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Video: The Management Accountability Framework

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Transcript – The Management Accountability Framework

Chapter 1 – Introduction, Vision and Objectives of the MAF

Narrator: The fundamental objectives of every public sector manager should be to deliver results for all Canadians...while continually striving for management excellence.

In Canada, the Treasury Board is the management board of the federal government...making sure that strong management practices are in place across the entire public service.

One way it does this is via something called the Management Accountability Framework or "MAF"...and MAF is what we're going to explore over the next 15 minutes.

Think of MAF as a tool to guide managers on the path to management excellence. MAF defines the conditions that need to be in place to ensure that government is well-managed and able to meet the needs of its citizens.

Michelle d'Auray, Secretary of the Treasury Board, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: So it does give us a read across the government of: "Are effective controls in place for financial management, for human resources management? And the controls are there to achieve objectives, so they're a means to an end. It's not just to see, are people complying with this, but are they complying in order to be the best managers of the public good, of the public funds as possible.

Narrator: MAF has three primary objectives:

  1. to promote continual management improvement;
  2. to provide a comprehensive perspective, or a bird's eye view, of the state of management practices across government; and
  3. to identify government-wide trends so that deputy heads can address key priorities in their organizations.

So... how exactly does MAF work? And how is it being used by managers to improve the quality of management in their departments and agencies?

Let's find out...

Chapter 2 – The Elements of MAF

This is the Management Accountability Framework.

Think of it as a map setting out a route from goals to successful program delivery.

These two red boxes portray our overarching goal – to translate the priorities and strategic directions of government into results for Canadians.

To achieve this, the governance and planning processes of every government organization must be aligned to overall government priorities, with managers putting performance information to work so that results can be achieved cost-effectively.

Quality performance information – especially program evaluation data – is critical to making sure decisions about program and service improvements are properly informed and proactive.

The blue rectangles here and here correspond to each organization's values and culture...which together set the tone for the way an organization and its staff conduct themselves.

This top box represents public service values... the values that guide every public servant. These values are: respect for democracy; respect for people; integrity; stewardship; and excellence.

The blue box on the bottom emphasizes the importance of constantly learning, innovating and adapting to what we all know is a continually-changing environment.

So ... what we've learned is that these four boxes define our reality: a focus on results, informed by strategic directions; the importance of public sector values; and the need to continuously learn, innovate and adapt to change.

Ross MacLeod, Assistant Deputy Minister, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: I think the true elegance of MAF lies in the fact that it can be a high concept in terms of how we actually do management for the government and for federal government organizations. At the same time it matches up very well with very fine level measurement showing us on a year to year basis how organizations are doing.

What it does masterfully is bring together the two concepts: One where you have to pay attention to all your dials as a manager, while at the same time understanding the big drivers of management excellence including people management, values and ethics, stewardship and so on...

It does it all in one package.

Narrator: Let's take a look at the inner boxes. They represent the activities and management practices that allow organizations to deliver results. These green boxes represent the sound management of people, finances and assets. And these yellow ones examine the quality of policies, programs and services that directly impact the lives of Canadians.

We'll start with the green boxes...


Does the department have the staff, work environment and leadership to deliver on its priorities? There are many ways to assess this...for example, by asking questions, like:

Have I hired the right people and created conditions for them to excel?

Have I done everything I can to foster strong employee engagement?

Am I leading by example?

The stewardship, risk management and accountability boxes deal with aspects of managing public funds: particularly, that funds be managed prudently and that an integrated control regime is in place to ensure sound stewardship of money and assets.

This includes making sure that effective management practices and controls exist in areas such as financial management, procurement, information management, information technology and security.

In a world of change and uncertainty, proactive risk management is critical. We expect managers to identify risks that may impact their ability to meet objectives, and to set up measures to mitigate them.

Effective risk management must be an integral part of all strategic and operational planning. Really, being able to integrate risk management as part of our everyday processes really makes a difference.

Accountability for results suggests that responsibilities are clearly assigned and are consistent with the organization's resources. It also suggests that resources and authority delegations are at the appropriate level for the department or the individuals in the department.

These last two yellow components represent the quality of the policies, programs and services that directly impact Canadians. On an ongoing basis, every department should verify that their programs and services are efficient, effective and provide value for money.

And every organization should have formalized practices in place to identify service improvement priorities and to monitor performance in meeting service standards.

So there you have it... MAF dissected. Now let's take a look at how it's applied.

Chapter 3 – The MAF Process

When you put all the boxes together and step back, it becomes obvious that what MAF actually a frame that surrounds a vision for management excellence.

Paule Labbé, Executive Director, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: A lot of people talk about the MAF, and when they talk about the MAF, they're talking about the assessment process, the annual assessment process which results in sort of an annual report to the deputy heads about the management practices in their departments.

Narrator: But there's another component to the MAF which is the vision for good management, which is really something that every single manager within the public service could use as a tool to help them look at their management practices and ensure that they have the key elements in place.

Governments are large organizations with complex systems. Clearly, robust management practices in finances, human resources and other internal services are critical to their success.

So performance needs not only to be guided, but regularly assessed. Which brings us to the yearly MAF assessment process. Its objectives are to:

  • find out how well departments and agencies are complying with management policies and meeting the expectations of the Treasury Board Secretariat;
  • promote an ongoing dialogue between departments and the Treasury Board Secretariat to enable continuous improvement; and
  • assess the management performance of deputy heads.

Here's how it works...

Each year, the Treasury Board Secretariat asks departments and agencies a number of questions about the state of their management practices in areas like people management, financial management, internal audit, procurement, and risk management.

Criteria used to assess the performance of each organization are aligned with policy expectations, as well as other guidance provided by the Treasury Board.

So MAF is really a "single window" tool used to collect and analyze information related to many policies, directives and standards.

Nisa Mairi Tummon, Director, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: What we really want coming out of the document is a prioritization of the key risks they have...

Narrator: Assessment criteria are reviewed each year and adjusted to reflect the maturity of departmental practices.

Departments and agencies must provide documentary evidence of the state of their management practices against these criteria. This documentary evidence is then reviewed by individuals within the centres of expertise in the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Each is an expert in his or her field. For example, evidence related to financial management or internal audit is reviewed by the Office of the Comptroller General of Canada.

Alfred Tsang, Chief Financial Officer, Human Resources and Skill Development Canada: Well, for a department that spends over a hundred billion dollars, we want different views. We have lots of internal views from our own staff, from our internal audits, etc. So an external view adds that external dimension that we do not have in house. So that's important.

Narrator: A report card, including a rating for every area assessed, is then provided to each department. This report card gives deputy heads important information about how their department can improve.

François Guimont, Deputy Minister, Public Works and Government Services Canada: So someone is telling you: "You know what? We've looked at your organization against these activities or parameters within the MAF and we believe that you've got some issues in certain areas."

And it's expressed through a colour quite simply which, again, we very naturally align with.

So red tells you something, and blue is nirvana I suppose, and yellow is a bit of a watching light, and green is good stuff.

So I find the tool in that sense to be simple to use...and conveys very clear images as to where one should be focussing, quite simply.

Narrator: Departments can provide feedback on a draft of the report card before it's finalized by the Treasury Board Secretariat.

All MAF assessments are made available to the public via the internet at the end of the process.

So to summarize...the annual MAF assessment is based on a rigorous evidence-based process that provides a useful snapshot to departments of the state of their management practices.

Chapter 4 – How Are MAF Results Being Used?

We've seen how the vision of management excellence behind MAF is used to assess the performance of individual departments and agencies.

First and foremost, deputy heads and senior department officials use MAF assessment results:

  • to support and improve management accountabilities and performance; and
  • to identify areas within their organization that are already performing well, or which require more attention.

But MAF results are also being used by other stakeholders to improve the overall performance of government. Departmental functional communities and experts use MAF results to work interdepartmentally in order to share best practices and strengthen capacity across organizations.

Since the MAF assessment tool uses a common set of criteria, it has become a powerful platform that allows departments to learn from one another about what works, what doesn't, and how to address deficiencies.

Kiran Hanspal, Director General, Natural Resources Canada: We look at what the best practices are out there and through that I think all the departments are being mobilized; all of them presumably are having their dialogue.

We talk to each other, for example I talk to the HR community to see what they're doing to renew their organizations, what they're doing in terms of talent management.

Narrator: The results from the MAF assessments are also being used by the Treasury Board Secretariat to:

  • gain a comprehensive perspective on the state of management practices and challenges in the federal government; and
  • identify barriers and best practices to improve government-wide performance.

The Privy Council Office also uses MAF results as an input for the annual performance management program for deputy heads.

So, the performance of every deputy head as it relates to the quality of their organization's management has become a core component of their individual performance assessment.

The Management Accountability Framework has acted as a catalyst for change and has contributed to an overall improvement in management practices across the federal government.

Michelle d'Auray, Secretary of the Treasury Board, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: The federal government is a huge organization. So is there always room for improvement? Absolutely!

But in terms of attention paid and where Canada rates if you compare in terms of management practices in the world?

Whether it gives Canadians a sense of comfort, it gives us a sense of accomplishment of having become recognized as a government that ranks among one of the top in the world, for its management practices.


Narrator: MAF is a tool...a very powerful one that federal departments and agencies have adopted to improve the quality of their management...which in turn supports the delivery of effective programs and services to all Canadians.

But of course, it's much more than a tool. If you stand back a bit, you'll see that it's really a vision of management excellence with direct, personal relevance for every public service manager.

The Management Accountability Framework has had a significant impact in improving the management practices of federal organizations...and it will continue to evolve, to meet the changing circumstances of the federal public service.

Thanks for watching.

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