Rescinded - Management of Major Crown Projects

To achieve effective and economical management of Major Crown Projects with visible and clearly established project leadership.
Date modified: 1994-07-08

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On April 1, 2012, this policy will be replaced by the Policy on the Management of Projects for departments and agencies listed in Section 2 of the Financial Administration Act. Treasury Board Secretariat is adopting a phased implementation approach, starting in 2007, that will begin with a group of departments that have agreed to participate in a pilot. Following this pilot, groups of departments will be brought on board so that, by April 1, 2012, departments and agencies will have the systems and processes in place to meet the policy requirements.


Chapter 2-2 of this volume, Project Management, establishes the minimum mandatory requirements for the management of all projects within the applicability limits defined in that chapter. This policy chapter sets out the additional requirements for the management of Major Crown Projects (MCPs).

The key MCP policy concepts, including the factor of project risk in determining the management framework and the advisory-only role of the project committee, were approved by Treasury Board in 1990/91. This policy presents these key concepts in a more concise format with common elements moved to the other chapters of this volume.

A project is deemed to be a Major Crown Project when its estimated cost will exceed $100 million and the Treasury Board (TB) would assess the project as high risk. However, Treasury Board may require any project exceeding the sponsoring minister's delegated project approval authority to be managed as an MCP. As well, provision is made in this policy for a sponsoring department to request approval from Treasury Board to manage a project exceeding $100 million but of lesser risk within a tailored MCP regime or outside the MCP management framework.

The additional aspects of managing MCPs include obtaining approval-in-principle from Cabinet for an MCP having significant policy or fiscal framework implications, and the following Treasury Board mandatory requirements:

  • that the project leader be a senior manager within the sponsoring department accountable directly to the deputy minister;
  • that the project leader be viewed as personally and visibly accountable for all aspects of the project;
  • that a Senior Project Advisory Committee (SPAC) be established with membership consisting of senior representatives of departments participating in the project. The role of this committee is to advise the project leader on all aspects of the project and to carry out the procurement review function for the project;
  • the selection and implementation of an appropriate project performance measurement system;
  • the submission of progress reports to Treasury Board at key events or as directed by Treasury Board; and
  • the submission of a project evaluation report to Treasury Board.
  • that Major Crown Projects are reported to Parliament in accordance with the Departmental Performance Reports Preparation Guide and the Guide to Preparation of the Report on Plans and Priorities.

This policy emphasizes that the project management framework must be tailored throughout the life of the project on the basis of an up-to-date risk assessment.

Policy objective

To achieve effective and economical management of Major Crown Projects with visible and clearly established project leadership.

Policy statement

In addition to the need for sponsoring departments to coordinate and obtain approval-in-principle from Cabinet for MCPs having significant policy implications or affecting the fiscal framework, it is the policy of the government that Major Crown Projects (MCPs) be managed within a special regime:

  • having a well defined accountability framework focused on an individual senior manager within the sponsoring department as project leader directly accountable to the deputy minister or designate, and involving senior managers of participating departments;
  • with the project leader being personally responsible for overall project planning, definition and management;
  • having a comprehensive and coordinated definition of scope including full procurement review considerations;
  • being managed in a manner sensitive to risk, complexity and economy of resources;
  • with mandatory performance monitoring, reporting and evaluation requirements.


This policy applies to departments and agencies listed in Schedules I and II of the Financial Administration Act.

The policy applies to projects and capital projects as defined in the Glossary of this volume. It applies to all such projects funded in whole or in part by the federal government regardless of whether the method of funding is through outright purchase, lease/purchase, lease, or some other arrangement. This policy does not apply to certain project-like activities funded by the federal government through Transfer Payments (Grants or Contributions) or assisted through loan guarantees or other contingent liabilities. Treasury Board policies for the approval, financial and managerial aspects of these activities are provided in the Treasury Board Manual, Financial Administration volume.

Policy requirements

  1. Management requirements: The other chapters of this volume, together with the referenced Treasury Board policies, provide the minimum management requirements for all projects. This policy chapter sets out additional mandatory project management requirements for all projects deemed to be MCPs.
  2. Accountability for projects: Sponsoring departments must establish an accountability framework for responsible definition and implementation of MCPs. The central focus of this framework is a senior manager within the sponsoring department who is appointed as the project leader. Further detail regarding the role of the project leader is provided in Appendix A.
  3. Senior Project Advisory Committee (SPAC): The project leader must establish a Senior Project Advisory Committee (SPAC) early in the planning phase for the MCP. Further details regarding the role of the SPAC is provided in Appendix B.
  4. Authorities and resources: From project inception, sponsoring departments must allocate authorities and adequate resources appropriate to the scope, complexity and risk of the project, enabling the project leader to:
    • represent the sponsoring department on matters pertaining to the MCP;
    • fully define objectives for each phase of the MCP; and
    • be accountable for the achievement of each approved objective.
  5. Project scope: The project leader is accountable for the full definition of the scope for the project, and any changes thereto, including procurement review considerations and the wider interests of the government (for example environmental considerations). When necessary, this includes developing documentation for presentation to Cabinet Committees and incorporating decisions into the project scope. This definition of scope is to be accomplished with the direct participation of the SPAC.
  6. Management framework: A project is deemed to be an MCP when its estimated cost will exceed $100 million and the current assessment is that the level of project risk is high. Treasury Board is the final authority on the level of the risk assessment and reserves the right to require any project exceeding the sponsoring department's delegated authority to be managed as an MCP.
    • 6.1 For a project of this estimated total cost where the project leader, in reviewing the current risk assessment, judges that, in the interests of economy, the project should be managed with only selected MCP controls, or outside the MCP management framework, sponsoring departments should coordinate a Project Profile and Risk Assessment (PPRA) document to request the concurrence of project participants. Similarly, as an MCP is more fully defined, and risk mitigation strategies have been implemented, the project leader may pursue a reduced management framework.
    • 6.2 The PPRA document coordinated with Treasury Board Secretariat should show the concurrence, or present the positions of, all participating departments. The PPRA document is not submitted for approval to Treasury Board, however, the outcome of coordination with project participants and Treasury Board Secretariat must be accurately reflected in subsequent submissions to Treasury Board for project approvals, or amendments to previous approvals.
    • 6.3 Project leaders are accountable for selecting and establishing an appropriate project management framework for detailed MCP definition and to complete implementation including an appropriate project performance measurement system. The Canadian General-Cost/Schedule performance management standard (CGSB187.1-93) can be used as a guide in developing a PPRA. The project leader must maintain the integrity of his or her accountability through written agreements with any previous project leaders, project managers, and any external agencies that carry out activities essential to the accomplishment of the project. These agreements are to define details of the task to be accomplished, as well as financial and progress reporting arrangements.
    • 6.4 Project leaders must ensure that the proposed project management framework and allocation of project management resources are based on and tailored to the complexity and the assessed risk for the individual phases of the MCP. The project management framework is to show how risk, complexity and allocation of human resources will be managed and reduced to the degree feasible in each phase and throughout the life of the project. Project leaders are to ensure that project risk assessments are prepared in consultation with the SPAC and the contracting authority.
    • 6.5 The project leader is accountable for managing any project deemed to be an MCP within the regime, following the management framework approved by the Treasury Board. Such management includes making submissions to the Treasury Board, as described in the appendices to this chapter.


Project Leaders

Project leaders must notify other federal government departments or agencies that have general responsibilities within SPACs or that may be affected by a specific project, inviting them to participate in an active or coordinative role as appropriate.

Participating departments

Participating departments are to determine the nature and degree of the effect of the proposed project on their operations, asset base or other interests. They then respond to the project leader, defining the nature and extent of proposed participation in the project. Joint commitment to any project-specific activity to be carried out by a participating department, which is deemed essential to the success of the project by the Project Leader, must be documented in an appropriate interdepartmental agreement.

Participating departments are to select their representatives from within senior management levels and based upon criteria including: project management experience and abilities: and the significance, scope, complexity, risk, and visibility of the project.

Contracting authority

The contracting authority is responsible:

  • for participating in the project as a participating department (as per paragraph 2 above);
  • to ensure the legal soundness of any contract and to maintain the government standards of prudence, probity and equity when dealing with the private sector;
  • to support the project in accordance with any existing legislation or general interdepartmental arrangements;
  • to provide any project-specific services (such as procurement) as described in any agreement or MOU concluded with the sponsoring department; and
  • to make submissions to the Treasury Board for authority to enter into contracts and to amend contracts as set out in the Contracting volume of the Treasury Board Manual.

Treasury Board Secretariat

The Treasury Board Secretariat is responsible for:

  • advising departments on the practical application of this policy to each project;
  • assessing, in consultation with the sponsoring department, the merits of managing a project that is deemed to be an MCP, with only selected MCP management controls or outside the full MCP management framework. Treasury Board Secretariat would accomplish this assessment by examining the quality of the risk assessment, the evidence of full departmental consultation and the extent of agreement with the management framework proposed in the PPRA;
  • advising the Treasury Board on the merits of MCP submissions (including the Secretariat's view of project risk and proposed risk management strategies), communicating the decisions of the Board to the submitting department, recommending a reporting schedule designed to keep ministers informed of the MCP's progress, and liaising with sponsoring departments to ensure that appropriate MCP management information is presented when required by the Board.


Departments are to monitor the application of this policy by their project leaders. Treasury Board Secretariat will monitor departmental compliance with the intent and the specifics of this policy through review of project approval submissions.

The Administrative Policy Branch, Treasury Board Secretariat, will periodically review the effectiveness of this policy.


This policy replaces Chapter 2 of the Procurement and Project Management volume of the Treasury Board Manual. It is issued under the authority of section 7 of the Financial Administration Act. It should be read in conjunction with the other chapters in this volume; and other Treasury Board policies, particularly those dealing with Risk Management, Real Property, Information Technology Management, Materiel Management, Procurement review, Contracting and Common Service Organizations.


For enquiries related to policy interpretation or concerning submissions related to contracts for specific projects, departments should contact the Executive Director, Procurement and Project Management Policy Directorate, Comptrollership Branch, Treasury Board Secretariat.

For questions relating to details of specific projects, departments should contact their analyst within Treasury Board Secretariat Program Sectors and, as appropriate, their specialist analyst in the Real Property and Materiel Policy Directorate or the Chief Information Officer Branch.

Appendix A - Role of the Project Leader

The project leader is directly accountable to the deputy minister for:

  • all external aspects including the continuing interpretation of operational needs and wider government objectives, and the validation of planned project end-product in that context, interfaces with senior management of the sponsoring department and participating departments, resolution of interdepartmental issues, and the spokesperson for the project; and
  • all internal aspects including general supervision of the project management structure to insure that the project manager(s) will meet all objectives approved for the project, vetting proposals to amend objectives due to changed external or internal factors, and acting as the authority for preparing submissions for such changes as well as for progress reporting to Treasury Board.

The responsibilities of the project leader include:

  • ensuring that all departments having a program interest in the project are notified;
  • establishing and chairing a Senior Project Advisory Committee (SPAC);
  • establishing the project objectives through consultation with SPAC members. This will ensure that current Cabinet guidance on the general priority of competing objectives is observed. Specific directions given by Cabinet Committees must also be taken into account. The project objectives are the foundation for all future submissions to Treasury Board and must be clearly and formally established as early as possible in the life of the MCP. The project leader must ensure that the project objectives are fully incorporated at all times into agreements with the project manager and participating departments;
  • ensuring the selection of an appropriate project performance measurement system that will provide timely and accurate information on progress measured against the approved objectives, for decision-making;
  • appointing the project manager(s) to be responsible to the project leader for the day-to-day management of the project or key portions of the projects (when several activities must be conducted in parallel). The details of the project manager's authorities and responsibilities should be set out in a project management charter or similar agreement;
  • ensuring that timely and adequate progress reports are prepared for submission to the Treasury Board at critical points or milestones in the project, or as stipulated in the Treasury Board decisions; and
  • ensuring that an evaluation of the MCP is conducted for submission to Treasury Board.

Appendix B - Membership and Role of the Senior Project Advisory Committee

Potential participating departments

The project leader must determine which departments are potentially affected by, or could have program interests in, the MCP. The project leader must ensure that these departments are notified in writing as early as possible in the life of the project so that they may decide whether they should formally participate in the MCP. Whenever an MCP is likely to require private sector involvement, the departments notified must include appropriate contracting authorities and industrial and regional benefit authorities.

The majority of MCPs will be procurement projects, which are subject to the procurement review policy. Sponsoring departments should refer to this policy for more guidance. Departments sponsoring procurement projects must, as a minimum, notify the following departments:

  • contracting authorities and service agents:
    • Public Works and Government Services Canada
    • Defence Construction Canada
  • industrial and regional benefit departments and agencies:
    • Industry and Science Canada
    • Western Economic Diversification Canada
    • Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
    • Federal Office of Regional Development (Quebec)
  • others:
    • Privy Council Office
    • Treasury Board Secretariat
    • Department of Finance Canada
    • Human Resources Development Canada
  • as a minimum, sponsoring departments must assess whether departments listed below should be notified, particularly for the specific areas noted:
    • Environment Canada, for environmental assessment considerations (may be required by statute under certain circumstances);
    • Department of Justice Canada, to ensure timely assistance in resolving any complex legal issues which can arise;
    • Human Resources Development Canada, for labour pool considerations;
    • Canadian Heritage, when remote sites or locations are involved; and
    • Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, for international trade and export licensing.
    • Other departments may notify the project leader of their intent to participate in the MCP, at which time they become participating departments.

Role of the Senior Project Advisory Committee (SPAC)

The role of the SPAC is to consider appropriate steps to orient a major project to achieve relevant national objectives. When appropriate, the SPAC stimulates agreements between the sponsoring and relevant participating departments, and acts as a forum for resolving issues that arise. The project leader chairs the SPAC and keeps it informed on the status of the project. The committee provides a forum for reviewing and discussing project objectives, requests for proposals and other key project instruments. The SPAC performs the role of procurement review similar to that which accomplished by the Procurement Review Committee (PRC) for projects of value less than $100M. 

Appendix C - Submission Requirements for MCPs

Submissions to Cabinet

Whenever it is necessary that a Cabinet committee consider the strategic direction of an MCP, the sponsoring department must consult with Treasury Board Secretariat so that its views on the financial and policy impact are included in the Memorandum to Cabinet.

Consultation with Treasury Board Secretariat

Before preparing submissions for, or amendments to a project or contract approval, the sponsoring department and the contracting authority, respectively, should seek advice from Treasury Board Secretariat to ensure that ministers are provided with the appropriate supporting information. The sponsoring department may use the PPRA, or less formal means as appropriate, for this purpose.

Submissions for project approval

Submissions for project approval must be concisely written and in accordance with the format and content requirements of Chapter 2-1 of this volume. In addition, both the PPA, EPA or LPA must be accompanied by an updated Project Brief.

Project Brief

The purpose of the Project Brief is to replace or supplement, as required, the function of the departmental Long-term Capital Plan for a particular MCP. It must describe the estimated impact of the complete MCP on the fiscal framework, any impact on existing or proposed legislation or government policy, and any direction received. It must show the relationship between the project, government objectives, departmental priorities and long-term strategic planning. It must provide a summary of the full scope of the project, permitting the submission documents to be written as succinctly as possible. Additional details regarding project brief requirements can be found in Appendix F of Chapter 2-1.

Amendments to previous approvals

The sponsoring department must inform Treasury Board Secretariat immediately should it determine that approved project objectives must be changed or cannot be met within the expenditures authorized. Reporting of minor schedule changes without cost impact is within the sponsoring department's discretion. The Treasury Board Secretariat will advise the department if a submission is required.

A detailed statement of the reasons for the submission must be provided, with an explanation of what actions have been taken or considered by the department. The sponsoring department's communications plan must be referred to in the submission whenever the subject matter is likely to attract any form of public attention requiring a response from the government.

The following information is required:

  • a recapitulation of approvals received to date, including any contract approvals, leading to the currently approved project objectives and authorized expenditures;
  • a comprehensive explanation for changes required to cost, schedule, technical performance, industrial and regional benefit, or other approved objectives and to estimated cash flow, referencing changes required to contracts, where relevant;
  • an assessment of options or alternatives available to the Treasury Board at the time of considering the submission, including the consequences of each, and bearing in mind the impact on the contracts, if any.

Cost Overrun

The project leader is accountable for preparing a submission to Treasury Board requesting amendment of the current EPA as soon as a significant cost overrun condition is detected (as defined in the project approval policy, Chapter 2-1 of this volume). The project manager can detect a potential project overrun situation early on by analysing cost, schedule and performance indices in the reports generated by the contractor's cost and performance management system.

Increases in projected cost due to a change in the performance or schedule objectives of the project is not a cost overrun; however, these changes must be submitted for approval to Treasury Board in the form of amendments to the submission documents (PPA, EPA or LPA). Similarly, changes in performance or schedule proposed to avoid cost overrun must be submitted to Treasury Board for approval in the form of amendments to the PPA, EPA or LPA.

Project progress and evaluation reports

The reports should be comprehensive but concise, and prepared in accordance with the guidelines provided in Chapter 2-2 of this volume.

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