National Killam Program–Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) Summary

Description of program

The National Killam Program is a private endowment established through the generous contribution of Dorothy J. Killam to build Canada's future through advanced study. Since the program was established in 1967, it has awarded more than $1 billion for higher education in Canada, and there are more than 7,800 Killam laureates worldwide.

The Program is part of a larger set of Killam Trusts, which fund scholarship and research at 5 academic institutions across the country (Dalhousie University, The Neuro, University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and University of British Columbia) as well as at the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA). The NRC has assumed administration of the Killam Program from the CCA and is working alongside the Killam Trusts to deliver the program across Canada. The first application cycle began in the spring of 2022, with the awards to be announced in March 2023.

The National Killam Program consists of the Killam Prizes (5 prizes of $100,000 each) and the Dorothy Killam Research Fellowships (5-9 research fellowships valued at $80,000/year for 2 years each). The funding is intended to promote research excellence across 5 fields: engineering, health sciences, natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities.

The NRC has developed a grants management system to administer the program applications and nominations. Nonetheless, the NRC has no role in decision making regarding winners of the Killam Prize or Killam Research Fellowships.

Why was a PIA completed?

The personal information administered by the National Killam Program is not particularly sensitive or risky to manage; still, the NRC initiated a PIA due to the personal information required to be submitted as part of the application process. The NRC also deemed the PIA process to be an important opportunity to update its personal information bank (PIB) holdings, to include the new program in its registry of institutional functions, programs and activities.

Overall, the PIA identified that main privacy concerns are related to ensuring the safe handling of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data, along with maintaining the confidentiality of the nomination and awarding processes, particularly with respect to candidate scoring and evaluator comments.

Outcomes of the PIA

To enhance transparency and openness, the NRC has published both the PIB and the PIA summary for the National Killam Program on its website. All identified privacy risks have been addressed by the NRC through its PIA approval process, particularly those areas raising greatest concern.

Protocols and procedures have been developed for safe handling of self-declaration information, which requires extra caution due to the sensitivity of the data. Notably, individuals are able to access their personal details via a secure portal to ensure that the information is accurate, and they have the ability to revise their information, where necessary.

Internal access to National Killam Program applications and nominations is strictly limited, and only NRC employees authorized under a "need-to-know" function have access to the records for program purposes. The NRC is committed to maintaining the integrity and repute of the program.

On all counts, the privacy impact assessment confirmed that the NRC's privacy protocol is adequate to address the risks identified in administering a national research award and fellowship program.