Open Government at Justice Canada: A Year in Review – June 2019

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It has been a busy and exciting year for open government at Justice Canada! We have engaged in truly collaborative efforts across the department to meet our open government objectives:

  • Increase awareness of Open Government;
  • Promote Open Government and Open by Default as foundational expectations of a new way of doing business at Justice Canada;
  • Advocate for increased sharing of information and data across Justice Canada and review recommendations, as required, for potential release of information and data on the Open Government portal;
  • Challenge the Department to develop initiatives to address recognized challenges to implementing Open Government;
  • Collaborate with other government departments and other levels of government to pursue Open Government activities and information and data sharing opportunities;
  • Collaborate with other government departments, different levels of government and global partners to share success, lessons learned and to identify solutions to commonly shared challenges to implementing Open Government; and
  • Monitor and report on compliance with all aspects of the Directive on Open Government.

We have challenged the department to develop initiatives to address some Open Government challenges

The Request to Release application was created to streamline the process for Justice Employees to identify, evaluate and submit information and data to be released on the Open Government Portal.

Tax Law Services has developed a course teaching Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) agents how to handle informal disclosure outside of the ATIP context. This knowledge allows CRA agents to make better use of informal disclosure to address long delays in responses using ATIP.

We have advocated for increased sharing of information and data

We are dedicated to our commitment to the ongoing release of information and data on the Open Government Portal, where you can find Justice Canada initiatives that support transparency, accountability and access to justice. Among other records this year, we have added 38 Judicial Appointee Questionnaires used by the Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada to review judicial candidates. We currently have 164 data and information records in total on the Open Government Portal, up from 21 records this time last year, a huge leap forward!

The State of the Criminal Justice System Dashboard, the first performance monitoring framework for Canada’s criminal justice system was launched at the end of May. The Department took on this work as part of its commitment to review the criminal justice system and as part of its broader efforts to identify and address data gaps that hinder evidence-based decision-making.

We have promoted open government as a new way of working at Justice Canada

The Attorney General’s Directive on Civil Litigation involving Indigenous Peoples was formally announced this year and will serve as a guide for the Government of Canada’s legal approaches, positions and decisions taken in civil litigation involving Aboriginal and treaty rights, and the Crown’s obligation towards Indigenous peoples. The directive is part of a broader review of current litigation practices and emphasizes the importance of resolving conflicts expeditiously and collaboratively.

The Communications Branch, in collaboration with the Open Government team, and the Research and Statistics Division has made finding information and data easier through the launch of three new web environments on www.justice.gc.ca. The new Open Government page informs our users about open government, our initiatives and points users to our open information and open data inventories. A new Publications Catalogue allows users to find and access publications more easily and the new Research and Statistics section highlights key research content, including the annual Criminal Justice Surveys.

We have increased awareness of open government

This year we are proud to have held successful events to increase employee and public awareness about open government and meaningful conversations surrounding access to justice, privacy and SDG 16. A Management Information Session (MIS) was held at the end of February dedicated to open government. This was an opportunity to inform executives on open government activities and trial discussion formats and topics for the Open Doors at Justice Event.

We have collaborated with other government departments, civil society and global partners

Open Doors at Justice

On May 29th we welcomed OGP Global Summit participants, academics and the public into the Department of Justice Library in Ottawa for Open Doors at Justice, a side event to the OGP Global Summit. The event highlighted Justice Canada’s open government initiatives through interactive kiosks and engaging discussion sessions on access to justice and privacy with international and local guest speakers, including our Deputy Minister who we are very grateful could not only attend but also deliver the closing remarks.

We are monitoring and reporting on compliance with all aspects of the Directive on Open Government

Following the MIS and leading into the OGP Global Summit activities, we received a request to brief the Committee on Agenda, Advice and Results (CAAR) on open government, including Open Justice, Access to Justice and Sustainable Development Goal #16 and how they relate to each other and the work of the department. We are looking forward to the possibility of leveraging the OGP process to move forward SDG 16+ in the future, and we will return to CAAR in September with our plan for how this could happen.

The Department’s efforts this year have exceeded our expectations and we are excited to see what innovations and collaborations will be realized in the next year.

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