Treasury Board Submissions Overview

There are multiple stakeholders in each phase of the Treasury Board (TB) submission process, and no two submissions are identical.

This overview covers drafting and seeking advice and approvals, consultation with various stakeholders, the different types of submissions, and timelines. The details of the three phases of the TB submissions process are presented, as well as information about Governor in Council submissions.

Table of Contents

The Treasury Board Submission

A TB submission is an official Cabinet document seeking specific authorities or approvals from the Treasury Board, usually to authorize the implementation of a program or project or to execute a major procurement in support of government operations. Without a TB submission, a sponsoring minister (or ministers) would not otherwise be able to undertake the proposed initiative, as it would be outside the minister’s authorities.

Objective of the TB Submission Process

The objective of the TB submission process is to ensure that initiatives are aligned with Government of Canada priorities and that they are designed, implemented and delivered to realize their intended results, while achieving value for money. This contributes to a government that is well-managed, efficient and accountable, and whose resources are allocated to achieve desired results. Submissions also provide valuable insight into an organization’s activities, help to ensure that both existing and new resources are aligned to current priorities, and contribute to the assessment of its management performance by the Treasury Board and the Secretariat.

TB submissions are the result of interaction between the sponsoring government organization and the Secretariat. A TB submission transforms policy objectives previously approved by another Cabinet committee into an initiative that will achieve those objectives. A submission details the following, for example:

  • How the initiative will be carried out;
  • What efforts were made to minimize costs and make full use of existing resources;
  • Why the proposed method of implementation is the best one in relation to others;
  • How the proposal contributes to government-wide goals such as value for money, accountability, transparency and interoperability of systems for exchanging information;
  • What lessons learned from previous experiences were used in designing the initiative;
  • What the expected outcomes and deliverables of the initiative are, and how they relate to the organization’s management, resources and results structure;
  • What the results of related initiatives have been;
  • How critical risks associated with implementing the proposal will be managed;
  • How performance will be monitored and evaluated to ensure that the initiative is meeting its policy objectives;
  • What procurement strategy was adopted for this initiative; and
  • How the procurement was conducted, and how it meets the various Treasury Board policy requirements.

Legislation, Treasury Board policies or previous Cabinet decisions provide direction as to when Treasury Board approval is required. Here is a list of the most frequent types of authorities sought from the Treasury Board:

  • To allocate resources previously approved by another Cabinet committee or included in a federal budget;
  • To make a grant or contribution;
  • To enter into a contract when the contract value exceeds departmental contracting approval limits;
  • To carry out an initiative exceeding a minister’s existing authority;
  • To be exempted from a Treasury Board policy or to seek an exception to a Treasury Board directive;
  • To obtain approval of a business plan, an investment plan, a Crown corporation corporate plan or operating and capital budgets; and
  • To recommend approval of an order-in-council.

All authorities or approvals required for a particular initiative should be presented in one submission. For greater efficiency and in consultation with the Secretariat, consideration should be given to including related initiatives in a single submission.

The following types of submissions may be advanced by the Secretariat as a department:

  • To approve a new policy or to rescind or amend an existing policy; and
  • To delegate an authority to the President, the Secretary or other senior officials at the Secretariat under a Treasury Board policy.

Detailed Guidance for Writers provides a summary of expectations for each section of the Treasury Board Submission Form.

Working with the secretariat towards a higher quality TB submission

The Secretariat guides and supports organizations during all three phases of a TB submission, as shown in Figure 1. These phases include activities that take place before submission, during the submission process and after submission to the Treasury Board.

Figure 1: The Treasury Board Submission Process
Chart of the Treasury Board Submission Process. Text version below:
Figure 1 - Text version

This chart shows the sequence of a Treasury Board submission as it proceeds from the federal organization sponsoring it, moves to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (the Secretariat) and ultimately reaches the Treasury Board. The steps in this process are shown in three stages: the pre-submission stage, the submission stage and the post-submission stage.

In the pre-submission stage, the federal organization consults with the Secretariat and seeks pre-submission guidance as it begins to draft the submission.

During the submission stage, the sponsoring organization and the Secretariat continue to consult on the draft submission, and the Secretariat begins its due diligence review. The sponsoring organization submits the final submission. The Secretariat continues its due diligence review, including an examination by its strategy committee. The Secretariat provides its advice and briefing to the ministers of the Treasury Board. The Treasury Board then makes a decision on the submission for the sponsoring organization to carry it out.

In the post-submission stage, the Secretariat documents and communicates the Treasury Board’s decision and tracks the meeting of any conditions associated with it.

The program sectors are the single window into the Secretariat for government organizations wishing to conduct Treasury Board business. Early and regular consultation with the related program sector on the organization’s upcoming Cabinet and Treasury Board business is essential to developing a high-quality TB submission.

The Secretariat suggests an annual overview meeting at the deputy head and ADM level to set the stage for upcoming Treasury Board business, with monthly meetings at the working level to discuss progress and share new information as it becomes available. The sooner the program sector is aware of organizational priorities, issues and concerns, and potential problematic files, the sooner actions and solutions can be implemented. Early involvement will ensure that the most appropriate approach is taken to seek Treasury Board approval, as required.

Staff in an organization’s corporate services or chief financial officer branch typically contact the Secretariat during the early stages of submission planning and development, even before the draft of the TB submission has started. It is important to develop and maintain a good working relationship with the Secretariat’s program sector. Maintaining contact and providing timely responses to the program sector will help ensure a high-quality and timely TB Submission and presentation.

Service and Quality Standards to Support TB Submission Reviews

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (Secretariat) is implementing new service standards for its review of Treasury Board (TB) submissions. These service standards are accompanied by new quality standards for incoming submissions. Taken together, the new standards will support the shared goal of developing and reviewing quality TB submissions in a timely manner. They will also facilitate planning for federal organizations and the Secretariat by strengthening the content of TB submissions and supporting a clear and consistent approach to their review.

Prior to submitting a TB submission to the Secretariat, organizations are to confirm through a senior official that specific quality criteria have been met and that the submission is ready for review.

Early engagement with program sectors to discuss planned submissions is highly recommended and will assist organizations in preparing TB submissions that meet the quality standards.

Figure 2: Logic Model for the Treasury Board Submission Process
Logic Model for the Treasury Board Submission Process. Text version below:
Figure 2 - Text version

This graphic begins with the ultimate outcome of the Treasury Board submission process, which is to contribute to a government that is well-managed and accountable and whose resources are allocated to achieve results.

This ultimate outcome is supported by the long-term outcome of government programs that are designed, implemented and delivered to achieve intended results and that are aligned with Cabinet policy authorities.

The graphic then displays four levels of interactions or streams that support these outcomes, each level feeding into the next. The first level after the long-term outcome is the intermediate outcome. It is supported by the immediate outcome, which is turn is supported by outputs. The final level comprises activities, which feed directly into the outputs level.

There are three intermediate outcomes. Each is described in terms of the immediate outcome, outputs and activities that feed into it.

The first intermediate outcome is that deputy heads and ministers provide quality Treasury Board submissions that meet the information needs of Treasury Board ministers. It is supported by two streams:

  • First, the activities of building awareness and educating lead to a class of outputs consisting of Treasury Board submission guidance, policy and program tools, and outreach. In turn, these outputs support an immediate outcome of increased understanding of Treasury Board submission requirements by organizations.
  • Second, the activity of providing analysis, due diligence and advice leads to a group of outputs consisting of advice to organizations on legislation, policies, Treasury Board direction and other issues affecting them. In turn, these outputs support an immediate outcome of Treasury Board submissions that are coherent and timely; consistent with legislation, policy authorities and Treasury Board direction; and mindful of associated risks.

The second intermediate outcome is that the Treasury Board makes decisions informed by coherent and timely advice from the Secretariat. It is supported by the following stream:

  • The activity of providing analysis, due diligence and advice leads to the outputs of advice to Treasury Board ministers on proposals submitted by organizations, their context and risk mitigation strategies. In turn, these outputs lead to an immediate outcome of Treasury Board ministers receiving coherent and timely advice that is consistent with legislation and policy authorities, and mindful of associated risks.

The third intermediate outcome is that federal organizations design and implement programs consistent with Treasury Board direction. It is supported by the following stream:

  • The activities that involve documenting, communicating and following up on Treasury Board decisions lead to outputs of decision letters, transmittals and other communications. In turn, these outputs support an immediate outcome of mechanisms that are in place to explain Treasury Board decisions.
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