Summary of the Meeting of the National Security Transparency Advisory Group (NS-TAG) – March 30, 2022
Held via Videoconference
- Daniel Jean
- Jeffrey Roy
- Justin Mohammed
- Thomas Juneau
- Dominic Rochon
- Mary Francoli
- Khadija Cajee
- Jillian Stirk
- Bessma Momani
- Harpreet Jhinjar
- “Informal Discussion Session Between the NS-TAG and the Open Government Security and Intelligence Working Group” – Part Nine
Invited Guests and Speakers:
- The Open Government Security and Intelligence Working Group
National Security Community Members Present (as observers):
- Canada Border Security Agency (CBSA)
- Communications Security Establishment (CSE)
- Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC)
- Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Public Safety Canada (PS)
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
- Transport Canada (TC)
- Canadian Security and Intelligence Services (CSIS)
- Treasury Board Canada (TBS)
- Opening of the Meeting and Roll Call
- Discussion Session with Guest Speaker: “Informal Discussion Session Between the NS-TAG and the Open Government Security and Intelligence Working Group” – Part Nine
- Private NS-TAG Discussion
The nineteenth virtual NS-TAG meeting took place on March 30, 2022, on the theme “Informal Discussion Session Between the NS-TAG and the Open Government Security and Intelligence Working Group – Part Nine”.
Key Takeaways of Guests’ Remarks and of the Discussion Session:
- Security and intelligence agencies have formed a working group called the Government of Canada Security and Intelligence Open Government Working Group (GCSI OGWG). The intent of the group is to establish a common set of priorities and approaches to increase transparency and trust in the security and intelligence community.
- Memberships of the GCSI OGWG are the Department of National Defence (DND), RCMP, CSE, PS, TBS, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) and the Public Service Commission of Canada (PSC). The GCSI OGWG reports to the Open Government Director General on a monthly basis.
- Members of the GCSI OGWG are working to strategize methods to communicate the value of open datasets so that it is adapted by more senior levels within departments.
- A question was posed to the GCSI OGWG on whether structured data was their only target, and on the reason behind the perceived reluctance of some senior government officials to accept the release of datasets. The GCSI OGWG speaker stated that both structured and unstructured data are considered essential. They added that reluctance could be a result of the traditionally secretive nature of the work of intelligence and security agencies.
- On defining transparency, the speaker noted that the Government of Canada often defines transparency in unilateral terms. The GCSI OGWG is working to avoid this by ensuring that transparency is a two-sided discussion.
- An issue of concern for the GCSI OGWG is how they would publish datasets of security organizations which still deal with mostly classified information. They hope to work on an individual level with people within security agencies to inspire collaboration towards openness and transparency.
- The GCSI OGWG highlighted the challenge of tackling systemic issues within departments to enable transparency. The speaker pointed to a performance health checkup conducted on a quarterly basis within all GCSI OGWG member agencies. Since the implementation of this directive, all agencies are graded on their transparency as part of an effort to ensure there is ongoing accountability.
- The speaker underlined the importance of strengthening the ties between the Open Government Action Plan and the National Security Transparency Commitment, and the critical need to ensuring that momentum keeps these initiatives moving forward. They suggested this can be done by having conversations about recommendations that have been made, and how these recommendations can be turned into concrete action plans.
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