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ARCHIVED - Results for Canadians: A Management Framework for the Government of Canada

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President's Message

The Honourable Lucienne Robillard - PresidentResponsive government means putting the needs of citizens first.

This is, and will always be, the most important priority of this government. It is reflected in the ambitious agenda set out in the 1999 Speech from the Throne. It is also a central theme of the modern management agenda outlined in this document, Results for Canadians: A Management Framework for the Government of Canada.

Two major initiatives, Program Review and Getting Government Right, have set the stage for effective management at the federal level as Canada enters this new century. Another important step was taken in June 1997, when Treasury Board was designated as the Government of Canada's management board. Results for Canadians builds on this foundation to provide a clear framework and agenda to guide public service managers.

While Results for Canadians does not represent a radical shift in public service management, it does integrate the best of current management practices, and priorities for change, into a coherent whole. To enhance performance, departments and agencies need, among other things, to advance the integration of modern comptrollership into the heart of their management practices. And continued attention must be given to the development of a professional, skilled workforce able to serve the public interest and achieve cost-effective, responsive service for Canadian citizens.

Improving management requires continued effort and attention. To implement fully this framework and agenda, the government may eventually need to ask Parliament to modernize and reform the framework of rules and laws that govern management in the public service. Whatever the future holds, as President of the Treasury Board, I am confident that the modern management agenda presented in Results for Canadians will better equip the Government of Canada to provide Canadians with the high-quality, cost-effective programs and services they want, expect and deserve.

Taken together, the elements of this agenda represent a blueprint for change that will improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

Lucienne Robillard

President of the Treasury Board

Section A: Introduction

This document sets out a framework for management in the Government of Canada and an agenda for change in the way that departments and agencies manage and deliver their programs and services. This framework and agenda:

  • recognize that the federal government exists to serve Canadians and that a "citizen focus" must therefore be built into all government activities programs and services;
  • highlight the importance of sound public service values;
  • focus on the achievement of results for Canadians; and
  • promote discipline, due diligence and value for money in the use of public funds.

In June 1997, the Prime Minister asked the Treasury Board - a statutory committee of Cabinet responsible for administrative and resource management since the early days of Canada - to play an enhanced role as the Government of Canada's management board.

This document sets out the Treasury Board's role as a catalyst for management change and improved governance. It describes what the Treasury Board and its Secretariat aim to achieve, and how together they constitute a management board focused on helping departments and agencies to improve management practices across the system.(1)

Responsive and well-managed federal organizations, oriented to the needs of citizens and working in collaboration with other levels of government and with the private and not-for-profit sectors, are critical to the achievement of national goals. Developing excellence in these organizations requires a vision of modern public management, a frank assessment of the gaps between that vision and reality, a practical agenda for change and a motivated workforce to bring it all together.

The management framework and agenda for change described in the following pages have been developed to meet these requirements.

(1) For simplicity, the term 'management board' is used throughout this document to refer both to the committee of ministers (the Treasury Board) that is legally the management board, and to the officials (the Treasury Board Secretariat) that support it. The main underlying principle is clear - Ministers assess the public interest and decide, while officials advise and implement decisions. [Return]


Much was accomplished in the 1990s when the Government of Canada eliminated the annual budgetary deficit and regained the ability to make investment choices for Canadians. However, in many ways, the management challenges of the future are as difficult as were those of the past.

Today's government operates in a complex world. Its operations must adapt to new realities, ranging from economic and political globalization to technology shifts, the knowledge economy, demographic challenges, shifting public priorities and changing structures of federalism.

Among the key factors:

Globalization can no longer be regarded simply as an economic or trade issue. Its impacts are widespread, and they shape choices from the environment to taxes, from social policy to the allocation of resources across sectors.

Information technologies have an impact on all aspects of individual and public life. They dramatically change how the Government of Canada must think of its clients and services. And they require it to ensure that citizens and businesses have the infrastructure they need to succeed.

Evolving federalism demonstrates that governments cannot work in isolation to deal with peoples' needs. The recently negotiated Social Union Framework Agreement with the provinces and territories aims at a more modern relationship between the two levels of government based on principles of partnership that are at the very core of sound public management.

These large-scale shifts change the focus of management. Vastly different relationships are now made possible by technologies that alter the way people and businesses communicate. Citizens and businesses want easy access to government services through a "single window," through self-serve kiosks and via the Internet. They also expect improved traditional access through mail, telephone and personal service. Simply put, citizens want the programs of their national government to be more focused on their needs.

Making the transition from the deficit reduction environment of the 1990s to one of greater choice means that the government must focus on results and value for the taxpayer's dollar, and demonstrate a continuing commitment to modern comptrollership. In the citizen-focused management agenda described in this document, the Treasury Board will continue the evolution of the past several years - helping departments and agencies to sharpen their focus in these areas, while supporting them with the tools needed to become more efficient, effective, responsive and innovative.

The Government of Canada is not starting from scratch in this line of thinking. Successive initiatives, from the Glassco and Lambert Royal Commissions of the 1960s and 1970s to the internal management initiatives of the 1980s and 1990s, have called for more strategic, enabling behaviour from central agencies. And although significant adjustments have been made - today's public sector is more oriented to results than at any time in the past - there is much room for improvement.


Achieving management excellence requires a general management framework and an agenda for change to guide the way.

The framework must describe what the Government of Canada intends to achieve - in effect, the management commitments that the government is prepared to make to Canadians. It must also indicate how those commitments will be met - how departments, agencies and the management board plan to work together to achieve results.

The management framework for the Government of Canada is set out in Sections B and C of this document. Section B describes four core management commitments to Canadians, while Section C describes how departments and agencies and the Treasury Board and its Secretariat can work together to fulfil them. These sections thus integrate core commitments and an operating philosophy into a single framework.

Achieving excellence also requires a well-organized management board with clear priorities to lead change. Section D describes the management board's business lines and how they relate to each of the four core management commitments. Section E outlines the Government of Canada's priorities for improvement - its agenda for management change over the medium term.


The management framework and agenda for change set out in this document fall within the prerogatives and broad responsibilities of the Treasury Board and its Secretariat, acting together as the government's management board.

At the same time, other organizations within the Public Service of Canada, including the departments and agencies that deliver programs and services directly to the Canadian public, exercise important responsibilities in the improvement of management practices. The Clerk of the Privy Council, as Head of the Public Service, sets out key priorities for the Public Service of Canada. Other organizations - among them the Public Service Commission, the Canadian Centre for Management Development and The Leadership Network - also contribute to the improvement of management practices.

In designing and implementing the government's management framework, the management board has worked and will continue to work with these many partners in a sustained, collaborative effort to support modern management practices in the Government of Canada.

Section B: Four Management Commitments

The Government of Canada aims for the highest quality of service to the public. To achieve this, it commits to excellence in four areas critical to a well-performing public sector. These commitments build on work undertaken in the past few years to improve management practices in the government. They will continue to underpin improvement as Canada enters the new century.

chart - citizen focus

First and foremost, the Government of Canada must sharpen its citizen focus in designing, delivering, evaluating and reporting on its activities. It must improve service and expand partnerships with other governments, the private sector and voluntary organizations.

Second, management in the public service must be guided by a clear set of values. Management must respect and reinforce Canadian institutions of democracy and it must be guided by the highest professional and ethical values.

Third, as an integrating principle, management in all departments, agencies and functions must be focused on the achievement of results and on reporting them in simple and understandable ways to elected officials and to Canadians.

Fourth, given the limited nature of public funds, the Government of Canada must ensure responsible spending. The costs of initiatives must be linked with results to ensure value for the taxpayer. Existing programs as well as new spending proposals must be systematically assessed and management frameworks must be in place to ensure due diligence and proper stewardship of public funds. Activities critical to the public interest must be resourced sustainably, over the long term.

Living up to these commitments requires public service employees at all levels and in all regions who put the interests of Canadians first and who demonstrate daily attention to values and results. Employees are critical to improvement. They must be supported by a working culture that values learning, innovation, inclusiveness and diversity, intelligent risk taking and continuous improvement - allowing them to make their best contributions to Canada.

This environment requires managers and employees to apply sound values and standards of public accountability in all their work. It requires strong support from the management board and other central agencies, as well as focused efforts by departments and agencies. This environment favours organizing the services of the Government of Canada around the needs of Canadians, rather than around those of bureaucracies. And it recognizes that success requires a level of excellence that can only be achieved through the development of a well-trained and highly motivated public service workforce.


The Government of Canada is committed to designing, funding and delivering its programs and services, and assessing their results, from the perspective of the citizen.

Accessible, Connected Service

Government services must respond to the needs of citizens, be easy to find, and be available through the mail, by phone, on the Internet or - where populations warrant - at walk-in centres. Too often in the past, government services were designed from the "inside out"; they reflected the structures of government organizations more than the needs and priorities of citizens. This is changing, and it will continue to change in the coming years.

Citizens want the government to respond to their needs and provide choice: one-stop, integrated access via Internet, telephone or mail, or in person.

Citizen-focused government is seamless. It is easy to deal with. Citizen-centred services are brought together in one place to facilitate client access.

Information technology and electronic service delivery are key enablers in meeting these challenges. The Internet is the foundation for one-stop access, allowing the Government of Canada to reflect the many connections that citizens must make in daily life. Canadians welcome the move to electronic service delivery but they also value more traditional channels - telephone, mail and in person. They want a choice of channels and one-stop access that integrates across them, taking advantage of the value of each.

Serving the Public Interest

Governmental authority in Canada rests with ministers who are accountable to Parliament for the decisions they make. Responsibility for advice and implementation of ministers' decisions rests with officials. For both ministers and officials, upholding the public interest means working under the democratically established rule of law to achieve a continuous balance among three things:

  • Ensuring fairness, equity and reasonableness of treatment to protect the broad interests of citizens;
  • Providing effective and responsive service to clients - those who benefit from a Government of Canada initiative, whatever it may be; and
  • Keeping a close eye on program affordability, cost-effectiveness and sound resource stewardship for the taxpayer.

Continuous improvement in client service depends on the capacity of departments and agencies to measure levels of satisfaction, to set improvement targets, to develop plans to meet those targets, to monitor implementation and to report back on progress. Serving the broader public interest means ensuring that the interests of citizens and taxpayers, in addition to those of clients, are protected in all public transactions. When the Government of Canada operates "at the service" of Canadians, it responds to all three dimensions and balances them appropriately.


Citizen-focused management means making the right connections. Managers must seek out partnerships across departmental boundaries, across levels of government, with not-for-profit organizations and with the private sector. These partnerships should be pursued not just in the co-delivery of services but also at the design stage - discussing together what the client, citizen and taxpayers need - and bringing this knowledge together to solve problems.

In the future, knowledge partnerships will be critical to success. No longer do public institutions have a monopoly on relevant knowledge. Rather, their role is to gather it, add value and define choices - all in the best interests of Canadians.


The Government of Canada commits to managing its business according to the highest public service values.

A well-performing public sector is an important national asset and critical to Canada's well-being. Sound public management is essential to the achievement of national goals in every sector of society. But as the demands and pressures on public service organizations change, continuous improvement can only be achieved if activity is grounded, at all levels, on a solid and sustaining base of values. Working with the right values is fundamental to the achievement of results.

As all else changes, values are a foundation to support action and a compass to guide it.

In the generations following Confederation, Canadians have built a prosperous country based on civility, diversity, openness, fairness and the rule of law. These ideas have persisted and matured into a unique set of Canadian values that include, among others, self-reliance, compassion, and respect for democracy and its institutions. Together, these and other values help to frame Canadian society. Canadians expect their national government institutions to be guided by them.

Making the Alignment

As we enter the 21st century, the management of federal departments and agencies will continue to be guided by four basic sets of values:

Respect for democracy recognizes that authority rests with democratically elected officials who are accountable to Parliament, and thereby to the Canadian people. A well-performing public service takes its democratic responsibilities seriously, constantly providing ministers, Parliament and the public with full and accurate information on the results of its work.

Professional values require government employees to provide high-quality, impartial advice on policy issues while committing to the design, delivery and continuous improvement of programs and services to Canadians.

Ethical values (integrity, trust and honesty) are the personal cornerstone of good governance and democracy. They require public servants to support the common good at all times and recognize the need for openness, transparency and accountability in what they do and how they do it.

Finally, people values include courage, decency, responsibility and humanity. In a well-performing workplace they show themselves in respect, civility, fairness and caring. Values-driven organizations support learning and are led through participation, openness, communication and a respect for diversity.

Supporting values requires ongoing attention. The government intends to sustain a dialogue in departments and agencies on public service values. Values are the compass. All policies and systems - as well as interactions among public servants, parliamentarians and citizens - must be aligned with them. Making this alignment, a process of continual dialogue and reinforcement, is a key challenge of the future.


Few things have contributed more in recent years to the development of Canadian public administration than has the focus on results. The Government of Canada intends to enhance this emphasis in the future - a commitment that responds to citizens' concerns about the value they obtain for their tax dollars. Managing for results is fundamental to citizen-focused government.

Focus on Results

Public and private sector organizations that measure and evaluate the results of their work find that this information transforms and empowers them. It allows them to reward success, to learn from experience and to build public confidence. Being able to measure and evaluate results is a prerequisite to delivering the quality programs, services and policies that Canadians deserve.

Historically, governments have focused their attention on resource inputs (what they spend), activities (what they do) and outputs (what they produce). Accurate information at this level is important, but insufficient to achieve the results orientation demanded by this management framework.

A modern management agenda requires managers to look beyond activities and outputs to focus on actual results - the impacts and effects of their programs. Managing for results requires attention from the beginning of an initiative to its end. It means clearly defining the results to be achieved, delivering the program or service, measuring and evaluating performance and making adjustments to improve both efficiency and effectiveness. It also means reporting on performance in ways that make sense to Canadians.

A results-based management approach allows departments to serve Canadians better by distinguishing program strengths and weaknesses and providing guidance on what does and does not work.

The challenge for the future is to apply results-based management to all major activities, functions, services and programs of the Government of Canada, whether they are delivered directly to Canadians or are part of internal administration. This will continue to advance sound management practice and strengthen accountability throughout departments and agencies.

Performance Information

The foundation of results-based management is accurate and timely performance information. Departments and agencies need to implement an information regime that measures, evaluates and reports on key aspects of programs and their performance in core areas; holds managers accountable for achieving results; and ensures unbiased analysis, showing both good and bad performance.

Over time, managers should implement results-based management on a more "borderless" basis: across departmental boundaries or in partnership with other governments, business or the
not-for-profit sector.

The current state of results-based management is still a good distance from the ideal. For this reason, the Government of Canada is committed to continuing its movement toward a results-based approach that can distinguish program strengths and weaknesses, and provide guidance on what does and does not work. The goal is to establish a more productive cycle of planning, measuring, evaluating and reporting of results to citizens, through ministers and Parliament. This in turn will support a culture of continuous learning and adjustment.


Fiscal projections for the early years of this new century make it possible for the Government of Canada to strike a balance between investing in service improvement, maintaining the integrity of existing programs, reducing taxes and retiring public debt.

An integrated view on spending is needed to assess the integrity of existing programs, to support rational priority setting and to get the best value for the taxpayer.

Although the extreme fiscal constraint of the mid-1990s has now given way to an era of greater choice, the lessons of the past highlight the need to make wise and disciplined spending decisions for the future. To this end, the Government of Canada is committed to the continuous examination of its expenditures to ensure responsible spending in terms of results and value for the taxpayer's dollar. It will monitor the management and control of public expenditures in all programs and ensure that effective, immediate and coordinated action is taken to remedy any identified deficiencies.

The Departmental Perspective

Responsible spending means spending wisely on things that matter most to Canadians. It means being able to reallocate resources and restructure programs in response to changing needs and priorities. A program must end when the need ends.

To ensure this, departments and agencies need to produce information on program costs and results required for sound decision making. They must bring together financial and non-financial performance information to link costs with actual or expected results. They need to effectively manage risk and establish a proper environment of control. They must ensure that spending proposals are well-rooted in policy, and are supportive of the department's mission and objectives. They must embrace rigorous public accountability and the best of modern comptrollership practices.

The Whole-of-Government View

To ensure rational priority setting and investment decisions, the government needs integrated, cross-departmental information on expenditures and results. This information serves two main purposes.

First, it allows decision-makers to assess the integrity of the existing program base. Officials must systematically consider whether program results are consistent with current policies and priorities; whether risks are identified and strategies are in place to mitigate them; and whether key investments or alternative ways of delivering programs (for example, through partnerships) might improve performance or productivity, or provide a better way of serving Canadians.

Second, the knowledge gained from the broad-based analysis of expenditure supports rational priority setting. A thorough understanding of what works best in the existing expenditure base allows a sharing of best practices and is essential in considering policy and investment choices for the future.

Beyond this, the Government of Canada requires assurance that management frameworks to support due diligence and stewardship of public resources are in place and working in departments and agencies. This requires active monitoring.

In the end, responsible spending often requires difficult choices between investing in new initiatives and investing or reallocating to maintain the integrity of existing programs or capital assets. While investments in program integrity rarely attract as much attention as new initiatives, they are usually just as important to the needs of Canadians.

This means that a major priority for the Government of Canada in this era of responsible choice is to ensure that fundamental issues of program integrity are fully defined and addressed.

Section C: Departments and the Management Board

To deliver on the management commitments described in Section B, departments and the management board must continue to develop a new kind of relationship, working together as partners with a single purpose, to achieve results for Canadians.

This section describes how departments, agencies and the management board should collaborate in their work. It starts by discussing the need for organizations to be citizen-focused, highlighting the importance of sound human resources management and leadership - the foundation of a strong public service workforce. It then describes the management practices that can help departments and agencies achieve better results for Canadians. Finally, it outlines the mandate of the management board in supporting departments and agencies, and in leading in key areas, among them, the critical area of effective stewardship of public funds.

Taken together, the commitments of Section B and the working relationships outlined here define the Government of Canada's management framework.


As citizens, Canadians have a right to fair, equitable and reasonable treatment from federal government institutions. As clients, Canadians have a right to accessible service that meets their priorities for improvement. And as taxpayers, Canadians rightfully expect cost-effectiveness or best value in the delivery of government programs and services.

Serving the public interest means addressing the needs of citizens, clients and taxpayers in a balanced way.

In any interaction with a department or agency, all three dimensions are often brought into play and the public interest is served when they are properly balanced. Public service employees in any department or agency must be conscious of the needs of their clients. At the same time, the entire federal system must work together to ensure that the interests of Canadians - as citizens and taxpayers, as well as clients - are continually factored into program and service design and delivery.

Emphasizing citizen needs is fundamental. Years ago citizens were rarely consulted in the delivery of programs and services. This has changed and must continue to do so. Canadians now expect to be engaged in assessing program and service performance, and to see improvement. These legitimate expectations must be respected.


Citizen-focused, results-oriented government requires the sustained efforts of a professional and motivated workforce across the public service. Good human resources management achieves results for Canadians by ensuring that the right people are on the job and are well supported.

Public service leaders are required at all levels and in all regions. Their common characteristic is support for people.

This requires sound leadership. In a changing world and workplace, managers need to sustain a climate of trust, to recognize and value good work, to actively promote inclusiveness and diversity in the workplace, to encourage collaboration and to value open communication. They must support partnerships across organizational boundaries - and free people to use their initiative in the best interests of Canadians.

Public service leaders able to operate effectively in this environment are required at all levels and in all regions. Their common characteristic is their support for people. Leaders provide opportunities to make meaningful contributions, to learn, to innovate, to work in either official language in designated bilingual regions, to take acceptable risks and to celebrate the results of their work. In a well-led organization, managers and employees work together to build an exemplary workplace.


Departments and agencies have an obligation not only to consult Canadians on their programs and services, but also to ensure that decision-making authority is located at the right level to achieve results. This frequently requires real decision-making authority at the front line, in regional operations, where a direct citizen focus can be brought to the work.

In today's complex society, one-size-fits-all management as prescribed by a central body does not work. To achieve results, public servants need a sense of ownership of their work. They need to know that what they do will impact positively on Canadians. And they must be able to serve the public interest and respond quickly to the changing needs and circumstances of the public they serve.

Achieving results for Canadians requires delegation to the right level, with a clear framework in place to ensure accountability and due diligence in the management of public funds.

The service and program delivery work of the Government of Canada is done in departmental front-line operations; sometimes operating within a single structure, but increasingly in collaboration with other organizations, in and outside the federal system. Central authorities, whether in the management board or in departmental or agency headquarters, need to recognize that front-line offices in the regions are where Canadians are either well-served or not. To bring a clear citizen focus to the operations of government, the perspectives and realities of the front line must be taken into account in the design and delivery of programs and services.

At the same time, extending decision making to the front line must be accompanied by a framework to ensure due diligence in the management of public funds. This framework must start with clear accountabilities so that managers at all levels understand them and support the accountability of their organizations, through ministers, to Cabinet and Parliament. More generally, a modern approach to comptrollership is required, including effective measurement and evaluation of performance, thorough accounting for the use of public resources, application of sound risk-management practices and reporting of results.

Delegation of either financial or human resource management authorities must also be accompanied by the effective use of internal controls, including audit, to ensure that appropriate systems and procedures to manage and control these resources are in place, understood and working. Departments and agencies must diligently monitor their activities, operations and programs and take corrective action where warranted.

In sum, departments and agencies must support the front line to ensure it has appropriate authorities, clear strategic policies and directions, and effective management systems in place to do the job.

Key Management Responsibilities of Departments and Agencies
  • To deliver effective, citizen-focused services and programs to Canadians and to seek out partnerships where this makes sense.
  • To manage for results, applying sound comptrollership practices, reporting on results to Canadians through Parliament, and engaging Canadians in the process of improving services.
  • To spend in a disciplined and responsible manner, giving consideration to the integrity of programs critical to the public interest.
  • To delegate decision-making authority to the right level to achieve results, but in a way that ensures clear accountability, due diligence in the management of public funds and the capacity to report on actual results to higher authorities in the department.
  • To develop and implement a modern departmental management agenda, working in partnership with the management board to improve in areas such as comptrollership, informatics and service delivery.
  • To promote public service values, leadership and the development of an exemplary workplace characterized by support for the employee, the encouragement of initiative, trust and communication, and a respect for diversity.