Board Profile - National Museum of Science and Technology

Mandate

The mandate of the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation (CSTMC), legally known as the National Museum of Science and Technology, is given in the Museums Act, section 14.

As a national institution and member of the Canadian Heritage Portfolio, the Corporation is responsible for preserving and protecting Canada’s scientific and technological heritage, and for promoting and sharing knowledge about that heritage. Through their exhibitions, programs and Web sites, the Corporation’s museums – the Canada Science and Technology Museum, the Canada Aviation Museum and the Canada Agriculture Museum – tell the stories of Canadian ingenuity and achievement in science and technology, and demonstrate how these accomplishments have contributed to the building of our country. The Corporation’s responsibility for the development and management of a representative collection of scientific and technological artifacts and materials is demonstrated by its vast collection which currently focuses on seven major subject areas: aviation, communications, manufacturing, natural resources, and renewable resources including agriculture, physical sciences and medicine, and transportation. Each museum undertakes curatorial work and sets its own public programming activities and strategies in recognition of the different markets and clientele it serves.

As an institution of the Government of Canada, the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation is committed to the priorities of financial accountability and demonstrating to Canadians the value of the public funding it receives.

Roles and Responsibilities

The mandate of the Board of Trustees is given in both the Museum Act section 18.3 and in the Financial Administration Act, Part 10.

The CSTMC Board of Trustees is responsible for overseeing the management of the Corporation with a view to both the best interests of the Corporation and the long-term interests of the government. The Board of Trustees must exercise judgment in establishing the Corporation’s strategic direction, safeguarding the Corporation’s resources, monitoring corporate performance and reporting to government. More specifically, the Board is responsible for the following:

  • providing strategic leadership;
  • demonstrating integrity and ethical leadership;
  • identifying corporate and public policy objectives;
  • ensuring financial performance;
  • reviewing and approving major financial decisions;
  • setting objectives and evaluating the President and CEO’s performance against those objectives on an annual basis;
  • assessing the Board’s own effectiveness in fulfilling Board responsibilities;
  • planning for Board succession; and
  • planning for the succession of the President and CEO.

Challenges, Issues and Initiatives

The CSTMC Board of Trustees faces a number of key issues which must be addressed. Building a community of support, both public and private, is essential to meeting these needs.

Accommodation

As has been the case for the past several years, accommodation-related issues are a primary focus for the Corporation. The Corporation has identified the need for a new Canada Science and Technology Museum building as its number-one accommodation priority. At the request of the Government of Canada, the Corporation undertook to define the needs and costs for a new museum of science and technology which would properly house and showcase Canada’s scientific and technological achievements. Receiving approval in principle of the new building project is essential.

The current preservation needs of the aviation collection have been addressed with completion of the collection storage hangar at the Canada Aviation Museum. A full project design concept was developed for the site, as part of the design process for the hangar building. The Corporation must continue to build support for the next phases of the Canada Aviation Museum’s design.

Accommodation-related matters facing the Canada Agriculture Museum must also be addressed. The Central Experimental Farm, of which the Canada Agriculture Museum is part, was designated as a national historic site in 1998. A 2006 Addendum to the Canada Agriculture Museum Master Plan provides a rationale for the further development of the Canada Agriculture Museum on the Central Experimental Farm (CEF) site. The National Capital Commission's Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Realty has approved the Addendum and the Corporation can now seek capital funding to complete its functional program.

National Outreach

As a national institution, the Corporation strives to make its collection and programs accessible to all Canadians. The Corporation has worked, and will continue to work, collaboratively with other institutions and industry partners to maximize its use of resources, and to develop mutually beneficial results, in keeping with the leadership role expected of a national institution.

Financial Position

In order to provide sufficient resources which will enable the Corporation to respond to new opportunities while continuing to fulfill its mandated activities, the Corporation must strengthen its overall financial position. The Corporation, working with the Department of Canadian Heritage and central agencies, will seek to increase its operational funding and to address funding anomalies arising as a consequence of its status as a Crown corporation. Collaborative partnerships and sponsorship/fundraising will also be a key component in the development of new initiatives.

Sustainable Workforce

The ability of the Corporation to survive and prosper in the future will relate directly to its ability to sustain its workforce. It is fundamentally important to develop and implement a human resource strategy in the areas of recruitment, training and development, promotions and performance review.

Core Attributes and Competencies

To adequately fulfill its stewardship role, members of the CSTMC Board of Trustees must reflect a broad cross section of the core attributes and competencies listed below.

  • Leadership
  • Vision and Influence
  • Commitment
  • Honesty
  • Integrity and Accountability
  • Sound Judgment
  • Flexibility
  • Initiative

Specific Skills, Knowledge and Experience

It is important that a Board of Trustees have members who have a mix of skills appropriate to the nature of the business of the Corporation and the operation of the Board. It is also recognized that these skills may vary over time depending on the strategic direction and issues faced by the Corporation.

The following skills and knowledge have been identified by the Board of Trustees of the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation:

  • knowledge of the role and function of a collecting institution or museum;
  • understanding of the issues that may affect the Corporation, including its sector of operation, clientele, market, public environment and competitors;
  • knowledge of financial management, accounting and administration particularly for those members asked to participate on the Audit and Finance Committee;
  • knowledge of facility planning and management;
  • knowledge of marketing and communications;
  • knowledge of fundraising;
  • knowledge/work experience within the legal environment;
  • knowledge of Board responsibilities under the Financial Administration Act;
  • knowledge of best practices in the organization and management of Boards;
  • knowledge of the general structures and processes within the federal government environment.

In addition, it would be advantageous to have experience in one of the subject areas for which the Corporation is responsible. For CSTMC, this includes areas of science and technology such as aviation, communications, manufacturing, natural resources, renewable resources, agriculture, physical sciences, medicine, and transportation. Experience as a Board member of a not-for-profit institution or as a senior manager in a professional or community organization would also be an asset.

Representation

The composition of the Board should mirror Canadian society in general and the clientele it serves. As part of Board succession planning, it is important to strive for a proper balance including gender, language, equity target groups, and geographical representation.

Working Conditions

Trustees are appointed by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, with the approval of the Governor-in-Council, for terms not to exceed four years, with a maximum of three terms. Terms for the Chair and Vice-Chair are limited to two terms of up to four years for each term. There are nine trustees in addition to the Chair and Vice-Chair. The Corporate offices of the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation are located in Ottawa, Ontario.

The Board of Trustees usually meets four times per year in Ottawa with the possibility of one of those meetings being held in another Canadian city. Trustees may also be requested to participate as a member of a committee of the Board. Currently, there are five committees – an Executive Committee, an Audit and Finance Committee, a Nominating and Governance Committee, a Corporate Development Committee and a Major Facilities Committee. These committees usually meet 3 to 4 times per year (or more often as deemed necessary) generally at the same time as the general Board meetings. Occasionally participation by teleconference is also required. Although it may vary, the time commitment, assuming participation on at least one Board committee, would be approximately 20 days per year.

Board meetings are conducted in both official languages according to the preference of the person speaking. Board members receive an annual retainer paid on a quarterly basis and a per diem for each day on which they attend a meeting. In addition, Board members are reimbursed for travel and accommodation expenses.