Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Symbol of the Government of Canada

ARCHIVED - Policy on Alternative Service Delivery - Archived

Warning This page has been archived.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats on the "Contact Us" page.

1.0 Effective Date

This policy is effective April 1st, 2002. It supersedes the 1995 Framework on Alternative Program Delivery.

2.0 Preface

The Government of Canada constantly reviews its programs and services to identify opportunities to improve services to Canadians. In this context the Government supports innovative organizational arrangements, which are driven and guided by its commitment to:

  • achieve measurable results in improving citizen-centred service to Canadians;
  • ensure value for money by creating efficiencies and establishing partnerships1 that can enhance the government's delivery of responsive programs and services;
  • balance the drive for innovative program and service delivery, on the one hand, and respect for public sector values and the preservation of the public service of Canada as a vibrant and cohesive national institution, on the other hand.

Alternative Service Delivery entails the pursuit of new and appropriate organizational forms and arrangements, including partnerships with other levels of government and other sectors, in order to improve the delivery of programs and services. Innovative organizational arrangements for delivering government programs and services can result in:

  • more cost-effective, responsive delivery to Canadian citizens;
  • changes in organizational culture and management practices so that the organization performs more effectively; and
  • the granting of greater authority to managers, thus moving decision making closer to the point of delivery, to the communities served and to Canadian citizens.

A federal public sector that is committed to championing innovation through a wide range of promising avenues is key to the continuing success of the Canadian experience with alternative service delivery. These avenues include

  • innovative organizational arrangements and transformations within the Government of Canada;
  • horizontal integration of service delivery between federal departments and agencies;
  • vertical integration of service between governments, as they share the responsibility of serving citizens; and
  • strategic alliances and partnerships with the private sector and with volunteer and not-for-profit organizations.

While departments continue to play an important role in service delivery, a growing need for flexibility, interdependence and innovation has produced an increasing diversity of organizational forms and service delivery arrangements to provide more responsive service to Canadians.

Modern citizen-centred service for Canadians reflects the increased interdependence among sectors in a diverse and complex environment. In leading innovation, the government must ensure that appropriate links and relationships, including those concerned with accountability and governance, are established among the entities involved, whether they be within the Government of Canada, with other levels of government or with other organizations.

2.1 Defining Alternative Service Delivery

Alternative service delivery is the organizational and structural dimension of improving the government's performance in delivering programs and services to Canadians.

Alternative service delivery has two parts:

  • establishing the appropriate organizational forms within departments, outside traditional departmental structures or outside the public sector, to improve organizational performance; and
  • bringing together organizations from across government, between levels of governments, or across sectors, through partnerships (for example, "single windows," co-locations, or clustering of services to citizens) to provide more seamless and citizen-centred services.

3.0 Policy Objectives

The purpose of the policy is to ensure that:

  • opportunities for improved, cost-effective services to Canadian citizens are identified and acted upon;
  • the potential for innovative organizational arrangements for service delivery is explored within departments as well as outside the departmental structure;
  • there is an appropriate balance between innovation, effective governance and accountability;
  • decisions to proceed with an ASD initiative are supported by sound information and analysis;
  • there are appropriate arrangements for ministerial accountability and reporting to Parliament;
  • there are appropriate arrangements for respecting Canada's official languages;
  • the Prime Minister is informed of ASD initiatives that involve changes to the machinery of government and agrees with them;
  • Treasury Board ministers have an early opportunity to inform and shape ASD initiatives;
  • strategically important ASD initiatives are tabled before TB ministers for approval and ongoing review;
  • the outcomes of innovative service-delivery arrangements are measured and assessed against stated objectives and reported in an open and transparent manner;
  • the appropriate mechanisms are in place to permit corrective action, where necessary; and
  • the proponents of significant ASD initiatives share their experiences so that others can learn from them.

4.0 Policy Statement

The Government of Canada encourages continuous improvement and innovation in the delivery of its programs and services. Innovative organizational forms and arrangements can play an important role in improving performance. Alternative service delivery arrangements must deliver sustainable results for Canadians and reflect the public interest.

5.0 Application

This policy applies to all organizations named in Schedules I, I.1 and II of the Financial Administration Act (FAA) that are engaged in the delivery of programs and services that fulfil federal government objectives, unless specifically exempted by an Act of Parliament.

With regard to Annex C (Official Languages - Guiding Principles), other organizations subject to the Official Languages Act must respect the spirit of these principles.

More specifically, this policy applies to the following types of initiatives in the provision of new programs and services as well as the transformation of existing programs and services2:

  • the creation of new organizations, including
  • Service agencies
  • Special operating agencies
  • Departmental service agencies
  • Departmental corporations
  • Branches or divisions of the Public Service similar to those listed under the FAA, Schedule I.1, column I.
  • Crown corporations
  • Administrative tribunals
  • Shared governance corporations
  • partnership and collaboration with other sectors and levels of government; and
  • the contracting-out of federal programs and services to the private and not-for-profit sectors.

The policy also applies to existing alternative service delivery arrangements when they come up for renewal.

6.0 Policy Requirements

6.0.1 All departments (identified under Section 5, "Application") should continually assess their programs and services to identify opportunities for improving service to Canadians, including opportunities for alternative or innovative organizational arrangements to improve organizational performance, cost-effectiveness and the delivery of services to Canadians.

6.0.2 Departments should explore the potential for innovative organizational arrangements for service delivery within departments prior to exploring other forms outside this model.

6.0.3 A Case Analysis as described in Section 6.1 must be developed for all ASD initiatives as defined in Section 5.

6.0.4 The Case Analysis must demonstrate that appropriate arrangements are made for respecting Canada's official languages, as set out in Annex C.

6.0.5 Departments must prepare and submit to the Treasury Board Secretariat by the end of the fiscal year an annual ASD Plan in accordance with Section 6.2.

6.0.6 The Treasury Board Secretariat must receive the information on ASD initiatives as required under this policy well in advance of the drafting of implementation instruments.

6.0.7 The Secretariat of the Treasury Board may ask for a draft Case Analysis for specific initiatives on the ASD Plan. On the basis of the information received, the Secretary of the Treasury Board will determine which proposed ASD initiatives must be submitted to Treasury Board ministers for approval as set out in Section 6.3.

6.0.8 Departments will inform the Treasury Board Secretariat of any ASD initiatives emerging throughout the year that meet the ASD planning criteria and that were not originally included in the current ASD Plan. This information should be prepared as described in 6.2.

6.0.9 For ASD initiatives covered by this policy that propose changes to the machinery of government, the responsible minister must seek approval in writing to proceed from the Prime Minister.

6.0.10 For ASD initiatives that do not require Treasury Board approval under this policy but otherwise must be submitted to Treasury Board ministers (e.g., for approval under another Treasury Board policy), the submission should indicate that the department has prepared a Case Analysis for the initiative.

6.0.11 Arrangements must be made to ensure appropriate ministerial accountability and authority, including the appropriate reporting to ministers, Parliament and citizens.

6.0.12 An ASD initiative that contributes significantly to the achievement of a departmental mandate should be reported in the Departmental Reports on Plans and Priorities, and its contribution to the department's mandate and service-delivery results should be reflected in the Departmental Performance Reports.

6.0.13 Federal proponents of ASD initiatives will support organizational learning by documenting initiatives approved by Treasury Board ministers under this policy (including lessons learned and best practices) in a Case Study that will reside in the ASD database at TBS. The case study must be submitted within two years of implementing the initiative.

6.0.14 Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will ensure that organizational learning is appropriately captured and shared throughout government and across governments.

6.1 Case Analysis

The Case Analysis supports decision-making, implementation, ongoing review, and adjustment of the initiative. It must address the questions from the Public Interest Test (see Annex B) that apply to the initiative, and it must include

  • a baseline analysis addressing client and citizen satisfaction and service improvement priorities, as well as current levels of performance for each Public Interest Test question that applies to the initiative;
  • results commitments for the initiative in response to the Public Interest Test questions;
  • a measurement and reporting framework for assessing the results and reporting publicly;
  • the mechanisms and authorities available to proponents, ministers and TB to take corrective action (as required) once the initiative is implemented; and
  • a plan outlining the cycle of on-going review and assessment of results throughout the life of the initiative.

The extent and depth of this analysis should be in line with the scope, scale and sensitivity of the initiative.

6.2 ASD Plans

ASD Plans should cover the three subsequent fiscal years and include ASD initiatives as defined in Section 5 that have annual program spending in excess of $20 million or meet any of the following additional criteria:

  • poses a significant risk to the continuity of service delivery to Canadian citizens;
  • represents a substantial change to the existing mix of industrial and regional benefits;
  • includes sensitive issues in financial or human resource management that require Treasury Board ministerial direction;
  • has an impact on the rights or entitlements of Canadian citizens;
  • contributes significantly to the achievement of the department's mandate; or
  • has an impact on official languages (consult Annex C).

The ASD Plan must explain the rationale for including initiatives that meet any of these criteria.

ASD Plans should also cover existing ASD arrangements when they come up for renewal. The renewal of ASD arrangements must be brought to the attention of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in a timely manner at least six months in advance.

Depending on the stage of the initiative, the ASD Plan will either describe options being explored or a specific option being proposed.

For initiatives for which a specific option is being proposed, departments may consider appending the Case Analysis when such information has been developed. It is understood that in the early stages the impacts of the initiative may not be fully known.

6.3 Submission to the Treasury Board

The Secretariat of the Treasury Board will review ASD Plans and may request a draft Case Analysis for specific initiatives. This information will allow the Secretariat to co-ordinate an appropriate central agency response, including a possible Treasury Board submission.

The Secretary of the Treasury Board will determine whether or not an ASD initiative will be brought forward to Treasury Board ministers using the following as a basis for analysis:

  • The criteria described in 6.2;
  • Issues raised by the application of the Public Interest Test in the Case Analysis for the proposed initiative;
  • Whether there are government-wide implications of the initiative; and
  • Whether any of the above are likely to raise concern on the part of TB ministers.

Should there be a requirement for TB consideration, the minister(s) responsible for the initiative will submit the proposed ASD initiative, together with the Case Analysis, to Treasury Board ministers for preliminary approval.

Treasury Board ministers may approve the submission in principle with conditions and request that the ASD proposal be re-submitted at a later date for final approval.

At the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury Board, departments may seek approval for a series of similar ASD initiatives.

7.0 Accountabilities, Roles and Responsibilities

Departments are accountable for assessing the need for improved organisational performance in the delivery of new and existing programs and services. They are also responsible for ensuring that ASD initiatives are in the public interest, giving full consideration to the Public Interest Test questions presented in Annex B. In this regard, departments are responsible for ensuring that decisions to implement ASD initiatives identified in section 5 are supported by a Case Analysis.

To ensure that a whole-of-government approach is taken in deciding on and shaping significant ASD initiatives, Treasury Board and its Secretariat must be involved in their development. This is necessary because these initiatives often have far-reaching impacts on other departments, other governments and other sectors, and because, taken as a whole, they can have a significant cumulative impact on the institution of the Public Service.

8.0 Monitoring

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will monitor this policy to ensure that it meets its intended objectives. The Secretariat will review Case Analysis and Case Study files as well as publicly available reports of results commitments and outcomes.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will conduct an evaluation of this policy within five years of its coming into force.

9.0 References

9.1 Authority

This policy is issued pursuant to the Financial Administration Act, section 7(1)(a) and (b) as well as Part VIII of the Official Languages Act.

9.2 Relevant Legislation

Financial Administration Act

Official Languages Act

9.3 Treasury Board Policies

Policy on Transfer Payments, June 1, 2000

"Access to Information" (Chapter 1-1, Treasury Board Manual)

"Management of Government Interests in Private Sector Initiatives" (Chapter 4-1, Treasury Board Manual)

"Management of Major Crown Projects" (Chapter 2-3, Treasury Board Manual)

Common Services Policy

Contracting Policy, 1999

Government Communications Policy

"Communications with the Public" (Chapter 1, Treasury Board Manual, as it pertains to the Official Languages Act)

Employee Takeover Policy, 1996

Review Policy, 1995

Internal Audit Policy, 2001

Evaluation Policy, 2001

9.4 Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Publications

Results for Canadians, 2000

Becoming a Special Operating Agency, March 1998

A Framework for Alternative Program Delivery, 1995

"Federal Identity Program" (Chapter 2, Treasury Board Manual - Communications)

Guiding Principles for the Management of Crown Corporations (1996-05-31)

"Directives for Implementing the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations", 1991 (Chapter 5-2, Treasury Board Manual)

Quality Services Guides, 1996

Stretching the Tax Dollar Series, 1993, 1995, 1997

Managing for Results Series, Results-based Management, Accountability and Review

Integrated Risk Management Framework, 2001

9.5 Other Publications

From the Office of the Auditor General, the annual Report of the Auditor General of Canada

  • 2000 - Chapter 12 - "Values and Ethics in the Federal Public Service"
  • 2000 - Chapter 18 - "Governance of Crown Corporations"
  • 2000 - Chapter 29 - "Treasury Board Secretariat: The Government's Annual Contracting Activity Report - 1998"
  • 1999 - Chapter 5 - "Collaborative Arrangements: Issues for the Federal Government"
  • 1999 - Chapter 23 - "New Governance Arrangements"
  • 1999 - Chapter 17 - "Canada Infrastructure Works Program: Phase II and Follow-up of Phase I Audit"
  • 1999 - Chapter 18 - "Public Works and Government Services Canada - Alternative Forms of Delivery: Contracting for Property Management Services"
  • 1999 - Chapter 24 - "The Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development Fund: An Example of Involving Others in Governing"
  • 1999 - Chapter 27 - "National Defence: Alternative Service Delivery"
  • 1998 - Chapter 12 - "Creation of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency"

10.0 Enquiries

Enquiries about undertaking ASD initiatives should be directed to the corporate policy offices of the departments or agencies concerned.

Enquiries about the Policy on Alternative Service Delivery and related matters should be directed to

Alternative Service Delivery Division
Service & Innovation Sector
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
400 Cooper St., 8th Floor
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0R5

Phone: 613-954-3937
Fax: 613-952-7219
Internet: /asd-dmps

Annex A - Definitions of Alternative Service Delivery Arrangements

A.1 Creating New Organizations Within the Federal Government Machinery

Service agencies provide services within an agreed-upon policy and legislative framework. These agencies are usually managed on the basis of accountability for results and require only general ministerial monitoring.

While the relationships of power and accountability between heads of agencies, Parliament and the minister for each agency vary, usually the minister is responsible and must answer for agencies in Parliament.

Departmental corporations

These are bodies corporate that provide administrative, research, advisory or regulatory functions and are named in section II of the Financial Administration Act (FAA). They are established by enabling legislation through an Act of Parliament.

Special operating agency (SOA)

The SOA is an operational unit of a department that functions within a framework agreement approved by the deputy minister, the minister and the Treasury Board. No separate legislation is required. SOAs have a clear mandate and the services they provide are readily identifiable. They follow the departmental legislative framework and authorities, although they may be granted flexibility by the department, Treasury Board and/or the Public Service Commission for financial, human resources or other specified objectives.

Departmental service agencies

These operational units or clusters of units within a department are specifically organized and responsible for delivering services to the department's clients. Like SOAs, these agencies operate within a management framework approved by the deputy minister and the Treasury Board, but may represent a larger share of the department's overall activity than a typical SOA. No separate legislation is required.

Divisions or branches of the Public Service of Canada

These are administrative entities created either by statute or by Order in Council and named in column I of Schedule I.1 of the FAA. They are departments for the purpose of complying with the FAA and their degree of independence depends on the mandate given to them in their constituting instrument.

Crown corporations are legally distinct entities wholly owned, either directly or indirectly, by the Crown and managed by their respective boards of directors. The enabling legislation for each parent Crown corporation sets out the corporation's mandate, powers and objectives. The majority of parent Crown corporations must have their corporate plans and budgets approved annually by the government. Each parent Crown corporation reports to Parliament through the minister responsible for the corporation. These reports include the corporation's annual report.

Administrative tribunals make decisions or hear appeals to give effect to government policies at arm's length from the government and on an independent basis. Their independence is key to their effectiveness.

A.2 Program and Service Delivery Outside the Federal Government Machinery

Shared Governance Corporations

Shared governance corporations are corporate entities without share capital for which Canada, either directly or through a Crown corporation, has a right pursuant to statute, articles of incorporation, letters patent, by-law or any contractual agreement (including funding or conditional grants and contribution agreements) to appoint or nominate one or more members to the governing body.

Partnerships/Collaborative Arrangements

In the context of alternative service delivery, partnership/collaborative arrangements are arrangements between a government organization and one or more parties in which they agree to co-operate on the delivery of a program or service that fulfils objectives of the Government of Canada, where there is:

  • delineation of authority and responsibility among partners;
  • joint investment of resources (such as time, funding, expertise);
  • allocation of risk among partners; and
  • mutual or complementary benefits.

Partnerships and collaborative arrangements for the delivery of programs and services can include those with other levels of government, both within Canada and internationally, as well as with the private and the not-for-profit sector (commercial or voluntary organizations).

This policy does not cover partnerships between entities within the federal government (such as departments) and the use of partnership here does not entail the legal meaning of the term.

Contracting Out

This policy applies to contracts involving the transfer of a federal program or service-delivery function to a contractor for a specified period, in which the accountability for the function remains within the government.

This includes employee take-overs.

Note: Under section 25 of the Official Languages Act, federal institutions must ensure that third parties providing services to the public on their behalf provide them in either official language in any case where the institutions themselves would be required to provide them, by specifying this requirement in a contract agreement.

Annex B - The Public Interest Test

B.1 Objectives of the Public Interest Test

All ASD initiatives covered by this policy must address key policy considerations that reflect the public interest. The Public Interest Test (PIT) has been developed for the following purposes:

1. The PIT identifies the key policy issues that must be addressed at the various stages of the ASD process. In addressing the PIT questions, departments should refer to the Policy Guide3. The Policy Guide provides background policy information and guidelines that are helpful in understanding the PIT questions and other issues that should be considered when undertaking alternative service delivery initiatives.

2. It identifies key horizontal program and policy issues that must be considered when determining whether an ASD initiative is in the public interest.

3. The PIT identifies the areas for which ASD proponents must develop results commitments that will form the basis on which ASD initiatives will be monitored and evaluated.

The Public Interest Test must be applied to all ASD initiatives as specified in the ASD Policy, including those that do not come for Treasury Board approval.

B.2 The Public Interest Test

The Public Interest Test is supported by integrated central agency policy guidance contained in the Policy Guide.

The Public Interest Test is not a series of Yes-or-No questions. The overarching issue for decision-makers, implementers and assessors of ASD initiatives is whether a proposed initiative in alternative service delivery is and remains in the public interest. It is the proponents, or Treasury Board ministers when their approval is required, who judge on balance whether an ASD initiative is in the public interest. Only those ASD arrangements deemed to be in the public interest should proceed to implementation. With the Public Interest Test questions the proponents will be able to determine whether their initiative will be in the public interest.

B.3 Results Requirements for the Case Analysis

The Public Interest Test questions and the underlying Policy Guide are used as a basis for making the Case Analysis for the ASD initiative. The Case Analysis sets out results commitments across a broad range of public policy requirements. The initiative will be assessed against these commitments, which will also be publicly reported.

The Public Interest Test Questions

The following are key issues in determining whether ASD initiatives are in the public interest.


  • Does the new arrangement provide an appropriate decision-making role for ministers?
  • Does the relationship with the proponent ensure appropriate links between policy and operations?
  • Are the arrangements appropriate for reporting results and other relevant performance information to ministers, Parliament and citizens?
  • Does the arrangement represent an appropriate balance between the flexibility required for high organizational performance and sound governance?

Official Language Requirements

  • Have appropriate provisions been made for respecting Canada's official languages, as set out in Annex C?

Results for Canadians

  • Does the analysis of costs, risks and benefits provide a compelling business case for the initiative?
  • Is the impact on service consistent with the needs, expectations and priorities of Canadians?
  • Will the new arrangement increase organizational effectiveness?

Citizen-centred Service

  • Does the relationship between co-deliverers ensure ease of access for Canadians to a wide range of government services?
  • Will all those interested or potentially affected be informed of the initiative? Is a consultation process required? How will this be undertaken?
  • Is there a communication plan to make sure that key stakeholders and citizens in general receive complete and timely information about proposed changes?
  • Are measures in place to ensure continuous measurement and improvement of citizen and client satisfaction over time?
  • Is there appropriate provision for access to information, preservation of government memory and the privacy of Canadian citizens?

Responsible Spending

  • Will a framework be in place to guarantee that Canadian citizens receive value for money and that accountability for the expenditure of public funds and responsibility to Parliament are preserved?


  • Will the proposed arrangement promote values and an organizational culture that are consistent with public sector values and ethics?
  • Is there confidence that the expected organizational culture (including a framework of values and ethics) will materialise?
  • Have human resource issues been thoroughly considered, including public servant mobility, union considerations, successor rights, continued employment offers, recall rights (in the event that employees are terminated), compensation, and pension?
  • Will the initiative contribute to federal government identity and visibility?
  • What will the impact be on the Public Service of Canada as a coherent national institution?

Annex C - Official Languages - Guiding Principles

C.1 Objective

As the government diversifies the means it uses to carry out its mandate in the public interest, in all cases, its objective is to strengthen respect of the spirit and intent of the Official Languages Act (the Act) and the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations.


These principles apply to all federal institutions subject to Schedules I, I.1 and II of the Financial Administration Act (FAA). Other institutions subject to the Official Languages Act must respect the spirit of these principles.

Prior to any decision to adopt an alternative service delivery mechanism that could impact on the development of official language minority communities, the communities will be fully consulted.

C.2 Guiding Principles

The Government has adopted five guiding principles to support specific objectives that institutions must address in the Case Analysis when alternative service delivery is contemplated. The following guiding principles apply in all cases:

  • Undertake a detailed impact analysis on service to the public in the official language of its choice, on language of work of federal employees, and on the development of official language minority communities.
  • When a transfer or withdrawal involving other levels of government or the private sector is proposed, obtain a commitment to support the development of the official language minority communities affected, to consult those communities with regard to their needs and interests and to take concrete measures accordingly4. Under section 25 of the Act5, federal institutions must ensure that third parties providing services to the public on their behalf do so in both official languages according to the Act.
  • Ensure that adequate redress mechanisms are in place, and make them known to the general public.
  • Establish monitoring mechanisms for evaluating the results in achieving official language commitments.
  • Take into account the language preferences of federal employees working in prescribed regions for language of work6 when the service is transferred to another level of government or to the private sector.

The Case Analysis will indicate the means chosen to respect official languages requirements. It will also identify results commitments and how those results will be measured and reported.

The Case Analysis will demonstrate how proponents will meet the official languages requirements of this policy when entrusting the delivery of programs and services to organizations not directly subject to the Act.

Note: The Act applies, pursuant to Section 3, when the entity created is a federal institution.

Annex D - Context for Alternative Service Delivery

Looking back at the Canadian experience with alternative service delivery (ASD), we see some common themes:

  • The Government of Canada has a long and successful tradition of using a wide variety of organizational arrangements to deliver services and programs to Canadians.
  • The Canadian way is pragmatic and innovative. Successive Canadian governments have developed appropriate service delivery mechanisms when it makes sense and is in the public interest.
  • A case-by-case approach, basing decision making on the merits of each major initiative, has given governments the flexibility to put in place the service delivery structures that are most appropriate for the context and environment of the time.

These themes have stood the test of time and continue to characterize the federal approach.

As government enters the 21st century, alternative service delivery remains an important way of ensuring that Canadians are provided with efficient and effective services. Service delivery arrangements are increasingly multi-sectoral in nature and broad in scope. In addition to government-to-government and government-to-business arrangements, governments are also working with not-for-profit and community groups in alternative service delivery arrangements.

Drivers of Alternative Service Delivery

The government is constantly reviewing its programs and services in order to identify opportunities for innovative ways of improving services to Canadians. Fundamental to this process is a commitment to a citizen-centred approach, public service values, managing for results and ensuring value for money.7 These four commitments act both as drivers for innovative organizational arrangements for service delivery and as constraints and tests to ensure that such arrangements are in the public interest and contribute to good governance.

A Citizen-Centred Approach

A citizen-centred approach to service delivery requires the government to seek continuously to improve organizational performance in the delivery of programs and services, and thereby to increase Canadians' satisfaction with the quality of those services. One of the key elements in the pursuit of continuous improvement is identifying the appropriate organizational arrangement to promote optimal performance - finding the right form for the right function. The right form is the one that, among other things, will support the right kind of leadership, systems and organizational culture for high quality service delivery. For this reason, the regular review and improvement of organizational arrangements for service delivery is an essential part of a citizen focus.

Citizens also expect the government to improve access to government services and to provide easy, convenient, connected access to a variety of government services and information in one place, or through one interaction. Canadians expect the government to organize service delivery from their perspective as citizens. Citizen-centred service delivery also entails the principle of service in one's official language. For this reason, a citizen focus means that alternative service delivery must also emphasize links and relationships, and must include the development of "single windows" and clustering of services and programs according to citizen needs. This approach may involve collaboration with other levels of government and other sectors by forming partnerships that build on the strengths of others.


One of the drivers of alternative service delivery is the strengthening of the professional values of innovation and high quality service delivery to citizens. Appropriate organizational arrangements can help to strengthen professionalism and a service culture.

At the same time, alternative arrangements for service delivery must also ensure that the government's purposes in public policy are fulfilled in a manner that is consistent with democratic values and accountability, and that supports a vibrant Public Service oriented to the public interest. A strong, coherent, non-partisan and professional Public Service, governed by fairness and integrity, is an important national institution that contributes to Canadian democracy.

Commitment to Results

A commitment to achieve results that citizens truly value is one of the key drivers behind the pursuit of appropriate organizational arrangements to promote higher organizational performance. Effectiveness is one of the key drivers of novel organizational arrangements for service delivery.

Demonstrating effectiveness and reporting on it are key requirements for alternative arrangements. In establishing innovative organizational forms, the government must ensure adequate transparency to the public and to Parliament, and ensure that the public interest is protected. There must be appropriate arrangements for ministerial accountability and reporting to Parliament, ministers and citizens.

Alternative service delivery arrangements must include clearly defined roles and responsibilities; formal processes for ongoing dialogue, change and dispute-resolution; clearly identified results expected, both shared and individual, and including performance indicators and reporting mechanisms; appropriate citizen and client involvement; effective central direction and standard-setting; and appropriate oversight.

Responsible Spending

Efficiency is also one of the reasons for innovative organizational arrangements in service and program delivery. Alternative arrangements sometimes can make it possible to deliver services more economically or cost-effectively, helping government to spend money more responsibly and free up resources for other public purposes.

At the same time, the costs, risks and benefits of ASD initiatives must be clearly explored and explained to ensure taxpayers that they are getting good value for their money. Proposals must be systematically reviewed to ensure proper stewardship of public funds in the creation of new service delivery structures and to ensure sustainability and cost-effectiveness over the long term.


(1) Note that partnership in this policy does not have the legal meaning of the term.[Return]

(2) Definitions of these types of program and service delivery arrangements are contained in Annex A.[Return]

(3) The Policy Guide is a companion document to this policy that integrates policy advice and guidance from TBS and other central agencies. It can be found on the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Alternative Service Delivery Web site.[Return]

(4) Where an exception to this principle is required (e.g. no official language minority community will be affected), an explanation must be included in the Case Analysis for approval by ministers.[Return]

(5) "Every federal institution has the duty to ensure that, where services are provided or made available by another person or organization on its behalf, any member of the public in Canada or elsewhere can communicate with and obtain those services from that person or organization in either official language in any case where those services, if provided by the institution, would be required under this Part to be provided in either official language."[Return]

(6) The prescribed regions for language of work are set out in Annex B of the Treasury Board and Public Service Commission Circular no. 1977-46.[Return]

(7) Results for Canadians: A Management Framework for the Government of Canada.[Return]