GC Service & Digital Target Enterprise Architecture
GC Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture Whitepaper
November 4, 2020
Office of the Chief Information Officer of Canada
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Government of Canada
The Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture whitepaper will be published on the Digital Government page of Canada.ca
The Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture is an enabler for the Policy on Service and Digital.
The Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture defines a model for the digital enablement of GC services that address many of the critical challenges with the current GC enterprise ecosystem. It seeks to reduce the silos within the current GC ecosystem by having departments adopt a user‑ and service‑delivery‑centric perspective when considering new IT solutions or modernizing older solutions. It advocates a whole‑of‑government approach where IT is aligned with business services and where solutions are based on reusable components implementing business capabilities optimized to reduce unnecessary redundancy. This reuse is enabled using published application programming interfaces (APIs) shared across government. This approach allows the government to focus on improving its service delivery to Canadians while addressing its challenges with legacy systems.
The Policy on Service and Digital and the Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture are guided by a commitment to the guiding principles and best practices of the Government of Canada Digital Standards:
- design with users
- iterate and improve frequently
- work in the open by default
- use open standards and solutions
- address security and privacy risks
- build in accessibility from the start
- empower staff to deliver better services
- be good data stewards
- design ethical services
- collaborate widely
Purpose of this paper
This paper is intended to assist federal institutions by providing recommendations on how systems could be implemented over the next several years to provide Canadian citizens with a more cohesive and sustainable digital landscape when interacting with the Government of Canada.
The intended audience is those involved in the delivery of digital services within the Government of Canada including deputy heads and chief information officers. The white paper will also inform suppliers of the enterprise architecture direction, assisting them to align their services when interacting with the government. Finally, the white paper will inform the Canadian public and the international community of the Government of Canada’s enterprise architecture direction for digital transition.
Unless otherwise specified, any example mentioned in this white paper does not represent any existing plans of the Government of Canada.
This white paper is not meant to replace existing documents that address the government’s strategic direction on digital services.
“The Government of Canada is an open and service‑oriented organization that operates and delivers programs and services to people and businesses in simple, modern and effective ways that are optimized for digital and available anytime, anywhere and from any device.
Digitally, the Government of Canada must operate as one to benefit all Canadians.”
Policy on Service and Digital
The Policy on Service and Digital and supporting instruments serve as an integrated set of rules that articulate how Government of Canada organizations manage service delivery, information and data, information technology, and cybersecurity in the digital era. Other requirements, including but not limited to, requirements for privacy, official languages and accessibility, also apply to the management of service delivery, information and data, information management and cybersecurity. Those policies, set out in Section 8, must be applied in conjunction with the Policy on Service and Digital. The Policy on Service and Digital focuses on the client, ensuring proactive consideration at the design stage of key requirements of these functions in the development of operations and services. It establishes an enterprise‑wide, integrated approach to governance, planning and management. Overall, the Policy on Service and Digital advances the delivery of services and the effectiveness of government operations through the strategic management of government information and data and leveraging of information technology.
Section 126.96.36.199 of the Policy on Service and Digital. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Canada is responsible for: Prescribing expectations with regard to enterprise architecture.
Section 188.8.131.52 of the Policy on Service and Digital. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Canada is responsible for: Establishing and chairing an enterprise architecture review board that is mandated to define current and target architecture standards for the Government of Canada and review departmental proposals for alignment.
Section 184.108.40.206 of the Directive on Service and Digital. The departmental Chief Information Officer (CIO) is responsible for: Chairing a departmental architecture review board that is mandated to review and approve the architecture of all departmental digital initiatives and ensure their alignment with enterprise architectures.
What problems does the Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture address?
Canadians rely on the federal government for programs and services, which in turn depend on reliable, authoritative data and enabling information technology capabilities to ensure successful delivery. The GC enterprise ecosystem consists of all the information technology used by the Government of Canada and all related environmental factors. The interdependence of all elements with the ecosystem is an essential aspect of what makes it an ecosystem. When discussing information technology within the GC enterprise, one must consider the ecosystem.
What is the issue?
The Government of Canada has reached a critical point in its management of the IT systems that are used to enable the delivery of government services. There is an increasing gap between the expectations of Canadian citizens and the ability of the government’s legacy systems to meet those expectations. The total accumulated technical debt associated with legacy systems has reached a tipping point where a simple system‑by‑system replacement approach for individual systems has increasingly become cost and risk prohibitive. The business processes in place to manage the life cycles of these IT systems have become barriers rather than enablers.
How did we get here?
|Changing expectations||The rapid evolution of the internet as the ubiquitous platform for service delivery has outstripped the government’s ability to address the demand. Citizens have an increased expectation that all government services will be reliably delivered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with no artificial differentiation based on which department provides the service. The introduction of new disruptive technologies outside of government can quickly shift the citizen’s expectations as they become aware of new approaches or capabilities.|
|Separate mandates||Government information systems have long mirrored the legislative separation of the functional mandates of departments. In part, this is because the original approaches to a delegation of authority and accountability in legislation did not contemplate the cross‑cutting dependency on information technology that exists today. Beyond authority and accountability, there are legislative constraints on intragovernmental information sharing has historically impeded the integration of business processes across government. Budget and funding models have further reinforced this separation. As a result, there have been limited opportunities to reduce overhead and eliminate redundancies across systems and across government.|
|Evolution of technology||Initially, business process automation within government was implemented as standalone solutions, in many cases monolithic and mainframe solutions. As time passed, the life cycle evolution of individual systems tended to limit their scope to those individual systems; reinforced by a desire to restrict procurement, technical, and change complexity and risk. Current technologies that could be used to implement cohesive enterprise approaches were introduced relatively recently, many years after most government systems were implemented. This gap has been exacerbated over time by the significant difference between the ability of the private sector and the public sector to adopt and leverage new technologies.|
Why is the problem so intractable? Why isn’t “business as usual” a workable way forward?
|“Business as usual” not effective||The “business‑as‑usual” approach would be to try to address each legacy system in isolation; in other words, a simplistic system‑by‑system replacement. The costs and risks associated with this approach for major legacy systems are prohibitive in most cases. Dealing with each system in isolation results in missed opportunities for reuse and for eliminating redundancies. In addition, these “big bang” methods dramatically increase business service delivery risk. By the time a significant replacement project is completed, there is also a substantial possibility that the underlying technology is out of date. To mitigate these issues, approaches that allow for an incremental and managed transition over time are suggested.|
|An alternative strategy||One alternative strategy is to incrementally migrate legacy systems by gradually replacing functional elements with new applications and services; in other words, an “evolve‑and‑transcend” strategy. This strategy implements an architectural pattern named the “Strangler Fig,” a metaphor for refactoring rather than replacing legacy systems, by incrementally replacing functional parts of a legacy application slowly and systematically over time, thus spreading costs and mitigating risks.|
Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture
The Service and Digital Target Enterprise Architecture defines a model for the digital enablement of Government of Canada services that address many of the critical challenges with the current GC enterprise ecosystem. It seeks to reduce the silos within the current GC ecosystem by having departments adopt a user‑ and service‑delivery‑centric perspective when considering new IT solutions or modernizing older solutions. It advocates a whole‑of‑government approach where IT is aligned to business services and solutions are based on reusable components implementing business capabilities optimized to reduce unnecessary redundancy. This reuse is enabled using published APIs shared across government. This approach allows the government to focus on improving its service delivery to Canadians while addressing the challenges with legacy systems.
The goal of the Service and Digital Target State Enterprise Architecture is to depict the Government of Canada’s future state vision in one picture. The diagram is divided into several parts, which are based on The Open Architecture Framework (TOGAF) framework explained in a subsequent section. This framework views business, information and data, applications, technology and security each as separate layers, having their own concerns and architecture.
The top layer of the diagram represents business architecture. The programs in this layer are categorized as front office, which provides services directly to citizens, academic institutions, and Canadian businesses, and back‑office services which support the government itself. Examples of front office programs include Employment Insurance and tax filing services, and examples of back‑end programs include finance security screening, pay, enterprise procurement, and business continuity.
In the following layer, key aspects of the top level of the GC Business Capability Model are depicted. This takes into consideration the IT plan investment framework and provides a mechanism to identify potentially redundant investments across, opportunities for rationalization, and identification of opportunities for enterprise solutions.