CIMM - Digital Platform Modernization and Disaster Recovery - Mar 8, 2021
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- To stay competitive in the global marketplace and support the Government of Canada’s efforts toward digital-first, user-centered programs, the Department is transforming its core IT system. A new digital platform will enable Canada’s immigration system to function more efficiently behind the scenes, to advance policy priorities, and to deliver digital services that meet heightened client expectations.
- The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that a shift to a digital organization is critical to our ability to effectively respond to client needs and expectations for digital services, reduce the Department’s reliance on paper and ensure long-term resilience of the immigration system.
- An enhanced digital platform will enable us to manage increasing application volumes, and will assist in supporting Canada’s post-COVID economic recovery. It will also allow programs to better respond to changing conditions, and it will improve the client experience by providing Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada with the capacity to adapt to the latest technologies.
- This new modern digital platform will ultimately mean clients will see improved processing times, experience reliable, user-friendly online services, and have access to timely and relevant information about their application status.
- With this platform, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will be able to leverage a digital advantage to better achieve Canada’s immigration objectives, maximizing benefits for clients and Canadians.
- The “Digital Platform Modernization” project aims to stabilize and standardize our current information technology system, and to build the foundation for a new digital platform for the Global Case Management System used all over the world by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Canada Border Services Agency and other partner agencies for managing the status of visitors, temporary residents and immigrants.
- Digital Platform Modernization will be delivered in three phases:
- Phase 1 – Stabilize: Achieve stable legacy systems and further define the Digital Platform Modernization objectives.
- Phase 2 – Standardize: Achieve stable legacy systems and establish a reliable environment for transformation by implementing a Technical Debt Reduction Program, finalizing IRCC enterprise secure Cloud-to-Ground connectivity, and optimizing business process.
- Phase 3 – Enhance (future scope): Deliver an enterprise-wide platform, allowing full integration of new client service and efficiency features and onboarding of all lines of business.
- To start implementing this initiative, Phase 1, funding of $15.2M is required in 2020-2021; $10.4M is being sought through the Supplementary Estimates (C) and $4.8M will be financed from the Passport Program Revolving Fund.
- Funding in the amount of $57.3M is required for this initiative in 2021-2022 to support the completion of Phase 1 and proceed with Phase 2; $40.2M is being sought through the 2021-2022 Main Estimates and $17.1M will be financed from the Passport Program Revolving Fund.
- IRCC also consulted broadly with partners (i.e. other government departments) to develop, and obtain endorsement of, IRCC’s request for funding for Phase 3 as part of Budget 2021.
Supporting facts and figures
- The Global Case Management System (GCMS) was implemented 20 years ago to support “9-to-5” operations for a single department in a world where information was mainly paper-based. Since then, operations have evolved and GCMS has needed to evolve significantly from its original purpose.
- Our immigration system currently depends on information technology infrastructure that is aging and increasingly failing, with significant consequences for Canadians. IRCC has reached peak productivity with its current model and cannot further modernize its operations with legacy systems (e.g. GCMS) and it permits limited flexibility for new program measures.
- The delivery of Canada’s immigration programs currently depends on information technology systems with global reach. These mission-critical systems:
- Hold more than 60 million personal records on Canadians and foreign nationals;
- Connect 20,000 users from IRCC, Canada Border Services Agency, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Global Affairs Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
- Provide 24/7 operations at IRCC offices around the world;
- Support decision-making for visitor visas, study and work permits, permanent residence applications, and citizenship issuance;
- Help screen and detect security issues, health issues, fraud, and program integrity risks to Canadians; and
- Include the Integrated Retrieval Information System, which is the legacy passport issuance system and is the repository for all past passport decisions.
IRCC funding is broken down as follows:
- IRCC is making good progress on the Digital Platform Modernization and will start project reporting back to Treasury Board Secretariat as of March.
- Demands on, and expectations of, our legacy immigration system are increasing. Compounding the rise in client expectations for personalized, fast and intuitive digital service, application volumes have been increasing (a trend expected to continue after COVID-19), which adds pressures on an already overtaxed, highly paper-based system.
- Canada’s current processes are heavily reliant on a technology backbone (i.e. GCMS) that has been in place since 2001 and is no longer able to meet emerging needs and expectations.
- GCMS is Canada’s integrated and worldwide web-based system used to process applications for immigration, citizenship and passport services. It was first introduced to process applications for citizenship services, and has since extended its immigration-related functions to include the Canada Border Services Agency and other federal government groups, such as the Department of Justice and the Immigration Refugee Board. Each partner, whose responsibility also lies in the application of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, is granted access to the System based on their specific responsibility.
- Without investments to stabilize IRCC’s information technology infrastructure and bring it up to current technology standards, the Department will be required to hire resources at a rapid rate to keep pace with the rise in volumes, and will experience both growing structural costs and rising processing times as a result.
- Enabling the next-generation operating model with a suite of digital and operational levers will allow IRCC to begin improving its existing business processes rapidly with effective scaling.
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