March 2020 - Assistant Deputy Minister (Science & Technology) - Isabelle Desmartis

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  • Appointed in January 2018.
  • Also Head of Defence Research and Development Canada, an agency of National Defence.
  • Over 20 years of experience in the public service in the defence and security domain.
  • Previously served as Director General of Policy Planning and Assistant Chief of Defence Intelligence.


  • Provide national leadership on defence and security science, technology and innovation to enhance Canada’s Defence and Security posture.
  • Act as the Chief Science Advisor to the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces, as well as the public safety and national security communities.
  • Engage and collaborate with an extended network of stakeholders, domestic and international partners.
  • Exercise functional authority to ensure coherence of science, technology and innovation investments.

Key facts

Total Employees:

  • 1,300


  • $335M per year
  • Annual budget includes the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) programme funded at $1.6B over 20 years.

Primary location(s):

  • National Defence Headquarters (Carling)
  • Seven research centres across Canada, each with unique expertise

Key Partners


  • All Defence Team


  • Public Safety Canada
  • National Research Council
  • Science-based departments and agencies (SBDAs)
  • Communications Security Establishment
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • Five Eyes Community
  • Industry
  • Academia

Top issues for Assistant Deputy Minister (Science & Technology)

Advancing Innovation Programming

Oversee the Science, Technology and Innovation investment programmes.

  • Rollout remaining key elements of Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security programme so Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces operators can assess new innovative solutions and better integrate the results.
  • Design the Department of National Defence’s Innovation Centre of Excellence to facilitate access to and benefits from a variety of innovation instruments in a flexible and timely manner.

Continental Defence

Support Strong, Secure, Engaged’s vision in which Canada is secure in North America.

  • Provide science and technology advice and guidance to the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces on continental defence and the modernization of the North American Aerospace Defence Command.
  • Provide advice on Northern approaches surveillance based on the scientific results of the All Domain Situational Awareness programme.

Open Science & Scientific Integrity

Deliver on federal commitments that promote the open sharing of science.

  • Implement our departmental open science roadmap and scientific integrity policy.
  • Improve the management of science data to optimize its value without compromising on  operational and national considerations such as security, privacy, and ethics.
  • Provide advice on economic security risks and vulnerabilities related to emerging and disruptive technologies, intellectual property, and access to innovation.


Revitalize the organization, increase agility and maximize impact of Science, Technology and Innovation on defence and security.

  • Implement an agile governance, leaner organizational structure, and measures promoting a healthy and diversified workforce.
  • Deliver a Strategic Science, Technology and Innovation programme:
    • increase coherence of investment along strategic focus area;
    • enable exploitation of science, technology, and innovation knowledge and advice on current priorities; and
    • inform future strategic priorities.

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