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

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In June 1997, the Prime Minister designated the Treasury Board and its Secretariat as the government's management board, with a mandate to work with and support departments and agencies as they improve their management practices. The designation of a management board charged with providing leadership in this area was, and is, a significant force for change.

Designation as the management board did not supplant the traditional roles of the Treasury Board and its Secretariat: negotiating contracts with unions and acting as the employer of the Public Service; setting the form of the public accounts and establishing financial, accounting, administrative and other corporate policies; approving the design, delivery and resource components of departmental spending initiatives; and performing other resource management functions. Rather, it overlaid these important traditional roles with two additional responsibilities:

  • Leading in the development of information systems and in the integration of government-wide information to aid decision making; and
  • Leading and providing expertise in the development of an agenda to improve management practices in federal departments and agencies.

The Operating Philosophy

In exercising its traditional and new responsibilities, the management board must maintain a balance between the delegation of decision-making authority to departments and agencies, and accountability for results. This balance was given clear definition by an Independent Review Panel on Modernization of Comptrollership in the Government of Canada - a group of respected Canadians asked to recommend practical ways to integrate modern comptrollership into the heart of federal management practices.

The aim is a management regime based on leadership and values, sound standards and risk management with the right systems in place to ensure control.

In accepting the Panel's report, the Treasury Board reinforced recent trends in federal governance - adopting an operating philosophy that requires effective control, but through instruments that encourage initiative and creativity in departments and agencies. This means moving toward a management regime based on leadership and values, well-defined standards, and sound risk management - with the right systems in place at all times to ensure effective control. Consistent with this, the management board must actively monitor the status of controls in departments and agencies and be prepared to intervene with organizations if deficiencies are encountered.

This philosophy underscores an important management balance: flexible enough on the delegation of decision-making authority and on administrative rules to support initiative and common sense - but tight enough on standards and control systems to ensure clear accountability. With the support of well-functioning management systems and an approach based on the commitments presented earlier, delegation and accountability can be seen as essential and complementary elements of citizen-focused management.

Leadership in Government-Wide Analysis and in Management Practices

In order to deliver on its mandate, the management board must be a strong voice for government-wide analysis. It must also have the capacity to lead change on key management issues across departments and agencies.

As a Cabinet committee, the Treasury Board analyzes resource and results information on a whole-of-government basis, ensuring that the cumulative impacts of existing programs are assessed across organizational boundaries. Here the board takes a longer-term, strategic view, ensuring that valuable programs are sustainably resourced, and providing Cabinet with information and advice in setting priorities and making resource allocation decisions.

On management issues, the board leads initiatives in areas such as improved service delivery and human resource management. It communicates with headquarters operations as well as with interdepartmental councils of federal officials in the regions. It works with departments to set realistic standards and management frameworks in functional areas such as informatics and comptrollership. And it provides active support to departments as they work to improve their management practices. This support can range from the simple sharing of best practices to guidance in the conduct of gap analysis in given areas, to the funding of special initiatives aimed at improved management.

Working with departments and with other central agencies, the board pays particular attention to the sound management of people. Here it encourages the development of a management culture that supports initiative and builds an exemplary workplace. Developing this culture will allow the Government of Canada to attract, develop and retain the best possible workforce to serve citizens now and in the future.

Beyond the traditional roles noted earlier, the key management responsibilities of the management board are summarized in the following chart.

Key Responsibilities of the Management Board
  • To act as a catalyst for change and to work with departments and agencies to develop integrated, accessible, citizen-focused service across the Government of Canada.
  • To champion results-based management, linking resources to results on a whole-of-government basis, and ensuring timely and accurate reporting to Parliament.
  • To support responsible spending in the government's program base, including actively monitoring control systems and compiling information sufficient to assess program performance and program integrity across the government.
  • To ensure effective overall control through leadership in the setting of management frameworks and standards, focus on risk management, early attention to control deficiencies, and delegation of authority to departments and agencies commensurate with their capacity to manage resources and report on results.
  • To develop and implement with departments and agencies a Government of Canada management agenda focused on practical improvement in areas such as comptrollership, informatics and service delivery.
  • To work with departments and agencies in the continual promotion of public service values and the development of an exemplary workplace characterized by support for the employee and the encouragement of initiative, trust, openness, communication and a respect for diversity.


Active Monitoring

Departments and agencies have a responsibility to ensure that adequate management frameworks are in place to achieve results and manage resources. This means, among other things, that they must maintain robust environments of internal control and be vigilant with respect to the early detection of any conditions that could lead to a control failure.

Beyond this, the management board must monitor the overall situation in departments and agencies. This monitoring requires Treasury Board Secretariat staff to actively and constructively engage internal audit, evaluation and other departmental and agency managers in order to maintain an ongoing awareness of the effectiveness of control systems. This awareness will allow early action where unacceptable risks or vulnerabilities have been identified.

Remedial Action

Changing operational patterns, program delivery requirements, people and technology - either alone or in combination - introduce the risk of control failures. In the event that the potential for a control failure is detected, or one actually occurs, departments and agencies are responsible to take early and effective remedial action and to ensure that the management board is aware of proposed corrective actions.

For its part, the management board's response must be to satisfy itself that the proposed remedies are appropriate and that there is timely follow-through to completion on all proposed actions. Based on its assessment of departmental or agency remedial action, the management board can and, if necessary, will take broader measures. Its action can range from the provision of additional support and advice to more direct interventions such as the withdrawal of specific authorities or delegations.

In making such assessments, the management board must consider several factors, including the scale of the problem, its root cause, the capacity of the department to respond effectively to the situation, the government-wide and/or external implications of the control failure, and the impact on public confidence and trust.

Section D: Inside the Management Board

As the management board, the Treasury Board and its Secretariat are dedicated to working with departments and agencies to institute modern management practices. To achieve this, departments and agencies need to know how the management board is organized. This helps them understand why the board engages them as it does. Concurrently, it allows departments and agencies to engage the management board effectively on matters that are important to them.


The Treasury Board Secretariat, in its management board role, has five business lines or centres of management policy. These units work together to bring about management change and reform, to provide ministers with a whole-of-government view, and to support departments in achieving their program objectives. While each business line has its specific objectives, their work is integrated by officials of the Treasury Board Secretariat and by Treasury Board ministers.

Expenditure Management and Planning supports government-wide resource allocation consistent with government priorities and the fiscal framework. It analyzes resources on a program, department and sectoral basis and ensures that resource management is integrated with the government's decision-making and priority-setting process.

Comptrollership collaborates with departments and agencies to integrate financial and non-financial performance information, manage risk and ensure control systems that are appropriate to a results-oriented environment. It develops management frameworks and policies for financial management, procurement and asset management and leads the reporting of results to Parliament.

Service and Innovation works with departments to improve access to convenient and seamless service, to increase satisfaction with what is delivered and to promote innovation, partnerships and best practices.

Information Management and Technology provides strategic leadership in the management of federal government information infrastructure and technology, supports program and electronic service delivery, leads an initiative to put government information and services on-line, builds a world-class information workforce in government and ensures that major investments are responsibly managed.

Human Resources Management manages the "employer functions" of the public service (union relations, pensions and others) and helps to develop an exemplary workplace and a workforce that is productive, representative and committed to learning. In addition, it pays special attention to the promotion of values.


The management board will pursue its change agenda through these five business lines. No single unit leads the agenda. Rather, they work together in complementary ways, ensuring that the management board operates as an integrated whole to deliver on the Government of Canada's management commitments. While all business lines contribute to achieving these commitments, each has a particular area of expertise where it provides primary leadership.

Each business line has both a primary leadership role, and a support role, in achieving the government's management commitments.

The effort to achieve citizen focus is led by the Service & Innovation and Information Management & Technology business lines. They work with departments and agencies to improve both electronic and traditional service delivery. Other business lines support citizen-focused government by focusing on improved reporting of results or ensuring that public programs are well-designed and delivered with the appropriate level of resources.

The primary focus of two business lines - Comptrollership and Expenditure Management & Planning - is on results and responsible spending. They work together with departments and agencies to implement modern comptrollership, results-based management and rigorous expenditure analysis across the public service. Their work is supplemented by that of other business lines which measure citizen satisfaction in service delivery and oversee information technology investments.

The Human Resources Management business line promotes public service values, since it is employees who must support and integrate these values in the conduct of their work. Because all public service employees have a role in supporting values-based public service, values are a recurring theme in the work of each of the management board's business lines.

The work of the Human Resources Management business line is central to the achievement of each of the Government of Canada's management objectives. Sound people management goes far beyond ensuring employee satisfaction with the workplace - although that is an important element. Fundamentally it is about creating and sustaining a workforce that is trained and motivated to put citizens' interests first and to achieve results. Human resource strategies should contribute to the achievement of business objectives in each department and agency. The Human Resources Management business line works with departments and agencies, and with other central agencies, to promote modern management practices and the development of an exemplary workplace across the public service.

Section E: The Agenda for Change


The management board's current plans and priorities are detailed in the Treasury Board Secretariat's Report on Plans and Priorities, tabled in the House of Commons every March.

Much of the board's work focuses on continuous improvement - working with departments in the refinement of management policies or standards, approving expenditures, helping to exchange best management practices or improving planning processes. This ongoing work is essential to the development of citizen-focused government.

But beyond ongoing activity, the management board works with departments and agencies to lead major change in areas where the payback in improved results for Canadians is greatest. Work in these areas supports the realization of the management commitments outlined earlier. Although major change initiatives often take several years to design, implement and mature, the results of these initiatives in terms of better services for Canadians or improved management accrue early and throughout implementation.

In the coming period, the management board will partner with departments and agencies to implement major initiatives in the following areas. These initiatives constitute the core of the Government of Canada's medium-term agenda for management change.

  • Citizen-centred Service Delivery
  • Government of Canada On-Line
  • Modern Comptrollership
  • Improved Reporting to Parliament
  • Program Integrity
  • Developing an Exemplary Workplace


Better service for Canadians is central to the management agenda. To achieve it, the Government of Canada plans two major initiatives: one to improve citizen access and the other to focus directly on client satisfaction.

Service Canada

Canadians will receive one-stop access to federal government services in three ways: in person, by telephone and via the Internet. Service Canada will help citizens find government services easily and in both official languages. The goal is to help citizens get the services they are entitled to, in a way that is fast, convenient, seamless and connected.

More than 110 Service Canada Access Centres are opening across Canada on a pilot basis. Each Centre will allow Canadians to access the services of many departments in one place, establishing a basis for Centres to operate in communities across the country. Using the Internet as a platform, access for all Canadians will improve dramatically regardless of where they live. Service Canada and its partners will also improve telephone services through the Government of Canada's national information line.

Consistent with the Government of Canada On-Line initiative described below, the World Wide Web "Canada Site" will be redesigned to make it easier to use. As services come on-line in the future, Service Canada will integrate them into a consistent framework. Whether citizens decide to access services from home (using the Internet or a telephone call centre) or on-site (at an Access Centre), they will receive high quality, consistent service with a common look and feel.

Electronic service delivery will be the backbone of the network. Services will be brought together on a one-stop basis in a way that respects the objectives of each one. As a pilot initiative, Service Canada sites and projects will be evaluated, with citizen feedback being critical to improving the system.

Improved Client Satisfaction

The Government of Canada aims to achieve a significant, quantifiable improvement in client satisfaction with its services, over the next five years. This will be done by adopting client satisfaction as a new focus and measure of success.

The management board will work with departments and agencies to implement a government-wide Service Improvement Initiative anchored in citizens' priorities for improvement. Clients will be surveyed to establish baseline measures of satisfaction using common measurement tools, and to determine improvement priorities and targets for client satisfaction.

On this basis, plans will be developed to ensure that Government of Canada services in both official languages are managed and improved with the needs of citizens at the forefront. Results will be monitored, measured and reported to ensure the achievement of real improvement in Canadians' satisfaction with the services delivered to them.


In the 1999 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada committed to giving Canadians on-line access to all its information and services by 2004. This is the beginning of an agenda to offer citizens and businesses faster, more convenient and seamless electronic access to services and programs.

The management board, working with its departmental partners, is leading the realization of this vision through strategic direction and judicious use of information and technology. It works particularly closely with Industry Canada, a department that promotes electronic commerce and universal access to the information highway.

A Secure Electronic Environment

Getting government on-line in both official languages will require a secure, government-wide information technology infrastructure, a world-class workforce, and effective frameworks to guide investments, manage risks and set standards. The management board is actively involved in each of these priority areas and will adopt a phased approach to its work.

The cornerstone will be an information and technology infrastructure, comprising both technical matters (software, networks, standards) and management policies (privacy, public key infrastructure) applicable in all departments and agencies. This infrastructure will provide a secure and trusted environment to conduct business with citizens and with the private and not-for-profit sectors. As noted above, it will also support single-window service and give Canadians better access to a complete menu of programs and services.

Success with getting government on-line will require effective investments and flexible procurement. The management board will work with departments to implement an Enhanced Management Framework to better manage projects and minimize risks. It is also leading efforts to reform the Government of Canada's technology procurement regime to facilitate program delivery. Finally, given the critical role of knowledge workers, the management board will continue its programs to attract and retain the innovative professionals essential to achieving Government of Canada On-Line.


Because sound resource management and a focus on results for Canadians are critical to the achievement of all federal government goals, the management board is leading an initiative to modernize comptrollership across the system.

This represents a long-term effort to develop standards and practices to integrate financial and non-financial performance information, to properly assess and manage risk and to ensure appropriate control systems. It also represents an effort to improve procurement, real property, asset management and other financial and management policies. Given its scope, this initiative goes to the heart of modern management. Sound comptrollership practices must be embedded in every management activity.

Practical Testing With Departments

The implementation approach is hands on. Treasury Board Secretariat officials are working with departmental and agency partners to apply and test modern comptrollership practices in the workplace. Five pilot departments have completed an assessment of their comptrollership capacity and are implementing positive change. Significant near-term progress is expected in these departments and seven more organizations are at various stages of the assessment process. The management board will expand this assessment and improvement approach to other departments and agencies on a continuing basis.

A broad-based Financial Information Strategy is now being implemented to facilitate managers' use of financial information, including accrual-based information. This will allow costs to be closely linked to activities, operations and results - an essential building block of integrated performance information, stewardship and accountability.

Revised Management Frameworks and Policies

An integrated risk-management framework will be developed and adapted for use by departments and agencies. Best practices will be communicated and training will be provided so that risk management is recognized as an essential part of decision making.

The management board will review and update its procurement, real property, asset management and project management policies to better support modern management practices and responsible spending in these areas. In the implementation of its Financial Information Strategy, the management board will also review all financial management and accounting policies.

Working with departments and agencies, the management board will develop and implement plans to better position and strengthen the program evaluation and audit functions within the broader effort to implement modern comptrollership and results-based management across the government.

The management board will also work with its partners to develop a comprehensive set of comptrollership-related standards that respond to the challenges and circumstances faced in Government of Canada organizations.


Canadians have a fundamental right to know what is achieved through the use of their tax dollars. Strengthening accountability to Parliament and to citizens is an integral part of the management board's change agenda.

The aim is to provide parliamentarians and Canadians with high-quality information about the plans and achievements of the Government of Canada. This information is key to implementing a citizen-focused agenda, since it allows Canadians to engage more effectively in understanding and shaping public policy.

Better Information in Government Reports

Following recent consultations with parliamentarians, the Treasury Board in its management board role developed a new reporting regime that includes annual Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports tabled by departments and agencies in Parliament. Treasury Board also provides Parliament with an annual report, Managing for Results, which provides an overview of efforts to strengthen results-based management, highlights best practices and sets the agenda.

Much remains to be done to improve the quality of the information in these reports. Comptrollership projects such as the Financial Information Strategy and accrual accounting - as well as ongoing work to manage for results - will yield improved information for organizations to manage their activities and report to Parliament. This will support transparency, citizen engagement and accountability.

The management board will continue to consult with parliamentarians to tailor information to better meet their needs, to improve channels of access and the timeliness of information, and to strengthen the financial accountability framework through which costs are related to operations, activities and results.

In addition, the management board will work with departments and agencies to strengthen reporting in areas involving interdepartmental, intergovernmental and other partnerships. This is necessary to deliver on the accountability and reporting provisions of the Social Union Framework Agreement. To provide context for understanding other performance information, the board will work with departments and agencies towards a more comprehensive reporting regime that includes societal indicators.


As citizens well know, public resources are limited and the Government of Canada must be prudent in its budgeting. In order to serve citizens well, programs must be structured, managed and resourced to function effectively. The distribution of resources between existing programs and potential new initiatives must be balanced, so that the overall program mix achieves the right results for Canadians.

The Whole-of-Government Perspective

Ensuring the integrity of programs that are critical to the health, safety and well-being of Canadians is a primary function of the Treasury Board in its management board role.

Recently the management board has made program integrity the focus of an ongoing appraisal of the state of departmental and agency operations. This considers whether results are being delivered consistent with priorities, identifies critical risks to the continued achievement of results, determines whether strategies are in place to mitigate those risks and, where appropriate, helps departments in managing risks. This includes funding support when that is a justified solution.

The management board now also considers spending within broad policy sectors, on a whole-of-government basis, assessing whether the program mix is effective in providing results at reasonable cost. Here, key questions include the existence of appropriate policy frameworks and whether institutional, policy or human resource gaps exist and are being addressed. Analysis may look at the investments, improvements and risk-management methods necessary to increase productivity or to mitigate the pressures and risks being experienced. And it may consider alternative delivery methods - whether partnerships could improve performance or productivity, or provide better service to Canadians.

This knowledge supports the Government of Canada's priority-setting process. Knowledge of performance in the existing expenditure base is important, as policy and investment choices are being made for the future.

Recently, the management board has focused on areas where departments needed funding to help them manage critical risks. Capital investments to deal with health and safety issues were a major consideration. Analysis considered questions as diverse as whether the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were technologically equipped to deal with the globalization of crime; whether the Department of Public Works and Government Services had the capacity to maintain its stock of capital assets; whether there were gaps in the Government of Canada's search and rescue capabilities; and whether departments and agencies were properly resourced to manage immigration admissions and the increasing number of illegal entries into Canada.

These are important issues and the management board intends to continue its system-wide analysis of program integrity. It was inevitable that initial attention would be focused on the funding necessary to restore critical programs. Over the longer term, the management board will work with departments and broaden the scope of its analysis to consider alternative ways to deliver programs and structure resources as well.


The management board will support departments and agencies in making the federal public service an exemplary workplace - one in which employees are able to make their best contributions to Canadians.

Laying the Groundwork for Change

Several recent initiatives have helped lay the groundwork for change. Collective bargaining with unions was resumed after a lengthy suspension. In response to a private sector advisory group, a performance measurement program linking executive pay to performance has been introduced. An action plan for the promotion of official languages in the workplace has been developed. And a first-ever public-service-wide employee survey was carried out to assess the quality of management in the workplace, identify specific problem areas and help direct positive change.

Achieving the Government of Canada's exemplary workplace objective will require the sustained efforts of many stakeholders and the management board will lead on a number of fronts. In collaboration with departments, unions and others, a gender-neutral Universal Classification Standard will be implemented. The standard will modernize the classification of work and bring about much-needed administrative improvements. This initiative is more than just a technical exercise. By applying a common standard to the value of work, it will promote fairness and equity. By reducing over 70 job classification standards to one, it will simplify the system. The standard will provide a platform for significant, positive changes in public service human resources management.

The management board will continue efforts to strengthen relationships with unions and other stakeholders. A major task force established to recommend ways to improve labour-management relationships is expected to table its report early in 2001. Recent changes in pension legislation have led to the establishment of advisory groups to increase consultation with staff members of the Canadian Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and public service unions on a wide range of pension issues, including design, funding and administration.

The management board will follow up on issues identified in the recent public service employee survey. Initiatives identified will support departments and agencies in improving conditions of work and workplace well-being. Union representatives at both the departmental and corporate levels will be involved in the identification of follow-up activities. Progress in achieving expected results will be measured in various ways, including another survey in two to three years.

Demographic analyses of the Public Service indicate the likelihood of a large number of retirements over the next five to ten years. Accordingly, the management board will work with departments, agencies, the Public Service Commission, the Privy Council Office and others to implement recruitment, retention, learning and career development strategies. Particular emphasis will be placed on critical skill areas and on improving the representation of employment equity groups. A task force addressing issues specific to the representation of members of visible minority groups within the public service will issue its report in 2000 and its recommendations will guide efforts in this regard. In addition, a task force on an inclusive public service will advise on how to achieve a federal public service that reflects the diversity of the Canadian labour force and the general population. This work, which promotes a culture where differences are valued, will further contribute to the development of an exemplary workplace.


Canada is an outward-looking country with a productive, trade-based economy and a population drawn from every corner of the globe. This country has a reputation internationally for good governance, diversity, hard work and success.

National public institutions are vitally important to Canada's well-being. They must be managed to the highest standards.

By regaining control of its federal finances in the mid-1990s, Canada took an important step. The vision for the early years of the new century is of a country able to make choices and investments in the kind of society it wants to build and maintain. In this vision, Canada's national institutions of public administration will continue to be among the best in the world. Government of Canada programs and services will be citizen-focused and will benefit from continuous improvement and the use of modern management practices.

The management framework and agenda outlined in this document are no quick fix. Ongoing effort will be required. Just as we can see no end to the globally-induced changes that affect Canadian society, there is no end point to the adaptations government managers must make to continue to serve Canadians well. This management agenda is both sustainable and adaptable.

Working together and guided by collective experience, departments and agencies and the Government of Canada's management board - the Treasury Board and its Secretariat - will continue to collaborate to make federal institutions values-based, results-driven and consistently focused on the needs of Canadians.

Appendix: Further Reading on Management in the Government of Canada

The reader interested in learning more about management issues in the Government of Canada may wish to consult:

A Strong Foundation - Report of the Task Force on Public Service Values and Ethics
Canadian Centre for Management Development

Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada
Privy Council Office

Assessment Framework for Modernizing Comptrollership
Treasury Board Secretariat in association with pilot departments.

Citizens First
The Citizen-Centred Service Network,
Canadian Centre for Management Development

Financial Information Strategy Learning Framework
Treasury Board Secretariat

Framework for Good Human Resources Management in the Public Service
Treasury Board Secretariat

Managing for Results 1999
Treasury Board Secretariat

Modern Comptrollership - Moving Forward
Glen McDougall
FMI Journal, Fall 1999, vol. 11, no. 1.

Modernizing Accountability Practices in the Public Sector: A Joint Paper by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat

Privacy in an Electronic World - It's Possible
Michael de Rosenroll
Canadian Government Executive, 3, 1999, pp. 4-7.

Report of the Independent Review Panel on Modernization of Comptrollership in the Government of Canada
Treasury Board Secretariat

Strategic Directions for Information Management and Information Technology: Enabling 21st Century Service to Canadians
Treasury Board Secretariat

The Enhanced Management Framework for Information Management and Information Technology "Solutions: Putting the Principles to Work"
Treasury Board Secretariat

Treasury Board and Business Planning Principles
Treasury Board Secretariat

Update for HR Professionals on Business Planning and Reporting in the Government of Canada
Treasury Board Secretariat