The review attempted to determine the extent to which systems of record and authoritative sources of information have been identified within the Department, as well as the extent to which information reported publicly in the DPR is being sourced from systems of record.
Identification of Departmental Systems of Record
At the outset of this review, it was confirmed that within the Department there are a number of systems of record that are recognized as authoritative sources for some types of data, however, there is no formally documented definition of ‘system of record' nor is there a definition of an ‘authoritative source of information'. This was confirmed through interviews with management within IMB and process owners within various program areas. The planning phase of this review also confirmed that there is currently no comprehensive listing of systems of record or comprehensive listing of authoritative sources of information being maintained within the Department. It was confirmed by the CIO that, in the past, a corporate data dictionary did exist which outlined specific data elements, the authoritative source and the data owner; however, it has not been kept up-to-date for many years.
As noted earlier, despite the lack of a formal definition, systems of record do exist. It was noted that there appears to be a general awareness by process owners of the concept of authoritative sources of information and an acceptance of the authority of the information within specific applications. For example, it is clear that financial payment information would be sourced from SAP; however, for other information (e.g. band name, band address, Chief and Council) that may be housed in multiple applications, it can be unclear as to which system is the authoritative source.
The case studies of the three program areas selected confirmed that, generally, the information included in the DPR is sourced from the existing corporate systems. It was noted, however, that supplementary tools do exist and are used for reporting purposes in situations where the corporate systems cannot provide the information necessary to meet reporting needs. Additional information on the impediments to the use of the corporate systems is described in Section 5.3 of this report.
Without a comprehensive listing of authoritative sources of information for specific data elements, there is a risk that the same (or what, in theory, should be the same) information is being maintained in multiple applications. Without a determination of which system is the authoritative source of that information, reliance could be placed and decisions made based on inappropriate information. Further, without an acceptance of which systems are authoritative sources of information for specific data elements, there is a risk of wasted resources in the development and maintenance of new applications designed to collect information already maintained within an authoritative source.
Although no comprehensive listing of authoritative sources of information currently exists within the Department, the review identified specific examples that could be considered as potential starting points. The first is "CommonFootnote 4", which is a central database of over 100 tables of band-related data sourced from five (5) different corporate systems (GCIMS, Indian Registry System (IRS), Band Governance Management System (BGMS), Indian Government Support System (IGSS) and Indian Land Registry System (ILRS)) that feeds thirty-two other applications across the Department. It allows the thirty-two applications to access information originating from the authoritative source without accessing the source applications themselves. This central repository has been sourcing data since 1996 and demonstrates an effort to identify and source common information from its authoritative sources. However, there is no current documentation that confirms the authoritative source of each data element.
Another example is FNCP, an application that was developed and is maintained to obtain information from corporate systems in order to allow that information to be accessible for users to view within FNCP. In addition to the many data fields populated by the source systems (typically through Common), other fields allow the manual entry of information and are expected to be updated by regional representatives. As part of the development of this tool, a listing of the fields (or data elements) represented in the tool exists and includes the data source, the Directorate that owns the data represented in the application, and a definition describing what the data represents. While not completely populated, this listing could be considered a starting point to build upon for a more comprehensive, Department-wide listing.
1. The Chief Financial Officer in conjunction with the Chief Information Officer should, as part of the IM/IT Strategy and Plan, develop and maintain a comprehensive listing of authoritative sources of information that would include the systems of record that host this information, data definitions, data owners and other stakeholders.