Board Profile - National Capital Commission

Corporation Mandate

The National Capital Act directs the NCC to prepare plans for and to assist in the development, conservation and improvement of Canada’s Capital Region (CCR) in order that the nature and character of the seat of Government of Canada may be in accordance with its national significance.

The NCC’s major responsibilities fall into two categories:

  • Capital planning, design and land use, including coordinating the development of federal lands in CCR and approving the disposal of federal lands in CCR, the design of buildings and the land use, as well as any changes in use, relating to federal lands in CCR; and
  • Real asset management and stewardship of lands, buildings and other infrastructure owned by the NCC on behalf of the government, including the six official residences as well as parks, parkways and recreational pathways.

The NCC is ultimately accountable, through the Minister of Canadian Heritage, to Parliament for the conduct of its affairs.

Roles and Responsibilities

The NCC’s board of directors oversees the direction and management of the NCC to ensure that the corporation carries out its mandate and objectives effectively, provides good value for the funding provided by taxpayers, remains viable and holds management accountable for its performance. Through the Chairperson, the NCC is accountable to the Minister of Employment and Social Development who represents the government and acts as a link between the corporation and Parliament.

The board of directors has responsibilities in the following areas:

Strategic Planning

  • Review and comment on the horizon scan developed by the organization to identify internal and external challenges, issues and opportunities, new expectations from stakeholders, etc.;
  • Establish the strategic direction including review and approval of the corporate plan;
  • Review and approve the operating and capital budgets to help safeguard the NCC’s resources and identify financial objectives, plan and actions, including significant capital allocations and expenditures; and
  • Perform periodic reviews of the financial and operational activities.

Risk Assessment

  • Review and approve annually the environmental management and contaminated sites report;
  • Review and approve annually the health and safety report; and
  • Review and approve corporate risk assessments to ensure appropriate systems are in place to manage these risks.

Internal Controls

  • Ensure the continued integrity of internal control and management information systems;
  • Ensure ethical behaviour and compliance with laws and regulations, audit and accounting principles and the NCC’s by-laws;
  • Review the annual audit plan and results; and
  • Review and approve new or amended by-laws, resolutions and corporate governance policies.

Performance Management and Evaluation

  • Review and approve the annual report, including the audited financial statements;
  • Review periodic reports on actual versus planned performance established in the corporate plan and budgets to evaluate whether the NCC is being properly managed and to assess the performance of management;
  • Assess the board of directors’ effectiveness in fulfilling its responsibilities and maintaining the effectiveness of individual directors; and
  • Assess the performance of the Chief Executive Officer.

Internal factors

  • Ensure the NCC has an internal working environment that fosters a positive attitude and workforce;
  • Ensure the organization promotes openness and transparency;
  • Encourage a good relationship between the board of directors and senior management; and
  • Review reports on the status of major projects and accomplishments.

External factors

While recognizing that the directors, as fiduciaries of the NCC, must always act in the best interest of the NCC and not as representatives of some external constituencies, it is nevertheless desirable that provided fiduciary relationship is not compromised; the members take into account the following:

  • Ensure the local community’s (i.e., CCR) perceptions of the organization continue to be taken into account in the board’s deliberations; and
  • Ensure the concerns of the following stakeholders are taken into consideration:
    • the public (local and national);
    • other federal government departments and agencies;
    • the provincial governments of Ontario and Quebec;
    • the municipalities in CCR;
    • the local business communities and interest groups.

Major programs, projects and transactions

  • Review and approve real property transactions (acquisitions, disposals, exchanges, leases);
  • Review and approve designs, construction projects and land use initiatives;
  • Review and approve agreements with third parties; and
  • Review and approve National Capital Commission regulations.

In addition, the board holds a meeting once a year with the general public where the public is invited to ask questions and/or briefly present their issues/concerns to members of the board.

Challenges, Issues and Initiatives

  • The NCC operates in a multi-jurisdictional environment dealing with many different stakeholders, including federal departments, provincial ministries and agencies, municipalities, interest groups, tenants and the general public;
  • The NCC’s mandate is re-focused on real asset management and stewardship of federal lands in order to build a world-class capital;
  • The NCC’s mandate is to approve land uses, design and transactions associated with projects proposed for federal lands in CCR, as such it is largely dependent on external proponents to advance projects that can be enhanced through the use of these approvals in order to build the Capital in a manner that is commensurate with its significance as the seat of government;
  • Increasingly, projects are delivered by proponents through iterative, risk-sharing, models in partnership with the private sector. The NCC is challenged to advance project approvals in a manner that enables modern project delivery models; and
  • NCC’s mandate is a national one but many of its decisions have a local impact on residents of CCR.

Core Attributes, Competencies and Experience

The skills and behaviours that should be demonstrated by all board members are as follows:

Informed Judgement

The capacity to discern the important information that is needed in order to take position on issues.

Strategic Thinking

The capacity to identify opportunities and apply knowledge, experience, political sensitivity and sound judgment to address complex issues, problems and risks in a timely manner.

Financial Literacy

The ability to read and assess financial statements.

Integrity and Accountability

The demonstration of high ethical standards and integrity, being willing to act on and remain accountable for board decisions, meeting the accountabilities outlined in the law, by-laws and rules of the board, seeing oneself as serving the interests of Canadians.

Public Policy

The experience in or knowledge of public policy and management of public services.

Impact and Influence

The awareness of the impact of organizational issues, policies and decisions on public interest and concern. The capacity to be sensitive to the differing needs and agendas of multiple stakeholders and to act to convince or influence others in order to have a specific impact or effect.

Leadership Skills

The capacity to inspire and mobilize energies and talents to work towards a shared vision.

Interpersonal Skills

The ability to convey ideas to achieve understanding and acceptance, and to inspire appropriate action.

Teamwork Skills

The ability to contribute actively by working with others collaboratively in all interactions.

Specific Skills, Knowledge and Experience

The types of skills and experiences that are needed in the NCC board as a whole, but not necessarily in each director, are as follows:

Communications and Stakeholder Relations

  • Community relations
  • External partnerships
  • Public consultations

Corporate Governance

  • Board of directors governance
  • Commercial, municipal, real property or civil law
  • Economics, business or public policy
  • Strategic alliances
  • Strategic planning and risk management

Corporate Services

  • Financial management
  • Human Resources
  • Information technology
  • Procurement

Cultural Heritage

  • Cultural institutions
  • Diversity and multiculturalism
  • Canadian history

Design and Land Use

  • Architecture
  • Engineering
  • International best practices in planning and design
  • Landscape architecture
  • Urban Design
  • Urban/regional planning
  • Urban/regional transportation

Finance and Auditing

  • Audits
  • Financial statements and reports
  • Internal controls

Marketing

  • Market research
  • Promotion
  • Revenue generation

Real Asset Management

  • Asset life cycle management
  • Built or natural heritage
  • Environmental stewardship
  • Real estate or land management

Representation

There are no members on the board from Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

The board would require additional skills, knowledge and experience in the following general areas:

  • Corporate governance
  • Corporate services
  • Cultural heritage
  • Design and land use
  • Finance and audit
  • Professional Accountant
  • Marketing
  • Real asset management
  • Quebec Civil Law

Working Conditions

NCC directorships are part time appointments, with the exception of the Chief Executive Officer, which is a full-time appointment. The board holds five regularly scheduled meetings per year in Ottawa, consisting of a public portion and an in-camera portion. The board may hold other special meetings in person or by conference call as required. In addition, there is an annual strategic planning session.

There are three corporate committees (Executive Committee; Audit Committee, and Governance Committee) and two advisory committees (Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Realty, Advisory Committee on the Official Residences of Canada). All committees usually meet one to three times per year, except for the Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Realty which meets four times per year.

The average annual time commitment for board work (excluding the Chair and CEO) is 10 to 12 days, not including preparatory time. Committee work will require additional days.

Directors must comply with the NCC Board of Directors Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Guidelines.

Remuneration and expenses: directors performing special duties, such as being members of committees, receive an annual retainer of $4,000 and receive a current per diem of $375. Board members are reimbursed for reasonable travel and other expenses incurred in the performance of their duties in accordance with board and committee charters. There is no remuneration for the five regularly scheduled meetings per year.