DAOD 2008-3, Issue and Crisis Management

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
  3. Overview
  4. Reporting Issues and Significant Incidents
  5. Managing an Issue of Crisis
  6. Process and Responsibilities
  7. References

1. Identification

Date of Issue: 1998-01-30

Date of Modification: 2003-06-27

Application: This is a directive that applies to employees of the Department of National Defence (DND) and an order that applies to officers and non-commissioned members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF members).

Supersession: CFAO 4-13, Reporting of Significant Incidents

Approval Authority: This DAOD is issued under the authority of the Assistant Deputy Minister (Public Affairs) (ADM(PA)).

Enquiries: Director Strategic Communications and Executive Services (DSCES)

2. Definitions

crisis (crise)

A crisis is any event or series of events that undermines public confidence, causes damage to an organization, or threatens public safety, security or values.

issue (problème)

An issue is an actual or potential incident, event or series of events, either internal or external to an organization, that may undermine, cause damage to, or lead to public concern with regards to a policy, program, service, law, activity, person or organization. Every issue could potentially escalate into a crisis.

issue OPI (BPR du problème)

The Issue OPI is the appropriate environmental chief of staff, group principal, or area, base, wing, formation, unit or operational commander who has lead responsibility for managing a particular issue or crisis based on delegated responsibilities.

issue/crisis management (gestion des problèmes ou des crises)

Issue/crisis management is a process of identifying a potential issue or crisis and coordinating an organization's response.

issue-specific public affairs plan (plan d'affaires publiques axé sur un problème particulier)

An issue-specific public affairs plan is the approach and activities required to support the implementation of a specific program, initiative, operation or event, or to manage an issue or crisis.

media relations (relations avec les médias)

Media relations are all activities related to developing and maintaining effective communications with representatives of the media.

operational security (sécurité opérationnelle)

Operational security is the principle of safeguarding the integrity of a military operation or activity, or the safety of CAF members or members of allied forces.

public affairs material (matériel d'affaires publiques)

Public affairs material is the information products designed to support public affairs activities with internal or external audiences.

significant incident (incident d'importance)

A significant incident is any incident, even a news report, that could cause concern for DND, the CAF or the Minister of National Defence (MND).

3. Overview


3.1 Like all organizations, the DND and the CAF must be prepared to deal with issues.

3.2 When dealing with an issue, an organization must take action to effectively address any related problems to minimize the chances of the issue escalating into a crisis, while proactively keeping the public informed of its actions in a timely and accurate manner.

3.3 Effective management of an issue, both open and within the law, minimizes the likelihood of its escalation into a crisis. In contrast, issues that are poorly managed affect the credibility of an organization, undermining staff or public confidence and contributing to the emergence of crises.

3.4 For these reasons, it is necessary for organizations to respond to issues and crises quickly and decisively and, subject to security policy, in as open a fashion as possible.

3.5 Since many issues evolve rapidly, the key to managing them effectively involves a coordinated response that emphasizes:

  1. identifying and reporting on actual or potential issues;
  2. taking action to address and resolve issues quickly and effectively; and
  3. keeping the public informed of what the DND and the CAF are doing to address the issues and why.

Operating Principles

3.6 When faced with an issue or crisis, the DND and the CAF should ensure that the requirement to inform the public is not delayed by the search for solutions. Instead, the DND and the CAF should acknowledge the problem and inform the public as corrective actions are being considered or undertaken, then keep the public informed of developments as they occur.

Note - Operational security and protection of personal information under the Privacy Act shall be maintained at all times.

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4. Reporting Issues and Significant Incidents

Responsibility to Inform

4.1 DND employees and CAF members shall immediately communicate details regarding issues or significant incidents that could have national repercussions through their chain of command to the Issue OPI and the Canadian Forces Integrated Command Centre (CFICC) by the fastest means possible. Similarly, Issue OPIs and CFICC shall immediately advise ADM(PA), CDS and DM of the significant incident or national issue at hand.

4.2 DND employees and CAF members shall observe applicable security policy, including the requirement in some matters for the distribution of information on a need-to-know basis only, in the communication of information in respect of issues and significant incidents.

Significant Incident Reports

4.3 Commanding officers shall submit Significant Incident Reports (SIRs) through their chain of command to the Issue OPI, CFICC and ADM(PA), in addition to any other organization, e.g., operational headquarters, that may need such information.

4.4 A Canadian task force commander shall report any incidents of national interest directly to CFICC and provide a copy to the appropriate environmental chief of staff (ECS) or force generator who is OPI for the mission or operation.

4.5 SIRs shall be sent by message. If circumstances dictate, SIRs should first be reported by telephone to the Issue OPI, CFICC and ADM(PA) in that order, and then confirmed by priority message.

4.6 As SIRs are official records, appropriate tone and perspective shall be maintained.

4.7 Submission of an SIR does not preclude the requirement to file other reports and returns in accordance with current regulations and orders, e.g., aircraft accident reports, military police reports, and others.

4.8 If confirmation of details is unavailable, the report shall be sent with the best information available at the time, and updates shall be used to correct or add detail. Unconfirmed information shall be annotated as such.

SIR Message Format

4.9 Information in an SIR message should be provided in the following format:

Paragraph Significant Incident Report


Date, time and location of the significant incident.


Name, location and telephone number of the person or agency initially reporting the incident.


Who or what was involved, what happened and how it happened.


Name of the parent unit and specific information concerning the persons and equipment involved.


Any possible broader implications of the incident, including the effect on future operations.


Local public affairs actions, recommendations and proposed further action.


Details of actual and probable media interest and involvement, including number of media calls, interviews and information requests, and whether the media were national, local or international.

Personal Information and Release of SIRs

4.10 Personal information is defined in section 3 of the Privacy Act and includes, but is not limited to, information relating to the race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, marital status, medical, criminal or employment history, home address or blood type of an individual. Personal information does not include the name of a person, position title or rank, business address or business telephone number.

4.11 The following information shall not be included in SIRs:

  1. any personal information in respect of a person under the age of 18 years;
  2. a personal address; or
  3. any personal information concerning a suspect or an accused person if a criminal or service offence may have occurred.

4.12 DND employees and CAF members shall contact the Directorate of Access to Information and Privacy (DAIP) if there is any doubt as to the application of the Privacy Act with regards to any use of personal information in an SIR.

4.13 Upon request, SIRs may be released subject to any legal and policy requirements, such as the Privacy Act and the Policy on Government Security.

Note - Section 38 of the Young Offenders Act prohibits the publication of any information that would identify a person under the age of 18 who:

  1. has committed or is alleged to have committed an offence; or
  2. is a victim or a witness appearing before the court in respect to that offence.

Examples of Significant Incidents

4.14 The following are examples of significant incidents that shall be reported:

  1. accidental release of hazardous material that may threaten public safety;
  2. accidents involving damage to DND or CAF equipment or property, including aircraft, ships, munitions or weapons, if more than $50,000;
  3. actions by DND employees or CAF members that may undermine public values, or lead to the discredit of Canada at home or abroad;
  4. actions by DND employees or CAF members that constitute a significant breach of any act of Parliament;
  5. alteration or destruction of official records;
  6. fires involving death, injury, suspected arson, losses of more than $50,000, or damage to civilian property stemming from the spread of fire from DND or CAF property;
  7. hostile acts against CAF members employed in operations;
  8. hostile acts against the DND or the CAF, including actual or suspected incidents of information warfare;
  9. injury or death of DND employees or CAF members when the circumstances are such as to give rise to public comment;
  10. national or international incidents that may have an impact on the ability of the DND or the CAF to deliver policies, programs, services or operations; and
  11. acts or threats of terrorism, or discovery by or referral to the CAF of actual or suspected explosive devices, armaments or other ordnance.

Note - Many of these significant incidents involve reporting procedures external to the public affairs context. While these incidents shall be reported as potential issues or crises, they shall also be reported in accordance with other regulations, orders and directives, as required, and classified appropriately.

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5. Managing an Issue or Crisis

Public Affairs Coordination

5.1 ADM(PA) shall advise the DM, CDS and appropriate Level 1 Advisor on any issue or crisis deemed to be of a DND, CAF or national nature. With DM and CDS concurrence, ADM(PA) shall:

  1. coordinate, lead and direct public affairs activities;
  2. immediately activate a team at National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ), with public affairs and subject matter expert representation from the appropriate Level 1 Advisor, and legal advisors as required, to deal with immediate, short- and long-term public affairs aspects of the situation; and
  3. advise CFICC on the identified Issue OPI.

5.2 In short-notice, incident-related situations, ADM(PA) in consultation with the Issue OPI may declare any issue to be of a DND, CAF or national nature and initiate public affairs support until such time as the DM and CDS concurrence or other direction is received.

5.3 Be it an issue or a crisis, Level 1 Advisors shall support the public affairs requirements of the ADM(PA)-led team on an urgent priority basis.

Issue Office of Primary Interest (OPI) and Public Affairs Support

5.4 An issue shall be managed by the appropriate Level 1 Advisor or area, division, base, wing, formation, unit or operational commander.

OPIs shall:

  1. inform ADM(PA) or the applicable public affairs officer (PAO) at their level of command of all issues and significant incidents reported; and,
  2. engage ADM(PA) or the applicable PAO in issue management activities, as appropriate.

5.5 ADM(PA) shall support Level 1 Advisors, and provide assistance in the preparation of issue-specific public affairs plans, as required.

5.6 Command, base/wing and formation PAOs shall provide assistance to Issue OPIs at corresponding levels.

Crisis OPI and Public Affairs Support

5.7 A crisis shall be managed by the DM or CDS, or both, supported by the appropriate Level 1 Advisor.

5.8 ADM(PA) shall create a public affairs team at NDHQ to coordinate DND and CAF public affairs in support of the DM and CDS.

5.9 ADM(PA) shall advise the DM and CDS regarding public affairs materials and media relations activities for issues or crises of a DND, CAF or national scope or nature.

Media Interviews and Public Announcements

5.10 The designated subject matter experts shall conduct media interviews for an issue or crisis in accordance with the "Subject Matter Experts" block in DAOD 2008-2, Media Relations and Public Announcements.

5.11 Public announcements for an issue shall be performed in accordance with the "Public Announcement" block in DAOD 2008-2.

5.12 The release of information during media interviews and in public announcements is subject to legal and policy requirements, such as the Privacy Act and the Policy on Government Security. The direction in the Personal Information and Release of SIRs block in this DAOD is also applicable to media interviews and public announcements.

Note - The MND, DM or CDS, as appropriate shall approve in advance all public announcements, public affairs plans, materials and activities concerning a crisis.

Disclosure of SIRs Containing Personal Information

5.13 Request for copies of SIRs may be made under the Access to Information Act. When considering requests for SIRs containing personal information as defined in section 3 of the Privacy Act, Issue OPIs shall consult DAIP.

6. Process and Responsibilities

Process Table

6.1 The following process shall be followed for issue and crisis management:

Stage Who? Does what?


DND employee or CAF member

  • identifies a problem or significant incident that may evolve into an issue or crisis; and
  • informs the chain of command up to the Issue OPI and CFICC.


Commanding Officer or manager

  • submits SIR through the chain of command to the Issue OPI, CFICC and ADM(PA), in addition to any other organization that may need such information.


Issue or Crisis OPI, as applicable

  • identifies action needed to address issue in the short term;
  • engages Public Affairs and other advisors such as DAIP, as appropriate;
  • assesses the issue, taking into account public views and
    concerns; and
  • begins the process of identifying activities, policies or procedures needed to resolve it in the longer term.


ADM(PA) or PAO, as applicable

  • assesses the issue from a public affairs perspective and:
    • liaises with Command Public Affairs or deployed PAOs, as required;
    • liaises with ADM(PA), who liaises with the Privy Council Office (PCO), other government departments and other governments or agencies, as required;
    • informs the CDS, DM and MND, through ADM(PA), as required;
    • advises and supports the Issue OPI, as required; and
    • informs CFICC of the identified Issue OPI.


Issue or Crisis OPI, as applicable

  • implements any short term actions required to address the issue;
  • continues the process of identifying activities, policies or procedures needed to resolve the issue in the longer term;
  • designates subject matter experts to act as the issue spokespersons;
  • begins to prepare public announcement plans, public affairs materials and activities needed to inform the public of both the issue and the response of DND and the CAF to it; and
  • seeks approval for public announcement plans one level up the chain of command.


Approval Authority

  • decides whether to approve public announcement requests; or
  • refers the issue and public announcement request further up the chain of command.


ADM(PA) or PAO, as applicable

  • implements public announcement plans to inform the public of the issue and the response of DND and the CAF to it by:
    • preparing and distributing required public affairs materials;
    • coordinating public affairs activities and media briefings; and
    • supporting media interviews by designated subject matter experts.


Designated Subject Matter Expert

  • conducts media briefings and interviews;
  • on the OPI's behalf, reports on:
    • what they know and do not know;
    • what they are doing to address the issue and why; and
    • what information can be disclosed, and what information cannot be disclosed, and why; and
    • when the next briefing will occur.


ADM(PA) or PAO, as applicable

  • monitors media and public reaction to the issue or crisis and the response of DND and the CAF to it;
  • recommends adjustments to public affairs activities; and
  • advises the Issue OPI, DM, CDS, MND, PCO and other government departments through ADM(PA), as required.


Issue or Crisis OPI, as applicable

  • implements approved changes to activities, policies or procedures to resolve the issue in the longer term and ensure, to the extent possible, that the issue or problem will not happen again.

7. References

Acts, Regulations, Central Agency Policies and Policy DAOD

Other References

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