Machinery of Government

… a core concept in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100


Langevin Block, Ottawa

Concept description

Wikipedia (reference below) defines machinery of government as “the interconnected structures and processes of government … in the executive branch of government.”

In most countries with a Westminster System, there is a unit within the Cabinet Office responsible for advising and assisting the Prime Minister in making machinery of government changes within his or her prerogative. For example, in Canada the Privy Council Office (reference below) describes the role of its Machinery of Government secretariat as follows:

“The Machinery of Government Secretariat provides advice and support to the Prime Minister and the Clerk of the Privy Council on the structure and functioning of the government as a whole.

“Much of this work involves supplying advice on the prerogative responsibilities of the Prime Minister, including:

  • Ministerial mandates
  • The structure of Cabinet, its committees and their decision-making processes
  • The structure and organization of government portfolios
  • The roles and accountability of senior public office holders
  • Transitions from government to government

“How the Prime Minister carries out these responsibilities is generally determined by:

  • Constitutional precedent, practice and the legal framework
  • The experience of previous governments
  • The working style and agenda of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.”
Atlas topic, subject, and course

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


Wikipedia, Machinery of government, at, accessed 24 August 2016.

Privy Council Office, Privy Council Office Secretariats, at, accessed 24 August 2016.

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

Image: Langevin Block, Ottawa, Wikipedia, at, accessed 18 August 2016.