While governance policies apply to all public agencies, the way the policies are implemented can vary significantly. For example, adjudicative agencies need to ensure policy implementation respects the principle of their judicial independence.

Categories are primarily a tool for identifying best practices; they can help similar agencies learn from common experiences. However, variation in governance practices is expected both across and within categories, according to the size, complexity and mandate of the public agency.

Categories of public agencies

Every agency can fit into one of the five functional categories, based on their primary purpose:

  • Regulatory/Adjudicative: Regulatory agencies license, make rules and/or oversee a sector (for example: the Alberta Agricultural Products Marketing Council). Adjudicative agencies make independent, quasi-judicial decisions (for example: the Metis Settlements Appeal Tribunal). Some public agencies may perform both regulatory and adjudicative functions (for example: the Natural Resources Conservation Board).


  • Public Trust agencies administer provincial financial and/or other assets in the public interest. Examples include the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (financial assets) or the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (other assets).


  • Corporate Enterprise agencies provide or sell goods or services to the public in a commercial manner (for example: Alberta Treasury Branches).


  • Service Delivery agencies provide and/or direct government services (for example: Alberta Health Services and the boards of post-secondary institutions such as the Board of Governors of the University of Alberta).


  • Advisory agencies provide advice to government (for example: Northern Alberta Development Council).


Determination of which category a public agency belongs in should be based on the primary function of the public agency, recognizing that the entity may also have work related to one or more of the other categories.

The Public Agency Secretariat will determine a public agency's classification in consultation with the public agency and responsible department.