What we heard

What we heard

In order to overcome institutional barriers to change and find solutions to serve Canadians better the government must listen to new perspectives and rigorously test new ideas. For the Government of Canada to fully embrace digital, there is much to be learned from trailblazers and organizations that are further along in their digital transformation.

The government heard from experts and thought leaders at the Digital Nations Ministerial Summitthe FWD50 conference, and other digital government conferences and events, along with discussions with departments, agencies, and the CIO Strategy Council.

Through a series of virtual roundtables, the Minister of Digital Government invited experts across the country and around the world to talk about how government can accelerate the move to digital in an ongoing and secure way. These conversations helped provide the direction forward and will inform the government's continued efforts.

From July 2020 to February 2021, over 60 stakeholders from the private sector, academia and various levels of government participated in 8 virtual roundtables on topics ranging from cybersecurity and digital identity, to making an institutional culture shift toward a more digital government.

The key takeaways from our discussions are outlined below.

Rethink how to manage technology and technology projects 

  • Roll out small, modular digital projects that can be scaled up so that they can be more easily adjusted to better meet the real-time needs and expectations of Canadians
  • Practice agile procurement where we collaborate closely on complex projects with procurement experts, end users, and suppliers over multiple phases, course correcting as we go, and applying lessons learned
  • Test tools and services after implementation; in addition to conducting design research throughout the build. The government must continue evaluating and assessing, and collecting real‑time data

Meet people “where they are”

  • Services should be accessible to Canadians where, when and how they want them. Instead of having to drive to the next town to stand in line at a kiosk between 9 am and 5 pm, Canadians should be able to access the services and information they need straight from their phone, laptop, or digital assistant
  • Consider diverse perspectives at every stage of our work to produce better, more meaningful solutions
  • Multidisciplinary project teams need to reflect the people they are serving, so that they can bring diverse perspectives and experience to design solutions for all Canadians
  • “Design for all” by considering the needs of vulnerable populations and addressing barriers to accessibility from the outset. This achieves a more flexible, adaptive service for all users that ensures no one is left behind

Work in the open and collaborate widely

  • Work in the open to allow for collaboration across multiple teams, which results in more efficient, and often, more intuitive services to Canadians
  • Partnerships between federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments will foster the delivery of seamless services to Canadians from all jurisdictions

Digital is a mindset

  • Delivering better digital service to Canadians will require overcoming long‑standing legislative and policy barriers
  • Leaders must empower their teams to embrace the digital standards and to take an open, agile, iterative approach to projects. A culture shift must occur at all levels, across job classifications and departments
  • Attracting, retaining and up‑skilling a diverse, digitally enabled workforce is essential to providing services that reflect all Canadians

Design secure services people can trust

  • Cyberattacks are increasing in frequency and sophistication
  • Cybersecurity is an important and ever-evolving aspect of any government technology strategy to ensure continuity of service and safeguard citizens’ private information
  • Government platforms and services must continue to remain resilient, protected and constantly monitored for cyberthreats
  • Explore options for a Canada-wide federated governmental digital identity program, that would enable a person to access any online government service with their preferred trusted digital identity, just as they do with their physical ID today.
  • Once a digital identity is established and verified, participating governments can reduce the risks posed by innovative and ever intensifying attempts at fraud or identity theft

Harness and support Canada’s tech sector

  • When possible, the public sector must work with Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs to develop and test services for people across the country
  • Modernizing procurement practices will allow smaller, nimbler technology organizations to participate in designing and delivering services for Canadians

Design and build alongside the users, from the beginning

  • Underpinning all of the advice we heard is the digital principle of user-centric design
  • The Government of Canada must design and iterate with the people who will use these services: Canadians

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