In June, the Clerk of the Privy Council, Wayne Wouters, launched Blueprint 2020 with the aim of continuing to build a more open and networked federal public service that improves the lives of Canadians while enhancing systems and practices and better using information and ideas.
The “Smart Use of Technology” theme focuses on establishing a modern workplace that proposes affordable, e-enabled and seamless services providing for “tell us once” information gathering while at the same time strengthening self-service and customized services. There is a need for standardized technological infrastructure with supporting applications and systems to reduce the costs of basic IT services, making it easier to cultivate evidence-based analysis and innovative solutions and provide open access to information that Canadians can use to develop innovative products and services.
I realize that the Blueprint 2020 vision is for the future; however, it is great to see that plans are moving forward toward achieving components of this vision already.
Currently across 43 partner departments within the government of Canada there are 100 different email system configurations, 700 email directories, and 1,700 email servers with a wide range of software systems and versions. With that many different email systems it can be challenging for 300,000 public servants to communicate across departments. Canadians also find it difficult to track down the employees they need to connect with. The Email Transformation Initiative (ETI) will consolidate and modernize Shared Services Canada-mandated email services to reduce costs, increase security, and enhance program delivery to citizens and businesses. The ETI will result in a standard email system and a more operative government employee directory.
Shared Services Canada is working with its federal department and agency partners as well as key stakeholders to establish a modern email platform that will meet the government’s evolving requirements. This cost-effective solution will result in workplace efficiencies and productivity, reduce duplication and make it easier for Canadians to communicate with their government.
It is hard to believe that 90 percent of the world’s data was created in the last two years. There have been many advancements in open government with Canada’s Action Plan on Open Data, the new open data portal, the open government license and the recent endorsement of the Open Data Charter at the G8 Summit, which aims to increase government data availability and ensures that all data released is easy to use, comparable, and interoperable with other datasets; 180 thousand datasets from 25 federal departments and agencies are now available via data.gc.ca.
Statistics for over 100 departments and agencies indicate that there are 100 static websites, 700 social media accounts, 4 million webpages (excluding weather and data.gc.ca) with 30 million visitors and 3 billion page views per year. In Budget 2013, the government indicated that it is “examining opportunities to streamline its web presence by making it easier for Canadians to find and access government information on the web through a single entry point.” The Web Renewal Initiative (WRI) will involve a solutions suite to deliver the government’s consolidated public website. The suite will allow for enhanced communication, consultation and service delivery.
The goal of the WRI is to standardize, consolidate, and modernize web management solutions. A solution suite for the government’s external website will enable departments to provide consistent, reliable and quality delivery and will support reporting functionality of the collective web experience to improve information and service delivery.
It would be convenient for citizens if they could visit one government website for all of their needs. Perhaps by 2020 we will see the integration of various levels of government services so each person could be granted access to a secure, customized “My Government” portal offering valuable information on eligible programs and services from cradle to grave. Another potential feature could include allowing users to log into their personalized portal from their digital platform of choice and have their information accessible to them 24/7. This may be idealistic and years away, but it is what many citizens anticipate from their government as well as what future generations will expect.
The “Smart Use of Technology” is just one of the four pillars in the Blueprint 2020 vision. Now is the time to join the discussions and share your ideas to shape the public service of the future. This is your opportunity to be heard and to make a difference.