The Commissioner's Office
During 2008–2009, I met periodically with the Chief of CSEC to discuss issues of mutual interest. These collaborative meetings reflect a productive working relationship which, I believe, contributes to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the review process.
I had occasion during the reporting period to meet the Prime Minister's newly appointed National Security Advisor, whose duties include accountability for CSEC policy and operational direction. I also met with several federal court judges and other senior government officials.
As I observed in my last report, a decision was taken in the autumn of 2007 that would sever my office's long-standing relationship with the Privy Council Office for the provision of administrative and other support activities and transfer these responsibilities to the Department of National Defence.
Subsequently, it was determined that positioning my office within the same portfolio as CSEC did not have the appearance of propriety and autonomy that ought to exist between an agency and its review body. As a result, and effective April 1, 2009, my office was granted its own parliamentary appropriation. While the reporting relationship to the Minister of National Defence remains intact, as set out in the NDA, my office is separate from, and is not part of, that department.
These changes have, by necessity, given rise to additional expenditures for support services, with a corresponding increase in the budget which appears at Annex C. Still, I view this new status as another indication of the maturation of my office and further reinforcement of its independence.
My office's participation in the annual CASIS conference in October 2008 afforded an excellent opportunity to exchange perspectives on security and intelligence issues, including review, with leading experts, scholars, policy makers and practitioners from across the country. My office was also pleased to mentor two Canadian graduate students in security and intelligence studies in conference events and discussions.
I attended the International Intelligence Review Agencies Conference in Auckland, New Zealand in October 2008 to make a presentation to a conference panel on developing trust between a review body and the agency being reviewed, while retaining independence. In my remarks, I emphasized that building and maintaining CSEC's trust in my office, while safeguarding my office's independence, requires constant management and accommodation of interests at all levels.
I also emphasized that CSEC's trust in the Commissioner's office depends significantly on the demonstrable quality of its review work. As a result, my office has placed considerable emphasis on developing, documenting and implementing sound methodologies, based on accepted standards of review and informed by years of practical experience. I added that my office has developed operational policies and procedures that, among other things, provide guidance to staff in carrying out reviews, ensure a large measure of transparency and consistency in my office's work when seen from CSEC's perspective, and provide a basis for assessing and improving CSEC's own performance in implementing its mandate.
I met with the British Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliamentarians during the Committee's visit to Ottawa in March 2009. Committee members and my staff and I participated in a useful exchange of information and opinions on security and intelligence review issues of mutual interest and concern.
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