Department of National Defence - Reports on Plans and Priorities 2013-14

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National Search and Rescue Secretariat

The National Search and Rescue Secretariat (NSS) was established in 1986 by a Cabinet Decision to provide leadership to the National Search and Rescue Program (NSP). The NSS is an independent portfolio organization reporting directly to the Minister of National Defence in his role as the Lead Minister for Search and Rescue.

The principal responsibilities of the NSS as approved by Cabinet and the Treasury Board include establishing a national search and rescue (SAR) policy framework, collaborating and engaging National SAR Program stakeholders (federal, provincial, territorial, volunteers and the private sector) to focus on interoperability, SAR Management, response and prevention-awareness; co-ordinating federal and national SAR annual planning and decision making procedures and reporting mechanisms; implementing a national SAR knowledge management information system; defining SAR levels of service; co-ordinating the activities of the Interdepartmental Committees on Search and Rescue (ICSAR), representing Canadian interests at national and international SAR forums, representing Canadian interests on the International COSPAS-SARSAT (C-S) Council and managing the Search and Rescue New Initiatives Fund (SAR NIF). The NSS is also responsible for holding an annual national SAR conference (SARscene) which engages national stakeholders on SAR priorities issues.

Priorities and Focus Areas for fiscal year (FY) 2013-14

NSS Priorities for 2013-14 Planned Activities 2013-14

SAR NIF

  • Promote the SAR NIF.
  • Review of the SAR NIF life cycle for improvement of program efficiency.
  • Undertake the mid-term evaluation of the SAR NIF Contribution Program, in preparation for renewal of SAR NIF Terms and Conditions in FY 2014-15.

Information Management and Information Technology (IM/IT) Utilization

  • Continue renewing the NSS website to improve the availability and accessibility of search and rescue information and ensure compliance with the current Standards of Web Accessibility, Usability and Interoperability.
  • Increase utilization of National SAR Program SharePoint System with NSP Partners;
  • Proceed with the development and implementation of SAR KMS, including establishment of Governance Model and negotiating Data-Sharing Agreements with key partners.

COSPAS-SARSAT

  • Serve as the head of the Canadian delegation and co-ordinate / represent the legal, operational, technical and administrative positions of Canada at C-S meetings.
  • Support the C-S programme in the maintenance of the Low Earth Orbit Search and Rescue System (LEOSAR) system.
  • Support the C-S programme in the demonstration and evaluation phase of the Mid-Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (MEOSAR) Implementation Plan.
  • Finalize and receive C-S Council approval for the Second Generation Beacon specifications.
  • Support the C-S programme in the development of the Beacon Implementation Plan.
  • Support the Canadian efforts to complete the options analysis for the ground segment (i.e. location and number of antennas) for the MEOSAR system.
  • Support the Canadian efforts to define the Canadian MEOSAR space segment

Responding OAG Recommendations

  • Respond to the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) Audit Recommendations in collaboration with other federal departments involved in the OAG Audit;
  • Increase the role and influence of the Prevention Working Group.

SARscene 2013

  • Increase training component to SARscene Conference and Tradeshow.
  • Deliver SARscene 2013 in Kelowna, British Columbia in partnership with British Columbia Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA).
  • Provide after-action report on SARscene 2013.

SAR NIF

The SAR New Initiatives Fund (SAR NIF) is a multiyear funding program which, in partnership with other federal, provincial and territorial organizations, provides annual funding for new projects (or initiatives) that support the National Search and Rescue Program (NSP). The approved projects must address at least one of the five NSP priorities.

During the 2013-14 FY, the SAR NIF will continue to hold meetings and consultations with its stakeholders in order to improve the efficiency of the application and the evaluation process. This will include a review of all SAR NIF forms, documentation and certain processes and timelines. In conjunction with the review, the NSS will initiate the mid-year evaluation of the SAR NIF, as per the Policy on Transfer Payments.

In order to promote the SAR NIF, an annual Call for Proposals will be issued to solicit new applications for funding and information/training sessions will be held for volunteer associations from across Canada to provide them with sufficient information and education to enable them to submit sound and valuable proposals. Once proposals are received, they will be evaluated against the program criteria and based on their merit pertaining to SAR.

As per the Policy on Transfer Payments, the NSS will undertake an evaluation of the SAR NIF during FY 2013-14 in preparation for the Renewal of the SAR NIF Terms and Conditions in FY 2014-15. The NSS Terms and Conditions approved by Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) will expire on March 31st, 2015.

Information Management and Information Technology (IM/IT) Utilization

The NSS will be updating its website to meet the new common look and feel standards established by Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS). The updated website will be user friendly and provide Canadians with information regarding the NSS, the National SAR Program and search and rescue related activities in Canada. The NSS is presently working with Assistant Deputy Minister (Material) on the procurement and contracting process. The renewal of the NSS website is expected to be completed in FY 2013-14.

During FY 2012-13 the NSS introduced National Search and Rescue SharePoint System (NSP-SPS). The intent of the NSP-SPS was to reduce operational costs and to increase the efficiency of managing multiple committees including the Interdepartmental Committee on Search and Rescue (ICSAR), the ICSAR Coordination Sub-Committee (ICSAR-CSC) and the Ground Search and Rescue Council of Canada (GSARCC). In FY 2013-14 the NSS will continue to utilize the NSP-SPS and improve the system to increase the use of the system by partner organizations.

During FY 2013-14, the NSS will continue to make progress on the development of the Search and Rescue Knowledge Management System (SAR KMS). The principal focus for FY 2013-14 is to establish the SAR KMS Governance Structure and conclude the negotiations on the Data Sharing Agreements with key partners.

COSPAS-SARSAT

The NSS represents Canada as the head of delegation to the International C-S Satellite Programme and provides the Canadian coordinating role in the development of national positions and papers for introduction into the C-S meetings. This includes maintaining Canada's leadership role as a Party to the programme and a space segment provider.

In meeting Canada's obligation to the International C-S Programme Agreement (ICSPA), the NSS shares with the Assistant Deputy Minister (Information Management) group and the Communications Research Centre Canada the project management function in a number of ongoing initiatives.

Over the next year and beyond, these projects will include:

  • The provision of two search and rescue repeaters (SARRs) for deployment on low-earth orbit SAR satellites (LEOSAR);
  • The research to support the next generation mid-earth orbit SAR satellite (MEOSAR) Implementation Plan (MIP). This will focus on the demonstration and evaluation phase of the MIP; and
  • The defining of next generation 406 MHz beacon requirements as required by the Beacon Implementation Plan.

SARscene 2013

The SARscene program outreach activity is a key core element of the National SAR Program which encompasses the efforts and activities of all levels of government, corporate and volunteer sectors, and a vast array of organizations and programs related to providing information, applying technology, conducting research, preventing SAR incidents from occurring or saving lives of Canadians and people at risk. This event provides an opportunity for the NSS to educate the general public of Canada's search and rescue capabilities.

SARscene acts as a meeting place for the Canadian SAR community, as well as from the international sector, to come together to discuss key National SAR Program priorities, collaborate and share best practices and further SAR prevention and response in Canada. The event encompasses numerous presentations by field experts, group discussions and town hall meetings as well as learning and networking opportunities. The program also provides space for SAR organizations to host their own meetings concurrently as well as SAR prevention and common SAR skills training.

SARscene is the only federal/provincial/territorial search and rescue program support activity in Canada. During FY 2013-14, the NSS will deliver SARscene 2013 in Kelowna, BC in partnership with the British Columbia Search and Rescue Volunteer Association (BCSARA).

OAG Audit Response

The NSS anticipates that the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) will table the findings of their Audit of Support for the National Search and Rescue Program in May 2013. The NSS, in conjunction with other federal departments involved in the OAG Audit will be required to provide a response to the recommendations made. The NSS anticipates that the OAG Recommendations will have an impact on the NSS planning for FY 2014-15. The NSS will be working with DND and other departments involved in the OAG audit to provide a coordinated response to the OAG Report.

Financial Resources

Financial Resources ($ 000's) by Fiscal Year Forecast Spending 2012-13 Planned Spending 2013-14 Planned Spending 2014-15 Planned Spending 2015-16
Vote 1 – Salary and Personnel 1,742 1,853 1,901 1,901
Vote 1 – Operating and Maintenance 1,104 569 632 642
Sub-total Vote 1 2,846 2,422 2,533 2,543
Vote 5 – Capital 1,010 5,042 4,195 4,195
Vote 10 – Grants and Contributions 5,976 4,190 4,190 4,190
Grand Total 9,832 11,654 10,918 10,928

Source: The National Search and Rescue Secretariat and Assistant Deputy Minister (Finance and Corporate Services) Group

Human Resources

Forecast
2012-13
Planned
2013-14
Planned
2014-15
Planned
2015-16
Regular Force Structure 1 1 1 1
Civilian FTEs 21 21 21 21

Source: The National Search and Rescue Secretariat

Notes:

  1. The above figures are net of approved transfers to other government departments and to other Department of National Defence organizations for Search and Rescue New Initiatives Funds (SAR NIF) projects: $2,296K for 2011-12, $38K for 2012-13 and $17k in 2013-14. Approximately $4,100K in Vote 5 is available annually, for transfers.
  2. Vote 10 includes $4,000K for contributions in support of the SAR NIF and a $190K contribution as Canada's share of the costs for the "Cosmicheskaya Sistyema Poiska Avariynich Sudov"-"Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking" (COSPAS-SARSAT) Secretariat.