Canada: Examining The Use of Technology in Government - July 2004

Last Updated: August 12 2004
Article by Michael Power


  • APEC Tel 29 Documents Available Online
  • Canada to Introduce Biometric Passport
  • eGovernment for Development Information Exchange
  • Ireland: eCabinet Launched
  • Ireland to Get National Food Safety Database
  • Newfoundland: Government Moving Forward with Broadband Commitments
  • P.E.I.: Lien Check Service to Protect Consumers
  • U.K.: E-Efficiency Review Sparks Union Outcry
  • U.K. Launches Hi-Tech Strategy to Fight Crime
  • U.S.: IRS to Rein in Unapproved PDA Use
  • U.S.: ITAA Fires Back at E-Voting Critics
  • U.S.: OSHA Unveils New Web Page on Whistleblower Program
  • U.S.: State and Local E-Gov Spending to Double by '08

APEC Tel 29 Documents Available Online

The 29th Meeting of the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group (APEC TEL 29) was held March 21-26, 2004 in Hong Kong, China. The meeting continued work on pertinent ICT issues including broadband development, e-security, mutual recognition arrangements, e-government and smart community development.

The documents prepared for the meeting are online, are divided by topics, and quite extensive in detail.

APEC TEL 29 documents available at:

Canada To Introduce Biometric Passport

Canada plans to begin issuing high-tech passports with digitized photographs next year, saying reliable travel documents are crucial to the country's status as a "First World nation." The e-Passport, as the revamped book is dubbed—given its electronic features—will be distributed on a trial basis to Canadian diplomats sometime in the first half of 2005, said Dan Kingsbury, a spokesman for the federal Passport Office.

The project is the latest federal initiative to track and control the flow of people across borders more closely following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. The government is pushing ahead with the plan despite objections from privacy and information specialists who argue it is unduly intrusive and unlikely to enhance national security.

With the inclusion of a digitized photo, the passport moves into the controversial realm of biometrics, the use of measurable personal features such as an image, iris scan or fingerprints as identification markers. The e-Passport will feature a computer chip containing the holder's photograph and personal information on the current passport, including name and date of birth, say briefing notes obtained by the Canadian Press under the federal Access to Information law.

Egovernment For Development Information Exchange

The eGovernment for Development Information Exchange project has recently been completed. This provides practitioner-oriented online materials on various aspects of e-government in developing/transitional economies. Four selected topics have online case studies, practitioner guidance materials and training guides: 1. Success and Failure of eGovernment Projects; 2. ICTs and Government Transparency/Corruption; 3. ICTs and Public Sector Health; and 4. Mobile Government (SMS, mobile phone, etc.).

The eGovernment for Development Information Exchange project is coordinated by the University of Manchester's Institute for Development Policy and Management. The project is funded and managed by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation as part of the U.K. Department for International Development's "Building Digital Opportunities" program.

eGovernment for Development available at:

Ireland: Ecabinet Launched

The Irish government has launched ‘eCabinet’, a new initiative to electronically manage cabinet documentation. The new project, developed by the Research Corporation, has started its first phase in all of Ireland's government departments.

The initiative aims to cut down on the manual process of preparing, refining and circulating cabinet documentation.

Speaking at the launch, Mary Hanafin, minister of state at the department of the Prime Minister, described eCabinet as "one of the most ambitious information society projects undertaken to date by the Irish public service, operating across a diverse range of technical infrastructures in different Government Departments."

Full press report available at:

Full press release available at:

Ireland To Get National Food Safety Database

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is implementing a national database that will improve the collection and analysis of information from food safety agencies around the country.

According to the FSAI, the new National Food Safety Surveillance (NFSS) database is the first of its kind for this sector. It will act as a central pool for all of the reports generated by the agencies working with the FSAI. As a Department of Health and Children agency, the FSAI is the public body in charge of enforcing food safety legislation. It works with health authorities, Government departments and other agencies to ensure that the food being produced by manufacturers and the premises they use comply with food safety regulations.

Full press report available at:

Newfoundland: Government Moving Forward With Broadband Commitments

Education Minister John Ottenheimer on July 20th announced that the Department of Education is moving forward with its commitment to provide additional broadband Internet access services to schools and communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

In June of 2003, the provincial and federal governments committed to a $15 million initiative to expand high speed broadband Internet access services to rural and remote areas of the province which included a $5 million commitment each, from both the provincial and federal governments.

As a concrete step towards this objective, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, in conjunction with the Government of Canada, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) from industry partners to match the $5 million investment of each level of government and build the necessary broadband Internet infrastructure and service mechanism that will provide connectivity to unserviced communities and schools.

Full press release available at:

Pei: Lien Check Service To Protect Consumers

Island consumers now have access to an online service to protect them when purchasing previously-owned items such as cars, boats or recreational vehicles. Lien Check is an online service that provides quick and easy access to the Personal Property Registry System using the serial number of the item.

With this new service, a consumer interested in purchasing a previously-owned item simply needs to enter the serial number of that item into the system and search for possible liens. For a minimal service fee, payable online with a credit card, consumers will be able to search the registry from any computer with Internet access.

Lien Check is a joint initiative of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island through the Atlantic Canada Online Electronic Gateway.

Full press release available at:

Lien Check available at: or

U.K.: E-Efficiency Review Sparks Union Outcry

Public sector unions have voiced fierce opposition to news of dramatic cuts to staff posts as part of Government efficiency reforms designed to save £21.5 billion by 2008. Chancellor Gordon Brown said the government's £6 billion investment in technology would allow for a reduction of over 84,000 civil servants in England within the next three years. Ministers are also looking to secure significant efficiency gains by applying IT more effectively, particularly in government procurement, back-office functions and expanding transactional online services.

The Public and Commercial Union (PCS), the largest civil service trade union, has threatened the possibility of strike action to protest against what it called a "serious attack" on its members. Other unions representing public sector workers expressed "alarm" and opposition to the Chancellor's plans, which they believe will impact severely on the quality of public services. Mr. Brown, however, has clearly signalled his determination to press on with the unpopular reforms.

For further details on Government's reforms, visit:

U.K. Launches Hi-Tech Strategy To Fight Crime

The U.K. Government has unveiled plans to expand its national DNA database and introduce new satellite-based tracking of prolific offenders under a major five-year strategy to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. Under the plans, a further £800 million will be invested in modernizing criminal justice IT systems, on top of £1.2 billion already committed. The Government also reaffirmed its intention to develop a national police intelligence IT system, invest in hi-tech border controls and introduce biometric identity cards by 2008. A massive expansion of electronic tagging of offenders is promised, with its use doubling by 2008 to enable 18,000 people to be tracked at one time. Pilots of satellite technology are due to begin from September to monitor offenders night and day if they are living in the community. The crime crackdown also pledges to enhance DNA databases to help police better identity criminals, as well as increase the use of automatic number plate recognition systems for detecting stolen or suspect vehicles.

To download the 136-page strategy, see:

U.S.: Irs To Rein In Unapproved PDA Use

The IRS has more than 2,000 unapproved personal digital assistants that can connect to the tax agency's network, which could allow loss or theft of sensitive information, such as taxpayer data, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said.

But IRS business units could not account for the unapproved PDAs, which managers and employees use while travelling. So the Treasury IG located the PDAs by scanning the network to identify computers depicting PDA synchronization software.

The IRS will also inventory all PDAs in use and scan the network to confirm that connected PDAs comply with security controls. IRS will remove unauthorized synchronization software from networked computers.

IRS' Assurance Programs director has incorporated PDA training into the annual security awareness program beginning last month. The office will coordinate with procurement offices to remind contractors that they cannot connect personal equipment to the IRS network.

Full press report available at:

U.S.: ITAA Fires Back At E-Voting Critics

The president of one of the most influential IT vendor associations is accusing electronic voting system critics, many of whom are IT security researchers, of using the issue of e-voting security to wage a "religious war" that pits open-source software against proprietary software.

A recent survey by the Arlington, Va.-based Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) showed that 77 per cent of registered voters aren't concerned about the security of e-voting systems, and ITAA President Harris Miller said critics who claim to be concerned about the issue are really pushing a political agenda on behalf of the open-source software community.

Eric Raymond, president of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), a nonprofit organization that promotes standards and criteria for open-source software, said Miller has the issue wrong. "Most [e-voting] critics, including me, aren't focusing on open-source vs. closed-source at all, but rather on the lack of any decent audit trail of votes -- one that can't be corrupted by software. Open-source would be nice for all the real reasons but is less important than the audit trail."

Full press report available at:

U.S.: OSHA Unveils New Web Page On Whistleblower Program

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today launched the Whistleblower Program Web page to provide a single source for obtaining detailed information on the laws with whistleblower protections that are administered by OSHA.

The new page consolidates a variety of whistleblower information previously available on the Web site, and supplements that with access to other resources, including the Office of Administrative Law Judges, and the Administrative Review Board.

The Web page includes direct links to the 14 laws with whistleblower protections administered by the agency, and lists the regulations governing the procedures for handling complaints under the various statutes. Detailed procedures on filing workplace discrimination complaints are provided, as is direct access to five separate OSHA fact sheets that focus on the whistleblower program.

Full press release available at:

Whistleblower Web site available at:

U.S.: State And Local E-Gov Spending To Double By '08

The state and local market for e-government products and services will soon reverse its dramatic decline, according to a report released today by Input Inc., a Reston, Va., government information technology research firm.

Between 2005 and 2008, e-government spending will more than double over 2004 spending levels, according to the report. The growth will be driven by spending on integration and consolidation of government back-end systems.

At first, growth will be moderate, and then accelerate rapidly in fiscal 2006 and 2007, according to the report. Over the next two years, e-government spending will increase about eight per cent annually, as governments exhaust opportunities to broaden Web site operations and begin to plan for the next phase of e-government: integration and system consolidation, and development of fully interactive portals.

By fiscal 2006 and 2007, spending growth should reach an approximate compound annual growth rate of 30 per cent, the report said.

Full press report available at:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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