Serving on the board of a public agency
Learn about the responsibilities and other details of serving on a public agency board.
Alberta’s public agencies do important work on behalf of government. Public agency boards are comprised of individuals with diverse backgrounds and the desired skills and competencies. Some positions require professional expertise and/or specific qualifications.
Individuals who are interested in and knowledgeable about issues related to an Alberta public agency are encouraged to apply to serve on the board.
There are a number of reasons to serve on the board of a public agency:
- board members help ensure public agencies are appropriately governed and fulfill their mandate to advance the public interest
- sitting on a board is a great way to contribute to your community and your province
- board work can be personally rewarding and help develop new skills and facilitate networking
If you're selected to serve on the board of a public agency, some information about you will be made publicly available on this website, including:
- your name
- the term of your appointment
- remuneration received (if applicable)
Common board member responsibilities
While public agencies operate arm's-length from government, accountability rests with the responsible minister. The role and responsibilities of board members vary depending on the particular public agency, but in general board members are expected to:
- attend and be well prepared for all board meetings by reading and understanding the meeting materials
- be familiar with the issues affecting the agency
- make well informed recommendations on items before the board
- actively participate in board discussions and the business of the board
The Government of Alberta is committed to ensuring that pay is fair, reasonable and transparent for Alberta's agencies. A compensation regulation under the Reform of Agencies, Boards and Commissions Act establishes total compensation, including salaries and benefits, for chief executive officers (CEOs) or equivalents in 23 provincial agencies that are part of the Alberta Public Agencies Governance Act. For more information on current remuneration practices, please see the List of Public Agencies.
Given the considerable variation in size, scale and responsibilities of public agencies in Alberta, the time commitment required varies depending on the public agency.
Training or accreditation
Formal training or accreditation isn't required to serve on the board of a public agency. Although some positions require professional expertise and/or specific qualifications, many boards are comprised of individuals across the province with a variety of backgrounds.
Public agencies are encouraged to invest in appropriate training for their board members.
Approaches to training and development will vary depending on the competencies and skill sets required. It's important to identify the learning and developmental needs of board members and provide opportunities to develop those competencies.
Length of appointments
Public agencies have fixed terms for directors. Currently, most appointments fall within a range of 1 to 5 years, depending on the public agency and the nature of the appointment. A common appointment length for a first term is 3 years, with the possibility for reappointment.
How appointments are made
Working with the departments, the Public Agency Secretariat tracks upcoming vacancies and ensures opportunities are posted on the public agency website.
When the recruitment closes, the ministry responsible for the public agency reviews the resumes of each applicant and develops a short list of applicants to be interviewed for the position (only those individuals selected for an interview will be contacted). Following the interview process, the responsible minister recommends an applicant to fill each vacancy.
The final appointment is made in one of 2 ways:
- Order in Council: Order in Council appointments require approval of Cabinet and the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
- Ministerial Order: Ministerial appointments are made by the minister responsible for the legislation that establishes the public agency.
Some of Alberta’s public agencies are governed by “representative” boards where a certain number of director positions are allocated to specific stakeholder groups. Often, the selection of these individuals is assigned by the government to the stakeholder group. Once the stakeholder has nominated a director, the individual is generally appointed to the role by Cabinet (Order in Council) or the responsible minister (Ministerial Order).
In other cases, both the selection and appointment of these individuals is assigned by the government to the stakeholder group. These "representative" boards are unique, as government doesn't play a role in the approval of these appointments.
Conflicts of interest
Conflicts of interest arise when there is conflict between the private interests and the official responsibilities of an individual in a position of trust. Conflicts of interest can be real or perceived. To ensure public agencies are governed in the public interest, public agencies governed by the Alberta Public Agency Governance Act must have a Code of Conduct that requires board members to be screened for potential conflicts of interest.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to consider and assess their personal and professional associations for potential conflicts of interest prior to applying to serve on the board of a public agency.