Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Roles and Responsibilities
All councils shall appoint, by resolution, a chief administrative officer (clause 86 (2)(c) of the Municipal Government Act (MGA)).
What are the duties of a Chief Administrative Officer?
Clause 93 (c) of the MGA describes the duties of the CAO, who:
• is the administrative head of the municipality and reports directly to council;
• shall ensure that the resolutions and policies of the municipality are compiled with and that its programs are implemented;
• shall advise and inform the council on the operation and affairs of the municipality;
• is responsible for hiring, directing, managing, and supervising the employees of the municipality;
• shall exercise the powers and carry out the duties and functions assigned to the chief administrative officer by the council and by the Municipal Government Act or another Act; and
• shall notify council if any action or inaction by council or the municipality is contrary to a bylaw or resolution of council or a provision of the Municipal Government Act or another Act.
Further duties and responsibilities are set out through Section 93.
What is the relationship between Council and the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)?
Councils appoints a chief administrative officer by resolution and directs, manages and supervises the person appointed (see clause 86 (2)(c) of the Municipal Government Act (MGA)). By hiring a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) whose main focus is on the day-to-day operation of the municipality and the implementation of council’s decisions, council is able to concentrate on policy making. Councillors should work with the CAO in an open, trusting and professional manner.
A performance appraisal system for the CAO is a key building block for a lasting and positive relationship between council and the CAO.
What should council expect from their Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)?
Councils should expect the CAO to:
• Prepare and distribute council meeting agendas and supporting documents in a timely fashion, so that council members can participate in the debate and make informed decisions.
• Prepare easy to understand monthly financial statements that provide a snapshot of the financial position of the municipality;
• Provide well-researched and easy to understand reports that contain options to address issues, and a recommended course of action for council’s consideration; and
• Advise council, when they feel that the council is acting outside of its legislative authority
Does a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) receive performance reviews?
Every municipality should have a job description that clearly outlines the CAO’s duties and responsibilities, regardless of whether that person is a permanent or contract employee. An effective job description describes the responsibility of the position, as well as the results that the CAO is expected to deliver.
Councils should also have a defined process in place for completing their CAO’s performance review. Performance reviews should be conducted regularly (e.g. annually). These reviews are an opportunity for council to provide feedback to the CAO on performance strengths and on areas that may require improvement. Some councils establish personnel committees that take the lead on human resource matters.
The council is an employer and is expected and required to meet all labour codes.
Who does the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) report to?
The CAO reports to council as a whole and receives direction through resolutions, policies, and bylaws.
What is Council’s relationship with other employees?
While the municipality, and therefore council, has all of the obligations of an employer for all employees, it is the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) who hires, manages, and dismisses staff. Only the CAO or their delegates on staff may direct employees.
Does a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) have to obey a code of conduct?
Yes, all employees of the municipality should perform their duties in a way that gives residents confidence that council decisions and municipal policies are being objectively and fairly implemented.
Council must establish policies for its employees respecting the terms and conditions of their employment, (Section 95 of the MGA). A municipal employee code of conduct is required for all employees of the municipality, including for the CAO, full and part time employees, and volunteers, (Clause 86(2)).
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