Canada struggles with passport system

Canada's passport system has serious security gaps and must be fixed, according to a new report from the Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser.

"The Passport Office is not meeting current security expectations for issuing passports," Fraser said in a press release issued with the report. "While fixing some of these problems will require the cooperation of other government departments and agencies, the Passport Office needs to take urgent action to correct these important weaknesses."

The investigation found that watch lists are not complete and the Passport Office lacks a method to routinely validate ID documents.

"The audit found that watch lists ? which should include the names, for example, of anyone on parole or charged with a serious crime ? are not complete because the Passport Office has not found ways to obtain data automatically from other government sources," Fraser wrote.

"The Passport Office has not developed methods to routinely validate identity data on birth and citizenship certificates against the documents' original source. Examiners lacked some basic tools to detect fraudulent documents. Checks with some guarantors were not always performed, monitored, and documented as required," the press release said.

The government of Canada spends more than $1 billion a year on security and intelligence activities.

The auditor's report also said the military's 10-year, $10 billion initiative to support information systems for command and control is lacking in coordination.

"National Defence's C4ISR initiative in support of command and control is complex and expensive, with more than 90 projects. Our audit found that they need to do a better job of co-ordinating projects and ensuring that they follow a common design approach," Fraser wrote.

The critical report is being viewed as a boon for Canadian defense firms and for multinational firms including General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Curtiss-Wright, according to the Ottowa Business Journal.

"Auditor's report has silver lining for tech," was the journal's April 11 headline.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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