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Status Report on Major Crown/Transformational Projects—Global Case Management System


The Global Case Management System (GCMS) is the electronic business platform for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). It is integral to making the citizenship and immigration system more modern, efficient, flexible and responsive to Canada’s labour market. It is essential to improving citizenship and immigration services, maintaining program integrity and strengthening the security of Canada.

GCMS is helping CIC move toward an integrated and virtual business model. GCMS also lays the foundation to support future business improvements and innovation, such as the introduction of e-services and improved identity management through biometrics.

Project Phase

GCMS is currently in the project close-out phase. GCMS was granted preliminary project approval in 2001. In September 2004, it was successfully implemented for the Citizenship Program. The first version of GCMS is being used to process more than 200,000 applications each year for Canadian citizenship and proof of citizenship.

The GCMS major Crown project has been successfully completed and has met all of its major milestones on time and under budget authority. The second release of GCMS, which focused on the overseas immigration program, was deployed to all overseas visa offices between June 2010 and March 2011. With international roll-out now complete, GCMS provides a single, integrated processing capability for all citizenship and overseas immigration applications.

Leading and Participating Departments and Agencies

Lead Department CIC
Contracting Authority Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC)
Participating Departments Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

Prime and Major Subcontractor(s)

Prime Contractor None (CIC is responsible for system integration)
Major Subcontractor(s) None (various subcontractors are used)

Major Milestones

Major Milestone Date
Funding for the GCMS project was approved at the same time as the implementation of policy reforms and the new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). August 2000
Preliminary project approval and major Crown project designation granted to GCMS. March 2001
Effective project approval (EPA) granted to GCMS. January 2002
Request for proposal for the acquisition of a commercial, off-the-shelf software package for case management posted for tender by PWGSC. February 2002
Contract for the off-the-shelf software package for case management awarded. March 2003
Amended EPA granted to GCMS to address the impact of procurement delays. October 2003
First GCMS business component (Citizenship) implemented. September 2004
Second EPA amendment granted to address the impact of cumulative slippage that includes critical new requirements in project scope, and provides for an incremental deployment approach. September 2005
System under development audit of the GCMS project completed. November 2005
Third EPA amendment granted to address a wording anomaly with regard to the Goods and Services Tax (GST). December 2006
Independent review indicated the need to assess project status and review options for completing GCMS objectives. December 2006
Fourth EPA amendment granted to undertake this assessment and to develop a revised go-forward plan. February 2007
Fifth EPA amendment granted, extending the timeframe for completion of a substantive go-forward plan to late fiscal 2007–08. October 2007
Independent review validated project’s recovery plan and project team’s readiness to deliver. December 2007
Sixth EPA amendment granted to reduce scope for the second release of GCMS. August 2008
Independent review confirmed that technology sound, project schedule achievable and that “success is within sight.” June 2009
Remainder of funding required to complete the project released. September 2009
Deployment of new GCMS version to existing citizenship users. May 2010
GCMS deployment to first visa office overseas. June 2010
GCMS deployment to all visa offices overseas completed. March 2011

Project Outcomes

GCMS is CIC’s secure electronic business platform that integrates citizenship and immigration data worldwide. It provides a secure and effective system for managing clients that delivers improved program integrity, increased overall efficiency and better service delivery—all elements of the government agenda—in a complex and changing business environment. GCMS lays the foundation to support future business improvements and innovations such as the introduction of e-services and improved identity management through biometrics.

Progress Report and Explanations of Variances

The GCMS project was completed under its approved budgetary estimate of $387 million and GCMS Release 2 was successfully deployed to all international offices before March 31, 2011.

In August 2008, approval was granted to extend the time required to complete the project to March 31, 2011, and increased the project’s total spending authority to $387 million (including GST). Consistent with recommendations from independent reviews conducted between December 2006 and December 2007, GCMS Release 2 was developed with a reduced scope focused on visa offices overseas.

The GCMS project has faced considerable challenges, adding to the cost and time needed to complete the project, including:

  • an overly ambitious scope with no initial phased delivery;
  • a change of government direction to commercial off-the-shelf software;
  • splitting of immigration with the creation of the CBSA;
  • amendments to the IRPA, representing a major change in the administration of the immigration system; and
  • a need to respond to increased security risks, while respecting privacy.

Industrial Benefits

This major Crown project does not directly benefit Canadian industry; it is a project to provide CIC with an automated, integrated case management tool to support its global business network and to provide enhanced end-to-end client services to support the delivery of CIC’s services.

Status Report on Major Crown/Transformational Projects—Refugee Reform Program (for CIC1)


Through implementation of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, Canada is improving its asylum system with the aim of helping those truly in need and doing so much more quickly. The new legislation seeks to streamline the asylum system to ensure that Canada can continue to provide timely protection to those in need while deterring abuse of the system. All eligible asylum claimants will continue to receive a fair hearing based on their personal situation and will have avenues for appeal. The new measures include:

  • changes at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB);
  • adding a Refugee Appeal Division at the IRB;
  • authority to designate countries of origin;
  • limits on pre-removal risk assessments and temporary resident permits;
  • changes to the humanitarian and compassionate provisions;
  • timely removals of failed asylum claimants;
  • introduction of an Assisted Voluntary Returns pilot program; and
  • enhancing Canada’s resettlement program.

These new measures will continue to exceed Canada’s international and domestic legal obligations to asylum seekers.

Project Phase

The Balanced Refugee Reform Act implementation project is currently in the execution phase. A joint integrated detailed schedule has been approved by all partners and has been baselined. The project management plan is current and has been approved by all partners. Business and information technology (IT) systems are being developed for testing and implementation during a later project phase. Risk, issue and change management processes have been implemented and are working well. A financial reporting structure has been implemented and is also working well.

Leading and Participating Departments and Agencies

Lead Department CIC
Contracting Authority PWGSC
Participating Departments CBSA, IRB, Department of Justice (DOJ)/Federal Court, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Courts Administration Service.

Prime and Major Subcontractor(s)

Prime Contractor None
Major Subcontractor(s) Various subcontractors are used on a task authorization basis

Major Milestones

Major Milestone Date
Royal assent received for Balanced Refugee Reform Act June 29, 2010
Project charter approved September 30, 2010
Schedule baselined and approved December 31, 2010
Project management plan approved December 31, 2010
Performance measurement strategy to Treasury Board Secretariat March 31, 2011
Refugee reform: Coming into force (CIF) June 29, 2012
CBSA launch of assisted voluntary returns pilot project CIF
CIC launch of ministerial reviews and intervention pilot project CIF
CIC and RCMP launch of enhanced screening pilot project CIF
Transfer of pre-removal risk assessment function from CIC to IRB One year post-CIF
Complete assessment of backlog reduction strategy March 31, 2013
Complete comprehensive three-year evaluation March 31, 2015

Project Outcomes

The business outcomes of the Refugee Reform Program include:

  • streamlining the process from the point of claim to the end of the determination process and imposition of specific timelines for each step of the process;
  • enhancing system integrity by reducing abuse of the system through ongoing monitoring and analysis, increased capacity to conduct ministerial interventions, capacity to designate countries of origin, introducing enhanced security screening on a pilot basis, and making it more efficient by maximizing use of resources (time, human, financial); and
  • ensuring timely removals through increased removals capacity at CBSA and the introduction of an assisted voluntary returns pilot project.

As part of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, the government also announced a 20‑percent increase in the number resettled refugees that Canada will receive each year, to approximately 14,500 persons by 2013. This increase means that, by 2013, Canada will welcome 11% of all refugees resettled from around the world.

Metrics of success are being developed by CIC in conjunction with relevant partners in order to measure the success of the project.

Progress Report and Explanations of Variances

As of March 31, 2011, the project is operating within approved funding authority, on schedule, within approved scope, and with no project issues.

Industrial Benefits

There are no industrial benefits. However, bona fide refugee claimants will benefit from a streamlined process and Canadian society at large will benefit from system integrity and timely removal of failed claimants.

Status Report on Major Crown/Transformational Projects—Temporary Resident Biometrics Project


Today, the use of biometrics is expanding rapidly given its unique approach and its potential to identify an individual reliably. The introduction of biometric technology into the temporary resident immigration stream, beginning in 2013, will enhance the screening of applicants by fixing the client’s identity at the time of application for a visa or for a study or work permit, and allowing verification of that identity when the individual seeks entry at the border. As a result, Canada will better ensure the safety and security of Canadian society and reduce abuse of the immigration system by limiting opportunities for persons with Canadian criminal or deportation histories to use alternate identities to return to Canada. The project will also facilitate the processing of legitimate temporary workers, students and visitors. Many other countries, including such key international partners as Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, have either recently implemented or are planning to implement similar projects.

Project Phase

The Temporary Resident Biometrics Project is currently in its execution phase. During the execution phase, CIC, CBSA and the RCMP continue to work collaboratively to define the deployment strategies for implementing the Temporary Resident Biometrics Project. The partners completed a critical first step by defining a set of comprehensive business and supporting infrastructure requirements. These requirements will be used to define the business solution and how it will work (functional design), how technology will enable the solution (technical design), and how all the pieces fit and work together (supporting architectures).

Substantive plans and strategies for completing the project and managing the business change were finalized and approved by all partners, culminating in 2010–11 with the posting of the IT solution request for proposal (RFP). EPA was granted on March 24, 2011.

During the execution phase, the project will focus on developing, monitoring and controlling deliverables (as defined by the business requirements), while meeting schedule commitments.

Leading and Participating Departments and Agencies

Lead Department CIC
Contracting Authority PWGSC
Participating Departments CBSA and RCMP

Prime and Major Subcontractor(s)

Prime Contractor None (Tendering in 2011–12)
Major Subcontractor(s) Not applicable (N/A)

Major Milestones

Major Milestone Date
EPA March 2011
Technical Solution IT RFP Posting on MERX March 2011
IT RFP Tender 2011–12
Visa Application Centres RFP Posting and Tender 2011–12
Deployment 2012–13
Project Shutdown 2013–14

Project Outcomes

Funding was included in Budget 2008 to enhance and strengthen identity management within the Temporary Resident Program, allowing overseas visa officers and border service officers at ports of entry (POEs) to make decisions based on accurate identity and immigration admissibility information, and permitting border service officers to verify applicants’ identity at Canada’s POEs. As a result, the Government of Canada will be in a better position to reduce identity fraud, enhance the safety and security of Canadians through strengthened criminality screening, and facilitate the processing of legitimate applicants by confirming identity promptly.

Protect Canadians

The rise of identity fraud and theft globally and the use of sophisticated means to evade detection presents challenges for Canada’s immigration program in verifying and managing applicants’ identification. Proper identification of applicants is crucial to the decision-making process of CIC officers abroad and CBSA officers at Canadian ports of entry. Decisions taken by CIC and CBSA form the first line of defence against individuals who pose a criminal or security threat to Canadians and against certain migrants who seek to take advantage of Canada’s high standard of living.

Reduced Abuse of Visa Program

Biometrics will allow the government to detect and deter temporary applicants who use different identities, including previously refused visa or permit applicants.

Reduced Abuse of Refugee Program

Biometrics will make it possible to cross-reference visa or permit applicants against the refugee claimant database and vice versa. Even within the limited scope of the field trial (October 2006 to April 2007), 12 cases out of 1,482 recorded entries into Canada were found between the visa and refugee streams—a rate of 0.8%. Under the auspices of the Five Country Conference, CIC, in partnership with CBSA and the RCMP, began sharing 3,000 fingerprint records per country per year under the High Value Data Sharing Protocol in September 2009. Canada is exchanging bilaterally with Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. This initiative covers refugee claimants as well as immigration enforcement cases. To date, the protocol has yielded positive results, including potential interventions and warrant closures.

To highlight some successes, as of May 31, 2011, Canada had a 38.7-percent match rate with the United States, a 5.2-percent match rate with the United Kingdom, a 0.1-percent match rate with Australia and 0.3-percent match rate with New Zealand. To date, Canada has sent 10,303 fingerprint records to Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States for matching against their biometric holdings resulting in 1,108 matches and 203 referrals to CBSA regions for possible intervention, vacation of status or warrant closure. Given these successes, development of future systematic biometric immigration information is being explored. This type of biometric matching could increase the quality of evidence available for decision makers at the IRB to establish the credibility of refugee claims. This initiative forms part of CIC’s contribution to a joint action plan being developed under the Canada–United States Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness.

Facilitate Removals

Biometrics will facilitate the removal of individuals who should not be in Canada by linking undocumented foreign nationals to the identity and place of origin stated on their visa application. Of the approximately 23,172 in-Canada refugee claimants in 2010, 6,215 or 27% were without identity or travel documents. Biometrics will also detect previous deportees who apply for a Canadian visa under a different identity, thereby preventing them from returning to Canada.

Ensure Border Security

Biometric verification at the POE will strengthen identity management and allow CBSA officers to confirm that the individual arriving in Canada is the same one to whom CIC issued the visa or permit abroad. Currently, one of the key vulnerabilities is the inability to ensure that the visa or permit and the genuine holder remain together once the document is issued by CIC. It is this gap that resulted in 454 Canadian visas being used fraudulently by foreign nationals to travel to Canada in 2010. This includes altered and counterfeit visas as well as impostor fraud. The actual extent of the abuse is estimated to be higher than this figure suggests as not all fraud is detected.

Improve Service Delivery by Building a Global Network of Visa Application Centres

Since 2005, the Government of Canada has contracted with private service providers to operate visa application centres (VACs) that deliver a range of visa services to applicants in 37 locations in 18 countries from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and, more recently, Mexico. Safeguards governing the protection of personal information will continue to be part of the terms of agreement with each service provider. In 2010, as a part of its modernization agenda, the Department developed a plan to implement an expanded global service delivery network of VACs, which will enhance service delivery by providing visa applicants easier access to services closer to home and include biometrics enrolment. Given the high volume of temporary resident applications from visa-required foreign nationals temporarily residing in the United States, service delivery options are being explored to allow the applicants to enrol their biometrics at U.S. application support centre locations.

Over the course of the last year, the Department has made important strides in the development of a plan to implement an expanded global service delivery network of VACs. In collaboration with its project partners, the Department has developed a concept of operations, business process maps and the business and technical requirements for its VAC network. In addition, it has conducted industry consultations, which supported the preparation of a statement of work for the upcoming launch of the VAC RFP in 2011–12.

Progress Report and Explanations of Variances

In late 2007, CIC sought policy approval for the introduction of biometrics into the Temporary Resident Program, and funding to support this initiative was included in Budget 2008. On March 24, 2011, EPA for the Temporary Resident Biometrics Project was granted. As part of the major Crown project management process, a department requests an EPA when the planning phase is complete to obtain authority to implement the project. Another significant milestone for the project occurred March 4, 2011, when the biometrics IT solution RFP was posted on the MERX website. The aim of the RFP is to find a vendor that will design, develop and test the biometrics system required to implement the project. The Temporary Resident Biometrics Project is currently in the execution phase; it is scheduled to move into the implementation phase, delivering the project in 2013–14.

EPA was granted for the Temporary Resident Biometrics Project at an indicative cost estimate of $180,282,906, including GST and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) of $11,430,878 to undertake the activities necessary to complete its planning, design, development and deployment over six years, from 2007–08 to 2013–14.

CIC is the lead organization on this initiative. The project will be delivered in partnership with CBSA and the RCMP, with legal support and support for legislative amendments from DOJ.

On a cash basis, the total cost over six years is $168,852,028 excluding GST/HST of $11,430,878.

CIC, CBSA and the RCMP received expenditure authority at a substantive cost of $62,787,014, excluding HST of $5,102,611 for the implementation of Gate 1 and continuing activities for the project’s Gate 2 deliverables.

In early 2011 an independent review concluded that the project is a solid initiative with a good approach, has clear objectives that are important and measurable, is highly aligned with the core mandates of the three partner agencies, is well defined, and does not have challenges associated with other projects. The review did highlight that the Temporary Resident Biometrics Project is dependent on a significant number of interrelated projects and activities that will need to continue to be monitored.

Chapter Two of the 2011 June Status Report of the Auditor General of Canada, “Large Information Technology Projects,” assessed whether selected departments and agencies had made satisfactory progress in implementing recommendations made in the November 2006 report of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG). As part of this report, the OAG selected the Temporary Resident Biometrics Project in CIC to assess Treasury Board Secretariat’s progress in the way it approves and manages large IT projects since 2006. The biometrics project was found to meet most of its criteria for a well-managed project and was rated satisfactory. CIC is acting on the report’s only recommendation to strengthen risk management by introducing a regular review of project risks and issues, which are reported to senior management committees, by tracking all risks and developing mitigation strategies to address them, and by conducting an independent review at critical project gates to ensure sound management of the project is maintained.

Industrial Benefits

The Temporary Resident Biometrics Project will improve the safety and security of Canadian citizens. Immigration and the granting of Canadian citizenship are vital to the continued growth and prosperity of Canada. To support the Government of Canada outcomes of strong economic growth and a safe and secure world, a balance must be maintained between the desire to welcome newcomers to Canada and the obligation to protect the health, safety and security of Canadian society. Criminals, terrorists and other known inadmissible persons must not be allowed to enter or stay in Canada.

1 The Refugee Reform Program follows many Treasury Board Secretariat reporting requirements. Although the Refugee Reform is not a major crown project, CIC is voluntarily reporting on this project as a part of its Supplementary Information Table on the Status of Transformational Projects and Major Crown Projects.