Rescinded [2014-01-06] - Travel Approval Guidelines For Deputy Ministers And Heads Of Agencies, Boards And Commissions (Deputy Heads)- November 2010

guideline on the administration of travel requests where the Deputy Head is the traveling employee.
Date modified: 2011-05-26

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The purpose of this document is to provide guidance with respect to the administration of travel requests where the Deputy Head is the travelling employee.


Over the last fiscal year we have received a number of enquiries from departments concerning internal control processes covering approvals and payments of Deputy Head travel expenses. 

Under the Privy Council Office Terms and Conditions of Employment for Full-time Governor-in-Council Appointees, most Governor-in-Council appointees are subject to the Treasury Board Special Travel Authorities and the National Joint Council (NJC) Travel Directive.

In particular, the NJC Travel Directive requires that a) all travel be approved by the employer's representative, b) that travel be approved before it is undertaken and c) that the approval be in writing.  Furthermore, this Directive requires that travel be approved by someone other than the travelling employee.  This is reinforced by the Treasury Board Directive on Delegation of Financial Authorities for Disbursements which directs that persons with delegated authority, which includes Deputy Heads, can not exercise financial authorities for expenditures "from which they can directly or indirectly benefit". If travel is not properly authorized, the travelling employee may not benefit from all insurance coverage that is provided to those who travel on government business (i.e., Appendix A of the NJC Travel Directive).

Normally, it is the supervisor of a travelling employee who approves the travel for the employee. Given the unique status of Deputy Heads, who are appointed directly by the Governor-in-Council, the "supervisor" model of travel approval is not readily applicable to Deputy Heads.


Deputy Heads should establish a third party mechanism for the approval of their own travel. The Treasury Board Secretariat recommends that a "Designated Officer" within the Deputy Head's organization be given the responsibility by the Deputy Head to ensure that the Deputy Head's travel is managed and accounted in a manner consistent with the Directive on Delegation on Financial Authorities for Disbursements, the NJC Travel Directive and the Special Travel Authorities.

It is also recommended that the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) be identified as the Designated Officer within the organization to sign-off on all travel requests for which the Deputy Head is the travelling employee.  The Designated Officer should only sign-off on a travel request if the request is in accordance with legislation and policy instruments.

It should be noted that travel is approved at several stages for travelling employees, which includes deputy heads:

  1. when travel is initially authorized (i.e., expenditure initiation).  The NJC Travel Directive allows for two types of initial travel authorization: authorization by individual trip or by blanket travel.  Blanket travel authorization can be provided where travel is continuous or repetitive in nature and it is not practical or efficient to approve individual trips;
  2. when funds for the travel are committed under Section 32 of the Financial Administration Act (FAA);
  3. if and when advances are provided to the employee—i.e., verification and certification under Sections 34 and 33 of the FAA; and
  4. when the travelling employee submits necessary supporting documents of actual travel expenditures through a travel claim which require verification and possibly certifications under Sections 34 and 33 of the FAA. 

In all cases, it is recommended that departments establish formal written policies or procedures for approval and payment of Deputy Head travel expenses. 

Questions related to these guidelines should be referred to Tom Bezanson at 613-952-3215, Financial Management Sector, Office of the Comptroller General.

Questions about either the NJC Travel Directive and/or the Special Travel Authorities must be directed to your Designated Departmental Travel Coordinator who will communicate directly, if necessary, with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Senior Program and Policy Analyst for travel.

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