The Department of the Executive was established in 1967. It was comprised of the Commissioner's Office, the Ministers' Offices and the Executive Council Secretariat that provided administrative and operational support to the department and to the Executive Council that in turn directed the administration branch of the Government of the Northwest Territories. Regional Directors coordinated government activities in each of the five administrative regions of the Northwest Territories. Executive staff, which reported to Regional Directors, were located in many communities and assisted with the coordination and dissemination of information related to government programs and services at the community level.
The Department of the Executive provided operational and administrative support to many activities and agencies including: Fire Marshal or Fire Prevention Services (1967-1971); Management Services or Internal Audit and Regulations (1969-1971); Historical Advisory Board (1970-1971); Liquor System (1970-1971); Emergency Measures or Emergency Planning and Environment Protection (1975-1977) and (1982-1983); Science Advisory Board (1976-1977); Land Claims Secretariat (1978-1980); In-Service Library (1973-1975) and (1981-1983); Geographic and Place Names (1985-1986); Security Advisor or Security (1974-1993) Office of Constitutional Development or Office of Devolution (1985-1992); Highway Transport Board/Public Utilities Board (1989-1992); Energy and Resource Development Secretariat or Energy, Mines and Resource Secretariat (1981-1989); Bureau of Statistics (1979-1994); Worker's Compensation Board (1982-1997) and the Science Institute of the Northwest Territories (1989-1994).
In a major restructuring between 1994 and 1995, the Executive Council directed that the Ministerial and Departmental Mandates and Goals of the Department of the Executive, Finance and Personnel be revised and that associated organizational changes be implemented. The Department of the Executive was reorganized and divided into three separate and distinct programs, each under the authority of a separate Minister. The three programs are: Executive Offices, the Financial Management Board Secretariat and the Ministry of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs (formerly Aboriginal Rights and Constitutional Development Secretariat).
The Executive Offices Program provides overall direction, management and coordination to the GNWT as a whole. The Department provides policy, legislative, communications and strategic advice to Cabinet and to GNWT departments. The program also provides broad direction for the territorial public service and addresses national and international issues that have cross-departmental implications. The Executive Offices reviews all departmental initiatives to ensure that they support the government’s agenda in a balanced manner and directs focus towards areas where balance is not being achieved. The Secretary to Cabinet/Deputy Minister of Executive manages the Executive Offices Program. This program is responsible for the following: the Commissioner's Office, the Ministers' Offices, the Cabinet Secretariat and the Public Utilities Board. In 2003-2004, Executive Offices Program became responsible for the another unit, the Beaufort Delta Regional Office, which was responsible for implementing Cabinet priorities and direction, coordinating GNWT program and service responsibilities in the region and transition planning at the regional level in preparation for the implementation of a final self-government agreement.
The Commissioner’s Office provides funding for the Commissioner’s operational expenses, travel and support staff and for the Commissioner’s Award Program which recognizes individuals who distinguish themselves by acts of bravery of exceptional public service.
The Ministers' Offices include the Premier's Office, Ministers' Offices, and Women's Advisory. This unit provides advice, communication and operation support to the Premier and Cabinet, six Ministers and support staff. The Women’s Advisory provides a point of contact within the territorial government on issues of concern to women and advice and support to the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women.
The programs delivered by the Cabinet Secretariat have changed throughout the years. It has included such units as Secretariat Management, Official Languages Unit, Personnel Secretariat, Division Review Secretariat, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Corporate Services, which supports all three Programs of the Department of the Executive budgetary by providing, budgetary, financial and administrative services. The Legislation and House Planning unit provides advice and support to Cabinet, departments and government agencies with respect to the development of legislation and for sessions of the Legislative Assembly. Between 1998-1999, the Regulatory Reform Secretariat was added to the Cabinet Secretariat activity. This activity was responsible for reviewing the way government departments and agencies carry out regulatory responsibilities in order to reduce barriers to economic growth. This review process was completed within the same fiscal year. The Division Review Secretariat also operated between 1998-2000, and provided support and advice to Cabinet and acted as a liaison between the GNWT and the Government of Nunavut. After division of the Northwest Territories and the creation of Nunavut, this unit ceased to exist. In 1999-2000, the Personnel Secretariat Unit was renamed Corporate Human Resource Services. This unit continued to develop and monitor the government's recruitment policy, Affirmative Action Policy and other government-wide human resource policies, as well as provide training and advice to GNWT departments on staff development and human resource planning. Furthermore, the services delivered by the Official Languages Unit were transferred to the Department of Education, Culture and Employment in 1999. Between 2000-2001, three new units were added to the Cabinet Secretariat; Communications, Regional Relations and Intergovernmental Forum Secretariat. The Communications Unit develops, produces and distributes Department of Executive publications, provides advice and implements public affairs strategies to the Premier, Executive Council and Departments and provides protocol services to the GNWT. In addition, this unit communities the goals, strategies and agenda of the GNWT within government and to the public. The Regional Relations Unit is responsible for enhancing communications within and between regions and Headquarters. It also assists regions in preparation for transfer of government programs and services through capacity building and aboriginal self-government. This unit ceased to exist in 2002-2003. The Intergovernmental Forum Secretariat is responsible for coordinating the Government’s participation in Aboriginal, Territorial and Federal government discussions on issues such as devolution, resource revenue sharing, oil and gas developments, and fiscal relationship with Ottawa and northern control over northern resources. In 2002-2003, the Intergovernmental Forum Secretariat and the Intergovernmental Affairs Unit joined to form the Intergovernmental Relations and Strategic Planning Unit. The Energy Secretariat was added to the Cabinet Secretariat in 2002-2003. It was responsible for coordinating the development of an NWT Energy Strategy within the GNWT. Once this unit completed its task and ceased to exist in 2003-2004. The Corporate Review and Transition Planning Project was added to the Cabinet Secretariat in 2003-2004; it conducted an examination of GNWT functions and structure in order to report on future issues and actions for consideration by the Executive Council.
The Public Utilities Board is an independent regulatory agency responsible for the regulation of the energy utilities in the NWT. The Board derives its authority from the Public Utilities Act.
The Financial Management Board Secretariat (FMBS) was expanded and transferred from the Department of Finance to the Department of Executive. With the exception of staffing and external financial responsibilities, the Financial Management Board Secretariat has assumed all human resource and financial management functions of the Department of Personnel and Finance. FMBS provides centralized revenue and general accounting, comptrollership, program and organizational design services, internal audit, program evaluation, pay and benefit services, human resources planning and development as well as labour relations services to the Government of the Northwest Territories. These services are provided through four core business units: Directorate, Human Resources, Government Accounting and Audit, Budgeting and Evaluation. Between 1998-99, these core units changed to the Directorate, Labour Relations and Compensation Services, Government Accounting, the Audit Bureau and Budgeting and Evaluation. In 2003-2004, the Office of the Chief Information Officer was created and reported to the Secretary of the Financial Management Board/Comptroller General. This Office was responsible for developing a strategy for the management and utilization of the GNWT’s information resources, as well as coordinates an information management/information systems/information technology planning process that span multiple departments as well as provide advice and support to the Informatics Policy Committee.
The Ministry of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs serves the Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs and the Cabinet Committee System. The Ministry manages and coordinates GNWT participation at land claims, self-government and treaty negotiations and monitors Western constitutional development. The three areas of program support included the Directorate, Policy and Implementation and Negotiations. Between 2001-2002, the Policy and Implementation Division separated to form their own separate divisions. The Implementation Division became solely responsible for the negotiation of implementation plans and managing and monitoring the implementation of settled lands, resources and self-government agreements. In 2002-2003, a new unit was added to the Ministry. The Intergovernmental Forum Secretariat is responsible for GNWT coordination in Aboriginal, territorial and federal government discussions on pan-territorial issues such as economic development, capacity building and financing governments. The Ministry also works to enhance communications with regions and between regions and Headquarters and to work with regions to prepare for changes to the delivery of government programs and services in advance of new governance arrangements being negotiated. A sixth functional unit was added to the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs in 2003-2004 with the Devolution Division. This division is responsible for managing GNWT participation and representing the GNWT interest in the negotiations of devolution and resource revenue sharing agreements. The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations (DAAIR) formed in 2006-2007 when the Department of Aboriginal Affairs gained the intergovernmental relations function from the Department of Executive. The Department of Aboriginal Affairs had also been responsible for devolution and resource revenue functions, however with the formation of the DAAIR, these functions remained with the Executive.