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ARCHIVED - A Guide to Preparing Treasury Board Submissions

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The 2014 Guidance for the Preparation of TB Submissions includes a revised submission form, the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, enhanced guidance on costing, tools for submission writers and new service standards for submissions. Departments and agencies have until April 1, 2014, to fully implement the updated guidance.

However, as communicated in the Guideline on Chief Financial Officer Attestation for Cabinet Submissions, a CFO Attestation letter must be annexed to all submissions that have financial implications, effective January 1, 2014.

14. Financial and Administrative Management

14.1 Transfer payments

Under the Policy on Transfer Payments, unless otherwise directed by the Treasury Board, federal organizations must obtain Board approval of:

  • new or increased named grants;
  • terms and conditions of new transfer payment programs, including any exemptions from policy; and
  • where required, amendments or renewals of terms and conditions.

The Policy on Transfer Payments defines the terms and conditions for program approval that must be included in submissions. Federal organizations must obtain the Treasury Board's approval for exemptions from the policy. The request should be included in the "Proposal" section of their submissions. (See Appendix F for authority wording templates.)

Federal organizations must obtain Treasury Board approval of new or amended named grants, including exemptions from the policy. Named grant submissions should elaborate on the following:

  • program authority
  • statement of objectives
  • program justification
  • identification of recipient
  • eligibility requirements
  • (maximum) amount payable
  • delegated authority (to sign agreement or amendments and authorize payments)
  • duration (number of years the grant will be paid)
  • stacking of assistance
  • information on basis and timing of payments
  • identification of and justification for any exemptions from policy

Grant and contribution programs may require RMAFs, which articulate performance monitoring and evaluation strategies, and, on program renewal, an evaluation that demonstrates the level of success in attaining the program objectives.

Both RMAFs and evaluations require sign‑off by the chief evaluation executive prior to their submission to the Secretariat, to demonstrate the federal organization's accountability, quality control, and policy compliance.

14.2 Revolving funds

The Treasury Board approves the annual planned use of drawdown authority of each revolving fund through the ARLU.

A revolving fund has statutory authority to draw monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. That normally happens when expenditures temporarily exceed the revenues the fund has been authorized to spend. Goods and services sold or provided are the main sources of revenue for a revolving fund. The drawdown authority is similar to a line of credit, in that the expenditures financed by the fund must not exceed the limit of that authority.

Although Parliament approves all revolving funds initially, the Treasury Board approves any increases, which are requested through submissions. A submission is also required to seek Treasury Board approval to discontinue revolving fund operations or to write off an accumulated surplus or deficit.

14.3 Vote netted revenue

Parliament authorizes federal organizations to apply revenues toward costs incurred directly for specific activities. It votes the net financial requirements (i.e. estimated total expenditures minus estimated revenues) for one fiscal year at a time. Under vote netting, users finance part of a program's cost, while other sources of government revenue finance the remainder.

Vote netted revenue authority is provided either under federal organization or program acts, or through vote wording in annual appropriation acts. Federal organizations wishing to establish a vote netted revenue arrangement or change the amount of revenue against which they can offset expenditures (i.e. net vote) must make a request to this effect through a submission.

14.3.1 Establishment of authority

The information required in a submission seeking Board approval to establish and use net voting will vary according to the nature of the operation. However, federal organizations are guided by the procedural requirements outlined in Appendix A to the Policy on Special Revenue Spending Authorities. (See Appendix F for an authority wording template to increase vote netted revenue.)

14.3.2 Sample vote wording

The submission should include the vote number, name of the organization, and, pursuant to subsection 29.1(2) of the Financial Administration Act, authority to spend revenues received to offset related expenditures in the fiscal year arising from the provision of services.

Example: A division of a federal organization's program has parliamentary authority to spend $175 million, including revenues of $75 million. Thus, the division has the authority to spend $100 million net of $75 million in revenue. If the division wishes to increase or decrease this vote netted revenue, it must obtain Treasury Board approval.

14.4 Kinds of write‑off transactions requiring approval by Parliament

Under subsection 25(2) of the FAA, obligations recorded on the statement of assets and liabilities of Canada that are written off (e.g. non‑budgetary loans) require parliamentary approval, through an appropriation act, for a budgetary expenditure. Changes to appropriations approved by Parliament require a submission (e.g. approval of a new budgetary expenditure to write off a non‑budgetary loan in an appropriation act).

14.5 Non‑standard use of a departmental bank account

Departmental bank accounts (DBAs) are often authorized when a federal organization does not have access to a PWGSC office for issuing cheques. Federal organizations may use a DBA only for certain classes of payments. These DBAs are normally approved by PWGSC's Cash Management Operations Division.

A submission would be required for a DBA policy exemption only if the federal organization's bank account expenditures were outside standard classes of payments, exceeded the maximum amounts allowed by the Cheque Issue Regulations, 1997, or carried only one signature.

14.6 Petty cash

Federal organizations have the authority to establish petty cash accounts of up to $2,000. However, if an organization requires more, it would have to seek Treasury Board approval by means of a submission. Remote offices often need more than $2,000 if using acquisition cards and/or PWGSC offices to issue cheques is impractical.

14.7 Debt write‑off

Under the Debt Write‑off Regulations, 1994, federal organizations must prepare a submission for unpaid accountable advances or overpayments by the Crown for salaries, wages, or employment‑related allowances to current employees. A submission is also required for all non-budgetary items (e.g. loans that are deemed uncollectible and must be written off).

14.8 Changes to the face of Receiver General cheques

From time to time, changes have to be made to Receiver General cheques to enhance security or meet Federal Identity Program (FIP) requirements. Such changes require a Treasury Board submission.

14.9 Contracting

Federal organizations must obtain Treasury Board approval before entering into contracts or contractual arrangements where the value or contract costs including taxes exceed the delegated contracting authority levels prescribed by the Board in its Contracting Policy.

The Secretariat has developed an electronic submission checklist tool to assist federal organizations in preparing and reviewing contract and project approval submissions, including real property and materiel management components.

The tool contains a number of checklists following either a project approval submission stream or contract submission stream. It also provides links to Treasury Board policies, a comprehensive list of definitions, and other useful resources.

Although not all questions will be relevant to a particular Treasury Board submission, the checklist aims to ensure that the information presented by a federal organization is accurate and complete.

The Secretariat has also developed a website related to contracting, which includes a number of relevant policies, frameworks, and best practices subsites. There is also a template to help federal organizations prepare a submission related to contracting.

For any contracting involving the collection, use, disclosure, storage, or disposal of personal information, federal organizations should consult Taking Privacy into Account Before Making Contracting Decisions.

14.10 Crown corporations

The content requirements for corporate plans and budgets are set out in Part X of the Financial Administration Act (FAA) and in the Crown Corporation Corporate Plan, Budget and Summaries Regulations. In general terms, the corporate plan of a parent Crown corporation must encompass all the businesses and activities, including investments, of the corporation and any wholly‑owned subsidiaries.

All Crown corporations listed under Schedule III, Part I, of the FAA (Appendix G, No. 1) are required to submit a corporate plan and operating and capital budgets each year. However, if a Crown corporation is listed under Schedule III, Part II, of the FAA (Appendix G, No. 2), it may have to submit only a corporate plan and a capital budget (Canada Post Corporation is the only exception).

14.10.1 Roles and responsibilities

The Crown corporation is responsible for developing and finalizing the corporate plan and budgets, which must be approved by its board of directors. The corporation must ensure that the corporate plan is an accurate, financially sound, viable depiction of its business plans, compliant with applicable legislation and consistent with the broad policy objectives and priorities of the government.

The corporate plan and budgets are submitted to the appropriate (responsible) minister, who confirms that the plan is consistent with government directions and priorities and expresses any views and support for the plan through a Treasury Board (TB) submission. In exceptional cases, where the portfolio department is unable to support the minister by preparing the TB submission, the corporation itself (Appendix G, No. 3) prepares the TB submission for the responsible minister's signature. Once signed by the responsible minister, the submission is sent to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat for scheduling for Treasury Board consideration of recommendation of approval to the Governor in Council.

14.10.2 Corporate plans and operating and capital budgets

In requesting approval of a corporate plan and its accompanying budgets, the responsible minister is asking the Treasury Board to approve two separate items under two separate authorities.

First, the responsible minister is requesting a Treasury Board recommendation to the Governor in Council of approval of an order in council (OIC). This OIC is the instrument with which the Governor General formally approves the corporate plan and, other than in the case of the major financial Crown corporations, is made without the recommendation of the Minister of Finance. The latter's recommendation is required in the case of the four major financial Crown corporations (Appendix G, No. 4) and is usually provided via a letter outlining the Minister's support for the corporate plan. The letter of recommendation from the Minister of Finance must be included with the submission if available when the submission is first forwarded to the Secretariat. Otherwise, it must be forwarded to the Secretariat as soon as it is received.

Second, the responsible minister is requesting Treasury Board approval of the Crown corporation's operating and capital budgets. The approval authority for these budgets rests with the Treasury Board and is covered by the submission itself. It is therefore not part of the OIC.

Note that corporate plan approval is always sought for a five‑year period.

An example of a corporate plan TB submission and an accompanying OIC appears in Figure 4.

14.10.3 Amendments to corporate plans and budgets

Subsection 122(6) of the FAA requires an amended corporate plan where a Crown corporation proposes to "carry on any business or a manner that is not consistent" with the last approved corporate plan.

Subsection 123(4) of the FAA requires an amended operating budget where a Crown corporation anticipates that the total amount of expenditures in respect of any major business or activity "will vary significantly" from the total amount projected for that major business or activity in the last approved operating budget. Similarly, subsection 124(6) requires an amended capital budget when the Crown corporation anticipates that the total amount of capital expenditures or commitments to make capital expenditures in respect of any major business or activity "will vary significantly" from the total amount projected for that major business or activity in the last approved capital budget.

The FAA does not define or interpret "not consistent with" or "vary significantly." Thus, judgement will need to be used in all cases. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat can assist in identifying instances where amendments may be required, based upon an analysis of the materiality and impacts of the change proposed.

14.10.4 Multi‑year items

Subsection 124(3) of the FAA provides the Treasury Board with the discretion to approve any item in a capital budget that spans a number of years rather than limiting the authority to a one‑year duration. This allows expenditures relating to a capital project that will be financed over a number of years to be authorized through a single request reflecting the multi‑year requirement.

14.10.5 Restricted transactions

A Crown corporation may sometimes need to request approval of a restricted transaction. Restricted transactions include transactions such as acquiring shares in a company, the dissolution of a corporation, or the disposal of property. A restricted transaction can be included in the annual corporate plan submission or it can be the subject of a separate submission. In either situation, the responsible minister is asking the Treasury Board to recommend to the Governor in Council the approval of an order in council in regard to that specific transaction.

14.10.6 Orders in council

Orders in council (OICs) are required for all submissions containing proposals to approve a corporate plan, amended corporate plan, or restricted transaction. The OIC is prepared by the portfolio department's legal counsel on behalf of the responsible minister. Note that OICs for corporate plans differ from those required for regulatory amendments, as the latter include regulatory impact analysis statements and communication plans, whereas the former do not. There is a requirement, however, to include an explanatory note outlining the specific purpose of the OIC, which often briefly references the mandate of the Crown corporation or any other significant high‑level information that may be relevant to understanding the intent of the order.

Not all OICs require a TB submission to accompany them. All financial matters and those related to Crown corporation corporate plans require an accompanying TB submission. Where it is unclear whether or not a submission is required, contact the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Orders in council are legal instruments and, therefore, every effort should be made to ensure they are accurate. If an error has occurred, the portfolio department, on behalf of the responsible minister, should take the necessary steps to ensure that an amending OIC is put forward to the Governor in Council.

Once the Governor in Council has approved the OIC, the Privy Council Office (PCO) submits the document for the Governor General's signature. Orders in council are usually signed by the Governor General within three working days of the Treasury Board meeting. PCO will subsequently send the signed order to the department.

Additional information about orders in council is available in Appendix A.

14.10.7 Terms and conditions

Since 1991, the Governor in Council has had statutory authority to impose terms and conditions on a parent Crown corporation regarding the manner in which the businesses and activities described in the corporate plan are to be carried on. Under subsection 122(6.1) to the FAA, the Governor in Council may now specify such terms and conditions as he or she deems appropriate for the approval of a corporate plan or an amendment to a corporate plan. In practice, terms and conditions are not included in the order in council issued under section 122 of the FAA. They are incorporated via the recommendation of the Treasury Board, as expressed in the formal record of decision, commonly referred to as the decision letter. Additional information about Treasury Board decisions is available in Part III, point 10.11, of this guide.

14.10.8 Corporate plan summary

After the corporate plan and budgets have been approved and the order in council has been signed by the Governor General, the Crown corporation must prepare and submit a summary of the approved plan and budgets to the appropriate minister for "approval" (section 125 of the FAA). Because corporate plans are confidential documents, only a summary of the corporate plan and budgets is tabled by the appropriate minister in both Houses, following which it is referred to the appropriate committee of Parliament for review.

14.10.9 Process and timeline for corporate plans and summaries

The process and timelines for corporate plan submissions and summaries depend on the fiscal year-end of the Crown corporation. The diagrams in Appendix G, No. 4 provide a linear view of the process and timelines for corporations with a December 31 year‑end and a March 31 year‑end.

14.10.10 Late submissions

Ideally, the corporate plan TB submission should be submitted for TB/GIC recommendation/approval well in advance of the beginning of the corporation's fiscal year. However, if the corporate plan is not approved in advance of the start of a corporation's fiscal year, the corporation may continue to operate in accordance with its last approved 5-year corporate plan (and funding).

14.10.11 Do's and don'ts of drafting a corporate plan TB submission

Do's Don'ts

Do provide your Secretariat analyst with a draft of the submission early in the process to ensure that all requirements have been met. Your Secretariat analyst often needs to consult widely across a number of Secretariat policy areas, so build in sufficient time to allow this.

Don't copy the contents of the corporate plan verbatim into the TB submission.

Do discuss proposal wording with your Secretariat analyst. This can avoid problems or the ministers' having to add additional conditions to their approvals.

Don't work on the submission's proposal wording in isolation or copy the wording from previous submissions.

Do try to add value to the submission by focussing on significant changes in the corporation since the previous year, such as program or activity changes, organizational changes, risks, financial difficulties, etc.

Don't remove a subject heading from the submission template even if the particular section does not apply. Simply enter "Not Applicable."

Do number the proposal paragraphs to allow for easy reference and approval by TB ministers.

Don't forget to attach the draft order in council to the submission and to have your departmental legal services approve its contents.

Do call your Secretariat analyst early in the process if you identify the possible need to request temporary access to TB Vote 5 or any other extraordinary request.

Don't include exact dates or a specific numbered reference to a decision made by a previous government. Instead, reference previous government decisions as follows: "A government (or Cabinet) decision made in June 2004 (month and year only) provided XYZ with the authority to...."

Do try to match the length of the submission with the complexity of proposals or issues contained in the corporate plan. Be concise and brief in your submission.

Don't forget to provide sufficient time for the submission to work its way through your departmental system for sign-off by your minister before the submission deadline. This can take up to three weeks.

Do speak to your Secretariat analyst if there are unusual requests in the corporate plan or if the department is concerned about the contents or timing of the submission.

Don't forget to speak to any outstanding Treasury Board-imposed conditions and their status.

Do make use of sub‑headings in the "Remarks" section of the submission, when appropriate, to avoid confusion on the part of the reader.

Don't use the submission as a platform to express opinions. The submission should be factual and objective in nature.

14.11 Remission orders

Section 23 of the FAA provides a means to remove a debt from the books of account and release the debtor from all liability. The FAA requires that the Treasury Board recommend remissions to the Governor in Council. A Treasury Board submission is accordingly required. Remissions may be applied to debts not covered by the criteria of section 24.1 of the FAA and may be applied to debts already paid.

14.12 Taxes

Remission of taxes, including customs duties, and related interest and penalties under subsection 23(2) of the FAA is made by the GIC on the recommendation of the appropriate minister. Though such remission does not require a recommendation by the Treasury Board, it must be reviewed by the Department of Finance Canada. Information on the remission of customs duties is available from the International Trade Policy Division of the Department of Finance Canada. Information on the remission of other taxes is available from the Tax Policy Branch of the same department.

14.13 Fees and other debts

Unlike the remission of customs duties and other taxes, the remission of fees, other debts, and any related interest requires the recommendation of the Treasury Board pursuant to subsections 23(2) and (2.1) of the FAA. The Secretariat analyst should be contacted for information on what to include in the accompanying submissions.

14.14 Fees prescribed under subsection 19(1) and section 19.1 of FAA

Subsection 19(1) and section 19.1 of the FAA allow the GIC to prescribe, on the recommendation of the Treasury Board, fees for services, use of facilities, licenses, and permits. The GIC may also authorize a minister to prescribe those fees by order. However, the minister's authority in this regard is quite limited. Both situations require following the regulatory process (i.e. publication is required in Part I of the Canada Gazette for consultation and in Part II for the final regulations).

When the GIC has authorized a minister to prescribe fees, the minister may make amendments by order, subject to the regulatory process. It should be noted that these subsequent amendments may still require Treasury Board recommendation (e.g. when the GIC order authorizing the minister calls for it or because the Board required it when it approved the submission). In addition to regulatory process requirements, fees established pursuant to subsection 19(1) or section 19.1 may be subject to the provisions of the User Fees Act that include the tabling of a user fee proposal in Parliament. Tabling and parliamentary review should occur before Treasury Board consideration.

The federal organization should consult its legal services and the Secretariat program and regulatory analysts early in the regulatory process when such fees are involved.

More details are available on the Treasury Board's "Financial Management On Line: External User Fees" website (page on the User Fees Act).

15. Classification of EX‑4 and EX‑5 Positions

It is important to note that the Canada Public Service Agency and the Secretariat have both unique and complementary roles when dealing with submissions relating to EX‑4 and EX‑5 organization and classification.

While the Canada Public Service Agency is the expert body on policy in relation to EX classification, standards, organization, and monitoring, and oversight of EX community data and issues, the Secretariat, through the appropriate program sector and in consultation with the Canada Public Service Agency, assesses all submissions, advises on submission content and readiness, presents the case, and renders the record of decision. Federal organizations sponsoring a submission are accordingly expected to provide the submission and supporting documentation (e.g. job descriptions and organization charts) to both the Canada Public Service Agency and the Secretariat.

The identification of situations in which Treasury Board approval is required is based on the Organizational Authority and Classification of Executive Group Positions Policy. If a proposed change in a federal organization is to result in an increase to the organization's total number of EX‑4 and EX‑5 positions or total number of EX‑5 positions, Board approval is required.

The above policy should be consulted. It applies to the core public administration as defined in Schedules I and IV to the Financial Administration Act.

An example of the content of submissions dealing with a federal organization's EX‑4 and EX‑5 positions is provided at Figure 7 in Appendix F.

16. Information Management, Information Technology, and Service Delivery

The Chief Information Officer Branch (CIOB) of the Secretariat has a significant interest in ensuring that the Government of Canada's major IM and IT investments are well planned and well managed and generate outcomes that contribute to the government's directions and strategies in areas such as information management, shared services, use of common infrastructure, etc.

This is achieved in many ways, including the review of key IM/IT documents such as a submission, long‑term capital plan, and/or information management technology plan.

Advice and guidance on developing a submission seeking PPA or EPA for a particular IM/IT project is provided in Part IV, point 13.2, "Information requirements for submissions related to project approvals."

Information relating to approval of the information technology asset management component of a long-term capital plan is provided in Part IV, point 13.2.5, "Long‑term capital plans." The Enterprise Stewardship and Internal Services Strategies Division of the Secretariat may also be consulted.

The Executive Director of the Enterprise Stewardship and Internal Services Strategies Division of the Secretariat may be contacted for advice and guidance on the development of a federal organization's information management and technology plan.

The CIOB also has an interest in ensuring that Government of Canada services (a) are designed around client needs, expectations, and abilities (client‑centred) and respect government policies, directives, and standards; (b) continuously improve in response to client feedback and performance; (c) are cost effective and easy to access and use; and (d) are secure and delivered to the right person or business; and also that the use of whole‑of‑government service solutions, existing or under development, is fully evaluated.

Advice and guidance are available from the CIOB's Service Policy division for matters relating to service delivery to Canadians and Canadian businesses and from its Internal Services Strategies division for those relating to internal service delivery. To ensure continuity, the lead Secretariat analyst should be informed of any inquiries on IM/IT issues.

17. Management, Resources, and Results Structure

The Program Activity Architecture is an inventory of all the programs undertaken by a department or agency. The programs are depicted in their logical relationship to each other and to the strategic outcomes (SOs) to which they contribute. The PAA is a key element of a Management, Resources, and Results Structure (MRRS).

The Management, Resources, and Results Structure Policy supports the development of a common, government‑wide approach to the collection, management, and reporting of financial and non‑financial performance information. Federal organizations must have an MRRS that is current and consistent with the way they manage diverse programs and allocate resources to achieve expected results.

The Treasury Board must approve changes to strategic outcomes and to the program activity level of the PAA. A formal call letter is usually issued in the spring to initiate the annual PAA update approval process. This letter sets out the process that will determine whether federal organizations are required to complete a submission for proposed changes to their strategic outcomes and PAA. (See Appendix F for an authority wording template.)

17.1 Performance Measurement Framework

The purpose of the Performance Measurement Framework is to identify the expected results, outputs, and target performance indicators arising from the submission.

For an existing program, detail what results have been achieved in the program or related areas and the original target performance indicators. Where there is a request for an increase in program resources, describe the additional expected results associated with the new resources and the new target performance indicators.

For all new programs, detail what results will be achieved and outline target performance measurement indicators.

18. Determination of Disagreements between Ministers and Accounting Officers on the Interpretation or Application of a Treasury Board Policy, Directive, or Standard

Subsections 16.4(1) and (2) of the Financial Administration Act designate deputy ministers and heads of government institutions as accounting officers for their organizations. Within the framework of ministerial responsibility and accountability to Parliament, accounting officers are accountable before Senate and House of Commons committees to appear and answer questions in four specified areas.

The Financial Administration Act also provides a mechanism for the resolution of specific disagreements between ministers and accounting officers. Subsection 16.5(1) indicates that, when a minister and the accounting officer for a department named in Part I or II of Schedule VI to the Act are unable to agree on the interpretation or application of a Treasury Board policy, directive, or standard, the accounting officer shall seek guidance in writing from the Secretary of the Treasury Board.

Subsection 16.5(2) indicates that, when guidance has been provided under subsection 16.5(1) and the matter remains unresolved, the minister shall refer the matter to the Treasury Board for a decision. Generally, it is expected that this will be a formal submission, signed by the minister in question, for an exemption from or exception to a requirement of a particular Treasury Board policy, directive, or standard.

An example of the exemption requested could be:

"Authority for a one‑time exemption from the corporate identity provisions of the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada for non‑commercial use of the graphic identifier depicted in Annex E until [date] to help raise public awareness of [a particular event]. This graphic identifier includes the 'Canada' wordmark, but not as the dominant element."

Subsection 16.5(3) indicates that the Treasury Board's decision shall be in writing and a copy shall be provided to the Auditor General of Canada as a confidence of the Queen's Privy Council of Canada. The decision will be provided to the offices of both the minister and the accounting officer involved.