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Canada's first and only certificate in public sector program leadership focuses on large, complex efforts that include the delivery of multiple project elements. Leaders learn how to use structure and practices to strategically guide their programs, and how to provide senior-level oversight and context.

Registration and launch dates extended.

The Institute on Governance’s public sector Certificate in Program Leadership (CPL) is for executives, senior and middle level program managers and senior officers who want to gain the skills and tools to deliver large, complex government programs strategically in a changing government environment.

The CPL builds upon the Institute’s 6-year track record of public sector leadership and capacity building, and is prepared and delivered with support from the Dalhousie School of Public Management.

Participants work and are tested throughout the program to earn an IOG Certificate in Program Leadership that acknowledges their skills and knowledge.

Launch Dates

Cohort 2—Ottawa

Program Launch: January 8th, 2019
Nomination Deadline: December 18th, 2018

Cohort 1—Toronto

Program Launch: January 10th, 2019
Nomination Deadline: December 18th, 2018

Why a Certificate in Program Leadership?

The government’s Policy on Results tasks deputy heads with ensuring that departments have in place the capacity to deliver results for major programs in their Program Inventory. And in a public sector, digitally-enabled world of rapid change, ambiguity and risk, how should success be measured?

The CPL focuses on large, complex efforts that include the delivery of multiple program elements. These elements include central agency requirements, new and changed business models, increased expectations by citizens, demands by political leaders for results, and overall changes to public service structure and capabilities.

Executives, senior and middle level program managers and senior officers who run complex programs need to ensure that priorities are delivered on time, on budget and on scope. But on top of that, in accordance with TBS requirements, they need to ensure appropriate alignment between their program, the Departmental Results Framework and the Program Inventory as well as implement and maintain Performance Information Profiles.

In this environment, they need to think strategically, understand risk, and assess the effectiveness and efficiency of their programs in response to changing priorities. They need to understand how to use data to enhance decision-making. They need to work effectively with diverse teams and stakeholders inside and outside government. They must be able to define and frame complex problems and actively create opportunities for disruptive innovation.

What do we mean by a government program?

The CPL defines a government program as complex, multi-year, and involving a significant expenditure of public money. It requires the commitment and active involvement of a team and stakeholder organizations to achieve the desired outcomes. It delivers, or enables, one or more benefits i.e. measurable improvement resulting from an outcome and perceived as an advantage by one or more stakeholders.

What is program management?

A key goal of program management is to use inputs to achieve results and realize outcomes of strategic relevance. "Traditional" project management approaches fall short for complex, long-term undertakings.

Good program management creates both the structure and practices to guide the program itself and provide senior-level leadership, oversight, and control. Strategically, it encompasses the relationship between the oversight effort and the department's overall business, and sets the stage for a disruptive future. It encompasses all the decision-making roles and responsibilities involved in executing the program effort.

The IOG Certificate in Program Leadership will provide an opportunity for participants to focus on the discipline of complex program management that describes principles, strategies, and results for leading large-scale efforts comprising parallel projects that are typically governed by a simple management structure.

Who should attend?

The CPL is designed for executives, senior and middle level program managers and senior officers who are involved in complex, multi-year programs and who:

  • Are accountable at a strategic level to executive sponsors for delivering projects.
  • Manage schedules, budgets, teams/partners/stakeholders, and the performance of all program elements.
  • Lead high-level sessions for program planning and development.
  • Review/approve project plans to conform to high-level program strategy, plans and schedules.

How the Certificate in Program Leadership works

The IOG has developed a curriculum focused on the needs of the public sector but which is based on proven best practice from both public and private sector organizations.

All participants will be required to demonstrate a basic understanding of the functioning of government before they will be permitted to attend the program. This test will be administered online.

There are 12 modules of 1-2 days coursework/per module. Participants will complete 2 modules per month. The Program will be completed over a six-month period.

All participants will be required to demonstrate a basic understanding of the functioning of government before they will be permitted to attend the program. Participants who complete the program will be entitled to use the designation Certified Program Leader from the IOG as they pursue their careers in the public sector.


The fee for the IOG Certificate in Program Leadership is just $18,000. As a not-for-profit, the IOG does not charge HST.

The fee includes pre-program testing, 12 days of classroom experience with experienced public sector professionals, all resource materials, and post-program testing.

Discounts are available for more than one candidate and for out-of-town participants.

To Register

Send an email to registration@iog.ca with the following information about the participant:

  • Name
  • Organization and position
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • City/Province

The IOG will contact the participant with the registration kit and full details to start preparing for the program.

Timing and location

Participants will meet for a day at the IOG offices at 60 George St in the ByWard Market once every two weeks.

For more information

Gérard Étienne, Vice President, Learning Lab

E - getienne@iog.ca

P - 613-562-0090 ext 237

For more information about the Toronto course, please contact Brad Graham, Vice President, Toronto:

E - bgraham@iog.ca

P- 416-300-6083

What Participants Say About the Program

"I would like to express how much I enjoyed, and benefited, from the program. Collectively, the facilitators, program staff, and my colleagues provided me with an excellent understanding about both the theory and how elements have been implemented across government."