DIGITAL GOVERNANCE STANDARDS INSTITUTE

The Digital Governance Standards Institute, part of the Digital Governance Council is an accredited standards development body. The Institute enables greater trust and confidence in Canada’s digital systems through developing technology governance standards collaboratively across a range of stakeholders.

As a discipline, digital governance establishes the processes, policies, standards, and accountability needed to manage the effective and efficient use of technology across organizations and society. The goal of good digital governance is to make participation in the digital economy safe and positive for Canadian people and organizations.

Our Standards Difference

Developed for use in Canada and around the world

Free to download to implement in your organization

Easy to understand and quick to deploy

Always up-to-date: our standards are reviewed annually

Setting Standards: Better Together

To match the speed of advancement in digital technologies, the Digital Governance Standards Institute uses an innovative and agile standards-setting process.

The Institute’s technical committees – which create, review and approve standards drafts – are open to anyone with an interest in any one committee’s focus. As a result, hundreds of thought leaders and stakeholder bring their unique perspective to each standard, creating a more practical and robust result.

This approach allows the Institute to move quickly and develop standards that reflect the most recent developments in digital technology. The process is now measured in months rather than years.

Further, the Institute is committed to review every standard annually to ensure that each is reflective of the latest changes in the adoption, design and use of digital technologies.

Our Standards-Setting Principles

OPEN

Any interested party can join a technical committee to help develop standards

No committee size limits & all members have a vote

TRANSPARENT

Technical committee members always have access to drafts 

Drafts available online

Public feedback on prospective projects 

FREE

No fees to participate in developing standards

Published standards are free to download to implement in your organization

Join Us in Setting New Standards

Find out how you can join a technical committee or comment on drafts in development 

FAQs

Standards produced by the Institute are developed using a globally-recognized formal, consistent, reliable standards development process providing legitimacy and credibility to industry and governments choosing to use them.

Standards are typically voluntary, in that they are not enforced by government. However, failure to meet relevant voluntary standards could result in lawsuits or in the unwillingness of consumers, governments and retailers to either distribute, buy, or sell a product or service.

In some cases, standards may be mandatory because of:

  • Digital Governance Council Members committing to adopt and implement the standard in their public and private sector organizations to lead by example
  • A connection to the technical environment (e.g. if the product must be interoperable with other products)
  • The standard being so widely accepted in the market that a deviation would not be accepted (e.g. the QWERTY standard for keyboards)
  • A buyer specifying certain standards (e.g. in procurement)
  • A customer requiring a certificate based on meeting certain standards
  • The law encouraging or requiring the use of a standard by having incorporated it by reference in a regulation.

The Institute’s standards development activities involve the formation of technical committees established by the Standards Policy Committee, led by a committee chair, supported by a secretariat, and comprised of subject matter experts.

Technical committees operate by consensus and provide an open forum offering:

  • Equal access and participation by any interested party
  • Technical committees are not restricted in size and there is no fee to participate.
  • Respect for diverse interests and identification of those who should be provided access to provide the needed balance of interests
  • A mechanism for dispute resolution.

Technical committees are responsible for:

  • Developing and approving a standard or standards assigned to it, including requests to revise or amend existing standards
  • Interpreting the standard
  • Reviewing standard(s) to ensure they are kept current.

Any stakeholder may make a proposal to develop a new standard, or revise or withdraw an existing standard. Such proposals are considered by the Institute’s Standards Policy Committee, which evaluates the need for it and other interests, including whether other similar standards work is being undertaken by other standard setting organizations and Canada’s language requirements. Upon approval of a proposal, the Standards Policy Committee directs the work to a new or existing technical committee of the Institute. 

The Standards Policy Committee governs the Council’s standardization policies, sets standardization priorities and is responsible for:

  • Coordinating standards development activities by establishing, dissolving, and assigning responsibility to technical committees, approving new technical work, and handling complaints of a procedural nature, by meeting or through correspondence
  • Determining priorities, review cycles and the withdrawal of technical work
  • Maintaining the Institute’s standards policies, procedures and other rules for the technical work.

For non-members of the Digital Governance Council, there is a fee to participate on the Institute’s Standards Policy Committee.

See our get involved  page for more details on how to join a technical committee.

Any stakeholder can participate in the development of standards through a technical committee. 

Most technical committee work is conducted electronically. Technical committees use Central Collab, a Slack application, available 24/7 and 365 days a year, providing an online platform for communication and collaboration.

Through the Central Collab, each technical committee has a dedicated channel, providing an environment for technical committee participants to collaborate on setting standards through messaging, commenting, polling, document sharing, and more. Technical committees also meet using video conferencing. In-person meetings are convened only when it is necessary to discuss draft standards or other matters of substance which cannot be settled by other means. 

The technical committee chair, appointed by the Standards Policy Committee, tests for consensus on draft standards using any combination of the following:

  • The Institute’s online collaboration tools (e.g. polling)
  • A recorded vote at a technical committee meeting
  • Letter ballot.

Draft standards are considered approved when the technical committee achieves consensus. Consensus is achieved when all of the following conditions are met:

  • More than 50% of the technical committee participants cast votes in favour
  • A minimum of two-thirds of the votes cast by the technical committee are in favour
  • Not more than one-quarter of the total number of votes cast are negative
  • The technical committee has dispositioned a final call for comments, including comments
    received during a review by the public
  • The technical committee has addressed negative votes and, if accepted, the required adjustment(s) have been made to the technical aspects of the draft standard. If not accepted, rationale has been provided by the technical committee and the voter informed of the decision.
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