Our ongoing transition to digital government

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May 10, 2018

As the Government of Canada continues its forward march into digital space, my public service colleagues are tackling the inevitable challenges that accompany such a fundamental change in how we do business and serve the public. An important part of the process has been working in collaboration with citizens and stakeholders to build a digital and open government agenda (for example, via open government and digital service engagement). Thank you to those that have participated to date. Your input has been crucial to our progress.

Next up: developing a digital policy to support our ongoing transition to digital government. A new Digital Policy will be an integrated, single set of rules and guidelines for government departments and agencies that set out how the Government of Canada manages service delivery, information and data, and technology, as well as components of cybersecurity.   

Our Digital Standards will guide our efforts. These are about putting our clients first, managing effectively and securely Canadians’ and the government’s information and data, being open and transparent, and making smart use of technology.

While these are the internal rules that shape how the Government of Canada manages itself, we want your thoughts on how we can improve. 

So how do you think our rules and guidelines could evolve from “analogue” to digital?  

Some further questions to ponder:

  • What are the opportunities in respect to digital to improve how government operates and interacts with Canadians? What are the challenges? 
  • What areas or aspects of service delivery should be the Government of Canada’s focus in the digital era? What is required to support delivery of digital services?
  • How can a digital policy support the digital transformation of the Government of Canada? Of a department or a program?

I invite you to submit your ideas directly by email to Treasury Board Secretariat.  You can also request an account and join the discussion at the Digital-Numérique group on GCcollab.ca.

I look forward to getting your thoughts. We will report back on the feedback received and use this to inform future development of the Digital Policy.

Thank you in advance. 


Alex Benay

Chief Information Officer, Government of Canada

Alex Benay currently serves as the Chief Information Officer of the Government of Canada. Prior to this appointment, Alex was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation since July 2014.

From 2011 to 2014, he was Vice-President of Government Affairs and Business Development at OpenText. He has played a leadership role in Canada’s digital industry, as well as in promoting the global shift to digital in organizations such as the G20, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Olympics. Before joining OpenText, Alex managed various teams and programs at the Canadian International Development Agency, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and Library and Archives Canada.

Blog comments

Karim Virjee - June 20, 2018

I am wondering what the road map is for Digital Identity to become a reality -- Alex Baney did say that GC is doing it but not like the Financial Institutions has proposed - a federated digital identity.

So the information that I am looking for is:

1. A white paper discussion how the GC envisions Digital IDentity.

2. A Reference Architecture (if one exists)?

3. A road map for roll out.

(Personal information removed)

Dan Murphy - June 07, 2018

Agile enablement is required in the Digital Age to replace top down, command, control mirco-management, and the weight of excessive oversight. As the "administrative arm" of the Treasury Board, I believe TBS needs to move the GC toward an servant leadership / enablement style of management. To this end, "rules" and "directives" are illogical. The management style in the digital age is based on a set of principles of behavior. Because this is less prescriptive, it enables compliant downstream decision-making which frees constraints. I believe policy should be more "principles" based. We all should understand principles and values - they are broader in their scope. For example, when you say "be honest", to your kids, it covers a lot of territory, is simple to understand, non-prescriptive, provides guidelines for them to act, and is difficult to game.

Jim McCoig - May 22, 2018

We applied, over a year ago, for digital signing rights for everyday type documents and it is still hung up in HQ. Regardless, we are digitally signing these following procedures set by mutual consent with our Clients. The HQ folks that we dealt with were unaware that Entrust (our digital security system), has a build in digital signing process that can be used to secure documents sent out to the public.

Digital Policy Team Treasury Board Secr… - May 23, 2018

Good morning, Mr. McCoig.

Thank you for taking the team to provide your feedback. Certainly the issue of a digital signature vs. a wet signature is topical in the digital age for many departments. Others may be curious of the risk-management approach that is being employed. Please feel free to further share in the Digital-Numérique group at GCcollaba.ca or directly to Digital.Numerique@tbs-sct.gc.ca.

Thank you.

Jeff Hurst - May 18, 2018

Without a broad profile of all business activities in the GOC, too often new investments are directed at adequate business processes; upgrading then from one technology to another, because of their role, profile or political impact. Yet many GOC business activities remain fully manually where even small investments could yield high ROI along with collateral benefits such as reduced paper consumption, transport and storage, e.g. Inventory paper FAX use across GOC and you will find Millions of dollars in paper and phone expenses that can be eliminated, effectively self-funding their digital replacement.

The Digital Policy Team Treasury Board … - May 23, 2018

Hello Mr. Hurst.

Thank you for taking the time to share your views.

Certainly a major consideration of Departments in evolving into the digital age is evolution of the business processes that underpin programs and services.

Would you have any views as to how new or different rules could encourage this consideration as Departments review their programming?

Please feel free to continue this discussion in the Digital-Numérique group of GCcollab.ca or directly to Digital.Numerique@tbs-sct.gc.ca.

Thank you.

Marie P - May 14, 2018

Perhaps consider making data sharing agreements transparent to the public, except in cases of public safety and other areas of risk

Similarly, disclose from which data brokers and providers the GoC is obtaining data; for instance, Facebook or Acxiom, and for how much

The Digital Policy Team Treasury Board … - May 23, 2018

Good morning, Marie P.

We appreciate your input. Thank you for taking the time to share your views.

You raise an interesting point that is pertinent to recent media attention regarding the use of personal information and data and privacy considerations.

Would you have any examples of such an approach being put into practice which you could reference?

Please feel free to continue this discussion in the Digital-Numérique group of GCcollab.ca or directly to Digital.Numerique@tbs-sct.gc.ca.

Thank you.

Rose May - May 14, 2018

I am keen to learn how you are tackleing digital transformation in the aviation sector. As a biometric technology company, working with the optimisation of Airports all over the world, I am keen to learn more about the steps your Airports are making to create a better "digital view of the passenger". In fact, if you're still coming to London in a couple of months, we would be honored to show you the "Gatwick model".

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