Archived [2016-05-25] - Strategic Direction for Government: Information Management

Treasury board policy manual provides strategic directions for information management presents the Information Technology policy and its guidelines, and the Management of Government Information Holdings policy.
Date modified: 2016-05-25

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1. Treasury Board Manual

The Treasury Board Manual is the compendium of policies and guidelines on management areas within the Treasury Board's jurisdiction.

It is composed of six major components. Each component consists mainly of policy volumes but may also have supplementary volumes that are largely procedural.

The complete list of volumes is as follows:

Personnel Management Component

  • Classification
  • Compensation
  • Employee Services
  • Executive Group
  • Foreign Service Directives
  • Human Resources
  • Insurance and Related Benefits
  • Isolated Posts Directive
  • Occupational Safety and Health
  • Pay Administration (supplementary)
  • Pensions
  • Staff Relations
  • Training Guide (supplementary)

Information and Administrative Management Component

  • Access to Information
  • Communications
  • Contracting
  • Information Management
  • Information Technology Standards (supplementary)
  • Materiel, Services and Risk Management
  • Real Property
  • Privacy and Data Protection
  • Security

Expenditure Management Component

  • Budgetary Procedures (supplementary)
  • Expenditure Management
  • Management Policies and Initiatives

Financial Management Component

  • Chart of Accounts (supplementary)
  • Financial Management

Official Languages Component

  • Official Languages

General Management Component

  • Evaluation and Audit
  • Treasury Board Submission Guide (supplementary)

2. Information Management volume


The Information Management volume contains Treasury Board approved strategic directions for information management, the Management of Information Technology policy and its guidelines, and the Management of Government Information Holdings policy.


For the sake of conciseness, wherever the forms "he/him" and "his" appear, they are to be understood in the generic sense that includes "she" and its related forms.

Effective date

The date at the bottom of each page represents the date of publication and not the effective date. The format of the date is, in order, the day, the month and the year.

Example: 05-02-93 means February 5, 1993.

The effective date of any subsequent changes or additions to this volume will be stated in the text itself or in the accompanying amendment notice.

Sale and distribution of print copy

The Canada Communication Group - Publishing (CCG-P) is responsible for the sale and distribution of the Treasury Board Manual in print copy.

The functional heads of administration, designated officials for the Management of Information Technology Policy and Information Holdings Officials in each department are entitled to a free subscription to the Information Management volume.

All other subscriptions are to be purchased through the Canada Communication Group - Publishing.

Tel. No.: (819) 956-4802
FAX: (819) 994-1498


The CCG-P will automatically send amendments to subscribers who have returned the "Standing Order" form included in each volume. Subscribers will be billed for all amendments that are issued.

Enquiries regarding the amendment service should be directed to the Canada Communication Group - Publishing.

Alternative formats

This publication is available in alternative formats. Refer to the "Enquiries" section for further details.

Electronic dissemination

Several pilot projects are in progress to evaluate different technologies such as CD-ROM, datacasting via television signals and on-line access.

In the interim, diskettes are available for purchase on a yearly subscription basis.

For additional information, contact:

Ashley Fraser Inc.
Markham, Ontario
Telephone: (416) 415-0683
Facsimile: (416) 415-0686


The Treasury Board Manual is protected by Crown copyright; permission is granted to copy and distribute it freely within the Canadian federal government and other levels of Canadian government only.


In exceptional circumstances, a policy or an amendment to it may be issued as a circular.

The circular will be cancelled as soon as the changes have been incorporated into the Treasury Board Manual, as indicated in the amendment notice.

"Information" notices

"Information" notices are issued to communicate:

  • one-time action;
  • short-lived information; and
  • reminders.

All "Information" notices regarding Information Management are distributed to functional heads of administration designated officials for the Management of Information Technology Policy and Information Holdings Officials in each department. Additional distribution depends upon the nature of the subject. Apart from this core group, no one else will automatically receive all notices.

"Information" notices will not be used to update the content of the volume.


Please direct enquiries about this policy instrument to the organizational unit in your department responsible for this subject matter. For interpretation of this policy instrument, the responsible organizational unit should contact: TBS Public Enquiries.

3. A pocket-size guide

The Manager's Deskbook summarizes the key policies and processes contained in the Treasury Board Manual (TBM). This guide is available from the same source as the TBM.


This volume of the Treasury Board Manual contains three parts:

  • Strategic directions which contains Treasury Board approved strategic directions in the area of information management;
  • Information technology, which contains the Management of Information Technology policy and its guidelines. This policy aims to ensure that information technology is used as a strategic tool to support government priorities and program delivery, to increase productivity, and to enhance service to the public; and
  • Government information holdings, which contains the Management of Government Information Holdings policy and its guidelines. This policy aims to ensure that management of federal government information holdings is coordinated and cost-effective.

Placing these strategic directions and policies in an Information Management volume reflects the complementary relationship between information and information technology. Together they constitute the government's position on information management. This position has evolved from developments in information technology, accepted information practices and the management of information generally, and by the evolution of government institutions themselves.

1. Background

1.1 Information technology

Initially used to reduce the cost of repetitive tasks such as order processing, by the late 1960s computers were running management information systems, tracking progress toward corporate goals and objectives. By the mid-1970s, high costs and long lead times had resulted in the acceptance of long-term planning for computer systems. This planning led to the examination of information needs against operational goals, the study of information flows, and the development of data models and long-term technology strategies. Data management was implemented to achieve uniformity and avoid duplication in large databases and integrated systems. Thus throughout the history of computer systems, the trend has been towards an increasing emphasis on information needs and on the coordinated management of information resources.

In the 1980s, the distinction between computers and telecommunications gradually disappeared as their underlying technologies merged, leading to a closer relationship of the two service functions in many institutions. Another important trend is an increase in inter-communication and inter-operability between different equipment and software. This trend is shifting the emphasis from the technology being used to the information being processed and communicated. It is also highlighting the importance of coordinated planning for information-based resources in institutions and government-wide.

1.2 Information practices

Managing the collection, creation, organization, and retrieval of institutional information holdings has traditionally been viewed as vital to supporting effective decision-making and efficient delivery of programs and services. In recognition of the importance of information issues to modern society, statutory and policy requirements governing the administration of government records have steadily increased in recent years. For example:

  • Statistics Canada received the authority to improve information collection and to reduce duplication in the early 1960s;
  • the Public Records Order of 1966 expressed the government's intention to inventory, control and organize government records and introduced the concept of identifying and scheduling records that have permanent administrative or historical value;
  • in 1978, the records management emphasis on paper records was extended to computer data;
  • Part IV of the Canadian Human Rights Act requires that all personal information used for administrative purposes, regardless of its form or medium be controlled and inventoried;
  • in 1983, the Access to Information Act made institutions accountable for the information they control and for providing access to it (except in limited circumstances). Access rights were further extended in 1988 by the Government Communications policy, which requires institutions to make information from databases available for purchase wherever there is significant demand;
  • in 1983, the Privacy Act placed controls on collecting, using and disclosing personal information;
  • in 1986, the Security Policy of the Government of Canada required a review of all information holdings to determine what level of protection was appropriate;
  • since 1986, government policy has addressed concerns about the burden that providing information constitutes to the public (response burden) by requiring information to be used as widely as possible, subject to statutory constraints, and also by eliminating any unnecessary collection of information; and
  • in 1987, the National Archives of Canada Act placed statutory controls over the disposal of government records. Institutions are required to seek the consent of the National Archivist for the disposal of government records regardless of the medium used for storage.

These developments in information law and policy represent the increasing emphasis being placed on the management of the government's information holdings in recognition of their value to both the government and the public.

1.3 Information management

Managing information-based resources is now widely recognized in industry and government to be as critical as managing financial and human resources. This has led to the acceptance of information management, namely, the coordinated management of an organization's information-based resources, including its information holdings and investments in technology. It implies planning, directing and controlling all of the organization's information-based resources to meet corporate goals and to deliver programs and services. It is a consequence of the premise that an organization's information holdings and investments in information technology are valuable resources and critical factors in the achievement of its objectives.

2. Information management planning

Planning for information and information technology assures that information systems will meet future operational requirements. It should build on existing planning processes for information technology and should evolve to reflect the convergence of information technology-based functions (data processing and telecommunications) and information-based functions (computer data management, records management, libraries, forms management, and information collection) both within institutions and government-wide.

Institutions currently differ in the degree of their commitment to information management. Those that have determined it is important in helping them meet their objectives have made substantial progress in implementing it and are reaping benefits. Others are challenged to assess the value of information management to their organization and to proceed with implementing it.

Linkages between information technology and information holdings should be established only to the extent that they are useful and meaningful. Some linkages to be considered include:

  • organizing and storing information in major office automation systems to ensure it can be retrieved quickly in usable form, and complying with appropriate standards to ensure the integrity and durability of the information;
  • identifying major new collections of information from the public for review purposes and consideration of paper burden implications;
  • including restrictions on the use and disclosure of information (for instance, to address concerns about privacy and security) in the design of information systems to prevent expensive retro-fits;
  • incorporating requirements to ensure the widest possible use of information (for economy, efficiency, and reduction of response burden) in the design of, for example, database management systems and office communications systems;
  • including retention and disposal standards in the design of information systems;
  • applying technology to implement many of the requirements in the Treasury Board Management of Government Information Holdings policy; and
  • automating for greater effectiveness, automating the inventory of government information.

Institutions have developed plans for information technology since the mid-1970s (Information Technology and Systems Plans). The Management of Information Technology policy continues this requirement with the added emphasis on establishing government-wide directions. This policy refers to "Information Management Plans", a change in name that reflects progress made by institutions implementing information management and that challenges other institutions to move forward. As these plans are fundamental to ensuring that institutions are able to meet future operational requirements, they should be designed to meet each institution's specific needs and tailored to its particular circumstances. They are also critical for the Treasury Board Secretariat to fulfil its role to provide government-wide leadership and coordination.

3. Government information management infrastructure

An evolving infrastructure to plan and coordinate the government's information-based resources in an effective, efficient manner is shown in Appendix A. This infrastructure comprises:

  • central agencies with responsibility for overall management or for policy in specific areas;
  • common service organizations that have been assigned responsibility to provide a particular support service or control function to all institutions;
  • organizations that have legislative or delegated responsibility for specific functions affecting government information management (referred to as lead agencies);
  • committees and other groups providing advice and feedback in particular areas of information management to an organization in one of the previous three categories; and
  • individual institutions that are responsible for coordinating and managing the information-based resources supporting the delivery of their programs.

4. Government direction

The Treasury Board, through its Secretariat, will continue to exercise leadership and coordination for information management in government. The direction approved by the Treasury Board and promulgated in Information Management Policy Overview: Strategic Direction in Information Technology Management in the Government of Canada 1987 was the first overall statement of government direction in this area.

The government has adopted the following principles as the basis for the successful implementation of information management:

  • information management is an essential tool to support, improve and enhance each organization's ability to fulfil its mission and deliver its programs and services by the innovative application of information technology;
  • information holdings and information technology are complementary aspects of the management of information-based resources;
  • people are a key factor in successful information management and, therefore, consultation and communication are essential, and education and training are viewed as assets;
  • it is essential that senior managers be involved in setting information management directions and goals;
  • information-based resources are substantial investments and valuable corporate assets that need to be managed at the corporate level; and
  • the market value of government information products and services is a factor to be considered in their management.

The two policies in this volume, the Management of Information Technology and the Management of Government Information Holdings, should be applied in the context of the statement of direction for information management in the Government of Canada expressed in this chapter.

Appendix A - Government Information Management Infrastructure

This is the graphic explaining the Government Management Infrastructure

Appendix A -Government Information Management Infrastructure
Text version: Appendix A -Government Information Management Infrastructure

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