The security of the federal courts, as well as the safety of their members, CAS employees, litigants and the public, remained a high priority in 2015–16. In a context marked by the ongoing threats on the national and international scene, the evolving court security requirements and the increasing demands on its resources, CAS worked closely with the four courts through the CAS Chief Justices Steering Committee, the National Judges Committee on Security and the National Judges Committee on IM/IT to enhance the physical and IT security essential to the exercise of judicial activities. In doing so, CAS positioned itself to further advance in providing the security measures that meet the current and future needs of the four courts, employees and the public.
In 2015–16, CAS continued to reinforce the conditions necessary to sustain and further enhance the level of security and protection afforded to the members of the courts, court users, its employees and assets. The CAS national security program, which incorporated the results of the TRA conducted in 2013–14, continued to promote a systematic and consistent approach to prevention, detection, mitigation, response and recovery, and served as a roadmap for the organization in 2015–16. It also facilitated improved communication and coordination in the identification and response to threats or security incidents.
Emphasis was placed on building the organization’s resource capacity to better serve the physical security needs of the courts and CAS, enhance security controls and response capability, harmonize security service delivery standards across Canada, and introduce more effective and efficient security technologies. Efforts were also applied to protect the organization’s systems and information of business value against cyber threats, electronic intrusions, corruption and destruction.
Efforts exerted to address program integrity issues resulted in the identification of $19 million over five years in Budget 2015 to invest in physical and IT security measures for the federal courts and registry offices across the country. To enhance the security of the operations and facilities, security requirements for the courts and CAS were further defined taking into consideration the evolving needs of the courts. Particular attention was given to developing a standardized approach to effectively manage security risks, further safeguarding sensitive court data, as well as clarifying and refining the requirements for the courts screening program and security equipment.
Through ongoing collaboration with the law enforcement community, central agencies and other portfolio and strategic partners, CAS ensured its effective and intelligence-led responses to emerging threats to prevent, mitigate, and recover from security incidents in a systematic and consistent way. CAS also continued the review of its emergency plans including its Security Risk Assessments, Business Continuity Plan, Fire Evacuation Plan, Security Escalation Plan and Information Management Plan to minimize or mitigate interruption of essential services in the event of an emergency or crisis.
A stable and efficient IT environment is 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. The systems which support the judicial process ─ including the electronic filing, electronic scanning and digital audio recording (DARS) ─ are highly dependent on the IT infrastructure that supports them. Although improvements have been made to CAS's existing technological systems, efforts to support the transition to electronic courts continued to be impacted by the significant limitations of judicial support legacy systems and their incompatibility with current technology, and further impacted by the limited financial resources.
In 2015–16, CAS continued to implement its IT roadmap and took remedial action to ensure ongoing operations, to address rust-out and to deal with gaps in infrastructure including deterioration or obsolescence of hardware and software critical to meeting operational requirements that may pose a risk to maintaining minimal service delivery standards. Efforts were also employed to stabilize the network platform and increase its capacity.
Working closely with members of the courts, CAS conducted needs assessments, identified alternate solutions to address gaps in some of the core legacy systems and took appropriate measures to augment IT security. System efficiency issues were also addressed to better serve the needs of the courts and litigants.
Focus was placed on attracting and engaging high potential IT talent with strong capabilities and leadership capacity, and on addressing projected gaps in specific skills that may pose a threat to the achievement of CAS’s current and future priorities and long-term business goals. This strategy placed CAS in a better position to more effectively address the recommendations of the various IT assessments previously commissioned, and to make advancements on other planned initiatives.
An efficient digital court environment necessitates significant investments. In 2015–16, CAS maintained its application for program integrity funding in support of initiatives that fall outside the scope of the physical and IT security funding approved in Budget 2015. Budget 2016 provided $7.9 million over five years for investments in IT infrastructure upgrades to safeguard the efficiency of the federal court system. This additional funding will expedite addressing rust-out, help address the recommendations of previous assessments of the IT environment, help improve IT performance and security, and better support current systems. It will also enable the timely renewal of IT assets while building the necessary foundation to support the transition to increased use of electronic court services.
CAS must continue to seek additional funding for investments in a modern Courts and Registry Management System (CRMS) to render it capable of supporting electronic document management and the provision of integrated e-services, at the request of the Chief Justices and the legal community. The enhancement of CRMS is key to the delivery of CAS’s core mandate and to efficiently and effectively support the four federal courts and their users.
In order to maintain service levels, CAS must continually adapt to the evolving requirements of the four courts it serves while addressing the impact of workload pressures and the challenges within its operating environment. To help maintain the strength of its core business and ensure the availability of adequate human resources to support programs and service delivery to the courts, CAS strives to attract and maintain a highly qualified and productive workforce. The organization is also committed to fostering a positive work environment that is conducive to high performance.
CAS has identified a critical need to develop a pool of talent to staff positions that are vital to the organization’s evolving and ongoing operations, and long-term goals. Key positions were identified and have been used to initiate the development and implementation of a succession plan to address projected gaps in skills needed to support core business objectives.
To continue to promote an environment conducive to high performance and support organizational priorities and business objectives, CAS invested in employee training and development. Various webinars and WebEx sessions were made available to employees across Canada to help them develop and maintain key competencies and to facilitate innovative solutions and enhancements to the services provided by CAS. The organization also continued to support the Government of Canada’s Blueprint 2020 commitment to learning through the Canada School of Public Service (CSPC) and identified candidates for the new CSPC development programs for managers, aspiring directors and supervisors. In addition, a survey on learning and development opportunities was conducted to help highlight areas for improvement and develop an action plan.
In 2015–16, to help maintain a healthy workplace, emphasis was placed on promoting mental health awareness through dissemination of information including training sessions and presentations. CAS also continued to promote an open and constructive dialogue between management and employees. In order to keep employees engaged and obtain a clear picture of their concerns, consultation sessions were held with employees and focus groups, and a survey of all employees was conducted. In 2016–17, the results of this exercise will inform the development of an action plan to address the concerns raised.
Finally, emphasis was placed on the implementation of the Government of Canada Directive on Performance Management. Through meaningful dialogue, including follow-up discussions between management and employees, performance management exercises were conducted with employees across the organization.