Canadian Classification of the Functions of Government (CCOFOG) Methodology


CCOFOG data are prepared for all general government sectors: the federal general government sector, the provincial general and territorial government sector, the local general government sector, the colleges and universities sector and the health, school board and Canada and Quebec Pension Plan sectors. Canadian Classification of the Functions of Government (CCOFOG) coding is applied at the program level for the general ledger accounts, specified purpose accounts, special funds and income statements of specific entities, such as colleges and universities. A complete list of government entities is available at Public Sector Universe

Data composition

The published CCOFOG data represent only expenses, but exclude consumption of fixed capital. No estimates of the acquisition of non-financial assets are prepared at this time.

Coding process

The CCOFOG classification has three levels. The highest level is referred to as the division and has 10 separate categories. The second level is referred to as the group and the lowest level is referred to as the class. The classifications are available at Canadian Classification of Functions of Government (CCOFOG) 2014.

The primary mandate of a government’s program, together with additional information provided by the Canadian Government Finance Statistics (CGFS) coding, is used to assign the CCOFOG classification. When a program has multiple mandates suggesting multiple CCOFOG codes be used, available information is used to determine the main proportion of the observed expense and the entire expenditure is assigned to that CCOFOG classification. However, in certain cases, a proportion of the expenses are redistributed to other CCOFOG codes to better reflect the nature of the expenditure.

In general, special funds usually have a single function and thus a single CCOFOG code is assigned. For example, a social housing authority would have all expenses coded to 71069 – Housing, other than public debt transactions, which would be assigned to 7017.

General principles

CCOFOG provides a consistent way to compare government expenditures across jurisdictions and through time. The aim is to classify expenditures according to their function, or socioeconomic objective, reflecting the aims the associated government wants to achieve.

The 2014 Government Finance Statistics Manual, published by the International Monetary Fund, provides an overview of the COFOG assignment rules in Chapter 6 and its annex. Canada rigorously adheres to the guidelines described in the manual.

As a practical matter individual governments, federal, provincial, or local, typically report their expenditures by department or agency and, within these structures, by economic class of expenditure (compensation of employees, use of goods and services, social benefits, etcetera). Each government’s organizational structure may change over time and is unlikely to line up well with that of other governments. This issue is important within Canada and it is especially acute when it comes to comparing government expenditures across different countries. CCOFOG statistics promote comparability by providing a single, purpose-oriented classification for the expenditures of all jurisdictions and holding this classification constant through time.

It is also important, when making inter-governmental comparisons between countries or between governments within Canada, to use consolidated rather than unconsolidated statistics. This is especially true for expenditures on large expense categories such as health and education where inter-governmental transfers are substantial.

The consolidated provincial, territorial and local government (PTLG) estimates are often used for provincial and territorial comparisons. These estimates combine provincial and territorial governments, health and social service institutions, universities and colleges, municipalities and other local public administrations and school boards. Importantly, this aggregation removes interparty transactions. The PTLG aggregation is most often used for comparability purposes since there can be different delineations of responsibilities between provincial and local levels of government across provinces.

The consolidated Canadian general government estimates combine the federal government with PTLG data. They exclude data for the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans as well as those for federal and provincial government business enterprises.

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