Review and Compliance
Demonstrating compliance is essential to maintaining the trust and confidence of Parliament, the Federal Court, partners and the public, while supporting accountability and transparency requirements, as well as operational effectiveness.
In the past, compliance at CSIS was addressed through managerial oversight, internal audits, as well as Inspector General and Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) reviews; however, in response to internal reviews, CSIS determined there was a need to establish a formal internal compliance program.
The operational compliance program began in 2016 and has grown to be recognized as a leader in strengthening the compliance culture within CSIS. The Government also recognized the importance of investing in compliance activities by providing funding to enhance CSIS’s compliance program.
Among the key activities are critical investments in information technology infrastructure to support the process around warrants, designing an approach for reporting and assessing potential operational compliance incidents, embedding experts in operational branches to provide timely advice and guidance, and developing clear internal policies and procedures for employees.
In response to a recent Federal Court ruling that criticized CSIS for failing to meet its duty of candour obligations, CSIS has undertaken additional concrete steps to strengthen internal accountability. This includes the creation of a dedicated Affiant Unit to centralize expertise and lead warrant applications, as well as the launch of an independent review, led by a former Deputy Attorney General, to provide recommendations. CSIS is now implementing recommendations from that review, which are critical to maintaining the confidence of the Federal Court, and Canadians, and fulfilling its mandate to keep Canada safe.
Following the Federal Court ruling, the Ministers of Public Safety and Justice referred the matter to the National Security Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), and NSIRA initiated a review which CSIS is actively supporting. CSIS welcomes the findings and recommendations, including those related to measures already implemented to address the Court’s concerns and additional opportunities for improvement.
The National Security Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP )and the National Security Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) play a critical role in conducting an independent review of CSIS’s activities, and offering recommendations for further improvement. Their annual public reports provide insight into CSIS’s activities and challenges, and help foster positive and informed discussion with Canadians on what their intelligence agency is and should be doing in today’s threat environment.
In addition to actively supporting a number of reviews through the provision of materials and briefings, CSIS has also facilitated access to its regional offices throughout 2020 to enable the Committees to complete their studies and prepare their reports.
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