Opening Statement for Ron Parker, President of Shared Services Canada, at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU) on Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Speech

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Good morning. Thank you for this opportunity to discuss our role and the strong relationship we have established with our customers, such as Statistics Canada.

I am accompanied today by Raj Thuppal, Assistant Deputy Minister for Cyber and IT Security, and Graham Barr, Director General for Strategic Policy Planning and Reporting.

Let me start with a few words on Shared Services Canada’s mandate. We deliver the IT infrastructure backbone for the programs and services that Canadians get from the government daily.

The department is mandated to provide a range of services that are essential to government operations. This includes the delivery of email, data centres, and network and workplace technology services, as well as cyber and IT security.

Protecting and securing the integrity of the Government of Canada's systems, networks, and information from cyber threats is a top priority for SSC.

We carry out this work with lead security agencies in the Government of Canada, such as Communications Security Establishment. 

We also benefit from strategic partnerships such as the international “Five-Eyes” security and intelligence network, which includes the U.S. the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

More than ever, cyber security requires a collaborative approach. We are therefore committed to working together to share solutions on how best to protect our information and citizens.

I would add that, with the creation of SSC, the government is better positioned to take swift, preventative and corrective actions.

A great example occurred recently when we successfully managed a vulnerability that affected computer servers worldwide, including those of government departments such as Statistics Canada.

The vulnerability was identified in March. It affected specific servers running on a software called Apache Struts 2. SSC worked collaboratively with Statistics Canada to identify and rectify the situation. Though some services were not available during brief periods, no data was lost or altered in any way. 

We were able to quickly react in large part because the government’s IT infrastructure is managed as an enterprise rather than in silos, which was the practice in the past. This approach gives us an overall view of government networks and the ability to respond quickly to common threats facing departments and agencies within our security perimeter.

As a service organization, we understand that our customers like Statistics Canada hold us accountable for the services we provide. This is why our No. 1 duty is to understand and meet their business and security requirements.

We are proud of the work we have achieved over the past several months to respond to the expectations of all our customers, who acknowledge the benefits of the enterprise model.

I would emphasize that our IT infrastructure does not impact or compromise, in any way, the independence of Statistics Canada or any other partner organization.

With respect to Statistics Canada, we have a strong partnership and have achieved a great deal together.

This includes, for example, the fact Canadians were able to participate in record numbers in the 2016 Census using Shared Services Canada’s IT Infrastructure services.

The IT services provided by SSC for the census consisted of data centre, network, security, and communications systems. I would add that there were no IT infrastructure issues for the duration of the census.

To reinforce our working relationship with the agency, the Chief Statistician and I have made a joint commitment to continue to modernize the information technology services that the agency relies upon to deliver programs to Canadians.

I meet with him on a regular basis to ensure that business requirements are well-identified, captured and processed in a timely fashion.

These efforts are part of a strong governance structure between our two organizations that includes a joint committee of deputy ministers that meets bi-weekly. The committee oversees all of Statistics Canada’s information technology projects.

In the coming months, SSC will continue to work closely with Statistics Canada to respond to the agency’s immediate and longer-term requirements. Planning for the 2021 census has already begun.

In the short-term, we will continue addressing the agency’s expanding program requirements by augmenting computing and storage capacity, among other initiatives.

I would note that we have already significantly increased the available memory in the legacy data centre holding the agency’s information, as well as the computing capacity. This is to meet the agency’s current and prioritized business requirements identified by Statistics Canada.

Medium and longer term needs are being addressed through a second phase that includes closing a legacy data centre, and moving the workload to an enterprise state-of-the-art data centre.

To date, SSC has opened three modern, highly efficient enterprise data centres to eliminate duplication, increase security and better manage costs.

SSC is also committed to meeting the strict security requirements established by Statistics Canada.  

For example, employees working at the data centre serving Statistics Canada are secret-cleared and take an oath to meet the requirements of the Statistics Canada Act.

In addition, the data is stored using infrastructure that is dedicated to Statistics Canada. And the encrypted data that resides in the enterprise data centre is controlled through the use of electronic keys. Currently, no Shared Services Canada employees have access to that data.

Shared Services Canada also works with lead security agencies, such as the RCMP and the Communications Security Establishment, to ensure the overall security posture of its data centres, from both a physical and IT security perspective, meets or exceeds Government of Canada requirements. This collaboration is instrumental to providing secure services to Canadians.

Let me be clear – Statistics Canada continues to have full control over its data, as it always has.

Let me close by emphasizing that maintaining the confidentiality and security requirements of our customers has always been, and will continue to be, of paramount importance to Shared Services Canada.

Thank you. My colleagues and I are pleased to answer your questions.

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