Common Services Policy



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Common Services Policy


(Publié aussi en français sous le titre Politique sur les services communs)

Table of Contents

Common Services Policy 1

1. Preface 2

1.1 A more efficient and responsive public service 2

1.2 Responding to a new environment 2

1.3 Choice and competition 3

1.4 Mandatory service reviews 4

2. Policy objective 4

3. Policy statement 4

4. Application 4

5. Policy requirements 4

5.1 Use of mandatory services 4

5.2 Flexibility and delegation of authority 4

5.3 Compliance with policies and standards 5

5.4 Proposals for changes in status 5

5.5 Exemptions from this policy 5

5.6 Funding of common services provided by CSOs 5

5.7 Services to Crown corporations and non federal organizations 6

5.8 Authority to compete 6

6. Responsibilities 6

7. Definitions 6

8. References 7

8.1 Authority 7

8.2 Legislation 7

8.3 Treasury Board publications 7

8.4 Cancellation 8

9. Enquiries 8

Appendix A – Accountability Framework 9

1. Introduction 9

2. Common service organizations 9

3. Federal departments 10

4. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat 11

Appendix B – Common Service Organizations of the Government of Canada 13

Appendix C – Guidelines on Implementation and Best Practices 14

1. Use of optional services and services made optional through delegation 14

2. Delegation of authority 14

3. Costing common services 14

4. Cross subsidization 14

5. Changes to common services 15

6. Service to Crown corporations and non federal organizations 15

7. Appeal and redress 15

8. Performance management 15

9. Competition 16

10. Systems development 16

11. Environmental stewardship 17

Appendix D – Assessment Framework for Reviews of Mandatory Services 18

1. Level of service requirement 18

2. Service delivery arrangements 18

3. Quality management and innovation 19

4. Economy and good management 19

5. Costs and benefits 19

6. Risk assessment 19

7. Integrity of procurement 20

8. Effect on small departments 20

9. External perspectives 20

10. Business case 20

11. Legislation 20

12. Government wide objectives 20

13. Overriding reason 20

Appendix E – Mandatory Services 21

1. Introduction 21

2. Foreign Affairs Canada+ 21

3. Health Canada 22

4. Justice Canada 22

5. Public Works and Government Services Canada 23

6. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat 32

Appendix F – Optional Services 34

1. Introduction 34

3. Foreign Affairs Canada 36

4. Public Service Commission of Canada 37

5. Public Works and Government Services Canada 38

6. Canadian General Standards Board 48

7. Consulting and Audit Canada 48

8. Translation Bureau 50

9. Statistics Canada 51




1. Preface

1.1 A more efficient and responsive public service


The Common Services Policy sets a strategic direction and provides authority to reform administrative management and the role of common service organizations (CSO) to create a more streamlined, efficient, and responsive Public Service.

The government’s White Paper on Public Service 2000, “The Renewal of the Public Service of Canada” (December 1990), describes the need for fundamental changes in the structure and management of the Public Service. These changes are necessary to equip federal public service employees for the 21st century and to enable them to function effectively in the context of continuing restraint.

The white paper sets clear directions for the provision of common services to assist program delivery:

The government will make optional as many common services as possible, maintaining mandatory services only where there is an overriding reason. To this end, the Treasury Board will review all mandatory common services to determine how they can become optional in a cost effective manner.

Changes in the regimes for administrative policies and common services offer clear potential for streamlining, saving time and money, and giving more choice and flexibility to line managers. The white paper states the following:



With respect to administrative policies, central agencies, common service agencies, and departments will be expected to:

  • delegate authority as close as possible to the levels in the organization delivering the services to clients;

  • deregulate policies to ensure that managers and employees have more authority to provide services and be accountable for their performance; and

  • assist managers to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to use this increased authority.

1.2 Responding to a new environment


The government has used CSOs to obtain advantages from economies of scale and to seek benefits from the pooling of specialized expertise. In some instances, CSOs offer the convenience of one stop shopping for departments and a single window to the government for private contractors. In other instances, CSOs provide government wide repositories of information or offer the potential of fulfilling other government objectives.

These benefits must be weighed against other considerations in the current environment, such as the global costs of central supply; the widespread use of information technology in administration, purchasing, and communications; and the existence of a highly competitive and accessible marketplace.

As the demand increases for more streamlined, responsive, and cost effective government operations, it may sometimes be more efficient for clients to have access to alternative sources of supply, including dealing directly with private sector suppliers.

1.3 Choice and competition


Optional services are based upon the dual principles of user choice and user pay. There are strong incentives for managers to be fiscally responsible when they have choice over the acquisition of goods and services and when costs are visible and billed directly to their operating budgets. Such an environment promotes quality management practices and accountability for operating efficiently among line departments. It gives them greater control and flexibility over the costs of their operation to best carry out their mission of service to the public.

Giving departments and agencies increased choice in how to meet their requirements promotes innovation and successful program delivery, particularly with respect to addressing unique mandates and operational requirements or to capitalizing on new opportunities.

Choice for line departments creates a competitive environment for CSOs. In a competitive environment, where CSOs operate on cost recovery, market pressures cause the CSOs to focus on customer service, providing quality goods and services on time, and pricing competitively. This allows them to retain market share and operate a viable service organization. The CSOs have a natural interest in operating efficiently and being innovative in service delivery in order to remain viable and satisfy customer requirements. Such an environment contributes to increased opportunities for commercial suppliers to serve government where this provides best value and generally promotes more efficient and less costly government operations.

The philosophy promoted by this policy reflects international trends in the public and private sectors.

This policy is based on managers exercising sound judgment and authority, managing risk, and assuming clear accountability for their performance and results. It provides an accountability framework consistent with these expectations. Included is an accountability of departments to negotiate delegation instruments with CSOs or to seek exemptions from Treasury Board policies when these would better support the achievement of policy objectives.

1.4 Mandatory service reviews


The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and CSOs will use the principles set out in this policy to conduct an intensive review of the mandatory services listed in Appendix E. Departments will be consulted about these reviews.

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