Strengthen security for members of the courts, their users and employees

Taking concrete and innovative steps to enhance security

In 2014–15, security remained a key priority for CAS. Efforts were exerted to ensure that members of the courts, court users and employees were provided with an operational environment that is safe and secure. With increasing demands on limited resources, driven in part by the evolving security requirements of the courts, emerging risks on the international scene and lack of funding for security initiatives, CAS was forced to take concrete and innovative steps to enhance the security measures essential to the support of judicial activities, both in terms of physical and IT security.

CAS revised its national security program and related strategy, action plans, policies and procedures to incorporate the results of the Threat and Risk Assessment (TRA) completed in 2013–14. These efforts contributed to securing funding granted through Budget 2015 to enhance physical and IT security for the Federal Courts, and promote a standardised approach to effectively manage security risks across Canada.

To ensure that Canada’s judicial system continues to function optimally and that members of the courts, litigants, lawyers and the public are safe and secure, enhancements were made to the physical security of CAS facilities. In particular, CAS finalized improvements to its emergency response systems to facilitate a timely and consistent approach to emergency situations. Improvements were also made to access controls, and the baseline criteria for the Court Security Officer program were reviewed to better respond to the evolving security requirements of the courts.

In keeping with the recommendations of the TRA, a strategic risk-based approach to security management was adopted which included the formalization and strengthening of partnerships with internal and external stakeholders. Through ongoing analysis, collaboration and sharing of information on threats and risks assessments and investigations with the law enforcement community, effective mitigation strategies were developed. This approach facilitated the anticipation of threats and the proactive implementation of mitigation measures.

In addition, the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) was completed to provide for the continued availability of critical services and assets in the event of unforeseen business interruptions and the resumption of services following a disaster. The BCP is aligned with the Government Security Policy and related Operational Security Standard—Business Continuity Planning Program and supports the mitigation strategies identified in the CAS Enterprise Risk Management Framework.

Robust IT security is essential to safeguard sensitive court data from potential risks. In 2014–15, efforts were devoted to enhancing CAS’s IT security and related procedures and processes were revised and communicated to the members of the courts and employees to promote best practices for the optimal protection of information. The security of judicial information continued to be aligned with the requirements of the Canadian Judicial Council’s Blueprint for the Security of Judicial Information.


Secure and modernize technology

Removing obstacles to e-services to pave the way for increase use of technology

The systems which support the judicial process are essential to the conduct of court operations, the management of court documents, and the provision of judicial and registry services to the courts and their users. They include the Court and Registry Management System, electronic filing, electronic scanning, digital audio recording and videoconferencing. These systems, which are highly dependent on the IT infrastructure that supports them, must facilitate timely and economical access to justice.

In 2014–15, CAS continued to maintain and update its critical IT infrastructure to ensure ongoing operations and mitigate technological risks to the extent possible. An IT Architecture and Computing Environment (ACE) Assessment was conducted to evaluate the ability of the network and infrastructure to meet current and future needs. Based on this assessment, a number of areas were identified as requiring attention in order to support current service requirements and enable the move toward fully integrated and secure electronic courts information services.

The IT Network Performance Roadmap was revised to take into account the ACE assessment results, placing special emphasis on stabilizing the network platform and upgrading the IT infrastructure to support the electronic requirements of the courts. Progress was made in resolving network performance issues and focus was placed on providing employees with IT equipments and tools that better support efficient and secure court operations.

CAS migrated to new Internet and intranet services to improve connectivity within its offices and for members of the courts while traveling. Pilot tests and extensive consultations were undertaken with the Courts IT consultation team to better meet the needs of the itinerant courts. In addition, CAS initiated the deployment of Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010 and provided concurrent training to employees and members of the courts to facilitate the transition to the new environment. Key components of the network operating system were also upgraded.

Throughout the period covered by this report, CAS continued to conduct needs assessments and work closely with members of the courts to augment client services and better serve the evolving needs of the courts and litigants. In line with this objective, CAS established a new service delivery structure to maximize the use of its resources.

Financial Resources

Maximize use of limited resources

Responding to service demands

In 2014–15, CAS continued to face significant financial challenges which impeded its ability to move forward on a number of essential initiatives and adversely affected its capacity to deliver fully on its programs. The impact of escalating non-discretionary expenditures associated with the increase in the number of multi-day hearings, increased workload, additional demands for services, unfunded judicial appointments, government-wide rules and legislative changes, various cost containment measures and inflationary pressures, eventually led to serious program integrity issues. In response to this challenge, CAS continued to work with central agencies and stakeholders with the objective of identifying viable, long-term solutions to its program integrity issues. However, the need for program integrity funding was not permanently addressed.

In keeping with the approach taken in the previous year, extensive reliance was placed on business planning and prioritization exercises which allowed for the periodic reallocation or realignment of resources to meet the evolving operational priorities of the courts and respond to service demands to the extent possible. CAS also continued to reinforce its governance, risk management and internal controls to enable better forecasting and to become more agile in meeting the evolving needs of the courts while managing risks.

In Budget 2015, the Government of Canada announced its plans to invest $19 million over five years in physical and IT security for the federal courts, beginning in 2015–16. Physical security enhancements such as additional cameras, security personnel and screening tools will ensure the security and proper functioning of the courts. The investments in IT security enhancements will also help guard against security breaches and allow the courts to continue to protect judicial confidentiality, personal information privacy and sensitive commercial information in its possession. Succinctly, the announced funding addresses the security requirements of the Courts and CAS but other critical areas such as IT, judicial support systems and registry capacity still face serious program integrity issues.

Finally, the organization’s environmental footprint was reduced through active support for the government-wide initiative, Greening Government Operations, including practices to reduce paper consumption, increased sharing of IT equipment, and enhanced use of videoconferencing to decrease the need for travel.

Human Resources

Engaging and empowering employees

Investing in employee training and encouraging meaningful dialogue

In 2014–15, CAS implemented the new Government of Canada Directive on Performance Management which came into force on April 1, 2014. The Directive, which promotes a shared commitment to a sustained culture of high performance, will better equip management to recognize and reward excellence, work with all employees to maximize their potential and deal decisively with unsatisfactory performance.

CAS released its new Learning and Development Integrated Calendar offering development and training opportunities to employees. To provide additional learning opportunities, CAS supported the federal government’s Blueprint 2020 enterprise-wide commitment to learning through the Canada School of Public Service. Plans for enhancements to operational training were also made to better meet the development needs of registry officers and judicial assistants. This included plans to update the content of the training materials and the restructuring of the modules to allow for greater flexibility and timely delivery of training.

A senior management/employee engagement initiative was launched to seek input from employees and address their concerns. This thrust on engagement aimed to keep the stream of ideas from employees moving and allow management to seize opportunities to support employees.

CAS published its new Code of Conduct which aligns with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and outlines the values and ethical standards to which CAS management and employees must adhere. The new code will assist in identifying and addressing ethical risks and potential conflicts of interest. Related communication and training activities were conducted throughout the year to promote awareness.

Finally, CAS continued to implement initiatives from its three-year Public Service Employee Survey 2011 action plan to address concerns raised by employees and results were monitored—showing improvements on all objectives.