Chapter 2.1: Organizational structure and matrix management


In order for a statistical agency to operate effectively, its various management functions must be organized in a coherent and interdependent way. According to the United Nations Handbook of Statistical Organization, Third Edition: The Operation and Organization of a Statistical Agency, "the notion of organization invokes the idea of hierarchy. In order to be effective over time, organizations must clearly and unambiguously assign responsibilities. Indeed, the very creation of an organization chart - with the limits that it imposes on each set of functions and responsibilities - suggests both interdependence and exclusivity."Endnote 1

As a result, staff in statistical agencies are usually organized by function, but also work in cross-functional teams in order to produce key information about the country's economy, society, and environment. In practice, most statistical offices have been organized according to some combination of function and subject-matter structures.

At Statistics Canada, this is achieved through matrix management to optimize organizational effectiveness. Matrix management creates two parallel structures: a vertical functional structure and a horizontal program structure. This dual structure is appropriate when many interactions between functions are necessary. It facilitates the resource allocation process and helps to identify the risk of time delays or budgetary overruns.

In the Canadian context, the matrix structure also satisfies two important needs: the requirement to report to Parliament from a program perspective, and the necessity to monitor activities from both functional and program perspectives for operational reasons. The functional side depicts how the organization is set up physically, as described by the organizational structure, and by how resources are allocated. The program side depicts the products and services produced by Statistics Canada and provides the basis for how the agency justifies its total budget to central government agencies and to the Parliament of Canada.

This chapter describes the organizational structure of Statistics Canada, and explains how matrix management is used to maximize the resource capacity and enhance responsiveness to change.

Strategies and tools

This section describes three important management strategies and tools used by Statistics Canada to ensure efficient organizational structure and matrix management:

  • Program Alignment Architecture
  • Functional organization chart
  • Matrix management

1. Program Alignment Architecture

Although statistical agencies are usually structured according to a combination of subject-matter expertise and function, the delivery of strategic outcomes requires the creation of project teams (usually cross-functional). The Strategic Outcomes and the Program Alignment Architecture (PAA) depict Statistics Canada's major programs and explain how these programs work together to achieve results for Canadians through strategic outcomes, programs, and sub-programs.

The strategic outcomes are the long-term and enduring benefits to Canadians linked to the mandate, vision and core functions of Statistics Canada. Statistics Canada has two strategic outcomes. First, Canadians have access to timely, relevant and high-quality statistical information on Canada's changing economy and society for informed debate, research and decision making on social and economic issues. Secondly, specific client needsEndnote 2 for high-quality and timely statistical services are met.

The PAA is a structured inventory of all Statistics Canada programs, where programs are arranged in a hierarchical manner to depict the logical relationship between each program and the strategic outcome to which it contributes. A program is a group of related resource inputs and activities that are managed for the purpose of meeting specific needs and achieving intended results, and that are treated as a budgetary unit. It is used for reporting to Parliament through the Departmental Performance Report and the Report on Plans and Priorities.

The PAA is also the initial document used to establish the Management, Resources and Results Structure (MRRS), a common government-wide approach to the identification of programs and to the collection, management, and reporting of financial and non-financial information relative to those programs. The establishment of a MRRS in each department is a key element of the Expenditure Management System because it provides a common framework within which financial and non-financial information is linked across government.

2. Functional organization chart

The statistical organization is led by a Chief Statistician, who in Canada, is appointed by the Governor in CouncilEndnote 3 to be the deputy head of the organization. In Canada, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is also the Minister responsible for Statistics Canada. The Chief Statistician has full exercise of delegated authority from the Minister based on an annual budget and a Report on Plans and Priorities approved by Parliament (see Chapter 2.3: Financial management). The Chief Statistician is to advise on matters pertaining to the statistical program, supervise the administration of the Statistics Act, and control the operation and staff of the statistical office.

An up-to-date organization chart provides a clear picture of the relationship between organizational units of the agency. As per the organization chart (Figure 2.1.1), Statistics Canada is organized along the main functions of a statistical agency:

  • Subject-matter expertise for:
    • Economics Statistics that include Macroeconomic Accounts, Industry Statistics, Economy-wide Statistics (Consumer Price Index), and Agriculture, Energy, Environment and Transportation Statistics.
    • Social Statistics include Social and Aboriginal, Demography, Health, Education, Labour, Income, Tourism and Justice.
  • Collection and dissemination (Census, Operations and Communications)
  • Statistical infrastructure (Analytical Studies, Methodology and Statistical Infrastructure)
  • Internal functions (Corporate Services, Audit and Evaluation)

Figure 2.1.1: Statistics Canada's organization chart

Statistics Canada's organization chart
Description for Figure 2.1.1

This graphic shows Statistics Canada's organizational structure.

The top branch is the Chief Statistician of Canada. This branch has authority on six sections.

The first section is Economic Statistics, which leads four sub-sections: Macroeconomic Accounts, Industry Statistics, Economy-wide Statistics and Agriculture, Energy, Environment and Transportation Statistics.

The second section is Social, Health and Labour Statistics which leads three sub-sections: Census Subject Matter, Social and Demographic Statistics, Education, Labour and Income Statistics and Health, Justice and Special Surveys.

The third section is Census, Operations and Communications, which leads four sub-sections: Collection and Regional Services, Operations, Census Program and Communications.

The fourth section is Analytical Studies, Methodology and Statistical Infrastructure, which leads three sub-sections: Analytical Studies, Statistical Infrastructure and Methodology.

The fifth section is Corporate Services, which leads three sub-sections: Human Resources, Finance and Informatics.

The sixth section is Audit and Evaluation.

  • Chief Statistician of Canada
    • Economic Statistics
      • Macroeconomic Accounts
      • Industry Statistics
      • Economy-wide Statistics
      • Agriculture, Energy, Environment and Transportation Statistics
    • Social, Health and Labour Statistics
      • Census Subject Matter, Social and Demographic Statistics
      • Education, Labour and Income Statistics
      • Health, Justice and Special Surveys
    • Census, Operations and Communications
      • Collection and Regional Services
      • Operations
      • Census Program
      • Communications
    • Analytical Studies and Statistical Infrastructure
      • Analytical Studies
      • Statistical Infrastructure
      • Methodology
    • Corporate Services
      • Human Resources
      • Finance
      • Informatics
    • Audit and Evaluation

As of August 2015, Statistics Canada had approximately 5,300 public service employees, most of them (88%) employed on a full-time full-year permanent basis. About four out of ten employees are subject-matter professionals and technicians (economics, sociology, business administration, geography, etc.), grouped in functional centres of expertise within the organization. Operational and administrative personnel make up the next-largest group of employees (35%). About 15% are computer scientists, dedicated mostly to the development and operation of statistical production systems—basic information technology  infrastructure and services are provided by a government-wide agency (Shared Services Canada) that offers services to the entire federal government—and another 5.5% are methodologists (mathematical statisticians). The remainder of staff is comprised of accountants and human resources specialists (3%) and management (1.5%). Just slightly over half of all employees are women.

Statistics Canada is also a separate employer (Statistical Survey Operations) for some 1,800 employees dedicated to data collection operations. They work out of regional collection centres to conduct telephone interviews or from their homes as field interviewers (see Chapter 3.4: Data collection planning and management).

2.1 Subject-matter expertise (Economic Statistics and Social, Health, and Labour Statistics)

Subject-matter expertise is shared by two fields: the Economic Statistics Field and the Social, Health and Labour Statistics Field. The mandate of the Economic Statistics Field is to create a trusted, relevant and comprehensive source of information on the entire spectrum of Canada's economy to inform public debate on economic issues; support economic policy development, implementation and evaluation; and guide business decision making. This field is the primary source of information for developing the country's fiscal and monetary policies, and for studying the economic evolution of Canadian industries and regions. The Social, Health and Labour Statistics Field provides integrated information and relevant analysis on the social and socioeconomic characteristics of individuals, families, and households, as well as on the major factors that affect their well-being. This information is used to inform public debate on socio-economic issues; support the development, implementation and evaluation of social policy, and; guide public and private decision making. It is the primary source for assessing the impact of changing economic circumstances on Canadians.

Economic statistics are obtained through a series of business surveys and administrative sources, as well as, in the case of agriculture statistics, through the Census of Agriculture. Outputs include monthly and annual measures of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Consumer Price Index (CPI), current indicators of retail and wholesale trade, Canada's merchandise export and import statistics, estimates of agricultural income and expenditures, transportation statistics, and statistics relevant to the analysis of relationships between human activity and the environment, in Canada.

Social statistics support statistical requirements specified by legislation or regulations in the areas of labour, immigration and employment equity. The program also provides information, analysis and measures relating to publicly funded facilities, agencies, and systems designed to meet the socio-economic and physical needs of Canadians; information on the characteristics of the individual Canadians and families they serve (population estimates, statistics on sub-populations (such as immigrants), statistics on official languages); and information on the outcomes of the services they provide, such as justice, health and education. This field also includes the Census Subject Matter Secretariat, which is responsible for the management of all subject-matter input into the Census Program.

2.2 Census, Operations and Communications

The collection, communications and dissemination functions are managed within the Census, Operations and Communications Field. The Census of PopulationEndnote 4 is Statistics Canada's largest data collection, public communications and dissemination program. Significant economies of scale are realized by leveraging the same collection and dissemination infrastructure for census and survey-taking, in accordance with the agency's Corporate Business Architecture (see Chapter 3.1: Corporate Business ArchitectureEndnote 5).

The Collection and Regional Services Branch and the Operations Branch provide a single contact point for access to data collection services for Statistics Canada's statistical programs (business and household surveys and census collection). They provide support to data collection activities, including data capture, coding, editing, interviewer hiring and training, and providing advice to clients regarding statistical products. These branches plan overall survey collection and coordinate capacity and capabilities across the collection infrastructure; they also conduct survey collection research to continually improve quality and timeliness and reduce respondent burden and costs. Data collection operations are managed through a network of regional offices across three regions of Canada—Eastern, Central, and Western and Northern Territories. For details on collection management, refer to Chapter 3.4: Data collection planning and management.

The production of Statistics Canada's catalogued publications, the management of the agency's online databases, and the dissemination of Statistics Canada's official release vehicle The Daily form part of statistical infrastructure managed within the Census, Operations and Communications Field through the Dissemination Division and the Communications Branch. The Communications Branch also ensures the effective communication and dissemination of Statistics Canada information to the Canadian public, provides strategic communications advice to senior management on evolving and/or potentially controversial issues, and ensures that an appropriate, trained spokesperson is designated. The Communications Branch also fosters a positive image of Statistics Canada as the country's national statistical agency and plays a key role in maintaining relationships with data users and fostering effective internal communications across the agency. For more details on the communications function, refer to Chapter 4.2: External communications and outreach.

2.3 Analytical Studies, Methodology and Statistical Infrastructure

The Analytical Studies, Methodology and Statistical Infrastructure Field comprises activities and services administered to support a strong statistical agency. These include the development of sound statistical methodology; the development of, and adherence to, standardized concepts and classifications (including geographic concepts); the development and provision of information about the agency's surveys and statistical programs; the development and maintenance of registers of enterprises and addresses for statistical purposes; and the provision of advice with respect to the Statistics Act and data-sharing agreements. Research and development activities related to statistical methodology, data collection, and operational activities are also conducted.

Specifically, the Analysis Branch is responsible for the coordination of analytical activities, including in-depth analysis of economic, health and social issues integrating multiple sources of data. The Methodology Branch is charged with the development of business, social and household survey statistical methods. The Statistical Infrastructure Branch is charged with developing statistical classification and infrastructure to support statistical standards, corporate statistical metadata, and corporate information management; acquiring and pre-processing administrative data; and developing and maintaining a central business register, a geographic frame and an address register.

2.4 Internal functions

At Statistics Canada, internal functions include the Office of the Chief Statistician, the Corporate Services Field, and Internal Audit and Evaluation.

The Office of the Chief Statistician manages communications between the agency and the government via the Office of the Minister responsible for Statistics Canada—the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development—including coordination of parliamentary and cabinet affairs, and other reporting activities (e.g., Report on Plans and Priorities, Departmental Investment Plan, Corporate Business Plan).

The Corporate Services Field supports the needs of programs and other corporate obligations, including the management of finance, Human Resources (HR) and Informatics (IT) services. The Finance Branch provides leadership and support to ensure that Statistics Canada is well managed, and is accountable for the prudent stewardship of public funds, the safeguarding of public assets, and the effective, efficient and economical use of public resources. As well, the Finance Branch plays a leadership role in the Integrated Strategic Planning Process and the execution of the Departmental Project Management Framework. The Human Resources Branch is responsible for assisting management in recruiting, deploying, developing, and retaining the staff necessary to achieve the agency's mandate and meet its organizational priorities. The Informatics Branch is responsible for developing and maintaining software applications and generalized systems in support of collection, statistical, administrative and dissemination programs, developing and recommending corporate standards and methods for application development, and providing enterprise desktop and specialized services, including hardware provisioning, licences management, hosting, and database administration. For more details about how these services function, refer to Chapter 2.3: Financial management, Chapter 2.5: Human resources planning and management, and Chapter 3.2: Modernization of Information Technology and Informatics Services.

An independent Internal Audit and Evaluation function reports directly to the Chief Statistician as part of a results-based management culture. This function enhances the credibility of the statistical organization by systematically conducting objective audits and evaluations. The agency has developed a five-year evaluation plan, which includes the full evaluation coverage of its direct program spending over a five-year cycle. The Departmental Audit Committee, chaired by an appointed member, supports, oversees and monitors the audit and evaluation function as well as management accountabilities arising from evaluations and evaluation-related products. More details are provided in Chapter 2.8: Program evaluation and Chapter 2.9: Internal audit.

Matrix management

As evidenced by the preceding description of its organization chart, Statistics Canada is organized by functional centres of expertise (IT systems development, data collection and processing, methodology, subject-matter experts, etc.). The creation of cross-functional project/program teams as outlined in the PAA is achieved through matrix management. As stated in the introduction, this structure is appropriate when many interactions between functions are necessary or desirable, for the purpose of reducing or eliminating delays or budgetary overruns. The matrix organizational structure overlays both the PAA structure and the functional structure, and derives benefits from both designs.

Matrix management is the interface of an organization, both vertically and horizontally. Traditional organizations have a hierarchical management structure, where the structure of the functional units reflects the division of work. Under matrix management, the responsibilities for departmental routine work (vertically structured) and for new initiatives and product requirements (horizontally structured) are shared, and managed jointly, by the horizontal and vertical structures. The work required to be performed on a project/program that falls within the purview of a functional organizational department is under the influence of functional and program management. The balancing of horizontal and vertical structures creates a matrix or grid whereby resources can be allocated quickly from project to project in order to meet changing and competing work priorities. Thus, the organization tends to look like a series of vertical department columns crossed over by a series of horizontal project/program rows.

An example of a typical matrix management structure is shown in Figure 2.1.2.

Figure 2.1.2: Example of a Matrix Model Interface

Example of a Matrix Model Interface
Description for Figure 2.1.2

This graphic is an example of a matrix model management interface.

The matrix model is a network of interfaces between teams and the functional elements of an organization. In the following example, there are 12 interfaces.

In this network of interfaces, there is twelve interfaces. At the top, there is the General Manager. Under him, there are three Functional Managers on the horizontal level; and, four Project managers, on the vertical level for a total of twelve interfaces.

Within a matrix operation, employees are assigned to specific project/program teams for a specified period of time. They also have a permanent functional unit, typically known as their "home" division, where they continue to reside during the project/program life cycle. Although the program areas are allocated the total budget for their program, they transfer budget to functional areas for these to carry out activities with respect to the project/program. Salaries are paid from the budget of the functional unit (see Chapter 2.3: Financial management). As a result, employees often report to two or more supervisors: the project/program manager and the functional or line manager. The project/program manager is responsible for meeting the objectives and deliverables (see Chapter 2.4: Project Management Framework). However, it is the functional or line manager who maintains supervisory authority and ensures that the standardized and rigorous expertise is being provided to support the project/programs.

Matrix management allows the organization to benefit from the synergy created by a community of employees with specialized knowledge while providing the flexibility to assign these experts according to the needs of a particular project/program and the priorities of Statistics Canada (refer to text box 2.1.3 – Advantages of matrix management). The central management of pools of experts leads to optimization of resource utilization. Teams can be formed quickly for a specified period of time, thereby creating flexibility and allowing the organization to take advantage of opportunities. Matrix management also provides opportunities for employee development through exposure to a variety of projects and programs. It is a dynamic management structure, which breaks down "silos" of functional expertise and fosters the sharing of knowledge and information in an interdisciplinary work environment. Matrix management also allows for true analytical accounting from a financial management perspective (see Chapter 2.3: Financial Management).

Box 2.1.1: Advantages of Matrix Management

Matrix management provides the following advantages:

  • reduces the number of organizational layers;
  • achieves both a vertical (functional) focus and a horizontal (process, product, program) focus;
  • facilitates a transparent and clear allocation of resources in the context of the departmental planning system;
  • makes it easier to identify the financial implications, as well as the other resource implications, of adding, reducing or eliminating certain activities;
  • makes more effective and efficient use of resources;
  • eliminates unnecessary work, and strengthens value-added activities; and,
  • improves accountability for, and reporting of, results internally and externally.

However, matrix management requires from the organization the ability to develop an appropriate governance structure that valued functional project management and a corporate culture that encourages and fosters teamwork and flexibility.

Key success factors

A statistical office organized around statistical functions and working within a matrix management framework is well-positioned to adapt to changes in a timely way. However, the corporate culture must be conducive to this approach. It is essential to foster a climate of collaboration, innovativeness and tolerance of risk and failure, managed as part of the organization's Risk Management Process. Such a culture can never be taken for granted. It requires constant reinforcement by the agency's top leadership and understanding and buy-in by all staff.

Key success factors include a strong central governance model. The leadership of Statistics Canada is provided by the Executive Management Board (EMB). The EMB is chaired by the Chief Statistician and composed of the Assistant Chief Statisticians of all functional areas and the Chief Statistician's Chief of Staff, reflecting a matrix management model at the highest level of governance. This governance model is based on the objective that significant corporate issues be reviewed at the highest appropriate level. Final decisions are rendered by the Chief Statistician on the advice of EMB members. The EMB provides strategic direction for the organization and acts as the corporate decision-making body. Centralized decision-making ensures that all key decisions are optimal for the corporation. This includes ongoing discussions and decisions about organizational structure and the appointment of individuals to senior management positions.

The importance of governance also applies to the matrix management framework. Decisions about the composition of project/program teams and the allocation of expert resources are made in the best interest of the organization by the appropriate level of governance. Corporate interests must take precedence over locally optimal resource allocations, as provided in the agency's Corporate Business Architecture (see Chapter 3.1: Corporate Business Architecture).

Strategic planning must also be reflected in the human resources hiring strategy to ensure that the right people with the right skills are available at the right time (see Chapter 2.5: Human resources planning and management). Matrix management encourages flexibility of employees and provides opportunities to develop new skills. This organizational culture also includes a system of internal rotations and special corporate assignments. A corporate assignment allows an employee to temporarily work in another functional unit by matching the employee's career and learning objectives to available assignments.

The use of a Departmental Project Management Framework (see Chapter 2.4: Project Management Framework) contributes to governance and management rigor by facilitating decision making, communication and coordination across all projects in a portfolio and thus results in a more efficient use of corporate resources in a matrix management framework.

Challenges and next steps

As mentioned in the United Nations Handbook of Statistical Organization, Third Edition: The Operation and Organization of a Statistical Agency, the cost and benefits of major changes to organizational structure must be fully considered. This includes a thorough evaluation of the status quo and of the organization's ability to achieve its strategic objectives. The timing of changes, the way changes are implemented, and the impact of the transition must be carefully planned. At Statistics Canada, the centralization of expertise (collection, methodology, IT, etc.) happened over time and as part of the strategic planning process (see Chapter 2.2: Integrated Strategic Planning).

A key challenge facing statistical organizations is the imperative to remain relevant. The economy and the society that national statistical offices (NSOs) attempt to measure are changing at an unprecedented pace. NSOs must constantly monitor the operating environment and proactively make provisions for the development of new statistical programs and the decommissioning of others in order to respond to the highest-priority information needs. This is the main objective of the strategic planning process, which is informed by an environmental scan, including external and internal drivers and integrated risk management. The external environmental analysis touches on political, economic, technological and social-demographics analysis, and documents the needs of stakeholders.

The flexibility offered by matrix management framework allows NSOs to respond in a timely way to these and other challenges. However, challenges related to the use of a matrix management framework remain. These include the governance of work on both the functional and the program/project axes; and the development of a corporate culture that values teamwork and flexibility.


Endnote 1

United Nations. 2003.

Return to endnote 1 referrer

Endnote 2

This activity produces high-quality cost-recovered statistical services that meet the needs of specific federal and provincial institutions and other clients. Projects are grouped by subject matter: Economic and Environmental Statistics, Socio-economic Statistics, the Censuses, Statistical Infrastructure, and Internal Services.

Return to endnote 2 referrer

Endnote 3

Governor-in-Council appointments are made by the Governor General, on the advice of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada (i.e., the Cabinet).

Return to endnote 3 referrer

Endnote 4

The Census provides statistical information, analyses, and services that measure changes in the Canadian population, in demographic characteristics, and in the agricultural sector.

Return to endnote 4 referrer

Endnote 5

For the same reason, selected internal services, including procurement, contract and facilities services, are also managed by the Census, Operations and Communications Field.

Return to endnote 5 referrer


Government of Canada (2016). Shared Services Canada. Consulted on the 31st of March 2016 and retrieved from

Government of Canada (2005). Statistics Act. L.R.C 1985, c. S-19. Amended by 1988, c. 65, s. 146; 1990, c. 45, s. 54; 1992, c. 1, ss. 130, 131; 2005, c. 31; 2005, c. 38. Consulted on 11th of March 2016 and retrieved from

Statistics Canada (2015). Report on Plans and Priorities 2015-2016. Consulted on the 31st of March 2016 and retrieved from

Statistics Canada (2016). Departmental Performance Report 2014-2015. Consulted on the 31st of March 2016 and retrieved from

Statistics Canada (2015). Strategic outcomes and program alignment architecture. Consulted on the 31st of March 2016 and retrieved from

United Nations (2005). Handbook of Statistical Organization, Third Edition. The Operation and Organization of a Statistical Agency. Studies in Methods, Series F, no. 88. New York. Consulted on 11th of March 2016 and retrieved from

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