Information Management in a Minister's Office

Issue

Information resources in a minister's office must be managed according to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's (TBS) Policy on Information Management.

Context

While ministers' offices are not government institutions in and of themselves, nor are they part of a government institution, the Policies for Ministers' Offices stipulate that they are subject to Treasury Board policies and regulations, unless specifically exempted. As such, the TBS Policy on Information Management and its various supporting policy instruments, such as the Directive on Recordkeeping and the Standard on Email Management, must be implemented in these offices.

Guidance

While the language in the Policy on Information Management and its supporting instruments is directed at deputy heads and/or information management senior officials, ministers must review the requirements for each and develop processes and mechanisms to attain the expected results. These activities facilitate efficient and effective information management in supporting program and service delivery, foster informed decision making, and facilitate accountability, transparency, and collaboration.

Note: Similar to agents of Parliament, ministers are solely responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with information management policy instruments within their office, as well as for responding to cases of non-compliance.

Categories of Information

Ministers will usually have information in their offices that fall into four general categories: Cabinet documents, institutional records, ministerial records (as defined in section 2 of the Library and Archives of Canada Act), and personal and political records. Each of these categories has its own set of considerations under the Access to Information Act, the Privacy Act and the Canada Evidence Act.  Ministers must ensure that Cabinet documents, institutional records, ministerial records, and personal and political records are each maintained separately. Advice on this subject can be obtained from Library and Archives Canada's Guidelines for Managing Recorded Information in a Minister's Office (PDF 142.29 KB).

1. Cabinet Documents

Special precautions must be taken to guarantee the security of Cabinet documents in accordance with procedures established by the Privy Council Office on the Prime Minister's behalf. Most importantly, when a Cabinet item has been dealt with, the associated Cabinet documents must be returned to the Privy Council Office. Successive prime ministers have also agreed that the Clerk of the Privy Council will work with deputy ministers, and will ensure that Confidences of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada contained in records left in government custody by Cabinet ministers will be protected from access by successive governments.

2. Institutional Records

Institutional records in the office of a minister must be managed according to the Directive on Recordkeeping. As per Multi-Institutional Disposition Authority No. 96/021, records in all media (e.g., paper, electronic, photographic, cartographic) under the control of an institution in a minister's office, and which have historic or archival value, are required to be transferred to the care and control of Library and Archives Canada, with few exceptions.

3. Ministerial Records

Ministerial records must be transferred from the office of the minister to Library and Archives Canada in accordance with schedules approved by the Librarian and Archivist of Canada. Ministers can obtain advice from their deputy ministers about this matter.

4. Personal and Political Records

Upon leaving office, ministers may avail themselves of secure storage facilities and archival services offered by Library and Archives Canada for their personal and political papers.

Records in a minister's office may be subject to the Access to Information Act.  Advice and assistance on the applicability of the Access to Information Act is available from the departmental Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator.

Ministers must provide for the proper processing, handling, storage, and, where appropriate, disposal of classified and other sensitive information in their offices, no matter the category of information. Advice and assistance on meeting government-wide standards for physical and electronic information security is available from the departmental security officer.

Email and Instant Messages

Under the Policy on Information Management, information resources, including emails and instant messages or texts, must be managed in the same way as paper information resources. Further details on the management of email in a minister's offices can be found in the Standard on Email Management.

Further Information

Information Management Division
Chief Information Officer Branch
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
8th Floor, 270 Albert Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0R5

Email: im-gi@tbs-sct.gc.ca
Toll-free: 1-877-636-0656
Fax: 613-946-9342
TTY: 613-957-9090 (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat)

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