Given the number of documents that a Minister of the Crown is required to sign, an autopen is frequently used. Since a signature from the autopen is considered a legal signature, and can therefore bind the Government and the Crown to certain decisions, its use must be carefully controlled. This document outlines the roles and responsibilities, as well as current security and functional procedures for the use of the Minister’s autopen at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Autopen roles and responsibilities
Autopen personnel are divided into two groups: those who can approve its operation (Authorizers), and those who operate it (Operators). An Operator can only use the autopen following the receipt of written authorization by an Authorizer.
The following is an overview of autopen Authorization and Operation. To ensure adequate coverage and flexibility, it is recommended that select departmental and ministerial staff be assigned Operator privileges. [Information was severed in accordance with the Access to Information Act.]
Ministerial authorization to use the autopen
- At the time of ministerial transition, all previous delegations of authority become null and void, and new delegations must be sought. The Department facilitates the setup and use of the autopen.
- Further, the Delegation of Authority form allows the Minister to delegate signing authority to a named individual, such as the Chief of Staff. The Chief of Staff can also subdelegate if he/she decides.
- The autopen is only to be used with the written authorization of the Minister, Parliamentary Secretary, or the delegated authority, namely, the Chief of Staff or his/her delegate).
- [Information was severed in accordance with the Access to Information Act.] Operators will verify the authorization on the docket routing slip before the autopen’s use.
Authorization and functional procedures
- Authorizers (Minister, Parliamentary Secretary, Chief of Staff) must provide the transmittal slip with written approval to sign for Operators (Departmental staff) to action the autopen. Only Operators are permitted to use the autopen. No other individuals are authorized to use the autopen under any circumstances.
- It is critical that the routing or transmittal slip clearly contains the word “Approved,” and, in the case of decision memos, indicates either “Concur” or “Do Not Concur” for documents to be signed with the autopen. MCU will review the slip before the autopen’s use, and will verify authorization.
- Once a document is brought [Information was severed in accordance with the Access to Information Act.] for signature, it is treated as a priority and processed immediately.
- Only documents brought [Information was severed in accordance with the Access to Information Act.] by staff from the Office of the Departmental Liaison are to be processed. If documents are brought [Information was severed in accordance with the Access to Information Act.] by any other individual, MCU is to notify the Departmental Liaison immediately.
- A list of all penned 001 (MCU) dockets shall be provided to the Office of the Departmental Liaison on a monthly basis.
- A full copy of all penned non-001 (non-MCU) dockets (excluding Questions on the Order Paper) shall be provided to the Office of the Departmental Liaison on a monthly basis.
- For any material for which there is not a tracking number, an authorization slip will be required with the title of the document, the date, and the signature of the Chief of Staff. Original slips authorizing the use of the autopen are to be kept securely by MCU.
- If no Operator is available and a docket requires urgent action, the Office of the Departmental Liaison will be contacted to seek direction from the Minister’s Office.
[Information was severed in accordance with the Access to Information Act.]
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