Annex B : The Treasury Board Secretariat

1. Mandate and Role

The Treasury Board is a committee of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada. The Board consists of the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Finance, and five other Ministers appointed by the Governor in Council. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS, or the Secretariat) is the administrative arm of the Treasury Board. It is headed by a Secretary–Comptroller General, who reports to the President of the Treasury Board.

The Secretariat has a mandate to support the Treasury Board as a committee of Ministers, to support the President and his office, and to fulfil the statutory responsibilities of a central agency within government. It does this by providing programs that carry out the legislated responsibilities of the Treasury Board. These responsibilities come from the broad authority of the Financial Administration Act, as well as from several other Acts: the Public Service Staff Relations Act; the Public Service Superannuation Act; the Official Languages Act; the Employment Equity Act; the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Federal Real Property Act; and the Public Service Employment Act. The responsibilities under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act rest with the President of the Treasury Board as Minister.

The role of TBS is to ensure continuous improvement in how the federal Government manages its resources to achieve its objectives. Its role includes providing advice, guidance and support to departments to help them meet their accountabilities. It also gives advice and support to Treasury Board Ministers in the development of a whole-government view, sets strategic directions and intervenes as necessary to achieve government objectives. The Secretariat is responsible for three separate programs: the Central Administration of the Public Service Program; Government Contingencies and Centrally Financed Programs; and the Employer Contributions to Insurance Plans Program. The Secretariat’s business lines and priorities are published in the TBS Report on Plans and Priorities.

2) Recource Planning and Expenditure Management

a. Resource Planning and Expenditure Management

The government uses the Expenditure Management System (EMS) to establish spending priorities. The Secretariat supports the Treasury Board by making recommendations on the allocation of approximately $50 billion in direct program expenditures encompassing three areas: operating and capital budgets of government departments and agencies; payments to dependent Crown corporations; and transfer payments to organizations, individuals and corporations.

For example, the Secretariat:

  • makes recommendations to the Treasury Board on allocating the Governments financial resources in light of government priorities, fiscal targets and results achieved;
  • develops and maintains accountability frameworks within which Parliament approves resources and in light of which departments and agencies report on their use;
  • prepares Estimates (Main and Supplementary) and Appropriation Bills, thereby coordinating the process whereby the government obtains funds from Parliament;
  • monitors the implementation of approved policies and programs, and advises the Treasury Board on success in achieving intended results;
  • advises the Treasury Board President, in his role as a member of Cabinet, on the resource implications of new government policy and project initiatives while promoting innovative management and increased efficiency and effectiveness in delivering programs;
  • provides analysis and recommendations to the Treasury Board on departmental business plans and Crown corporation corporate plans and budgets; and
  • promotes regulatory reform across the Government.

Existing legislation provides ongoing spending authority for the remaining government expenditures, which include major transfer programs such as Employment Insurance, elderly benefits, provincial equalization payments, and the Canada Health and Social Transfer, as well as public debt charges.

b) Service and Innovation

The new Sector of the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), Service & Innovation, came into being in May 1998 with the mandate to focus on government-wide approaches to improving services to Canadians. It provide leadership for government-wide initiatives, and, as it evolves, will become a major policy centre of TBS: a centre of expertise, a leader, and a catalyst for public sector innovation in the delivery of programs and services.

The new structure includes all the key strategic elements needed to work out a government-wide strategy centred on citizens’ needs for improved service delivery, including:

  • Leadership for the Sector’s mandate provided through the Assistant Secretary’s Office (including Visiting ADM/Special Advisor, Advisor/Working Groups, Research Program, and Visiting Professor);
  • Innovation and Quality Services Division provides leadership for continuous improvement of service and organizational effectiveness;
  • Alternative Service Delivery Division provides leadership of alternative service delivery options, including single-window service delivery;
  • Crown Corporation Policy & Information Division manages the accountability framework for Crown Corporations and the policy issues that effect them;
  • International Programs Unit leads the TBS’s international activities and relationship;
  • Federal Regional Councils’ Secretariat liaises among the ten Councils and between the Councils and Central Agencies; and
  • Planning & Integration Group provides support to the Assistant Secretary, manages horizontal files and develops strategic tools related to the good functioning of the Sector.

The Sector’s challenge will be to develop innovative and integrated approaches to service delivery, improve access to government services, reduce red tape, and strengthen accountability for performance in these areas. These priorities reflect the service priorities of Canadian citizens. An immediate challenge will be to assist the federal government to provide more convenient and integrated front-end services to Canadians, (a proposal for a "Service Canada" initiative), a priority strongly endorsed by Treasury Board Ministers in May 1998.

c)  Comptrollership

The Treasury Board Secretariat has responsibility for traditional comptrollership functions such as financial, contract, material and property management, accounting, review, internal audit and program evaluation. The Secretariat is also responsible for implementing modern comptrollership across the Government.

The Secretariat:

  • ensures and facilitates the implementation of the recommendations of the Independent Review Panel on the Modernization of Comptrollership through a Comptrollership Modernization Office that helps departments and agencies with their modernization effort;
  • provides leadership in financial management, contract management, risk management, materiel management and real property management, and encourages innovative and responsive approaches to enable all interested stakeholders to best achieve their objectives; and
  • provides leadership in embedding results-oriented performance management principles and values in departments and agencies to: identify key expected results, improve measurement of performance and related costs, and improve reporting of results-based financial and non-financial performance information.

d)  Information Technology and Information Management

TBS provides leadership, co-ordination and broad direction in the use of information technology across government. Working in collaboration with departments, TBS facilitates enterprise-wide solutions to horizontal information technology and information management issues. It is from this vantage point that the TBS serves as technology strategist and expert advisor to Treasury Board Ministers and senior officials across government.

The Secretariat focuses in three areas: infrastructure, service to the information technology community, and innovation. The increasing reliance on information technology in government, as well as the greater interdependence between government departments, and even different levels of governments, requires cooperation and partnerships to work across the system, clearing away obstacles to effective collaboration. With the Year 2000 looming large, the top infrastructure priority at this time is solving the Year 2000 date problem.

For more information, you can contact:

  • General Enquiries
    Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
    Tel.: (613) 957-2400
    Fax: (613) 952-3658
    TBS Website:
  • Alternative Service Delivery, Crown Corporations, International Programs, Quality Services
    Assistant Secretary
    Service and Innovation Sector
    Tel.: (613) 957-0125
  • Human Resources Management, Official Languages, Employment Equity, Labour Relations, Classification and Excluded Groups, Pensions
    Chief Human Resources Officer
    Tel.: (613) 952-3000
  • Economic Programs
    Assistant Secretary
    Economic Sector
    Tel.: (613) 957-0510
  • Comptrollership, Financial Management Policy, Expenditure Management, Performance Reporting, Risk, Procurement and Asset Management
    Deputy Comptroller General
    Tel.: (613) 957-7820
  • Social and Cultural Programs
    Assistant Secretary
    Social and Cultural Sector
    Tel.: (613) 957-2609
  • Information Technology and Information Management
    Chief Information Officer
    Tel.: (613) 957-7070
  • Government Operations and Canada Infrastructure Works
    Assistant Secretary
    Government Operations and Infrastructure Works
    Tel.: (613) 957-9531

Further information on the Treasury Board and its Secretariat, as well as Treasury Board policies, publications and reports can be found on the TBS website at