Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, for your invitation to discuss the Gartner Canada report that you received on the network sourcing decision matrix benchmark. I am pleased to be here today to address any questions the committee may have with respect to the report.
Mr. Chair, I want to state at the outset that I have the utmost respect for this committee and its important function in our democracy. I greatly support the work of the committee and I am committed to helping its members better understand how Shared Services Canada is working to modernize our networks in order to better serve Canadians.
I am here today to provide you with as much information as possible to aid you in this work. It is also why, when responding to the committee's request, I included additional information that was not originally requested, but which I hope will be helpful to the committee and answers questions that members had previously posed to me and members of my organization.
However, I am bound, as the president of Shared Services Canada, to steward our information in a manner that respects different priorities, including our democratic processes, the integrity of proprietary information and national security. That said, know that I am fully committed to assisting the committee with your endeavour to understand the network space.
As president of Shared Services, I support the Minister of Digital Government in providing federal public servants with the tools and the IT infrastructure they need to deliver the programs and services Canadians expect in a digital era—services that are delivered on secure and reliable networks.
When it was created, Shared Services Canada inherited many different independent and non-standardized departmental networks. I would encourage members to review the “Network Modernization Way Forward” document, in particular pages 11 through 15, for details of what we inherited and what has changed over time. Our work is ongoing as we continue to take an enterprise approach to modernization. This means we will continue to consolidate, standardize and modernize our networks right across government.
It is essential that the Canadian government keep pace. As the pandemic has shown, it is even more critical in a crisis. Over the past year, we were able to respond quickly when urgent changes were needed and adoption of solutions were required at an unprecedented speed. We were able to increase our network capacity, provide widespread secure, remote access and roll out collaboration tools that allowed public servants to work securely, as well as remotely.
However, the complexity and the pace of change in the digital environment means that we need to be prepared for significant and ongoing upgrades and technical innovations, such as software-defined infrastructure, where critical IT infrastructure and functions like data centres are fully automated and programmable. We also need to ensure that we have the IT infrastructure that can take advantage of emerging technology such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, 5G capacity and potential innovations that might transform federal service delivery, such as multi-user supercomputers and in time, quantum computing.
As we go forward, we are engaging with industry in advance of setting up long-term contracting vehicles to deliver a common set of services to all government departments and partners, rather than the customized services that exist today. To that end, SSC is developing a modern enterprise network and security strategy to increase network, cloud and mobile access and ensure agile service delivery to all our partners. The new model aligns with government priorities to allow us to work smarter and more efficiently, as well as more reliably.
In developing this strategy, we must consult with third parties to ensure our approach is responsive, reflective of industry trends and has sound governance. In this context, SSC proactively engaged Gartner, an industry-leading research firm. We asked Gartner to review our network and security documentation, to give us advice on developing an approach for decision-making for future network equipment sourcing and to look at specific case studies within SSC to provide insight and advice on decisions that we have made on sourcing equipment.
Gartner made a number of recommendations—which have been shared with you—to ensure that our documentation follows industry standard practices, to help us standardize how we source our equipment through open and competitive procurements and to provide us with review mechanisms for when we need to deviate from this approach. These recommendations have provided Shared Services Canada with approaches to help balance business, technical, security and procurement risks and to create a network strategy that fosters accountability and transparency.
We subsequently updated our strategy paper and posted it on Canada.ca.
The “Network Modernization Way Forward” paper solicits feedback from industry partners and attempts to document our future state. This strategy will of course evolve as SSC continues to work with industry as part of its collaborative procurement process and to keep pace with the changes in technology and advancements in innovation.
To do our work, we need positive, functional vendor relationships. I take disclosure seriously. I take disclosure of information that would affect this relationship extremely seriously. I am mindful of the powers of the House of Commons for the production of documents and the role of members in holding the government to account. Part of my job as a senior public servant is to reconcile the exercise of those privileges with others, including national security, cabinet confidence and the confidentiality of business information.
In the report that I provided I itemized each and every redaction and included the reasons used to protect the information deemed confidential, in keeping with the practices of public disclosures of such information.
Making this information public would not only be making public Gartner's intellectual property and commercially sensitive information, but it could also be detrimental to the vendors included in this research. We looked at the report and only took out parts that would be a security risk or could jeopardize industry relationships and partners.
We take very seriously, Mr. Chair, the need for transparency, along with the need to protect the proprietary information of the companies that have entrusted us with it.
Thank you. We are now ready to answer your questions.