Foundations for One Government

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January 18, 2019

The Government of Canada has made a lot of progress on serving Canadians online, but in some ways we’re just getting started down the road. With recent updates to the Directive on Information Technology Management, we’re adding new signposts and guardrails. Building on the GC Digital Standards, we’re giving government departments guidance on how to operate in the digital space and implement the GC Digital Standards consistently.

Why are these updates this important? Together, they set the strategic direction for digital investments and ensure the government acts as a single enterprise, as one government, to improve service delivery to Canadians.

What is Enterprise Architecture?

When we say, “one government”, we’re really talking about giving citizens the opportunity to sign up only once for government services, instead of multiple times for each different service. But how do we get there? First, we need a 360-degree view of our business, looking at all the services government provides and what technology is used to deliver them. Enterprise architecture gives us that holistic, 360-degree view. Enterprise architecture is like a comprehensive blueprint that shows how an organization is structured from multiple perspectives: business, information, application, technology, security and privacy. By seeing this big picture, we develop solutions that are better integrated and more efficient, and avoid duplication of effort and systems.

How do we enhance government services?

In a nutshell, we improve digital services by designing for users first. The new mandatory procedures we’ve implemented ensure we are doing this as one government, while reinforcing the principles of ethical data collection, data security, open standards and software, and cloud-first. To keep us all on the same page with this effort, the Government of Canada Enterprise Architecture Review Board (EARB) helps evaluate digital investments against these procedures by validating, recommending, and approving technology solutions, and setting overall direction for government IT.

What’s next?

Getting to One Government will take time but we’ve taken important first steps to map where we want to go, and to put tools in the hands of departments so they can get there. As we did with the Digital Standards, we’ll continue to work in the open by sharing plans and progress, successes and setbacks.

The digital government in your mirror is closer than it may appear!


Floyd Pushelberg is currently the Director of Enterprise Architecture at TBS CIOB, accountable for the Government of Canada Enterprise Architecture Review Board. Prior to TBS, Floyd held various Information Technology roles at IRCC and Industry Canada, and in IT product development with the private sector. Floyd’s goal is to lead dynamic teams in the management of innovative programs or the development of transformative IM/IT solutions that are driven by stakeholder value.

Blog comments

kenneth hok - February 25, 2019

I have never been so frustrated trying to get inf from the government in all my life, you cannot get a question answered and you have to jump through neumerous hoops to get access and then more hoops and then totally confused you give up. why can a person not just have 1 info number? this is the most difficult and confusing system you could have ever designed.

Gavin Berube - January 29, 2019

It is refreshing to see the emphasis on understanding “our business” and related “Services” first. The comment about the fact Enterprise Architecture gives the practitioners a holistic 360-degree view including the six dimensions making up GC Enterprise Architecture and related “Solutions” to documented problems or issues is correct theoretically, seldom achieved in reality yet, but that does not make it less valid.

What is disappointing is the inferred scope. Achieving “One Government” intuitively gives the sense of a much more compelling Vision than what is defined in this blog “Giving Citizens the opportunity to sign up only once for government services, instead of multiple times for each different service”. This is a laudable first step in my view, one where Canadians would not be burdened knowing which GC Enterprise constituent Departments or Agencies provides which Service. Achieving this Single/Simplified Sign On for any and all GC Services will be a significant achievement.

Nevertheless the “Whole of Government as One Enterprise” conjures up such a potential for a Vision so compelling its achievement would generate interest around the planet desiring to emulate the Canadian experience in Public Service. I am hoping the scope described is scope # 1 of a much longer of list of scope initiatives that would optimize the potential of this Vision over time. Let's hope the full potential of this will be considered sooner than later.

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