VI General management responsibilities"

This section lays out the general management responsibilities of heads of agencies for human resources management and comptrollership in their organizations.

1. Human Resources Management

a. The Agency Head and Board Members

Generally, enabling statutes stipulate that the agency head is the chief executive officer of the organization and has overall responsibility for the work of the agency. Most of the agency head’s authority to direct and manage the organization flows from these concise and general words. The relations between heads and members of agencies are complex, particularly in organizations with collegial structures where the heads must exercise their leadership while remaining sensitive to the organizational structure. Depending on the particular provisions of their enabling statutes, and usually with the members’ participation, heads of agencies have used various means to direct the work of members. The issuance of guidelines relating to the execution of duties by the members, the institution of Codes of Conduct for members or the utilization of Memoranda of Understanding between the agency heads and the members have been used in the past.

Heads of agencies have the authority to set work objectives and evaluate the performance of members of their agency. The performance appraisals can be used to help identify staff training and skills development needs, and to identify board members ripe to undertake new tasks or learn new expertise. However, the appraisals should be restricted, in the case of administrative tribunals, to factors such as productivity, analytical skills, proficiency and presiding skills, as opposed to the merit of the actual decisions made by members.

Terms and conditions of employment apply to members, whether appointed during good behaviour or during pleasure. Agency heads are responsible for the proper management of the terms and conditions of employment, which encompass annual leave, sick leave, travel expenses, etc. The responsibility rests with the agency heads to approve or reject members travel claims, and to ensure that only reasonable expenses are authorized. (Please refer to section 4 of this chapter for further details on travel and hospitality.)

For those organizations whose members are appointed during "good behaviour", the powers of heads of agencies to suspend or impose administrative sanctions against a member who does not meet the standard of conduct expected of a public office holder are limited. The Governor in Council is the only authority with the power to remove a good behaviour appointee subject to the rules of procedural fairness.

The power to discipline or remove a person appointed during pleasure rests with the Governor in Council.

b. The Agency Head and Employees

All human resources management authorities exercised by employers, other than staffing, are defined in the Financial Administration Act. These authorities may be delegated to heads of agencies, including separate employers, as defined in the Public Service Staff Relations Act (PSSRA). In any such delegation, the entire scope of authorities is delegated, not simply parts. These authorities permit tailoring of human resources management to the specific operational requirements of agencies, rather than to those designed for the larger public service. For example, the agency head has the option of redesigning bargaining units to more accurately reflect business requirements. The head can bargain directly with its unions, although it remains within the federal jurisdiction.

The PSSRA defines the Treasury Board as the employer for departments and agencies listed in Schedule I, Part I of that act. Agencies listed in Part II of the Schedule are deemed to be separate employers. The PSSRA applies equally to organizations in Part I and separate employers in Part II. Separate employers establish their own terms and conditions of employment pursuant to the PSSRA, and are subject to government review.

While separate employers are not subject to, they may still choose to follow Treasury Board policies on job classification, training, development, performance review and compensation (note that compensation strategies are subject to government review); National Joint Council (NJC) directives; and the Public Service Employment Act.

Organizations for which the Treasury Board is the employer are subject to the Public Service Superannuation Act (PSSA). Organizations in Schedule I, Part II of the PSSRA are also subject to the PSSA unless specifically excluded.

Heads of organizations listed in Part I are delegated broad employment equity authorities under the Employment Equity Program of the Treasury Board. Separate employers in Part II of Schedule I with 100 or more employees are subject to the Employment Equity Act, those with less than 100 employees are exempt.

2. Official Languages

All agencies in Part I and II of the PSSRA are subject to the Official Languages Act. They therefore have obligations with respect to communications with and services to the public, language of work and participation of English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians in federal institutions. In this general context, these organizations are subject to the Treasury Board policies which deal with the three parts of the Act and must report annually to the Treasury Board on progress.

With respect to service to the public, all agencies have an obligation to provide members of the public with services in the official language of their choice from head or central offices, from offices in the National Capital Region and from other offices required to provide their services and communications in both official languages pursuant to the official languages regulations on service to the public. With respect to language of work, all agencies must ensure that their employees have the right, in designated regions, such as the National Capital Region, to be able to work in either official language. In these regions, an agency must also provide its employees with English and French versions of work instruments and computer software that are regularly and widely used within the agency. Agencies must also ensure that employees in bilingual positions are supervised in the language of their choice. In terms of equitable participation, all agencies must ensure that members of both linguistic groups have equal opportunities for employment and advancement within their organizations.

Agencies are also subject to section 11 of the Act regarding notices and advertisements required by an act of Parliament to inform the public. They are also subject to section 91 of the Act which requires that, in staffing actions, the official languages requirements attached to positions must be set objectively.

In addition to being subject to all the language obligations that apply to federal institutions, administrative or quasi-judicial tribunals are also subject to Part III of the Act. Part III, and particularly section 16, of the Act, requires that any federal court, meaning any court, tribunal or other body that carries out adjudicative functions, ensure that the judge or official hearing a case is able to understand it in English or in French, or both languages, without the assistance of interpretation.

It further requires that the pre-printed portion of any form that is used in proceedings must be bilingual and that final decisions must be issued in both official languages.

3. Comptrollership

Modern comptrollership implies vigorous stewardship of public resources, a high standard of ethics, and provision for appropriate parliamentary oversight. To deliver affordable and high quality services to Canadians, managers need flexibility, incentives, and information. The focus of modern comptrollership, therefore, is on results, accountability and risk management. Comptrollership must evolve from the perception that it is a narrow and specialized function in order to become a well-understood responsibility of every public service manager. In particular, there is a pressing need to integrate financial and non-financial information to foster a better understanding of past performance and, more importantly, to support decision- making and planning.

The comptrollership responsibilities listed below encompass every management responsibility. The following are comptrollership responsibilities particular to agency heads, as noted in the Report of the Independent Review Panel on the Modernization of Comptrollership in the Government of Canada.

Agency heads should:

  • accept their prime responsibility for comptrollership within their organizations and create a culture and environment within which comptrollership can make its contribution to strategic and business planning, risk management, control, and performance reporting;
  • establish, and be held accountable for, the comptrollership regime that best suits their assessment of their organization’s circumstances and needs while meeting government-wide standards;
  • develop short and longer-term plans for comptrollership suitable for their departments;
  • produce annually, for their Ministers and the Treasury Board Secretariat, a consolidated and integrated report, capable of standing the test of audit (which should be applied at least once every several years), on their organization’s financial and non-financial performance;
  • work with the Treasury Board Secretariat to determine a reporting cycle for the performance of different aspects of the organization’s businesses;
  • report annually to their Ministers and the Treasury Board Secretariat on the extent to which they meet the government-wide standards for comptrollership;
  • ensure appropriate rotation of financial staff through operational posts and provide managers with the opportunity to become familiar with the tools of comptrollership specialists;
  • have the final say in the selection and appointment of the key players who will have particular comptrollership-related responsibilities; and
  • strive to maintain a high standard of ethics within their organization.

4. Travel and Hospitality

While some organizations have the legislative authority to introduce travel and hospitality policies that differ from those of the Treasury Board, few organizations choose to do so. Managers authorizing travel and hospitality functions should be aware of the high standards expected of them. In particular, care should be taken to avoid any impression of using public funds and facilities for anything other than official purposes. Deputy Ministers and heads of agencies are accountable and must be prepared to justify their expenses in keeping with the responsibility of public office holders to conduct themselves in a manner that can bear the closest public scrutiny.

a. Travel

The basic norm for hotel accommodations should be comfortable and convenient, but not excessive. The Travel Directive is therefore a useful tool, and is available through or By Order in Council (P.C. 1997-1810), the government directed that organizations with their own travel authorities, and Governor in Council appointees of such organizations, should also be guided by the Treasury Board Special Travel Authorities and Hospitality Policy in the establishment of their own policies. Such organizations are accountable for their policies and their heads are accountable for their personal expenses. Agencies with their own travel policies which deviate from the rates set by the Treasury Board, are required to report the additional cost above the rates in their fall Performance Report to Parliament.

The Treasury Board Travel Directive applies to public service employees in departments and agencies listed in Schedules I, I.1 and II of the Financial Administration Act, and to other persons travelling on government business — including exempt staff — unless their travel is governed by another authority (see the "Special Travel Authorities" chapter of the Travel Directive). Travel rules for members of the Executive Group, Governor in Council appointees, consultants, students and other persons travelling on government business are also specified in the "Special Travel Authorities" chapter. Persons who are outside the public service and travelling on behalf of the government are not entitled to the full Travel Directive rates, but rather to the rates and allowances contained in the appendices and subsections of the Travel Directive referring to "travellers" rather than "employees".

b. Hospitality

The Treasury Board Hospitality Policy applies to the staff of all departments and agencies listed in Schedules I, I.1 and II of the Financial Administration Act, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Armed Forces. Hospitality must be economical and further facilitate the business of the department or agency; hospitality is also offered when it is considered essential as a matter of courtesy. The policy specifies the provision of hospitality services available to government employees. The policy provides general guidance on per capita average costs and establishes minimum authority levels for various forms of hospitality. It also provides a means to ensure consistency of application throughout the public service.

Costs associated with guests and employees or staff of the departments and agencies are governed by the Treasury Board Hospitality Policy and therefore should be reported as such.

5. Financial, Contract and Asset Management

In the area of financial management, heads of agencies are encouraged to read the pamphlet Financial Management Accountability in Departments and Agencies published by the Treasury Board Secretariat, which summarizes the responsibilities of deputy heads. With respect to financial reporting, as part of the Government of Canada, agencies must adhere to the requirements established by the Receiver General so that the consolidated financial statements of the government can be prepared accurately and within established deadlines. Agency financial results may also be subject to audit by the Auditor General.

In the materiel management area, activities should be carried out within the Government’s Green Procurement Framework and Treasury Board policies on materiel management, which cover the effective life cycle management of materiel, acquisition and use of executive and other vehicles and furniture. It is expected that agency heads will ensure that these policies are followed, including the planning, acquisition and use of materiel, vehicles and furniture for their own use on the job.

With respect to the conduct of capital projects, the Treasury Board policy on project management applies, emphasizing that projects are to have well defined objectives within an accountability framework, employ sound project management principles and be managed in a manner sensitive to risk, complexity and the economy of resources.

The Treasury Board Policies on Risk Management, in addition to indicating the need for managers to practice risk management in all their management activities, outlines specific requirements in the following special areas: indemnification of servants of the Crown, provision of legal assistance to Crown servants, claims and ex gratia payments, indemnification in contracting, volunteers, and fire protection.

6. Internal Audit and Program Evaluation

The internal audit and program evaluation branches of agencies, departments and Crown corporations play a significant role in ensuring that departmental issues are adequately and effectively addressed. These two functions are essential components of modern comptrollership and an important source of critical management information to support decision-making and accountability for performance. They provide assurance that public monies and effort are invested wisely and that proper controls exist within the system.

It is usually more cost-effective in a smaller to medium-sized agency to contract for internal audit and program evaluation services. The cost-effectiveness of contracting should also be a consideration in larger agencies.

a. Internal Audit

It is government policy that agencies, departments and Crown corporations audit their programs and operations to assess whether the management framework is well designed and working as intended. The goal of internal audit is to provide the deputy head and senior management with advice and assurance on the performance of the management framework. Specific focus is placed on the cost-effectiveness of program delivery activities and internal operations, the reliability and integrity of the information provided for decision-making and accountability reporting, prudence and probity in the use of public funds and the safeguarding of assets, and compliance with statutes and policies.

b. Program Evaluation

Program evaluation can be contrasted with internal audit in that audit focuses internally on the operations and processes of an organization, whereas program evaluation focuses externally on the impacts of policies and programs on Canadians. Evaluation provides the deputy head and senior management with objective and useful advice on the relevance of policies and programs, their success in achieving objectives and their cost-effectiveness compared to alternatives. As a result, evaluation facilitates a management culture that is fact-based, results-oriented, open and accountable. Over the years, evaluation has become an important source of management information and advice.

Contact for further information

Chief Human Resources Officer Treasury Board Secretariat
Tel.: (613) 952-3000

Deputy Comptroller General
Treasury Board Secretariat
Tel.: (613) 957-7820

Treasury Board policies, publications and reports are available on the TBS website at

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