National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Departmental Plan

Plans at a Glance

NSICOP Departmental Plan

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) has the broad mandate to review the legislative, regulatory, policy, administrative, and financial framework for national security and intelligence. It may also review any activity carried out by a department or agency that relates to national security or intelligence, as well as any matter relating to national security or intelligence referred to it by a minister of the Crown. The Committee is composed of up to eight Members of the House of Commons and up to three Senators, each of whom must obtain a Top Secret security clearance to fulfill their responsibilities.

Each year, the Committee must submit a report of the reviews it conducted during the preceding year to the Prime Minister. The Committee may also produce special reports on any matter related to its mandate at any time. The Prime Minister must table these reports in both Houses of Parliament.

The Prime Minister will nominate the new members of the Committee in early February 2020. The Secretariat will focus its initial activities on briefing the new members on the various components and activities of Canada’s security and intelligence community. It will facilitate briefings with heads of departments and agencies, and site visits to operational organizations to allow members to see first hand their activities and capabilities. The Secretariat will also support the Committee?s engagement with academics, non-governmental organizations and civil rights actors to help build a broader perspective on the issues facing the security and intelligence community.

The Secretariat anticipates that the Committee will determine its review schedule early in the 2020-21 fiscal year. In support of the Committee’s decision, the Secretariat will prepare a number of review proposals under both parts of the organization’s mandate, notably framework reviews and activity reviews. These reviews would be included in the Committee?s Annual Report and provided to the Prime Minister prior to the end of the 2020 calendar year.

For more information on previous Committee reports, please visit the Committee’s website.

For more information on the Secretariat of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians plans, priorities and planned results, see the Core responsibilities: planned results and resources, and key risks section of this report.

Core responsibilities: planned results and resources, and key risks

This section contains detailed 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.

Assist the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians in fulfilling its mandate 2,800,209

The Secretariat’s core responsibility consists of a range of activities to ensure the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians receives timely access to relevant, classified information, as well as strategic and expert advice in the conduct of reviews and development of reports and support to ensure compliance with security requirements.

Planning Highlights

As its overarching result, the Secretariat will directly contribute to strengthening accountability over national security and intelligence activities. In support of this outcome, the Secretariat will focus efforts in 2020-21 on supporting the Committee’s reviews.

With the nomination of the Committee?s new membership, the Secretariat’s initial activities will include establishing a baseline of knowledge among members regarding the Committee’s mandate, past work, and the authorities and functions of core organizations in the security and intelligence community. Briefings on these areas will be followed by engagement with the heads of departments and agencies, and subsequent site visits to operational organizations. This engagement will allow members to see first hand the activities and capabilities of Canada’s security and intelligence apparatus. Understanding the authorities, mandates and functions of the core security and intelligence organizations will be critical for the Committee to effectively fulfill its mandate. The Secretariat anticipates these efforts will occur at the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year and carry over into the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The second phase of Committee activity will consist of considering and approving the reviews to be conducted in 2020. The Secretariat will develop a number of review proposals for the Committee’s consideration. Consistent with the previous approach, the Secretariat will propose a number of review topics under both parts of the organization’s mandate, notably framework reviews and activity reviews.

  • Framework reviews consider broad topics which involve a number of departments in the security and intelligence community. They focus on how government departments work on an issue of common interest (for example, government strategies or approaches), how they cooperate, and the roles they play individually and in collaboration with other departments.
  • Activity reviews consider the specific security or intelligence activities conducted by a single organization, and heretofore have explained what those activities are, their basis in government authorities (e.g., legislation), and mechanisms in place for their governance and accountability. These reviews also consider the role that other departments play in these activities, or how the activities of those departments compare to the one being reviewed.

In developing review proposals for Committee consideration, the Secretariat?s approach will be informed by a number of considerations. With respect to reviews on the activities of an individual organization:

  • Whether the organization was previously subject to review.
  • The degree to which its security and intelligence activities are publicly known.
  • Whether the activities are governed by specific legislation or formal government direction.

For framework reviews, the Secretariat will develop proposals on issues or activities based on some of the following considerations:

  • The extent to which the issue or activity implicates the privacy or democratic rights of Canadians.
  • The extent to which the issue or activity involves alliances or foreign relations.
  • Whether there is a high level of public interest in the issue or activity.
  • Whether the issue or activity affects Canada?s sovereignty or the integrity of its institutions, economy or society.