National Security and Intelligence Review Agency - 2022–23 Departmental Plan

ISSN: 2563-0334

From the Executive Director

I am pleased to present the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) 2022–23 Departmental Plan. This report outlines our planned activities, priorities and targeted outcomes for the 2022–23 fiscal year.

Over the past two years, NSIRA has focused on ensuring a successful and efficient transition to a much larger organization with a much broader mandate, while working on standardization and modernizing the processes that underpin our work. The agency has also increased its size and strengthened its technical and subject matter expertise.

In 2022–23, we will be implementing NSIRA’s renewed three-year review plan, which continues to emphasize reviews of increasing scale and complexity as we become familiar with the operations of departments and agencies that have only recently become subject to review. This includes reviewing activities taken under authorities granted by the National Security Act, 2017, and those that are technology- and data-collection–centric.

In the upcoming year, we will continue implementing our new process launched in 2021 for taking in and investigating complaints from members of the public. NSIRA consulted multiple key stakeholders in shaping this new process, which aims to provide greater accessibility and greater timeliness to our complaints investigation function.

As we continue to scale up our operations in 2022–2023, our priority will remain the health and safety of our staff. Some of our planned initiatives include expanding to a second site, recruiting staff across all business lines, and supporting staff and NSIRA members. Moreover, while building on our successes and pursuing ambitious organizational goals, we will maintain our focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including developing an employment equity strategy.

I would like to thank the staff and members of NSIRA. They are dedicated, resilient and committed to excellence. I look forward to continuing to work with them to develop and grow the NSIRA of the future.

John Davies
Executive Director

Plans at a glance

Over the coming year, NSIRA will continue its ambitious review agenda. This will include:

  • mandatory reviews related to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), the Security of Canada Information Disclosure Act and Governor in Council directions under the Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities Act;
  • reviews of activities undertaken under the new authorities granted to government institutions under the National Security Act, 2017; and
  • reviews of activities where technology and the collection of data are central features.

NSIRA will also continue to expand its knowledge of departments and agencies not previously subject to expert review, including through the conduct of interagency reviews.

After an extensive consultation exercise with key stakeholders and the development of new rules of procedures in 2021, NSIRA will also focus on implementing its new model for investigating complaints. Our goal is to enhance access to justice for complainants and to ensure that NSIRA investigates complaints in a timely manner.

Employee health and well-being are key to the agency’s success. In that regard, NSIRA will continue to take steps to protect the physical and mental health of its employees and help address stresses caused by the pandemic. NSIRA will focus on the implementation of initiatives aimed at improving workplace and employee well-being as well as meeting federal public service objectives for employment equity, diversity and inclusion.

For more information on NSIRA’s plans, see the “Core responsibilities: planned results and resources, and key risks” section of this plan.

Core responsibilities: planned results and resources, and key risks

This section contains information on the department’s planned results and resources for each of its core responsibilities. It also contains information on key risks related to achieving those results.

National Security and Intelligence Reviews and Complaints Investigations

Description

NSIRA reviews Government of Canada national security and intelligence activities to assess whether they are lawful, reasonable and necessary. It investigates complaints from members of the public regarding activities of CSIS, CSE or the national security activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), as well as certain other national security-related complaints. This independent scrutiny contributes to the strengthening of the framework of accountability for national security and intelligence activities undertaken by Government of Canada institutions and supports public confidence in this regard.

Planning highlights

Reviews

In support of this outcome, NSIRA will continue to implement an ambitious review agenda in 2022–23. It will review the activities of CSIS and CSE to provide responsible ministers and the Canadian public with an informed assessment of these activities, including their lawfulness, reasonableness and necessity. NSIRA will also build on the knowledge it has acquired of departments and agencies, such as the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. Using that knowledge, NSIRA will ensure these organizations’ national security or intelligence activities are independently reviewed. NSIRA is committed to transcending the silos that have characterized national security review , and will “follow the thread” of an activity between agencies to ensure its assessments reflect the complex and interwoven approach Canada takes to national security.

NSIRA is committed to ensuring its review agenda remains responsive and topical. In 2022–23, in order to inform the upcoming review of the National Security Act, 2017, NSIRA will focus on the review of activities performed under authorities that were granted by virtue of this legislation. For CSIS, these include the collection and use of datasets, and the implementation of a framework for justifying activities that contravene the law that are carried out by designated employees under specific circumstances in the context of their duties and functions. For CSE, this will include the conduct of active and defensive cyber operations. Other NSIRA reviews that will contribute information in this regard are the annual reviews of the Security of Canada Information Disclosure Act, of the Governor in Council directions under the Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities Act, and of the use of measures by CSIS to reduce threats to the security of Canada.

NSIRA will continue to expand its knowledge of national security institutions by undertaking reviews in the areas of terrorist financing, foreign interference and cybersecurity. The agency will fully utilize its authorities to follow the thread of information across multiple organizations by undertaking reviews on CSIS-CSE collaboration, the efforts of both CSIS and the RCMP to address threats posed by ideologically motivated violent extremists, and the use of human sources by various departments and agencies.

Finally, NSIRA will focus on select reviews where the review of technology and data flows are central, including the collection and use of open-source intelligence at the Department of National Defence, the lifecycle of information collected under warrant by CSIS, and the retention practices of signals intelligence by CSE. NSIRA will be leveraging both internal and external technology expertise in conducting these reviews.

Outreach and collaboration

NSIRA will continue to engage with community stakeholders to understand their concerns surrounding national security and intelligence activities. NSIRA will also continue to proactively publish unclassified versions of its reports throughout the year, as well as information on its plans and processes. The annual report will continue to summarize NSIRA’s review findings and recommendations in context, situating these elements within a broader discussion of key trends and challenges NSIRA has observed over the year. NSIRA will finish a full update of its review process and procedures, and work with reviewed entities in applying them to all reviews that are starting or in early stages.

In 2022–23, NSIRA will continue to draw on the close relationships it has established with the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. The agency will coordinate its activities to ensure review is efficient and comprehensive, and avoids unnecessary duplication of effort.

NSIRA is also developing close ties to its international equivalents. It will continue its participation in the Five Eyes Intelligence Oversight and Review Council (FIORC) that brings together review agency representatives from Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. NSIRA will participate in the FIORC annual conference in the fall of 2022. In addition, NSIRA will participate in FIORC working groups, which aim to meet regularly at the working level to discuss topics of common interest, such as the impacts of new technology, the investigation of complaints from the public and access to information in the possession of reviewed departments. NSIRA also intends to renew its efforts to foster new collaborative relationships with other international review bodies.

Complaints investigations

In 2022–23, NSIRA will also strengthen institutions’ accountability and enhance public confidence by ensuring consistency, quality and timeliness in investigating national security–related complaints. The independent investigation of complaints plays a critical role in maintaining public confidence in Canada’s national security institutions. In 2022–23, NSIRA will continue to offer an informal resolution process to complement the investigative process to respond to complaints. NSIRA will apply its new rules of procedure to promote accessibility, timeliness and efficiency in the investigation of complaints. Finally, NSIRA will establish new service standards for the investigation of complaints.

Gender-based analysis plus

In 2022–23, NSIRA’s Diversity, Inclusion and Employment Equity Advisory Committee will examine and provide advice on its internal policies, programs and procedures, as well as its external service delivery model through the lens of inclusion, diversity and equity.

From a program delivery perspective, NSIRA is working closely with its partner, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, to develop strategies for the collection, analysis and use of race-based and demographic data in the context of the complaints process. The objectives of this initiative are to improve access to justice by improving awareness and understanding of the investigation process. The intent is also to document the different racial groups among civilian complainants and determine:

  • whether there are significant racial disparities;
  • whether there are racial differences with respect to the types of complaints made against national security agency members based on different groups;
  • the frequency of complaints that include allegations of racial or other forms of bias;
  • whether complaint investigation outcomes vary by racial group; and
  • whether civilian satisfaction with NSIRA’s investigation process also varies by racial group.

NSIRA’s program of planned and ongoing reviews also takes into account the potential for national security and intelligence activities to result in disparate outcomes for minority groups. Ongoing reviews of the Canada Border Services Agency’s targeting practices, as well as the use of biometrics in a national security and intelligence context, include specific considerations of the impacts of these activities on diverse communities.

From a corporate perspective, the Diversity, Inclusion and Employment Equity Advisory Committee will also continue to engage with NSIRA’s personnel on issues related to systemic discrimination and racism through seminars and learning events. The intent is to continue to create an environment in which all employees feel comfortable and will not shy away from participating in discussions on issues related to anti-racism, diversity and inclusion.

As well, NSIRA is developing a self-identification process for its employees that will allow it to shape its staffing and employment equity strategies to increase representation and to ensure it reflects the diversity of the Canadian public, which it serves.

Experimentation

Given the functions and responsibilities of NSIRA, the organization does not engage in experimentation activities.

Key risks

NSIRA’s ability to access the information it needs to do its work and speak to the relevant stakeholders to understand policies, operations and ongoing issues is closely tied to the capacity of the organizations being reviewed to respond to NSIRA’s demands. The resource constraints of those organizations might continue to be compounded next year by disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. This presents a risk of hindering NSIRA’s ability to deliver on its mandate in a timely way. NSIRA is mitigating this risk by ensuring clear communication about information requests and by setting review priorities.

The physical distancing precautions established by the COVID-19 pandemic will likely continue to be needed in 2022–23. While NSIRA invested in technology and adapted and expanded its office space to accommodate these requirements, the pandemic may still affect NSIRA’s ability to deliver on its mandate in a timely way and limit the frequency and type of outreach NSIRA can accomplish. The agency will continue to innovate and adapt to conduct its operations and, as necessary, engage virtually with stakeholders, departments and agencies.

Planned results for National Security and Intelligence Activity Reviews and Complaints Investigations

The following table shows, for National Security and Intelligence Activity Reviews and Complaints Investigations, the planned results, the result indicators, the targets and the target dates for 2022–23, and the actual results for the three most recent fiscal years for which actual results are available.

Departmental result Departmental result indicator Target Date to achieve target 2018–19
actual result
2019–20 actual result 2020–21 actual result
Ministers and Canadians are informed whether national security and intelligence activities undertaken by Government of Canada institutions are lawful, reasonable and necessary All mandatory reviews are completed on an annual basis 100% completion of mandatory reviews December 2022 Not applicable (N/A) N/A N/A
Reviews of national security or intelligence activities of at least five departments or agencies are conducted each year At least one national security or intelligence activity is reviewed in at least five departments or agencies annually December 2022 N/A N/A N/A
All Member-approved high priority national security or intelligence activities are reviewed over a three-year period 100% completion over three years; at least 33% completed each year December 2022 N/A N/A N/A
National security-related complaints are independently investigated in a timely manner Percentage of investigations completed within NSIRA service standards 90% March 2023 N/A N/A N/A

Note:    Because NSIRA was created on July 12, 2019, there is no comparative information to provide for 2018–19. Actual results for 2019–20 are not available as the new Departmental Results Framework in the changeover from the Security Intelligence Review Committee to NSIRA was being developed. This new framework is for measuring and reporting on results achieved starting in 2021–22, thus no actual results can be reported for 2020–21 either.

The financial, human resources and performance information for NSIRA’s program inventory is available on GC InfoBase.

Planned budgetary spending for National Security and Intelligence Activity Reviews and Complaints Investigations

2022–23 budgetary spending (as indicated in Main Estimates) 2022–23 planned spending 2023–24 planned spending 2024–25 planned spending
10,756,818 10,756,818 10,757,687 10,757,687

Financial, human resources and performance information for NSIRA’s program inventory is available on GC InfoBase.

Planned human resources for National Security and Intelligence Activity Reviews and Complaints Investigations

2022–23 planned full-time equivalents 2023–24 planned full-time equivalents 2024–25 planned full-time equivalents
69.0 69.0 69.0

Financial, human resources and performance information for NSIRA’s program inventory is available on GC InfoBase.

Internal services: planned results

Description

Internal services are the services that are provided within a department so that it can meet its corporate obligations and deliver its programs. There are 10 categories of internal services:

  • management and oversight services
  • communications services
  • legal services
  • human resources management services
  • financial management services
  • information management services
  • information technology services
  • real property management services
  • materiel management services
  • acquisition management services

Planning highlights

As it enters a third full year of operation, NSIRA will continue to take steps to ensure resources are deployed in the most effective and efficient manner possible and that its operational and administrative structures, tools and processes will continue to focus on supporting the delivery of its priorities.

NSIRA’s employees are the backbone of its operations. Because their health and well-being are key to the agency’s success, several initiatives geared toward improving workplace health and employee well-being will be an ongoing priority.

In an effort to attract and retain talent, NSIRA will further initiatives aimed at articulating NSIRA’s vision, values, culture and brand. The agency will work with employees to establish a hybrid workplace framework and talent/career management programs.

NSIRA has identified and publicly shared an action plan aimed at supporting the federal public service objectives for employment equity, diversity and inclusion. In 2022–23, the agency will accelerate its efforts on this front.

If not further delayed by the pandemic, NSIRA aims to complete its accommodation, infrastructure and systems investments in 2022–23 and initiate self-assessments of its compliance with central agencies’ policies and directives.

Planned budgetary spending for internal services

2022–23 budgetary spending (as indicated in Main Estimates) 2022–23 planned spending 2023–24 planned spending 2024–25 planned spending
17,493,858 17,493,858 7,701,336 7,701,042

 

Planned human resources for internal services

2022–23 planned full-time equivalents 2023–24 planned full-time equivalents 2024–25 planned full-time equivalents
31.0 31.0 31.0

Planned spending and human resources

This section provides an overview of the department’s planned spending and human resources for the next three fiscal years and compares planned spending for 2022–23 with actual spending for the current year and the previous year.

Planned spending

Departmental spending 2019–20 to 2024–25

The following graph presents planned spending (voted and statutory expenditures) over time.

Fiscal years 2019–20 and 2020–21 show actual expenditures as reported in the Public Accounts, while 2021–2022 presents the forecast for the current fiscal year. Fiscal years 2022–23 to 2024–25 present planned spending.

The 2020–21 spending of $12.2 million increased by $6.6 million (118%), compared to 2019–20. The increase is due to the fact that NSIRA was created in July 2019, which resulted in the actual expenditures for fiscal year 2019–20 reflecting only a partial year of spending. Forecast spending in 2021–22 is higher than 2020–21 spending by $8.2 million (67%), primarily due to growth in personnel and limited investments in accommodation, infrastructure and systems.

Spending is expected to increase by $7.8 million (38%) in 2022–23 compared to 2021–22. This planned increase is mainly due to a re-profile of funding to align to the conduct of projects delayed by the pandemic. Spending is expected to decrease by $9.8 million (35%) in 2023–24, mainly due to the expected completion of the office expansion project in 2022–23. Spending is expected to remain relatively unchanged in 2024–25 from 2023–4.

Budgetary planning summary for core responsibilities and internal services (dollars)

The following table shows information on spending for each of NSIRA’s core responsibilities and for its internal services for 2022–23 and other relevant fiscal years.

Core responsibilities and internal services 2019–20 actual expenditures 2020–21 actual expenditures 2021–22 forecast spending 2022–23 budgetary spending (as indicated in Main Estimates) 2022–23 planned spending 2023–24 planned spending 2024–25 planned spending
National Security and Intelligence Reviews and Complaints Investigations 3,009,066 5,607,796 8,074,229 10,756,818 10,756,818 10,757,687 10,757,687
Subtotal 3,009,066 5,607,796 8,074,229 10,756,818 10,756,818 10,757,687 10,757,687
Internal services 2,616,241 6,643,579 12,358,398 17,493,858 17,493,858 7,701,336 7,701,042
Total 5,625,307 12,251,375 20,432,627 28,250,676 28,250,676 18,459,023 18,458,729

As NSIRA was created on July 12, 2019, the numbers for 2019–20 are for the reporting period of July 12, 2019, to March 31, 2020.

Planned human resources

The following table shows information on human resources, in full-time equivalents, for each of NSIRA’s core responsibilities and for its internal services for 2022–23 and the other relevant years.

Human resources planning summary for core responsibilities and internal services

Core responsibilities and internal services 2019–20 actual full‑time equivalents 2020–21 actual full‑time equivalents 2021–22 forecast full‑time equivalents 2022–23 planned full‑time equivalents 2023–24 planned full‑time equivalents 2024–25 planned full‑time equivalents
National Security and Intelligence Reviews and Complaints Investigations 17.5 37.8 53.3 69.0 69.0 69.0
Subtotal 17.5 37.8 53.3 69.0 69.0 69.0
Internal services 11.2 21.7 25.9 31.0 31.0 31.0
Total 28.7 59.5 79.2 100.0 100.0 100.0

As NSIRA was created on July 12, 2019, the numbers for 2019–20 are for the reporting period of July 12, 2019, to March 31, 2020.

Estimates by vote

Information on NSIRA’s organizational appropriations is available in the 2022–23 Main Estimates.

Future-oriented condensed statement of operations

The future-oriented condensed statement of operations provides an overview of NSIRA’s operations for 2021–22 to 2022–23.

The forecast and planned amounts in this statement of operations were prepared on an accrual basis. The forecast and planned amounts presented in other sections of the Departmental Plan were prepared on an expenditure basis. Amounts may therefore differ.

A more detailed future-oriented statement of operations and associated notes, including a reconciliation of the net cost of operations with the requested authorities, are available on NSIRA’s website.

Future-oriented condensed statement of operations for the year ending March 31, 2023 (dollars)

Financial information 2021–22 forecast results 2022–23 planned results Difference
(2022–23 planned results minus
2021–22 forecast results)
Total expenses 21,850,048 28,625,397 6,775,349
Total revenues
Net cost of operations before government funding and transfers 21,850,048 28,625,397 6,775,349

 

The difference between the 2022–23 planned results and 2021–22 forecast results is mostly explained by planned accommodation, infrastructure and systems project costs.

Corporate Information

Organizational profile

Appropriate minister(s): The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Institutional head: John Davies, Executive Director
Ministerial portfolio: Privy Council Office
Enabling instrument(s): National Security and Intelligence Review Agency Act
Year of incorporation / commencement: 2019

Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do

Information on NSIRA’s raison d’être, mandate and role is available on NSIRA’s website.

Operating context

Information on the operating context is available on NSIRA’s website.

Reporting framework

NSIRA’s approved departmental results framework and program inventory for 2022–23 are as follows.

Supporting information on the program inventory

Supporting information on planned expenditures, human resources and results related to NSIRA’s program inventory is available on GC InfoBase.

Supplementary information tables

The following supplementary information table is available on NSIRA’s website:

  • Gender-based analysis plus

Federal tax expenditures

NSIRA’s Departmental Plan does not include information on tax expenditures.

Tax expenditures are the responsibility of the Minister of Finance. The Department of Finance Canada publishes cost estimates and projections for government­‑wide tax expenditures each year in the Report on Federal Tax Expenditures. This report provides detailed information on tax expenditures, including objectives, historical background and references to related federal spending programs, as well as evaluations, research papers and gender-based analysis plus.

Organizational contact information

Mailing address

National Security and Intelligence Review Agency

P.O. Box 2430, Station “D”

Ottawa, Ontario

K1P 5W5

Telephone: The phone number is temporarily disabled.

Fax: The fax number is temporarily disabled.

Email: info@nsira-ossnr.gc.ca

Website(s): https://nsira-ossnr.gc.ca/

Appendix: definitions

appropriation (crédit)

Any authority of Parliament to pay money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

budgetary expenditures (dépenses budgétaires)

Operating and capital expenditures; transfer payments to other levels of government, organizations or individuals; and payments to Crown corporations.

core responsibility (responsabilité essentielle)

An enduring function or role performed by a department. The intentions of the department with respect to a core responsibility are reflected in one or more related departmental results that the department seeks to contribute to or influence.

Departmental Plan (plan ministériel)

A document that sets out a department’s priorities, programs, expected results and associated resource requirements, covering a three‑year period beginning with the year indicated in the title of the report. Departmental Plans are tabled in Parliament each spring.

departmental result (résultat ministériel)

A change that a department seeks to influence. A departmental result is often outside departments’ immediate control, but it should be influenced by program-level outcomes.

departmental result indicator (indicateur de résultat ministériel)

A factor or variable that provides a valid and reliable means to measure or describe progress on a departmental result.

departmental results framework (cadre ministériel des résultats)

A framework that consists of the department’s core responsibilities, departmental results and departmental result indicators.

Departmental Results Report (rapport sur les résultats ministériels)

A report on a department’s actual performance in a fiscal year against its plans, priorities and expected results set out in its Departmental Plan for that year. Departmental Results Reports are usually tabled in Parliament each fall.

experimentation (expérimentation)

The conducting of activities that explore, test and compare the effects and impacts of policies and interventions in order to inform decision-making and improve outcomes for Canadians. Experimentation is related to, but distinct from, innovation. Innovation is the trying of something new; experimentation involves a rigorous comparison of results. For example, introducing a new mobile application to communicate with Canadians can be an innovation; systematically testing the new application and comparing it against an existing website or other tools to see which one reaches more people, is experimentation.

full‑time equivalent (équivalent temps plein)

A measure of the extent to which an employee represents a full person‑year charge against a departmental budget. Full‑time equivalents are calculated as a ratio of assigned hours of work to scheduled hours of work. Scheduled hours of work are set out in collective agreements.

gender-based analysis plus (GBA Plus) (analyse comparative entre les sexes plus [ACS Plus])

An analytical process used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people experience policies, programs and services based on multiple factors including race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability.

government-wide priorities (priorités pangouvernementales)

For the purpose of the 2022–23 Departmental Plan, government-wide priorities are the high-level themes outlining the government’s agenda in the 2021 Speech from the Throne: protecting Canadians from COVID-19; helping Canadians through the pandemic; building back better — a resiliency agenda for the middle class; the Canada we’re fighting for.

horizontal initiative (initiative horizontale)

An initiative in which two or more federal organizations are given funding to pursue a shared outcome, often linked to a government priority.

non‑budgetary expenditures (dépenses non budgétaires)

Net outlays and receipts related to loans, investments and advances, which change the composition of the financial assets of the Government of Canada.

performance (rendement)

What an organization did with its resources to achieve its results, how well those results compare to what the organization intended to achieve, and how well lessons learned have been identified.

plan (plan)

The articulation of strategic choices, which provides information on how an organization intends to achieve its priorities and associated results. Generally, a plan will explain the logic behind the strategies chosen and tend to focus on actions that lead up to the expected result.

planned spending (dépenses prévues)

For Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports, planned spending refers to those amounts presented in the Main Estimates.

A department is expected to be aware of the authorities that it has sought and received. The determination of planned spending is a departmental responsibility, and departments must be able to defend the expenditure and accrual numbers presented in their Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports.

program (programme)

Individual or groups of services, activities or combinations thereof that are managed together within a department and that focus on a specific set of outputs, outcomes or service levels.

program inventory (répertoire des programmes)

An inventory of a department’s programs that describes how resources are organized to carry out the department’s core responsibilities and achieve its planned results.

result (résultat)

An external consequence attributed, in part, to an organization, policy, program or initiative. Results are not within the control of a single organization, policy, program or initiative; instead, they are within the area of the organization’s influence.

statutory expenditures (dépenses législatives)

Expenditures that Parliament has approved through legislation other than appropriation acts. The legislation sets out the purpose of the expenditures and the terms and conditions under which they may be made.

target (cible)

A measurable performance or success level that an organization, program or initiative plans to achieve within a specified time period. Targets can be either quantitative or qualitative.

voted expenditures (dépenses votées)

Expenditures that Parliament approves annually through an Appropriation Act. The vote wording becomes the governing conditions under which these expenditures may be made.

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