The Role and Structure of the Privy Council Office 2011

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Under revision

April 2011


Table of Contents


Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Canada. Privy Council Office
The role and structure of the Privy Council Office [electronic resource].
-- Rev. ed.

Issued also in French under title: Le rôle et la structure du Bureau du Conseil privé.
Electronic monograph in PDF and HTML format.
ISBN 978-1-100-10862-9
Cat. no.: CP22-85/2008E-PDF

1. Canada. Privy Council Office. 2. Canada. Privy Council Office--Officials
and employees. 3. Privy councils--Canada. 4. Administrative agencies--Canada.
5. Canada--Politics and government. I. Title.

JL93 C32 2008     352.3'40971      C2008-980337-X

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2010

1.0 Introduction

The Privy Council Office (PCO) provides impartial advice and support to the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Headed by the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, the department functions both as the Cabinet's secretariat and the Prime Minister's source of public service advice on almost all policy questions and operational issues facing the Government.

PCO also provides non-partisan support to the following ministers:

  • Leader of the Government in the Senate
  • Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister for La Francophonie
  • Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
  • Minister of State (Democratic Reform)
  • Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

PCO's primary tasks are to:

  • Provide unbiased advice to the Prime Minister, Cabinet and Cabinet committees on matters of national and international importance.
  • Ensure the smooth functioning of the Cabinet decision-making process and facilitate the implementation of the Government's agenda.
  • Foster a high-performing and accountable public service.

This document provides an overview of the roles and responsibilities of the PCO's senior staff.

2.0 Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet

The Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet is Canada's most senior public servant supporting the Prime Minister. The Clerk has three main responsibilities:

  • As the Prime Minister's Deputy Minister - brings together the advice of the public service to support the Prime Minister in carrying out all his or her responsibilities as head of Canada's government. This includes managing the federation.
  • As Secretary to the Cabinet - provides support and advice to the ministry as a whole and oversees the provision of policy and secretariat support to Cabinet and Cabinet committees.
  • As Head of the Public Service - sets strategic direction and oversees all major issues for the Public Service. The Clerk ensures that the Public Service continues to achieve high standards of excellence and professionalism in delivering non-partisan advice and service to the Prime Minister, the ministry and all Canadians.

The first Clerk of the Privy Council was appointed in 1867.

3.0 National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister

The National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister assists the Clerk and provides information and advice to the Prime Minister on security and intelligence issues.

As National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister he or she:

  • Ensures effective coordination of Canada’s security and intelligence community;
  • Oversees the Communications Security Establishment1 (with the Deputy Minister of National Defence); and
  • Provides intelligence assessments to the Prime Minister, other ministers and senior government officials.

The National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister is supported by two secretariats through the Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister and Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet:

  • Security and Intelligence
  • International Assessment Staff

4.0 Associate Secretary to the Cabinet and Deputy Minister (Intergovernmental Affairs)

As Associate Secretary to the Cabinet he or she:

  • Acts on the Clerk’s behalf on any policy and operational issues that come before the Privy Council Office; and
  • Assists with the Clerk’s responsibilities for the Public Service, including issues relating to senior personnel and public service renewal.

The Deputy Minister (Intergovernmental Affairs) provides advice and support to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs on policies, communications and parliamentary affairs relating to federal-provincial-territorial relations, including fiscal federalism, the evolution of the federation and Canadian unity.

This work requires close collaboration with a number of federal government departments including Finance Canada, Justice Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat.

The Deputy Minister's mandate covers:

  • Policy advice and strategic planning related to national unity, the broad federal-provincial-territorial agenda, constitutional and legal issues and fiscal federalism.
  • Liaison and advice on relations with the provinces and territories and on the management of the federation.
  • Communications and parliamentary affairs support on issues and initiatives with important federal-provincial-territorial dimensions.

The Deputy Minister directs the Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat. Two Assistant Deputy Ministers and a Director of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs support him or her in this work.

4.1 Assistant Deputy Minister (Intergovernmental Policy)

The Assistant Deputy Minister (Intergovernmental Policy) manages the development of strategic planning, integrated analysis and intergovernmental relations policy, options and advice on a variety issues.

The Director General, Strategic Policy and Research provides in-depth analysis and advice on economic and fiscal conditions nad policy, legal and constitutional affairs, and issues relating to the changing nature of the Canadian federation. In particular, the directorate:

  • Analyses the fiscal and economic state of the federation.
  • Identifies issues and develops strategies and initiatives to enhance the Government's capacity to manage its economic and fiscal priorities (including fiscal federalism).
  • Provides legal and constitutional analysis on court decisions, intergovernmental relations and issues of federal governance.
  • Conducts research on public opinion and social issues that impact intergovernmental relations and Canadian unity.
  • Monitors relevant academic and policy research and information produced across Canada.

4.2 Assistant Deputy Minister (Intergovernmental Operations)

The Assistant Deputy Minister (Intergovernmental Operations) provides the Prime Minister and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs with an overview of federal-provincial-territorial relations across the Government's broad policy agenda.

The Director General, Provincial-Territorial Analysis supplies strategic advice for the Prime Minister and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs on bilateral relations with the provinces and territories and on the overall management of the federation. To achieve this, the directorate:

  • Develops and maintains working relations with provincial and territorial intergovernmental affairs officials, public institutions and private-sector interests.
  • Monitors changing federal-provincial and federal-territorial relations.
  • Identifies emerging issues and trends.
  • Assesses the interplay of federal, provincial and territorial positions on issues with significant implications for national unity and the management of the federation.
  • Develops strategies and briefs the Prime Minister on the managements of bilateral and multilateral first ministers' meetings.

The Director General, Sectoral Analysis ensures intergovernmental considerations are taken into account in the preparation of material for Cabinet consideration. The Directorate:

  • Works with departments and agencies to assess the intergovernmental dimensions of policies and programs going to Cabinet;
  • Supports the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, particularly with respect to participation in Cabinet committees.
  • Supports departments and agencies in managing federal-provincial-territorial ministerial and officials' meetings.
  • Provides strategic advice on federal-provincial-territorial issues in the context of broader government-wide priorities.

Officers within these directorates have responsibility for one or more federal departments, and work closely with those departments on the development and implementation of federal programs and policies.

4.3 Director (Communications and Parliamentary Affairs)

The Director, Communications and Parliamentary Affairs, provides strategic advice on the intergovernmental implications of government-wide communications activities and initiatives, and on the impact that these initiatives and activities may have on Canadian unity.

The Communications and Parliamentary Affairs group provides communications advice and products to:

  • IGA Policy and Operations
  • The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
  • The Prime Minister (in cooperation with PCO Communications and Consultation)

It also provides parliamentary affairs support to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

5.0 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations)

The Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations) provides policy advice to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Clerk of the Privy Council and ensures interdepartmental coordination on a wide range of domestic policy and program issues of concern to the Government.

The Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations) is accountable for the effective operation of the Cabinet Committee on Operations, the Cabinet Committee on Social Affairs and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Growth and Long-term Prosperity.

He or she has overall responsibility for three secretariats:

  • Social Development Policy
  • Economic and Regional Development Policy
  • Operations

The Orders in Council Division and Cabinet Papers System Unit also fall under his or her mandate.

5.1 Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Social Development Policy)

The Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Social Development Policy) monitors, coordinates and provides advice on policies relating to:

  • Health care
  • Justice
  • Aboriginal issues
  • Training and skills development
  • Culture
  • Immigration policy
  • Policing and corrections
  • Citizenship and immigration
  • Post-secondary education
  • Employment insurance
  • Income security
  • Official languages
  • Multiculturalism
  • Veterans affairs
  • Seniors
  • Children
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Status of women

The Social Development Policy Secretariat works with the Department of Finance, the Treasury Board Secretariat and other government departments on key policy and related funding issues. It also participates in or coordinates interdepartmental work relating to social policy issues.

The secretariat supports the Cabinet Committee on Social Affairs and any related ad hoc committees.

5.2 Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Economic and Regional Development Policy)

The Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Economic and Regional Development Policy) monitors, coordinates and provides advice on policies relating to:

  • International trade
  • Sustainable development
  • Natural resources
  • Fisheries
  • Agriculture
  • Transport
  • Infrastructure and communities
  • Regional development
  • Environment
  • Energy security
  • Long-term economic growth
  • Advantage Canada follow-up
  • Science and technology
  • Telecommunications
  • Trade
  • Investment
  • Competition policy
  • Multi-year infrastructure plans (as outlined in Budget 2007)

The Economic and Regional Development Policy Secretariat works with the Department of Finance, the Treasury Board Secretariat and other government departments on key policy and related funding issues. It also participates in or coordinates interdepartmental work and provides advice on economic and regional development policies and programs.

The secretariat ensures the smooth functioning of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Growth and Long-term Prosperity, the Cabinet Committee on the Environment and Energy Security and related ad hoc committees.

5.3 Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations)

The Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations) oversees the day-to-day coordination of the Government's agenda. This can include issues management, legislation and house planning and communications on almost any policy matter of interest to the Government.

The secretariat works with other Privy Council Office secretariats and government departments to support the Cabinet Committee for Operations and various ad hoc committees. This involves providing strategic advice and coordinating departmental linkages on a wide range of priorities and issues.

5.4 Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council (Orders in Council)

The Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council (Orders in Council) provides secretariat services to the Treasury Board Cabinet Committee and is responsible for the approval of Orders in Council, regulations and other statutory instruments. He or she also supplies advice on the use of Orders in Council and/or Instruments of Advice.

The Orders in Council Division performs the following tasks:

  • Produces and distributes Orders in Council.
  • Prepares a weekly agenda for Orders in Council submissions to the Treasury Board.
  • Transmits Orders in Council and Statutory Instruments to the Governor General for final approval.
  • Administers the Statutory Instruments Act for the registration and publication of regulations in Part II of the Canada Gazette.
  • Maintains records of approved Orders in Council, the Canada Gazette (Part II) and a number of Oath Books.
  • Plans swearing-in ceremonies at Rideau Hall, including Cabinet shuffles.

The division maintains a database on the Privy Council Office website where researchers and members of the public can search for Orders in Council issued since 1990.

5.5 Chief, Cabinet Papers System

The Director, Cabinet Papers System Unit provides administrative support services to the Cabinet and its various committees. The unit is responsible for the format, distribution and control of Cabinet papers, Cabinet committee meeting agendas, memoranda to Cabinet and other documents.

In addition, the unit:

  • Produces the schedule for Cabinet and Cabinet committee meetings.
  • Assists in arranging Cabinet and Cabinet committee meetings.
  • Provides advice and training on the preparation of Cabinet documents.

6.0 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans and Consultation)

The Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Plans and Consultation) helps the Government consider all matters of government policy from the standpoint of its key priorities and plans. He or she is responsible for supplying strategic policy advice, secretariat support to Cabinet and advice on communications and consultations across government.

He or she is supported by three secretariats:

  • Priorities and Planning
  • Communications and Consultation
  • Liaison Secretariat for Macroeconomic Policy

The Deputy Secretary and the three secretariats pay particular attention to the Budget, the Speech from the Throne and other special or priority issues that may arise from time to time. They also help ensure that ministers are informed of interrelationships between issues and the Government's strategic priorities.

6.1 Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Priorities and Planning)

The Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Priorities and Planning) assists the Government in defining its objectives and developing policies to deliver on these priorities.

The Priorities and Planning Secretariat provides:

  • Liaison with other parts of the Privy Council Office and government departments on policy matters.
  • Advice and support for meetings and planning retreats for Cabinet and the Cabinet Committee on Plans and Priorities.
  • Policy advice and logistical support to the Clerk of the Privy Council for the Deputies' Breakfasts, the Coordinating Committee of Deputy Ministers and related meetings.

6.2 Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Communications and Consultation)

The Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Communications and Consultation) provides communications and public opinion research advice to Cabinet and senior officials of the Privy Council Office on key issues and policy initiatives. The secretariat also coordinates government-wide communications, including:

  • Announcements
  • Advertising initiatives
  • Web strategies
  • New media
  • Strategic communications
  • Crisis management

6.3 Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Liaison Secretariat for Macroeconomic Policy)

The Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Liaison Secretariat for Macroeconomic Policy) provides policy advice and analysis to Cabinet and senior officials of the Privy Council Office on economic and fiscal matters.

The secretariat works closely with the Department of Finance, Treasury Board Secretariat and other Privy Council Office secretariats on the economic and financial aspects of major policy files, including the Budget.

7.0 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Legislation and House Planning and Machinery of Government) and Counsel to the Clerk of the Privy Council

The Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Legislation and House Planning and Machinery of Government) and Counsel to the Clerk of the Privy Council provides advice to the Prime Minister and the Clerk of the Privy Council on both the structure and functioning of government and the management of the Government's legislative program. This includes issues relating to electoral and democratic reform, and legal advice on a wide range of matters.

The Deputy Secretary and Counsel is supported by two secretariats:

  • Legislation and House Planning
  • Machinery of Government

He or she also receives legal advice from:

  • Legal Operations
  • Cabinet Confidences

7.1 Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Legislation and House Planning)

The Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Legislation and House Planning) provides advice and support to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the Minister of State (Democratic Reform) and the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

The Legislation and House Planning Secretariat prepares and manages:

  • The Government's legislative program and other initiatives in the Senate and the House of Commons.
  • The Government's response to parliamentary written questions, and notices of motion for the production of papers and petitions (known as Parliamentary Returns).
  • Policy development and legislation in support of democratic and electoral reform.

7.2 Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Machinery of Government)

The Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Machinery of Government) advises and supports the Prime Minister on matters related to his prerogative and responsibilities as the manager of Canada's system of cabinet government.

The Machinery of Government Secretariat supplies advice on:

  • The structure, organization and functioning of government.
  • The organization of Cabinet and its committees.
  • Ministerial mandates and responsibilities.
  • Transitions from government to government.
  • Ethics and accountability issues (consistent with Westminster-style government).
  • The role of the Crown, the Governor General and Government House.
  •  Issues related to honours policy.

7.3 Counsel to the Clerk of the Privy Council

The Counsel to the Clerk of the Privy Council provides legal advice to the Prime Minister, the Privy Council Office secretariats and ministers in the PCO portfolio on a wide range of matters.

The Counsel to the Clerk also supplies advice on legal issues relating specifically to PCO's mandate. This includes matters relating to:

  • Exercise of statutory authority.
  • Preparation of draft legislation.
  • Confidentiality of Cabinet deliberations.
  • Senior personnel issues.
  • Security and intelligence issues.
  • Federal electoral systems and initiatives.
  • Commissions of inquiry.
  • Litigation involving PCO.
  • Litigation with government-wide implications.

The Legal Operations and Cabinet Confidences sections provide this legal support.

8.0 Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister and Deputy Secretary To The Cabinet

The Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister and Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet advises the Prime Minister and Cabinet on foreign policy and defence issues. He or she also supports the Prime Minister in his or her dealings with other heads of government and heads of state.

The Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor oversees:

  • Foreign correspondence.
  • Official visits to Canada and the Prime Minister's foreign travel.
  • Direct communications (on behalf of the Prime Minister) with foreign government representatives in Canada and senior officials of foreign leaders' offices.

He or she also shares accountability with the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister for the effective operation of the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Security.

Two secretariats (Security and Intelligence and the International Assessment Staff) report through the Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor to the National Security Advisor.

8.1 Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Foreign and Defence Policy)

The Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Foreign and Defence Policy) provides advice across the full spectrum of international issues.

This includes:

  • Foreign affairs
  • International development
  • Public and national security
  • Defence policy issues

The Foreign and Defence Secretariat monitors foreign policy developments and coordinates advice for the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Its analysts work with the Department of Finance, the Treasury Board Secretariat, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, the Canadian International Development Agency and National Defence on key policy and related funding issues. It also participates in or coordinates interdepartmental work on issues related to Canada's international relations.

The secretariat shares responsibility for the effective functioning of the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Security (FANS) with the Security and Intelligence Secretariat.

8.2 Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Security and Intelligence)

The Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet (Security and Intelligence) reports to the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister through the Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor.

The Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet provides overall coordination and policy direction on security and intelligence issues. He or she also supports the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Security and the Deputy Minister Committee on National Security, which is chaired by the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister.

The Security and Intelligence Secretariat works closely with other departments and agencies to manage a variety of security- and intelligence-related policy issues, including:

  • Public safety
  • National security
  • Intelligence
  • Counterterrorism
  • Emergency management
  • Transportation security
  • Legislative architecture
  • Security certificates

Within the secretariat, responsibilities are divided among three divisions:

  • The Security and Intelligence Operations Division provides support and secretariat services to the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Security (FANS). This involves coordinating with the Foreign Affairs and Defence Secretariat on foreign policy issues brought forward to the FANS committee for consideration.
  • The Security and Intelligence Strategic Policy and Planning Division provides policy coordination across the intelligence community and supports the Advisory Council on National Security.
  • The Security Operations Division coordinates the security for the parliamentary precinct and oversees security for the Prime Minister, Cabinet and Cabinet confidences, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the Privy Council Office. The division is responsible for PMO/PCO emergency management and preparedness activities. It also advises departments and agencies on measures to ensure their readiness in enhanced threat situations.

8.3 Executive Director (International Assessment Staff)

The Executive Director (International Assessment Staff) maintains a team of analysts that provides the Privy Council Office and other senior government clients with original, policy-neutral political and economic assessments of foreign developments and trends that may affect Canadian interests. The Executive Director reports to the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister through the Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor.

The International Assessment Staff also plays an interdepartmental coordinating role for the Canadian assessment community and helps foster relationships with related intelligence assessment organizations. The group acts as the secretariat to the Intelligence Assessment Coordinating Committee (IACC).

9.0 Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Senior Personnel)

The DeputySecretary to the Cabinet (Senior Personnel) supports the Prime Minister and the Clerk of the Privy Council in building a strong and competent public service.

The Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet provides advice and support on public service management and a range of specific human resource issues and initiatives. This includes management policies that:

  • Promote high-quality Governor-in-Council appointments.
  • Facilitate recruitment and retention of senior personnel.
  • Plan future public service leadership needs.
  • Ensure development of senior public servants (deputy minister, heads of agencies, etc.).

The Associate Secretary to the Cabinet (Senior Personnel) works with other central agencies to ensure excellence in public service management and service delivery. The Senior Personnel Secretariat establishes policies and services that:

  • Promote high-quality Governor-in-Council appointments
  • Facilitate the recruitment and retention of senior personnel
  • Plan for future public service leadership needs and advances the development of senior public servants (deputy ministers, heads of agencies etc)
  • Support the Committee of Senior Officials in administering the Performance Management Program for senior personnel

The secretariat also supports the Committee of Senior Officials in providing strategic human resources direction for the Public Service.

10.0 Assistant Deputy Minister (Corporate Services Branch)

The Assistant Deputy Minister (Corporate Services Branch) provides strategic and operational advice on the delivery of corporate services to the Prime Minister's Office, the Privy Council Office and associated Minister's offices.2 These include:

  • Administrative services
  • Financial services and corporate planning
  • Human resources
  • Information services
  • Informatics and technical services

The Assistant Deputy Minister is supported by the six divisions of the Corporate Services Branch, which also deliver certain advisory and administrative services to commissions of inquiry, committees, task forces and other independent agencies in the Prime Minister's portfolio.

In addition to these standard services, the Corporate Services Branch responds to requests under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. It also processes mail (excluding political and personal) addressed to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of La Francophonie, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Minister of State (Democratic Reform).

10.1 Director (Administration)

The Director (Administration) oversees the provision of general administrative services. The Administration Division offers the following service lines:

  • Accommodation and Building Services - provides services related to space planning, the allocation and fit-up of office space as well as the coordination of the maintenance, repair and renovation of facilities occupied by departmental staff. This section also manages the allocation of parking for departmental vehicles.
  • Telecommunications Services - coordinates the provision of telephone services, voice mail and the production of electronic telephone directories. The section also manages the Prime Minister's switchboard operations.
  • Procurement and Contracting Services - provides a centralized service for the procurement of goods and services used by the Department. This includes the administration and preparation of contracts for professional services as well as fleet management services.
  • Mail and Messenger Services and Conference Services - supplies internal and external mail and messenger services as well as a variety of conference services. Conference services include assigning attendants for Cabinet and Cabinet committee meetings and reserving conference rooms. This section also provides back-up chauffeur services for executive vehicles.
  • Printing and Graphics Services- offers a range of in-house printing, creative design, illustration and desktop publishing services as well as procurement of print and print-related services from commercial suppliers.
  • Inventory Management Services - manages the control, movement, tracking and disposal of all departmental capital and non-capital assets, including equipment and furniture. It also manages a stockroom of general office supplies and coordinates the requirements for movers.

10.2 Director (Access to Information and Privacy)

The Director (Access to Information and Privacy) administers the Department's programs relating to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. His or her office also coordinates requests to any written parliamentary questions, petitions and motions referred to the Privy Council Office.

The Access to Information Office provides a reading room where the public may examine requested departmental records and view departmental manuals and publications related to access to information.

10.3 Director (Corporate Information Services)

The Director (Corporate Information Services) oversees the provision of services for the effective management of information and knowledge resources within the Privy Council Office. The division also provides information services to Canadians by:

  • Managing the correspondence sent to the Prime Minister and PCO ministers
  • Developing and maintaining PCO's websites,
  • Responding to inquiries about the department

The Corporate Information Services Division consists of the following service areas:

  • Library Information Centre - provides PCO staff with library and information services. These include managing:
    • Reference and research
    • Information and document acquisition, organization, and retrieval
    • Dissemination of published materials (any format).
    • PCO's Internet and Intranet sites.
    It also manages departmental publications and numerous electronic information tools, such as online databases.
  • Information and Records Management - manages the Privy Council Office's records in all formats, including Cabinet documents. This involved operating, providing or maintaining:
    • Central and decentralized records offices.
    • Essential Records program.
    • Information classification systems.
    • Training and support for document management tools. 
    • Document search and retrieval services for employees.
    • ATIP and Privacy training and outreach services for employees.
    • PCO retention and disposition program (including the transfer of PCO and Commission of Inquiry records to Library and Archives Canada). 
  • Executive Correspondence Services - consists of two units:
    • The Executive Correspondence Unit provides correspondence support to the Prime Minister and processes non-political mail addressed to the Prime Minister as Head of Government.  ECU also issues greetings from the Prime Minister to Canadians celebrating significant birthdays and anniversaries, produces special messages for important events, handles phone calls about general issues from the Canadian public, and manages the Prime Minister's e-mail account.
    • The Departmental Correspondence Unit (DCU) handles non-political mail addressed to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Minister of State for Democratic Reform in relation to their roles as ministers of the Crown.

10.4 Executive Director (Finance and Corporate Planning)

The Executive Director (Finance and Corporate Planning) provides a full range of financial management, accounting, financial policies and systems services as well as corporate planning and reporting services. . The Finance and Corporate Planning Division includes the following service areas:

  • Corporate Planning- leads corporate results-based planning and reporting within PCO, and promotes its integration with other corporate processes (financial and human resource management). This unit also develops or helps implement:
    • PCO's Departmental Performance Report, Report on Plans and Priorities and contribution to Canada's Performance Report.
    • PCO's Management Accountability Framework.
    • Strategies, mechanisms and tools to advance results-based planning.
    • Guidance on corporate planning to managers and staff across the organization.
  • Accounting Operations - provides financial accounting and advisory services. This includes:
    • Departmental financial statements and the Public Accounts.
    • Delegation of financial signing authorities.
    • Advice on the application and interpretation of Treasury Board financial policies, directives for payments and accounting transactions.
    • Proactive disclosure of expenses for travel and hospitality.
  • Financial Management - provides advice on all aspects of financial management within PCO. The unit's Financial Management Advisors engage with cost centre managers and senior management throughout the department to:
    • Facilitate financial planning and forecasting
    • Evaluate spending programs
    • Develop strategies to maximize resources
    • Provide input on all financial reviews
  • Financial Budgetary Reporting and Financial Resourcing - oversees preparation of all documents under the Expenditure Management System. This includes:
    • Treasury Board submissions
    • The Annual Reference Level Update
    • Main and Supplementary Estimates. 
    This unit also coordinates and manages internal reporting exercises (e.g. annual resource allocations or program reviews) and the departmental salary information management system.
  • Financial Policies, Systems and Internal Controls - Develops, implements and interprets financial policies. This includes responsibilities for the:
    • Integrity and maintenance of departmental financial systems.
    • Financial management control framework
    • Financial-related training for all employees.

10.5 Executive Director (Human Resources)

The Executive Director (Human Resources) offers a variety of human resources services to management and employees within the Privy Council Office, the Prime Minister's Office and associated ministers' offices. The Human Resources Division develops and implements initiatives related to human resources modernization and organizational change within the Privy Council Office. The division consists of the following sections:

  • HR Planning and Integration Unit: This unit is responsible for: directing the development of PCO’s Strategic and Business HR Plans; the monitoring and the performance measurement frameworks and coordinating the HR component of the annual Integrated Business Plan; providing the Division’s input to key reporting documents (e.g., MAF, RPP, Corporate Risk Profile); informing senior management on the Division’s ongoing program activities and special initiatives and recommending associated strategies and action plans; coordinates the Business Planning management process and the Business cases for the Division and oversees the delivery of all activities, programs and policies outlined in the HR Business Plan. Responsible for the coordination of HR data management with the PeopleSoft Shared Services. Prepares demographic dashboards, scorecards and data reports and related analysis to advise management of trends. Provides strategic advice as it relates to HR. The unit is also responsible in planning business strategies, coordinate HR Division`s communication, information management and specific activities such as the coordination of the Public Service Employee Survey and the Development, implementation of the PCO`s Code on Values and Ethics.
  • Client Consultancy Centre:
    • General Products and Services:
      • Advice and services to management on all recruitment and staffing related activities including the Executive Group and Ministers' Offices
      • Advice and guidance to management on the application of the various HR legislations, directives, policies and guidelines
      • Participation in the development of the Integrated Business HR plans with clients
      • Coordination of labour relations and classification actions
      • Advice and guidance related to political activities
    • Labour Relations Products and Services:
      • Advice to management on labour relations issues
      • Collective agreement interpretation
      • Mediation and conflict resolution services
      • Implementation and interpretation of the PCO Policy on Prevention and Resolution of Conflict and Harassment in the Workplace
      • Administration of grievance and harassment complaint processes
      • Administration of excluded and designated positions
  • Compensation and Benefits Services Unit: This unit is responsible for: directing the development and implementation of compensation, benefits, leave, and pension services and the provision of advice to all PCO employees, exempt staff in the Prime Minister's Office, and other Ministers’ offices within PCO (i.e., Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Leader of the Government in the Senate, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons), a number of GiC appointees, employees of Royal Commissions, employees of the Security Intelligence Review Committee; and to employees in the Prime Minister’s Residence.

10.6 Executive Director (Informatics and Technical Services Division)

The Executive Director (Informatics and Technical Services) oversees the delivery of information and technical services to the Privy Council Office. The Informatics and Technical Services Division works closely with the Corporate Information Services Division to help PCO staff effectively manage departmental information and knowledge..

The division comprises the following sections:

  • Application Development and Support (ADS) - provides application development, enhancement and data support. These services are available for Treasury Board shared services and department database applications as well as custom-developed applications. The section also offers training and support to secretariat webmasters.
  • Audio Video Services (AVS) - delivers a mix of electronic information services and traditional audiovisual services to the PCO campus and parliamentary precinct. These services include:
    • Media monitoring summaries and transcripts
    • Audiovisual services (including recording conferences, speeches and events)
    • Video conferencing capabilities
    • Cable TV services.
  • Client Informatics Services (CIS) - provides department-wide desktop computing equipment, corporate software and problem resolution support through its Workstation Support and Help Desk service. This section also delivers compulsory network training to all new employees.
  • Convergence Systems and IT Security (CS & ITS) - manages IT security-related projects, communications security and the portions of infrastructure and IT security projects with direct public safety and anti-terrorism (PSAT) implications. This section also provides security hardware and services, including communications devices and systems, security alarm systems, secure video conferencing and closed-circuit television in Cabinet rooms and boardrooms.
  • Tour Support (TS) - supplies a variety of IT services to support the Prime Minister when he or she is on travel status and or delivering speeches in Canada and abroad. In many cases, this involves undertaking advance planning trips in Canada and abroad to prepare for the Prime Minister's scheduled visits. Services include:
    • Broadcast sound, lighting and recording services
    • Office and logistical support
    • Secure voice and data communications
    • Computers, facsimiles and portable radio communications.
  • Emails and Systems Management (EM) - ensures the operation and maintenance of all Privy Council Office network infrastructure (shared with Convergence Systems), server operating systems, and email and storage area network (SAN) data management. This includes the operation of IT security devices, such as secure networks, firewalls and network access.

11.0 Deputy Minister (Afghanistan Task Force)

The Deputy Minister (Afghanistan Task Force) provides advice and support to the Prime Minister on the delivery of a strategic plan to transform Canada's role in Afghanistan.

The Deputy Minister leads a 26-member Afghanistan Task Force, which is staffed by key personnel from Foreign Affairs and International Trade, National Defence, Treasury Board Secretariat, the Canadian International Development Agency, Public Safety Canada and the Privy Council Office.

The Afghanistan Task Force has a mandate to:

  • Provide strategic policy development and integration.
  • Monitor and coordinate federal government activities and operations in Afghanistan.
  • Communicate on issues relating to Afghanistan

The Task Force's work is shaped by the five key recommendations made by the Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan.

12.0 Director (Audit And Evaluation)

The Director (Audit and Evaluation) provides objective review and advice on the effectiveness of departmental management practices, governance structures, control systems and information used for decision making. He or she is accountable to the Clerk of the Privy Council.

The Audit and Evaluation Division offers consultation services to the department and plays a challenge role in the assessment of proposed departmental policy and programs. It is also engaged in the development and implementation of an integrated and comprehensive corporate risk-based audit and evaluation framework.


  1. The Communications Security Establishment (www.cse-cst.gc.ca) provides the Government with foreign intelligence and guidance on the security of government telecommunications and electronic data processing.
  2. The Privy Council Office provides support to those ministers with special responsibilities in support of the Prime Minister. Currently, these are:
    • The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister for La Francophonie
    • The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
    • The Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister of State (Seniors)
    • The Minister of State (Democratic Reform)
    • The Minister of State and Chief Government Whip