Privy Council Office

… a core concept in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100


Click for PCO website

Concept description

The Privy Council Office (PCO) describes itself (reference below, website on right) as “the hub of non-partisan, public service support to the Prime Minister and Cabinet and its decision-making structures.”

The website states that “PCO is staffed by career public servants” and that its activities are guided by its mission to “serve Canada and Canadians by providing the best non-partisan advice and support to the Prime Minister and Cabinet.”


The website explains PCO’s three main roles as:

1. Advisor to the Prime Minister

“PCO brings together quality, objective policy advice and information to support the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This includes:

  • Non-partisan advice and information from across the Public Service
  • Consultation and collaboration with international and domestic sources inside and outside government (including the provinces and territories)
  • Information on the priorities of Canadians”
2. Secretary to the Cabinet

“PCO facilitates the smooth, efficient and effective functioning of Cabinet and the Government of Canada on a day-to-day basis. This includes:

  • Management of the Cabinet’s decision-making system
  • Coordination of departmental policy proposals to Cabinet (with supporting policy analysis)
  • Scheduling and support services for meetings of Cabinet and Cabinet committees
  • Advancing the Government’s agenda across federal departments and agencies and with external stakeholders
  • Advice on government structure and organization
  • Preparation of Orders-in-Council and other statutory instruments to give effect to Government decisions
  • Administrative services to the Prime Minister’s Office, PCO Ministers and, in some cases, to Commissions of Inquiry”
3. Public Service Leadership

“PCO ensures that Canada and Canadians are served by a quality public service – that delivers advice and services in a professional manner, and strives to meet the highest standards of accountability, transparency and efficiency. This includes:

  • Management of the appointments process for senior positions in federal departments, Crown corporations and agencies
  • Setting policy on human resources issues and public service renewal
  • Ensuring the Public Service has the capacity to meet emerging challenges and the changing responsibilities of government
  • Drafting and submitting an annual report to the Prime Minister on the state of the Public Service”

The PCO is organized by secretariats, elaborated at: The August 2016 organization chart is:


Click for current chart on PCO website

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Machinery of Government (core topic) in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100 Governance and Institutions.


Privy Council Office website at, accessed 24 August 2016.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 24 August 2016.

Image: Privy Council Office website at, accessed 24 August 2016.