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Appendix A: Definitions

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Policy on the Management of Government Information

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Effective date

This policy takes effect May 1, 2003. It replaces the Treasury Board Management of Government Information Holdings policy. This policy will be subject to review five years from the date of its approval.


Information is a valuable asset that the Government of Canada must manage as a public trust on behalf of Canadians. Effective information management makes government program and service delivery more efficient, supports transparency, collaboration across organizations, and informed decision-making in government operations, and preserves historically valuable information.

The digital age has highlighted the importance of sound information management. The Government of Canada is increasingly using information technologies to serve Canadians and to record its business - which requires it to ensure that information collected or made available electronically must be accurate, complete, relevant, and clear, and is accessible and usable over time and through technological change. Reflecting the desire of Canadians for more responsive government, it is integrating programs and collaborating with other governments and with the private and not-for-profit sectors to improve service delivery - which requires that strong accountability frameworks be in place in situations where information is shared. Furthermore, the government must manage information to ensure that Canadians receive consistent service regardless of how they choose to obtain it - whether in-person, by telephone, through mail, or via the Internet.

Taking into account this complex environment, this policy provides direction on how federal government institutions should create, use, and preserve information to fulfill their mandates, support program and service delivery, achieve strategic priorities, and meet accountability obligations prescribed by law. It is based on the recognition that:

  • all employees are responsible for the management of information under their control and custody;
  • information management requirements must be built into program design and processes; and
  • information management is most effective in a culture that values information and adopts supportive governance and accountability structures.

Policy objective

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that information under the control of the Government of Canada is managed effectively and efficiently throughout its life cycle. Federal government institutions must manage information in a privacy protective manner that supports informed policy and decision-making and the delivery of high quality programs, services, and information through a variety of channels and in both official languages.

Policy statement

It is the policy of the Government of Canada that federal government institutions:

  1. manage information to facilitate equality of access and promote public trust, optimize information sharing and re-use, and reduce duplication, in accordance with legal and policy obligations;
  2. ensure that information created, acquired, or maintained to meet program, policy, and accountability requirements is relevant, reliable, and complete;
  3. limit the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information to the minimum required to conduct a program or service, in accordance with the Privacy Act;
  4. manage information in a manner that supports the provision of services and information in both official languages, in accordance with the Official Languages Act;
  5. manage information, regardless of its medium or format, to ensure its authenticity, accuracy, integrity, clarity, and completeness for as long as it is required by the National Archives of Canada Act, National Library of Canada Act, Access to Information Act, specific departmental statutes, and other laws and policies;
  6. document decisions and decision-making processes throughout the evolution of policies, programs, and service delivery;
  7. implement governance and accountability structures for the management of information, including during collaborative service delivery arrangements or when information is shared with other federal government institutions, other governments, or non-governmental organizations;
  8. use electronic systems as the preferred means of creating, using, and managing information;
  9. protect essential records to ensure the continuity of key services and business operations;
  10. preserve information of enduring value to the Government of Canada and to Canadians;
  11. dispose of information no longer required for operational purposes in a timely fashion;
  12. foster supportive environments for information management and ensure that employees meet their responsibilities for managing information; and
  13. assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the management of information throughout its life-cycle.


The policy applies to all institutions listed in Schedules I, I.1 and II of the Financial Administration Act (FAA).

Policy requirements

1. Enhancing public trust

To deliver programs, services, and information cost-effectively and consistent with the needs of Canadians, institutions must:

  1. ensure the quality, consistency and availability of information across delivery channels to respect Canadians' official language of choice and their preferred means of accessing information and of communicating with government;
  2. organize information to provide clarity, context, and convenient access to relevant, comprehensive, and timely information and services;
  3. re-use and share information to the greatest extent possible, in accordance with legal and policy obligations and in a manner that protects personal information and the privacy of individuals;
  4. document decisions and decision-making processes;
  5. preserve the integrity of information, particularly when it is used in collaborative endeavours with other federal government institutions, other governments, or non-governmental organizations;
  6. ensure the appropriate security, protection, and disposition of information.

2. Managing government information throughout its life cycle

To ensure the effective and efficient management of information, regardless of medium or format, throughout its life cycle, institutions must:

2.1 include information management considerations in the planning cycle to ensure that:

  1. information management requirements are incorporated at an early stage in the development of new or modified government policies, programs, services, and technology-based systems;
  2. governance and accountability structures are in place for the management of information; and
  3. opportunities for common infrastructures are maximized to optimize the interoperability of information management systems.

2.2 collect, create, receive and capture information in ways that:

  1. support service delivery, informed policy and decision making, and business, legal, and accountability requirements;
  2. ensure its relevance, reliability, and completeness;
  3. optimize its sharing and re-use, in accordance with policy and legal obligations;
  4. document decisions and decision-making processes to account for government operations, reconstruct the evolution of policies and programs, support the continuity of government and its decision-making, and allow for independent audit and review; and
  5. reduce the response burden on the public by avoiding the unnecessary collection of information.

2.3 organize, use, and disseminate information by:

  1. establishing a co-ordinated and comprehensive approach to describing the institution's information;
  2. maintaining a current and comprehensive classification structure or structures, including metadata; and
  3. providing users with timely and convenient access to information, in accordance with legal and policy obligations.

2.4 maintain, protect, and preserve information to:

  1. ensure its usability, including the usability of encrypted information, over time and through technological change;
  2. ensure that information of enduring value to the Government of Canada or to Canadians is available for current and future use;
  3. safeguard essential records; and
  4. safeguard it from improper disclosure, use, disposition or destruction, in accordance with legal and policy obligations.

2.5 ensure disposition of information by:

  1. adhering to departmental retention and disposition plans, the National Archives-approved Records Disposition Authorities, and other legal and policy obligations to ensure the timely disposition of information that is no longer required by the institution;
  2. transferring to the National Archives information it has designated as having historical value;
  3. transferring to the National Library publications that libraries of federal institutions have declared surplus; and
  4. considering its transfer to non-federal government organizations, subject to legal and policy obligations.

2.6 assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the management of information throughout its life cycle by:

  1. establishing accountability frameworks to ensure the appropriate management of information; and
  2. identifying, documenting, and reporting on specific risks, vulnerabilities, and other significant management issues and undertaking corrective action if required.

Accountability for the policy

1. Deputy heads

Responsibilities of Deputy heads include:

  1. ensuring implementation of this policy and related standards and guidelines;
  2. promoting a culture that values information and its effective management;
  3. allocating appropriate resources to support information management; and
  4. designating a senior executive to be accountable for implementing this policy and informing the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat of the appointment.

2. Senior executives designated accountable for implementation of this policy

Responsibilities of senior executives accountable for implementing this policy include:

  1. championing information management;
  2. co-ordinating the strategic planning, resourcing, and implementation of information management activities, including training and development for staff;
  3. ensuring that information management requirements are identified and addressed during program and system design;
  4. ensuring that the effectiveness of policy implementation is periodically assessed; and
  5. ensuring that information management accountability frameworks and terms of reference are in place when information is shared with other federal government institutions, other governments, or non-governmental organizations.

3. All public service employees

All public service employees are responsible for:

  1. applying information management principles, standards, and practices in the performance of their duties;
  2. documenting their activities and decisions; and
  3. identifying information requirements and issues to information management specialists and information technology personnel.

4. Information specialists

Information management specialists - including librarians, archivists, access to information and privacy officials, and records management specialists - will support information management efforts by:

  1. providing information management advice, tools, procedures, standards, and guidelines, consistent with direction provided by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, National Archives of Canada, and National Library of Canada;
  2. identifying information requirements to information technology personnel to support the development and operation of information technology processes, systems, standards, and tools; and
  3. assessing information management resource and training requirements.

5. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat has specific roles and responsibilities related to the management of information, which include:

  1. providing interpretive advice on this policy;
  2. helping federal government institutions integrate information management requirements into corporate business and information technology strategies and plans;
  3. developing and promoting, in collaboration with the National Archives of Canada, National Library of Canada, and other federal government institutions, a framework for the management of information, which includes standards, guidelines, tools, and best practices that support this policy; and
  4. representing and promoting functional communities for the management of information as required to develop and sustain information management specialist capacity and practices that support both this policy and service delivery.

6. National Archives of Canada

The National Archives of Canada has specific roles and responsibilities related to the management of information, which include:

  1. identifying, selecting, acquiring and preserving government records, in all media, considered to be of enduring value to Canada;
  2. issuing Records Disposition Authorities to enable federal government institutions to dispose of records, in all media, that no longer have operational value, by permitting their destruction (at the discretion of institutions), by requiring their transfer to the National Archives, or by agreeing to their alienation from the control of the Government of Canada;
  3. providing direction and assistance in records and information life cycle management;
  4. developing tools, standards, guidelines, and practices to support government-wide and institution-specific records and information life cycle management initiatives;
  5. serving as a leader in building records management capacity in the Government of Canada and as a credible resource on records management; and
  6. managing and protecting the less frequently referenced and the essential records of federal government institutions in a network of federal records centres across Canada.

7. National Library of Canada

The National Library of Canada has specific roles and responsibilities related to the management of published government information, which include:

  1. preserving the published heritage of the nation and of the Government of Canada;
  2. receiving for deposit all newly published information, in all formats, from federal government institutions and monitoring its deposit with the institution's library;
  3. assisting federal government institutions to ensure that all of their published information is easily accessible to decision-makers and available to the public;
  4. monitoring the management of published information produced by federal government institutions, and reporting and advising on its long-term access and preservation;
  5. managing a system of redistribution of library information declared surplus by libraries of federal government institutions; and
  6. co-ordinating the library services of federal government institutions.

8. Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada ensures the integrity of the national statistical system by:

  1. collaborating with and providing assistance to federal government institutions in the collection, compilation, analysis, and publication of statistical information, including statistics derived from the activities of these institutions; and
  2. recognizing and addressing opportunities to avoid duplication in statistical collection across the Government of Canada.


According to the Treasury Board Active Monitoring Policy, federal government institutions are responsible for ensuring that their programs and activities are well managed. To this end, they must actively monitor management practices and controls, take remedial action where significant deficiencies are encountered or improvements are needed, and inform the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat of significant management concerns in a timely manner. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is responsible for actively monitoring the overall situation to maintain an ongoing awareness of the state of management practices and controls across government, and for supporting federal government institutions in addressing specific risks, vulnerabilities, control deficiencies, and other significant management issues.

Treasury Board has issued the Evaluation Policy and the Policy on Internal Audit. These policies require federal government institutions to develop evaluation plans and internal audit plans on the basis of assessed risk. Within this context, evaluation and internal audit planning should take into account the management of valuable information resources, so that government institutions can assess and report on their ability to implement the requirements of this policy. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat may periodically communicate to federal government institutions its own priorities regarding this policy, for consideration in institution-specific risk assessment.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will use the internal audit and evaluation reports to supplement their monitoring of compliance with this policy, effectiveness of its implementation, and its impact on federal government institutions.

The National Archives of Canada and National Library of Canada also have monitoring responsibilities with respect to this policy. These institutions will periodically communicate their findings on the state of information management to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and help it identify and resolve significant issues as they emerge.


This policy should be read in conjunction with relevant authorities and Treasury Board policies.

1. Authorities

Financial Administration Act (FAA)

This policy is issued under the authority of section 7 of the FAA.

National Archives of Canada Act

National Library of Canada Act

2. Relevant Legislation

Access to Information Act

Canada Evidence Act

Copyright Act

Criminal Records Act

Emergency Preparedness Act

National Archives of Canada Act

National Library of Canada Act

Official Languages Act

Official Secrets Act

Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act

Privacy Act

Statistics Act

3. Related Treasury Board of Canada Policies

Access to Information

Accommodation for Employees with Disabilities

Active Monitoring

Common Look and Feel for the Internet: Standards and Guidelines

Common Services


Cost Recovery and Charging

Data Matching

Electronic Authorization and Authentication

Enhanced Management Framework


Government Security

Internal Audit

Management of Information Technology

Policy, Guidelines and Standards for Public Key Infrastructure Management

Policy on using the Official Languages on Electronic Networks and other official languages policies

Privacy and Data Protection

Privacy Impact Assessment


Enquiries should be directed to the Information Policy Division of the Chief Information Officer Branch of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Appendix A: Definitions

The definitions in this appendix pertain to terms used in the policy and to other terms that, though not in the policy, will facilitate understanding of its requirements.

Information management (Discipline de la gestion de l'information): a discipline that directs and supports effective and efficient management of information in an organization, from planning and systems development to disposal and/or long-term preservation.

Management of information (Gestion de l'information): is an element of every job function in the Government of Canada that has to do with treating the information used or produced in the course of performing job duties as a strategic business resource and in line with legal and policy requirements.

Government information (Information gouvernementale): information created, received, used, and maintained regardless of physical form, and information prepared for or produced by the Government of Canada and deemed to be under its control in the conduct of government activities or in pursuance of legal obligations.

Related terms under the umbrella term Government Information are as follows:

Records (Documents): Includes any correspondence, memorandum, book, plan, map, drawing, diagram, pictorial or graphic work, photograph, film, microform, sound recording, videotape, machine readable record, and any other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, and any copy thereof (National Archives of Canada Act; Access to Information Act)

Essential records (Documents essentiels): Records essential to continuing or re-establishing critical institutional functions; examples include records that:

  • Affect the basic, legal, property, and other rights of individuals and corporate bodies;
  • Have the greatest use and demand;
  • Would require an inordinate commitment in terms of time, money, and labour if the records themselves and the systems have to be reconstructed;
  • Are common to those selected by other government institutions as part of their essential records program; and
  • Are required to be maintained by law or regulation

(Protecting Essential Records: A Short Guide for Government Institutions, IM Forum, 2001)

Published information (Matériel publié): For the purposes of this policy, published material is library matter of every kind, nature, and description resulting from the act of publishing and released for public distribution or sale. Publications include material such as books, maps, periodicals, documents, working or discussion papers, audio or video recordings, online/networked publications (both static and dynamic), and compact discs. Publications can be in any format on or in which information is written, recorded, stored or reproduced. The National Library provides guidance on which documents on a government Internet site will be considered to be "books" for the purposes of the National Library Act.

Life cycle (Cycle de vie): The life cycle of information management encompasses the following: planning; the collection, creation, receipt, and capture of information; its organization, use and dissemination; its maintenance, protection and preservation; its disposition; and evaluation.


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