Friday, June 01, 2012

Transparency fail II, part B

I'm starting to think that the missing CSE Report on Plans and Priorities data (first discussed here) will never appear.

CSE may feel that, like its counterpart CSIS, its entry in the annual Main Estimates document (pp. 250-251) is all the budgetary reporting that it needs to do.

CSE's appearance in the Main Estimates is a new development that resulted from the organization's transformation into a stand-alone agency, and in at least one small respect it provides a step forward in transparency: The Main Estimates entry provides a breakdown in CSE's budget between its SIGINT side (65% of the budget) and its Information Technology Security side (35%).

But in comparison to the previous reporting in the Report on Plans and Priorities (2011-12 version here), it is on the whole a step backwards. Gone is the reporting on CSE intelligence priorities. Gone is the reporting on the status of CSE's new headquarters project. (Gone also is the reporting on spending on that project, which used to be reported by DND elsewhere in the information accompanying the Report on Plans and Priorities.) Gone is the breakdown of CSE spending into the Salary and Personnel, Operating and Maintenance, and Capital categories. Gone are the spending projections for fiscal years beyond the current one. Gone also is the (albeit somewhat unreliable) reporting on the current and planned number of Full-Time Equivalent employees on CSE's staff.

CSE has been reporting this kind of information through the DND Report on Plans and Prioritites for about 15 years now. Why the sudden halt? Are we supposed to believe that it has become too onerous or too great a security risk to report this information now that CSE is a stand-alone agency?

Perhaps some of the missing information will turn up in CSE's Annual Report if it now intends to issue one. Or perhaps a link screw-up really is behind the missing information, as I thought earlier, and the Powers that Post are just taking an inordinately long time to get a clue.

But for the moment it doesn't look good.

[Update 7 June 2012: There is a tiny bit of extra information about CSE's expenditure plans ($205.25 million in personnel spending) reported here.]

[Update 12 June 2012: Transparency fail II, part C]

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