Provide and preserve open information - Commitment 4

Lead implementing department(s)
Treasury Board Secretariat
Library and Archives Canada
Public Services and Procurement Canada
Pillars
Foundational
Reporting period

Mid-term (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017)

Other actors involved: Contributing Government of Canada departments

Commitment description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?

As information becomes increasingly digitized, it brings with it a number of challenges including ensuring its findability and preservation. As a result, efforts to improve how information can be found, used, shared, and preserved are underway. Canada has made significant progress on improving public access to government data under its last two Action Plans. By improving access to other forms of government information and ensuring preservation of this information, the Government of Canada can promote and maintain informed participation and sound decision-making.

What is the commitment?

The Government of Canada will establish government-wide initiatives, platforms, and tools to ensure that open information is discoverable and accessible for use by future generations.

How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?

The Government of Canada is working to provide enhanced, centralized, one-stop access to digital content from departments and agencies across government. Guidance is being developed to ensure the ongoing preservation of this information through the application of consistent standards and practices for long-term preservation.

Relevance to OGP values

This commitment relates to the OGP value of transparency.  

Status update

Deliverables in Action Plan

  1. Enhance the Open Information Portal on open.canada.ca to improve access to digital publications made available by the federal government and develop a strategy to ensure the sustainability of access over time.
  2. Develop and publish clear guidelines on the preservation and retention of digital content.
  3. Increase Canadians’ access to records documenting the continuing memory of the Government of Canada.
  4. Update Library and Archives Canada’s online archive of the Government of Canada’s web presence to ensure Canadians’ long-term access to federal web content.
  5. Expand the implementation of the government-wide information technology solution for the effective management of federal records and documents (GCDOCS) as a foundation for improved transparency:
    • Roll out this common solution managed by Public Services and Procurement Canada to 125,000 government workers across government departments by June 2018.

Expected result

Canadians will have easy access to government information that is discoverable, accessible, and preserved for generations. They will also have greater access to Library and Archives Canada’s government records holdings.

Description of results

  1. In October 2016, the new Open Information Portal was launched as a way to provide an enhanced entry point to access to digital content from across government. As of June 30th 2017, this collection holds 166 Government of Canada information assets.

    In October 2016, the publishing platform, registry.open.canada.ca, was relaunched to consolidate the publication process for all open government resources. This includes, open data, open information, proactive disclosure reports, access to information summary reports, and open data inventories. Prior to this, there were 3 different publishing platforms. This integration enabled a simpler publication process as well as the development of a single search on open.canada.ca.

    As of June 30, 2017, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, in partnership with various departmental stakeholders, was in the process of developing an Open by Default Pilot Project to be hosted on open.canada.ca. It will demonstrate the ability of the Government of Canada to provide public access to non-sensitive, federal information in a timely and relevant manner. Various types of documents have been identified that will be accessible in draft format (i.e., working documents), to enable Canadians to observe and comment on programs and policy in development.

  2. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat has established an interdepartmental Open Government Resource Development Working Group as a collaborative forum with departments and agencies. One of its first deliverables is a co-created guidance document that will provide comprehensive and authoritative guidance on requirements for publishing open government resources. It will include formal guidance on issues such as retention and disposition rules for digital content added to open.canada.ca, as well as the requirements for accessibility and metadata.
  3. Through the Block Review process, Library and Archives Canada, has opened 8,161,794 pages of government records.

    Library and Archives Canada is developing policy instruments (including a Directive on Making Government of Canada Records Available and related criteria) for the removal of access restrictions from government records prior to their transfer to Library and Archives Canada.

    From July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, 150,000 Personnel Files of the First World War, Canadian Expeditionary Force were made available to the public. This is approximately 1.1 million digitized pages.

    From July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, 45 historical datasets were released.

  4. In this reporting period, Library and Archives Canada continued its ongoing harvest of Government of Canada websites and capturing the migration of sites to Canada.ca as part of the government’s Web Renewal Initiative.  Since July 1, 2016 Library and Archives Canada has harvested 3.34 terabytes from the Government of Canada web domain (.gc.ca & Canada.ca). In addition, in March 2017, Library and Archives Canada negotiated a contract for a larger data budget for harvesting which has enabled the harvesting of Government of Canada YouTube Channels, amounting to almost 1 terabyte of information.  Library and Archives Canada now has over 20 terabytes of archived GC web data spanning from 2005.
  5. As of June 2017, GCDOCS has been rolled out to 85,000 federal government workers.

Next steps to June 2018

  1. The Open Government team at Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will finalize guidance documents for publishing open government resources on open.canada.ca which will provide departments with better clarity on publishing requirements. With this, it is expected that more departments will contribute information assets to open.canada.ca. Also, as part of the Directive on Open Government, Government of Canada departments and agencies will be required to complete an open information inventory by October 2018. Therefore, by June 2018, the Open Government team at the Treasury Board Secretariat will need to develop and provide firm guidance on the scope of open information as well as the accessibility and official languages requirements for new content. Currently, this has been a huge barrier for publication, as departments lack resources to translate and convert material into accessible formats in order to publish on open.canada.ca. The Open Government team will be exploring potential tools to assist departments with resolving these issues in order to increase the publication rate of open information assets on open.canada.ca.
  2. Consultations will be held over the summer of 2017 on the guidance document referenced above, that will provide comprehensive and authoritative direction on requirements for departments when publishing open government resources. The document will be finalized and published on open.canada.ca later in 2017.
  3. Library and Archives Canada estimates that an additional 240,000 pages will be reviewed by June 2018. Final policy instruments approval will be sought during the fall of 2017. The Directive will be available on Library and Archives Canada’s external website and guidelines on removing restrictions will be published on GCpedia by the end of this fiscal year (i.e., March 2018). The remaining 160,000 Canadian Expeditionary Force files will be made available by June 30, 2018. This is approximately another 1.2 million pages that will be digitized. Another 45 datasets have been identified for release by June 30, 2018.
  4. Library and Archives Canada’s plan for the coming year is to: continue capturing and migrating Government of Canada sites in collaboration with the Web Renewal team, take updated captures of still-existing .gc.ca sites, and develop harvest and quality assurance methodologies for capturing the evolving Canada.ca domain. They are also looking at improving the indexation process to facilitate timely access.

    Indexation of acquired content since 2015 is yet to be done. Once the indexing of the content has been completed, harvested websites will be available to the public.

  5. By 2018, a three-year plan will be established to onboard all of the partner departments to GCDOCS, representing the majority of the public service population. By June 2018, the GCDOCS service aims to expand to at least 125,000 users.

Completion level

  1. Limited
  2. Substantial
  3. Substantial
  4. Substantial
  5. Substantial