability testing, pilots or user acceptance testing doesn’t include people with disabilities  “we will solve that later” o Training and reference material isn’t accessible and doesn’t include keyboard shortcuts for adaptive technology users • Support o No way to quickly or easily fix issues related to accessibility or compatibility with user adaptive tools when the problem relates to the original system and its lack of standard compliance  No support for temporary alternatives ____________________________________________________________________ Workplace devices (e.g. PC, mobile, MFD) Examples of Issues to consider relating to Workplace devices: • Procurement/Solution Development o Workplace devices are procured without following accessibility standards, verifying compliance and do not include an additional layer of functional criteria related to the needs of people with disabilities  E.g. no easy inexpensive way to get a laptop with a better video card through mainstream process • Implementation o Department’s implementation of a workplace device often ads additional restrictions, limitations and does not include adaptability, flexibility, planned exceptions or alternatives o No Compatibility testing with common Adaptive Technology tools o Training and reference material isn’t accessible and doesn’t include keyboard shortcuts for adaptive technology users o Usability testing, pilots or user acceptance testing doesn’t include people with disabilities  “we will solve that later” • Support o Years of time and additional effort required to accommodate employees with disabilities  E.g. in one department the average time to get someone with voice recognition a computer that meets the hardware requirements for voice recognition with the right version of the software installed is approximately one year (common delays due to discussions and approvals related to procurement/exception/internal imaging/GPOS/testing/etc.) o No way to quickly or easily fix issues in the implementation of the mainstream device related to accessibility or compatibility with user adaptive tools o No support for temporary or permanent alternatives ____________________________________________________________________ Adaptive Technologies Examples of Issues to consider relating to Adaptive Technologies: • Procurement/Development o There are very few issues related to procurement of adaptive technology that relate to the actual procurement process  Departments can easily understand “I get person A item B” such as a braille display • Implementation o IT areas have very little knowledge in how to support or configure the base OS/office suite/etc. to work for each user with disability’s adaptive technology o IT areas do not provide the average user with service/support for mainstream technology let alone adaptive technology and no support in the implementation of the tools within the technical environment o The person with a disability is expected to be the expert in IT support of their tools o Because very little attention is given to the accessibility of enterprise systems and workplace devices the end user’s technology is blamed.  E.g. like blaming the person’s wheelchair for not being able to get into the building when we have failed to provide the wheelchair ramps • Support o Very little knowledge in how to configure the base OS/office suite/etc. to work for each user with disability’s adaptive technology o IT areas do not provide the average user with service/support for mainstream technology let alone adaptive technology and no support in the implementation of the tools within the technical environment o The person with a disability is expected to be the expert in IT support of their tools o Mainstream technology training is mostly inaccessible and No budgeted training for adaptive technology users on mainstream technology

Submitted by Teresa D'Andrea on November 24, 2017 - 8:44 PM

Noted. Thank you Jeffrey for the very detailed summary. I agree, we could do better. Much better. Your input has really helped put this into perspective.

Submitted by Anonymous on November 22, 2017 - 2:09 AM

This is great Jeff. The focus on procurement is so important. I've been trying to document procurement best practices for accessibility and you've outlined somethings I don't think have ome up in this collection of best practices Discover-ability is so important for anyone using a digital interface. Building technology that is serving a purpose, technically accessible, but providing a good UX experience for the person (whether or not they have a disability). I'd love to see more focus on encouraging ATAG 2.0 adoption in government procurement.

Submitted by Yves Pelletier on November 17, 2017 - 7:39 PM

Hello, I am a federal government applied scientist and manager in an IT-intensive line of work. I have done my share of multidisciplinary management, including IT and services to the public. As a draft, those are almost all good principles, and I would like to see a strong commitment from IT shops in all Departments to apply them to internal services as well as external services. I don't think we can credibly commit to good external services if we can't deliver good internal services. Phoenix is the example that sticks out like a sore thumb, but there are many others I could rattle down. This hasn't been a good decade. I do have an issue with #15 in its current wording. I understand we are accountable to the DM and Minister, but it is my direct experience that requiring approbations from, say, 6 DG in at least two different departments, already makes us plenty accountable if we can even make any progress at all. Also, "public facing" can have more than one meaning. Does it always mean John and Jane Doe, or could it also mean specialized socio-economic stakeholders? International partners? Other levels of government? Emergency responders? A mixture? The presentation, mode of access and type of data can be quite different in to address numerous different audiences, and I seriously doubt that the Minister is going to be our tester for all of it, unless we are advocating micromanagement on an epic level. On another subject, in item #5 I would suggest to add source code as something that should be open. Item 13 raises the matter of who may initiate projects, and the matter of agility in innovation. The current climate in government IT guarantees paralysis. The projects that my predecessors were able to jumpstart in 2004 would be impossible to even begin today. I know first hand, and my ADM himself told me so. Another principle that I would like to make sure is covered, is that special cases are often your most important cases that define your business. I have seen too many examples where there is an ignorant approach to special cases in the name of "simplifying" IT. A somewhat made up example: weather warnings require special infrastructure that is different from, say, a clerical pool. It makes no sense to build your infrastructure around the clerical pool requirements and then to try to "standardize" the weather warning system on that infrastructure. I could give you a real-life example of a government-wide mission-critical system for international emergency response that has been rendered dysfunctional by the changes in the e-mail system, with no solution in sight. This, after we were "consulted" and duly ignored. All this to say, I broadly support your list, but there is a heck of a culture change to bring about. Thank you for reading this through, I know it was a little of a rant.

Submitted by Public Servant… on November 17, 2017 - 5:54 PM

Please note to all commenters that this "open government" comment box is only posted subject to administrator approval. This goes fundamentally against the idea of "open by default". How will there be meaningful conversations/feedback when these smoke screens obfuscate transparency? What are the criteria for approval?

Submitted by Public Servant… on November 17, 2017 - 5:51 PM

Agreed, they are all great ideas. At this point it feels like an echo chamber, ideas get recycled and the same issues come up over and over again. How will this initiative be different?

Submitted by Gabriel Cossette on November 17, 2017 - 3:09 PM

Great set of Principles and suggestions as well :) I propose to add "and source code" to #5 to be more specific: Work in the open Share and collaborate in the open, plan to make data and source code open from the start. It would align with UK and AU #8 Principle as well.

Submitted by Mike milan on November 12, 2017 - 3:53 AM

Nothing original here. All of them or copied from U.K., Australia and elsewhere. They are a mishmash of everything and don't provide a proper rationale. Whatever happened to the UX principles TBS had few years ago? Don't just copy from others but get your own. Be a leader and not a follower. Be original. Tweeting them is not enough without a plan on how you will implement them with all the Departments. How will you ensure compliance? Do the departments care? I bet this is one more get-on-the-bandwagon exercise which will fall by the way side. Everyone who started this will get their promotions and be gone in a couple of years, while this will gather dust and be confined in the dust bins if TBS. same old story.. what's new??

Submitted by Rob Wloch on November 09, 2017 - 9:46 PM

I would expect and hope that the majority of these common sense principles are already well-known in most government organizations involved in software development; we're just not seeing the results yet due to resistance to change, barriers to change, and perhaps poor execution. Some other comments related to specific points are: #1: Usability testing needs to be done upfront at the early prototyping stage in order to shape the design and also throughout the rest of the project #2: I believe that the Agile methodology isn't necessarily the best option for all projects. Also, rushing into bursts of functionality development without a well thought out architecture will result in unmaintainable spaghetti code #3: In order to attract and retain talent, need to be open to using new technologies and tools as young people probably don't want to work on outdated systems using obsolete tools #5: Need to be careful not to be too open since the public needs to trust the government with their personal data #8: Agree about using the right tools for the job so doesn't necessarily mean cloud first across the board #12: Not sure if performance data needs to be published and in real-time no less but users definitely should have the expectation to be able to accomplish their tasks on reliable, secure systems in a reasonable amount of time with relative ease #15: I don't think the Deputy Minister and/or Ministers need to be involved in the testing of all new public-facing services. However, I think they should be at least familiar with the high profile ones in order to showcase them in the media for example

Submitted by Marie-Claude Côté on November 08, 2017 - 10:38 PM

Hi Teresa, Thanks for sharing this raw list and for the opportunity to feed into early thinking. Here are some suggestions and comments from the collective brain of LAC's Government Records Initiatives Division, for your consideration. Sorry for the long post. I use quotation marks to highlight suggested edits below. -> Since this is an alpha version, as you state in the intro, we are unsure if all principles would stick until the end of this development iteration, if your intent is to really have 15 principles, have people vote on their top 5... At the moment the list is very long. If it stays that long, what about organising the principles into buckets? It may help make sense of them all. For example: Bucket A. Build a service-oriented culture Lead and implement a team and departmental culture focused on users. 3. Build "and develop" the right team. Create and empower multidisciplinary teams, linking policy with delivery. 1. Understand all users and their needs. Start with user needs and build for them, and with them. Conduct ongoing testing with users. Do the hard work so that they don’t have to. 2. Iterate and improve frequently. Develop in an agile manner using alpha, beta and live phases. Test end-to-end and continuously improve in response to user feedback. Test early and often. "Eliminate duplication of effort. Be responsive to technological developments and evolving requirements". 10. Be inclusive and provide support for those who need it. Build in inclusiveness, official languages, and accessibility by design. Bucket B. Work in the open Share and collaborate in the open, plan to make data open from the start. 7. Build in an open and interoperable way. Give equal consideration for open source. Use open standards. Build in an interoperable and reusable way. 8. Use the right tools for the job. Use common government solutions and platforms. Build cloud first. 13. Develop open and innovative partnerships. Recognize that an organization can’t have all the best ideas. Create partnerships and collaborate. Bucket C. "Uphold public trust" "Build and maintain trust in government services and information." 6. Integrate proportionate security and privacy from the outset. Consider business context. Manage risks. NEW. Provide effective management of government information and data. Ensure that relevant government information can be accessed and accepted as authentic over time (trustworthy record of what it claims to be; complete and unaltered in all essential respects; free from tampering or corruption). Manage data in line with standards. Implement analytical tools and use the data you collect. 14. Spend money wisely "and sustainably". Enter into sensible contracts and comply with procurement standards. "Ensure appropriate business planning and project management for sustainable solutions." 15. Test services with the Deputy Minister and/or Minister. Test all new public-facing services with the Deputy Minister and/or Minister responsible. NEW "Maintain contingency plans. Plan for cyber attacks, power outages, natural disasters, etc. Provide redundancy in design for business continuity. Have non-digital back-up solutions when necessary." 9. Design and deliver transparent and ethical services. Be open and transparent in the use of automated systems and comply with ethical guidelines. -> Comments on specific proposed principles include: 3.Build the right team The principle should be “Create and empower interdisciplinary teams”. Then the supporting text would be “Enabling digital government requires building teams with the right set of skills and expertise.” We cannot believe that GC'ers want to build the wrong teams... 4.Build a service-oriented culture Maybe this is a semantic discussion here, but can we really build a culture. The verb “foster” sounds more appropriate when it comes to culture. 6.Integrate proportionate security and privacy from the outset The principle should state what or whose security and privacy is referenced here. Otherwise, the principle remains too vague to really guide. Are we talking about sec & priv measures? considerations? practices? requirements? 9.Design and deliver transparent and ethical services There seems to be 2 different thoughts in the explanatory text: transparency is only a matter of automated systems usage, while being ethical is targeted at the reader. The statement can be confusing. Also, being ethical is already a behavior expected by all civil servants, so does it need to be stated as a digital principle? 11.Know your data We would like to see this one listed higher in the list! And it should not be limited to data. It should be inclusive of all information assets. 15.Test services with the Deputy Minister and/or Minister While this is a fantastic idea to get senior execs and Ministers familiar with the digital services their organizations provide, the principle might sound redundant with Principle #1. 6.Integrate proportionate security and privacy from the outset 9.Design and deliver transparent and ethical services 10.Be inclusive and provide support for those who need it 12.Be accountable to Canadians 14.Spend money wisely These are requirements already mandated by policy instruments or legislation. While there is no harm in reinforcing them as digital principles, it begs the question to clarify the role of the principles vs. existing obligations. Could it be clarified in the introduction? -> If we were to vote for our top 5, principles #11, #1 (and #15), #2, #5, #6, #7, #10, and #13 seem to be key to a digital government. Yes, it difficult to only come up with 5! Thanks, and looking forward to see the beta version! Marie-Claude Côté Manager, Recordkeeping Strategies Government Records Branch, LAC

Submitted by Teresa D’Andrea on November 11, 2017 - 2:09 PM

Merci M-C. We miss your awesome organizational skills and super big brain. Thanks for the input.

Submitted by Claude Doucet on November 08, 2017 - 2:12 PM

Interesting attempt at distilling an approach down to a few basic principles. As others have said, some of these can be combined and simplified. The one that stands out and seems completely at odds with the other principles is number 15. While a DM and Minister should be kept apprised of developments on public facing services, and even shown demos, they are unlikely to be representative of the users. Those of us who work on developing web content in any organization often face this challenge, where senior leaders would like the web content to be presented in a certain way, with certain language that is often not user focused.

Submitted by Don Cooper on November 07, 2017 - 4:30 PM

All good points. And many good comments below. Change is wanted. More than that, it is needed if we are going to get things done and stop wasting money. Even in government, failure can only go on for so long. What is missing.....I know I know.....good leadership! Can you find the leadership to implement it? Without good leaders, you are not succeeding. Need an example: consider a department where IT people were moved outside the core of the city, away from their clients. That was a leadership decision. Good leadership: it makes or breaks everything.

Submitted by Dr Abdelkader … on November 06, 2017 - 8:53 PM

Some additional ideas to put inside your principles or they can be transformed to replace the above principles Senior leaders should ask questions such as: Where do we hope to be in five years? and How are we going to achieve this goal? By what method? 1. Creating a constancy towards the improvement of products and services. 2. Adoption of the new philosophy if it exists. 3. Cessation of dependency on inspection to change. 4. Minimizing the total cost of products and services. 5. Constant improvement of the system. 6. Institution of training on the job. 7. Institution of a Leadership. 8. Suppressing fear. 9. Elimination of barriers between departments. 10. Elimination of slogans, exhortations for the workforce. 11. Elimination of work quotas and management by objectives. 12. Removal of obstacles. 13. Establishment of vigorous programs of education and self-improvement. 14. Getting everyone in the organization to work to complete the transformation.

Submitted by Marie-Claude Côté on November 08, 2017 - 10:48 PM

Elimination of barriers between departments is such a good suggestion. It's missing from the list. Or maybe it could be added to principle #7, as these barriers directly impede interoperability.

Submitted by Lorna Bonvie on November 03, 2017 - 11:14 PM

This is a great list. My favourite parts are building "empowered teams", "service oriented-culture" and "be inclusive" because every public servant has a valuable role to play in the changes we have to make to better serve citizens. We need to have the right environment internally to achieve the vision. I do agree with a couple of the comments already made. 1) that while the DM should see the product before it is launched, it should not be considered a user-test 2) that there might be too many principles to keep them all top of mind, when making decisions. Perhaps using the right tools and common platforms could be combined with spending money wisely. Knowing your data and being accountable might also fit together nicely. Thank you for the opportunity to see and comment on your alpha version!

Submitted by LadyBug76 on November 03, 2017 - 6:28 PM

I agree that the government needs to go digital and by TBS looking towards an implementation of these guiding principles should in theory set the tone but unfortunately having worked for the federal government for the last 17 years I beg to differ that some departments are ready to take this path. Principles 1,2 easy enough to implement. As for principle 3 : When sectors, branches, regions within a department are at constantly competing with one another for all sorts of reason rather than just collaborating together in order to achieve a common goal that should be done using these basic principles : 4. build a service-oriented culture, 5. Work in the open, 6 Consider business context and manage risk accordingly, 7. Give equal consideration for open source, 8. Use common solutions, 12. Be accountable to Canadian. USE REAL TIME data… We are so not there yet. The reality is we are risk averse, we work in silos, we impose department standards based on the justification that it’s to effectively achieve project objectives although when you seek deep enough it seems to only justify putting contracts in place that are managed by IT staff… I also agree with the comment on Principle 12, this should not be there as this will Don’t get me wrong I am not bitter, I love what I do, I’ve been working in this structure for many years and the reality of it all is that as an IT project manager who’s trying to focus on innovate and creative solutions that respond to the user requirements and that have a client centric approach it is my observation that we spend 80% of time dealing with the political side of things and manage parochial wars and 20% on the development of the actual solution. But being the optimist that I am, I will keep on hoping that government will embark on this great journey and that departments will make it their priority to take this route and enable its employees to be part of this evolution towards Digital development and how we serve Canadians.

Submitted by Anonymous on November 03, 2017 - 6:08 PM

Information and Data are Understood and Trusted - Information and Data are meaningfully defined by the appropriate authorities and obtained from reliable, authoritative and understood data flows and sources.

Submitted by Nika Moeini on November 02, 2017 - 8:18 PM

I think what's missing here is engagement. How will you use technology to better engage with Canadians and get their input? You need to engage with youth, and meet people where they currently spend their time. In 2017, that's Facebook groups. I'd like to see better comprehensive strategies for using technology for engagement by the government. The business world hires Generation Z experts and professional marketers to maximize engagement. It's time the government did the same.

Submitted by Anonymous on November 02, 2017 - 6:00 PM

"A good place to start is by defining a set of guiding principles which can provide a common understanding of what good digital development looks like." Can you just refer to existing UX principles? It covers the breadth of what we should be doing. Distilling an entire discipline into a top 15 seems... half-baked. Hire people who have UX and agile backgrounds. Or train people. There's a reason there are entire degrees and certificate programs just for HCI (a *subset* of UX design). This feels very 'SSC' to me: heart's in the right place but not well thought out. And remove number 15. Your Minister is a stakeholder in a very removed sense. They're rarely a primary user and they shouldn't need to test your service. Your users should be testing the service which is in number 1 already.

Submitted by A.Chaaban on November 02, 2017 - 3:27 PM

A possible recommendation for your consideration to build on the already comprehensive and well thought list, is to perhaps to empower a citizen centric forum with industry participation to be a sounding board as this digital strategy evolves.

Submitted by Teresa D'Andrea on November 01, 2017 - 2:01 PM

Wow, what excellent feedback. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to respond to our call. Know that your input will really help improve our principles, which in turn will help drive the digital thinking this government needs.

Submitted by Tracy Alldridge on October 30, 2017 - 5:14 PM

I really like #13 and would appreciate knowing what groups are out there, both in the GC and in private industry. Would also appreciate knowing when the Protected "B" GC cloud will be available as we are currently ramping up on a number of projects and initiatives that could really use it!

Submitted by Juli-Ann Rowsell on October 30, 2017 - 4:56 PM

I think this is a very worth while initiative. I am very happy to see that providing an inclusive experience is a core part of what you are trying to achieve.

Submitted by Shawn Price on October 29, 2017 - 3:24 AM

2. "Iterate and improve frequently" "Develop in an agile manner using alpha, beta and live phases." As a trained agile practitioner, I find this language incredibly exciting. That said, I feel there is some room for improvement. The most important thing in Item 2 is "Developing in an agile manner". This could be the heading. Or put slightly differently, "Develop in an agile manner". But the word "develop" could be better abstracted as "build". I wonder about "Build in an agile manner" or "Build using agile practices" or "Build products/services using agile practices". Part of this items definition can certainly be "Iterate and improve frequently". Further, regarding "Develop in an agile manner using alpha, beta and live phases." it's important to note that using alpha, beta, and live phases can certainly be agile, but being agile does not necessarily mean using alpha and beta phases. The important thing is consistently delivering working software or services using iterative processes. It would truly be great if it would be possible to have two-way feedback on these issues rather than one-way feedback. I'd love to hear what your team thinks of these suggestions and maybe follow up. Thank you for your time and for considering these changes. Sincerely, Shawn Price 604-839-2709

Submitted by Vincent Robitaille on October 29, 2017 - 1:00 AM

Great start. In particular, 1-2-3 set a great frame. I would suggest limiting the list to 10 principles or less - some could be combined. For example, building and working in the open could be combined. Build the right team should include not hesitating to bring in outside help (partners, contractors, code for canada, CDS). Not sure testing with DM/Minister belongs on the list. Spend money wisely should focus on researching the market and using the most appropriate approach for the job (ie staff, contractor, cloud, managed service, COTS) and tight oversight of contracts after they are signed. I hope this helps, Vincent Robitaille DG - Procurement Modernization Integration Team