IRCC Minister Transition Binder 2021: Digital Platform Modernization and Transformation at IRCC
A fast, agile and reliable immigration system is critical to Canada’s success.
- The Department is modernizing its suite of programs and services to better meet the needs of clients and Canada, bolstered by new technological capabilities.
- Central to enabling this business-driven digital transformation is a new core IT platform through the modernization of the Department’s digital platform.
Drivers of Transformation and Early Efforts
The delivery of Canada’s immigration programs depends on multiple IT systems used globally in an increasingly complex data landscape.
- Prompted by a legacy system, lack of system agility, and rising application volumes across all business lines, IRCC has embarked on extensive work to transform the approach to its business, driven by the need to:
- navigate and manage risk in an evolving policy and legal landscape, all while guarding against emerging threats (including cyber, program integrity, and security); and
- enhance transparency, privacy and fairness, while ensuring ethical and responsible use of data and technology that respects human rights and avoids bias and discrimination.
- Pre-pandemic, more people were applying to come to Canada than ever before; coupled with rising client expectations, this put increased pressure on operational functions and tested IT systems that are past their “best-before” date and require stabilization.
The Department is shedding its paper-based processes and pivoting towards a data and evidence-driven modern immigration system.
- IRCC has already undertaken extensive work to transform the Department’s numerous business lines, including back-end technology and administrative efficiencies, as well as client-facing tools and service delivery channels.
- IRCC is also advancing work on digital identity and is recognized as an early adopter and leader in the use of advanced analytics and artificial intelligence.
- Work continues government-wide to modernize the policy framework for the responsible and ethical use of this technology.
Accelerating Transformation and the Drive to Digital
In many ways, the pandemic accelerated changes that were already underway at IRCC, as the Department’s COVID response encouraged innovation and demonstrated the benefits of agility in our programs.
For example, the Department
- began to hold asylum interviews remotely;
- welcomed new Canadians at virtual citizenship ceremonies;
- became the first country in the world to offer citizenship testing online; and
- expanded the ability to submit applications electronically in some permanent residence streams.
The Department is innovating to better understand the impacts of the pandemic and to ensure that newcomers are part of Canada’s medium to long term recovery.
- COVID-19 disruptions highlighted the limitations of the current system. This has reinforced the urgency of moving to a fundamentally digital operational model, making our immigration system more nimble to face shifting conditions, and leveraging the full capacity of data and evidence.
- More broadly, COVID-19 resulted in dramatic reductions in several temporary and permanent flows; this served as a reminder of how important visitors and immigrants are to Canada’s prosperity.
The Focus of IRCC’s Transformation Efforts
- Our ability to expand and fully scale the availability of digital services, leverage our data for decision-making and share information with external partners is currently limited by aging IT infrastructure and a lack of standardized data.
- IRCC’s legacy system, the Global Case Management System (or GCMS), is one of three major IT platforms that have been identified as Government of Canada priorities for renewal, alongside the Benefits Delivery Modernization programme and Pay Modernization.
The Department is focused on transforming the way we do business and we are building a new IT platform to support the Government’s vision for a modern digital, data-driven and managed migration system.
IRCC’s Digital Platform Modernization
- The Digital Platform Modernization (DPM) programme will deliver transformation with a three-phased implementation approach:
- Phase 1: Stabilize – Dec 2020-Nov 2021 – $58.7M
- To achieve stable legacy systems and disaster recovery capacity.
- Phase 2: Standardize – Dec 2021-March 2023 – $72.8M
- To build upon business process optimization and achieve reduced “technical debt”; secure enterprise cloud connection; build key building blocks for future system.
- Phase 3: Enhance – Dec 2021-Dec 2026 – $827.3M
- To enable business transformation of program and service delivery through an enterprise-wide platform that allows full integration of new functionalities and onboarding of all lines of business.
- Phase 1: Stabilize – Dec 2020-Nov 2021 – $58.7M
- Funding of $131.5M for Phases 1 and 2 was approved in December 2020 to begin the IT-driven effort to stabilize the current IT infrastructure.
- Budget 2021 included critical investments to support the modernization and transformation of our immigration system. Funding of $827.3M over five years will enable IRCC to develop and deliver an enterprise-wide digital platform.
DPM Phases 1 and 2
- Phases 1 and 2 are largely an IT-driven effort to build the foundation for a new digital platform and support more efficient processing through the responsible use of data-driven technologies.
- These first two phases centre on stabilizing current-state business capabilities, as well as day-to-day operations and systems.
- The work for Phases 1 and 2 centre around de-risking and reducing technical debt, establishing secure cloud connectivity, and developing key building blocks of the future system along reimagined business processes. This will modernize existing IRCC legacy applications and enable business and technical competencies through implementation of cloud based services that are innovative, secure, resilient and compliant.
Phases 1 and 2 will build the “digital runway” for Phase 3; they are instrumental in enabling IRCC to offer services through modern day channels.
DPM Phase 3 – Establishing our Vision
- The Department is at a key planning phase. Phase 3 is the most complex, yet will yield the most significant benefits for Canadians and for IRCC’s clients.
- The transformation scope for DPM includes policy and program simplification, business process optimization, and technology renewal.
- In particular, Phase 3 is a significant business and data transformation for the organization, as it considers all dimensions of digital (including data-quality-by-design) beyond the technical objectives – this is not “just an IT build.”
DPM will enable IRCC’s operating model of the future through program and technical excellence, data-driven risk management and a world-class client experience.
DPM Phase 3 – Where We Want to Go
- The Department has identified a range of target outcomes for its modernized platform, including:
- Client centricity
- More effective operations
- Scalable and reliable systems
- Improved employee user experience
- Improved program responsiveness
- Privacy-forward, secure and interoperable data operations
With people at the centre, the Digital Platform Modernization programme will achieve the operating model of the future, an integrated and accessible client experience, and data-driven decisions to keep Canadians safe, healthy and secure.
- Developing Canada’s new “digital first” managed migration system is a top priority for the Department. It will keep us at the head of the pack in the competition for global talent and enable us to deliver on an ambitious policy agenda.
- This critical next phase will launch a significant transformation of the way we serve Canadians and work with our partners. It is a transformation that will affect the entire Department, external partners (e.g. airlines), individual clients, and multiple Government of Canada departments.
- Close collaboration with partners will be needed. Working together, we can improve every aspect of migration management, from selection to security screening to settlement to citizenship, and deliver a major return on the Government’s investments in improved technological infrastructure.
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