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Cabinet Committees and the Decision Making Process

The Alberta formal decision making process is not an exclusive executive function. While Cabinet is the final decision-making body, the Standing Policy Committees, comprised of members from the governing party, play a key role. Standing Policy Committees are created by Ministerial Order signed by the Premier. They are an integral part of the executive decision-making process and act as gatekeepers to Cabinet policy decisions: all Ministers' requests for new or amended policy and programs must be recommended by the Standing Policy Committees to Cabinet for approval.

Each of the Standing Policy Committees is chaired by a Private Government Member, each with the authority to hear public and private submissions. Ministers are appointed as vice-chairs of these committees. These chairpersons sit at the Cabinet Table to represent their Committee's views. The unique membership of these Committees flows directly from the Premier's commitment to provide government backbenchers with a greater say in the decision-making process.

Government policy and legislation all flow as a natural progression from the government three-year business planning process. This is a cyclical process that begins in the summer of each year with Standing Policy Committee input on the Government of Alberta three-year business plan to caucus and Cabinet. Cabinet identifies the priorities for the Government of Alberta three-year business plan with Treasury Board then setting the three-year ministry budget targets. Departments are then provided with the fiscal framework within which their business plans must be developed. In August and September, each department presents to the appropriate Standing Policy Committee a draft of its annual report that outlines the department's actual performance of the prior year in relation to its goals and performance measures for that year. This review sets the stage for the October review by the appropriate Standing Policy Committee of the department's revised three-year business plan.

The Standing Policy Committees will report the results of their review to Cabinet, either confirming their support for the business plans or highlighting where necessary any plans that may have strayed from the overall fiscal framework established by the Treasury Board. These reports, along with any other issues raised by the Finance department, form the basis for the Treasury Board's budget deliberations during the months of November and December.

The decisions and recommendations of Treasury Board are reviewed with Cabinet and caucus; the final directions from Treasury Board are formalized into three-year budget targets and fiscal departmental business plans, culminating in the Budget and the tabling of the business plans in the legislature.

Departments submit their three-year legislation plans and overviews of individual legislation to the Agenda and Priorities Committee in the late summer. The Agenda and Priorities Committee recommends a fall and spring legislation list to Cabinet for approval. Once approved, detailed draft legislation is reviewed by the appropriate Standing Policy Committee. This occurs through September to December, in preparation for the fall and spring sitting of the legislature. 

Content may change. For updated content and information visit the Alberta Government website.

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Reprinted with the permission of the Alberta Executive Council
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