The Role of Management Boards in the Public Sector – Discussion Paper
In the public sector, terminology is not always a reliable indicator of function, and the term “board” can refer to a range of very different entities. This is true even within a single jurisdiction. For example, the Government of Canada includes a number of organizations whose title includes the term “board” in a sense different from that used in this paper – referring variously to administrative tribunals (the Immigration and Refugee Board), organizations with a regulatory mandate (the National Energy Board), investigative and advisory bodies (the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Board), operational agencies (the National Film Board) and organizations mandated to manage public monies (the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which in turn has a board of directors). Neither is the term a guide to organizational form – a “board” may be anything from a ministerial department to a statutory agency, a departmental corporation or a Crown corporation. The situation is comparable at the provincial level.
This paper is concerned with boards of directors mandated to oversee the management of public sector organizations. In the private sector, such boards are a characteristic feature of corporate governance. This is also true in the Government of Canada, where management boards are part of the governance framework of Crown corporations and a number of so-called departmental corporations, though not elsewhere. In the Government of Ontario, by contrast, management boards are used in a broader swath of organizations.