A government review of a new system for processing Canadian passports found significant security issues with the way it was implemented.
The Global Case Management System was introduced and then retracted in 2015 because of a number of reported glitches.
Now an internal audit has concluded a stringent security plan was not put in place and improvements are required ‘to ensure an effective, efficient and secure integration’.
GCMS: Initial Glitches
- Officials able to alter passport pictures after approval.
- Information in database and on passports did not correlate.
- Important historical data vanished from system.
Although passports are currently not being processed using the GCMS, the system has been used for the paperwork of the more than 30,000 Syrian refugees entering Canada since the Liberal government came to power in October.
According to the internal report, while the then-Conservative government spoke to the right experts and identified the correct key risks, they were not taken into account when the system was implemented.
The program was introduced despite warnings from senior officials that it was not ready. It was rushed into operation on May 9, 2015 and suspended in October, 2015. In that time, some 1,500 passports were processed.
There were attempts to fix identified issues, including security gaps, while the program was in operation. But quite soon after GCMS was introduced, there were calls for it to be suspended.
Initially, those calls were not heeded, and passport issuance continued despite obvious operational problems.
Employees from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (now Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) were able to make changes to a passport picture after approval. Information included on passports did not match the government’s database, and no-one knew why.
Then information started vanishing from the system, making checking up on guarantors or accessing important historical application information impossible.
A person’s passport application history can offer a crucial insight into whether their claim is valid. Red flags include repeated lost or damaged passport claims.
On top of the problems identified at the time, the audit also found that while a security plan existed, it was not followed properly and correct risk assessments were no completed.
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