The Cross-Functional Policy Mobility Program

I am an employee

Why participate?

All program participants will:

• Have access to the opportunities they need to round-out their professional experience by working in various policy functional areas.

• Strengthen their skills and mindsets.

• Be supported by the Program Talent Manager and assignment host managers in learning quickly throughout the program.

• Grow into a well-rounded cross-functional policy practitioner after 18 months.

• Grow their network.

The overall aim of the Program is to develop well-rounded cross-functional policy practitioners, meaning program participants will gain experience in different policy functions to acquire a deep understanding of the policy lifecycle, resulting in more effective policy development, implementation and evaluation. Participants will have functional breadth of expertise and will foster a culture of collaboration across departments and functional areas.

The prototype of the XFN Program has been designed to allow policy practitioners to work in up to three new policy functions during their time in the 18-month program. Assignments are 6 or 12 months long and participants will only be working in functions in which they do not have previous experience. While gaining experience in new functions, participants will also be honing the competencies identified in the draft Policy Community Competency Framework and utilizing their developmental mindset to learn fast.  Assignments will be in Policy Community Funding Departments – there are over 25 participating.

Further, participants will have the opportunity to leave a strong impact on the organizations in which they work. Participants are expected to contribute in their assignments right away and to use their previous experience, developmental mindset and different set of tools to add value to the team hosting them.

One of the unique features of the Program is the individualized support participants receive. All Program participants will establish a Personalized Talent Plan upon accepting a position in the Program. The Plan will identify the policy functions they need to gain experience in, as well as the competencies within the Framework they need to further hone. Participants will be supported by the Talent Manager throughout the Program in their learning and achieving the goals identified in their Plan. 

Participation Requirements

Take our self-assessment questionnaire to determine if you meet the program criteria. You should apply if you:

  • have a basic knowledge of policy functions (functional areas) and in depth experience in at least one function;
  • have developed a minimum competency profile – practicing level (medium) in Adaptable, Collaboration and Analytical; mastery level (high) in at least one competency; and, awareness level (basic) in the remaining competencies; 
  • have a developmental mindset (a willingness to remain open, curious and persistent in a variety of learning experiences); 
  • have the time to and have an idea of what you want to learn; and, 
  • are eager to be part of the prototype phase of the Program and understand and accept that during your time in the Program it will evolve.

All public servants who meet the program criteria (the self-assessment questionnaire will help you determine if you meet the criteria) are invited to apply.

NOTE: The second cohort for the prototype version of the Program will only be open to indeterminate and term employees located in the NCR in any classification. It will test the Program’s assumptions and rapid learning of new policy functions. The insights from the prototype phase of the Program will inform the experience of future cohorts of the Program, including participation by employees in the regions.  

Policy Functions

Core Policy Functions

Policy Research: investigates a policy problem/issue using qualitative and quantitative research methods. 

Policy/Program Development: develop options/ solutions for identified problems/issues using various policy instruments and approaches.

Strategic Policy/Policy Coordination: provide integrated advice on matters such as, international and fed-prov relations, cabinet and parliamentary affairs, and departmental planning and reporting.

Policy Consultation and Engagement: work with Canadians to receive and share their feedback/input for incorporation into policy/program development and policy/program evaluation.

Supporting Policy Functions

Program/Operations Management: manage the implementation, promotion and uptake of the program/solution, as well as gather insights to inform future policy making efforts. 

Project Management: manage the planning and execution of projects effectively and efficiently. 

Corporate Policy: management of an organization’s operations, objectives and plans.

Communications: develop and manage the written and verbal communications of policy issues. 

Results and Evaluation: determine performance framework measuring reporting results. Evaluate the effectiveness of implemented and proposed policy solutions and provide recommendations for improvement to advance policy positions/outcomes, when applicable. 

Policy Community Competency Framework (beta version) – Competency Definitions


Asks questions, synthesizes and uses a critical approach to understand a problem, and proposes well-reasoned policy advice.


Brings information to life in a way appropriate to the audience to inform, engage or support empathetic and robust decision-making.


Evaluates options for a given problem to translate government vision into policies and programs, and measures results and their impact.


Is curious, embraces new ways of thinking and doing, and has the courage to push boundaries.    


Builds relationships and partnerships internally and externally, builds consensus, and co-creates solutions.  


Is culturally aware and engages diverse users throughout the policy cycle to address their needs.

Data Literate  

Creates, gathers, interprets and/or visualizes qualitative and quantitative data using current, valid and reliable sources.


Changes in a constructive manner, experiments, applies lessons learned, adjusts and perseveres through uncertainty and setbacks.

Developmental Mindset

A developmental mindset is what makes you open and willing to learn, and able to persist when learning gets tough. It is your ability to take what you have learned and apply it to future situations.

Policy Community Funding Departments and Agencies

 - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

- Canada Council for the Arts

- Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions

- Canada Revenue Agency

- Canadian Food Inspection Agency

- Canadian Heritage

- Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

- Communications Security Establishment

- Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs / Indigenous Services Canada

- Department of Justice Canada

- Employment and Social Development Canada 

- Environment and Climate Change Canada 

- Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario 

- Fisheries and Oceans Canada/Canadian Coast Guard  

- Global Affairs Canada

- Health Canada

- Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada

- Infrastructure Canada

- Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

- Natural Resources Canada

- Privy Council Office

- Public Health Agency of Canada

- Shared Services Canada

- Statistics Canada

- Transport Canada

- Treasury Board Secretariat

- Western Economic Diversification Canada

- Canada School of Public Service (XFN Home Department)*  

Frequently Asked Questions


To create the initial design for the Program to respond to the need for greater mobility across the various policy functions we researched existing Government of Canada programs, as well as international professional development programs.

Through our engagement with the Policy Community (broad and targeted sessions with folks in specific policy functions/roles) we probed to understand the challenges/needs the program should address. Based on this input/insight, we drafted our initial design, as well as our assumptions about what conditions are needed for participants, host managers and host teams to benefit from the experience.

We had over 40 focused conversations/engagement sessions with employees and managers and consulted over 55 organizations across Canada and internationally. This approach allowed us to co-design the prototype of the Program with the Policy Community and HR ecosystem, determining what would be best for our “live” test.

The program offers you the unique experience of accessing the opportunities you need to round-out your professional experience by working in various functional areas (e.g., policy research, strategic policy, program design, program implementation, evaluation) in which you have no previous experience. The focus of the program is providing a breadth of policy experiences, developing new skills, practicing a developmental mindset and growing you, as a program participant into a well-rounded cross-functional policy practitioner. As a program graduate you will develop a concrete understanding of the policy lifecycle and its impact from your first-hand experience. Because of this, we believe that you, as a program participant will make more inclusive and informed contributions in your work. 

We have heard from policy practitioners that mobility across functions is hampered by challenges such as, requirement to have existing experience for the new experience you are trying to get, limited network and limited assignment opportunities. The program will work to overcome these and other challenges. 

As a program participant, you will establish a Personalized Talent Plan with the Talent Manager when you enter the program that identifies your objectives for your time in the program. Given the small-scale of the program (10 participants per cohort), you will receive highly individualized attention and support from the Talent Manager in achieving your objectives.

The program will produce high-performing, well-rounded cross-functional policy practitioners who are able to work effectively across the various policy functions while delivering policy excellence. Further, due to the exposure to multiple functional areas, you as a program participant are well positioned for a rewarding and fulfilling career, as you can make informed decisions when determining which areas of work you are best suited for/would enjoy the most. 

The CFA Program does not focus specifically on the development of functional experience in new areas and competencies. It does not have an end-date for you as a participant. 

The XFN Program is an 18-month program where you, as a participant would have a Personalized Talent Plan that identifies the opportunities you need to enhance your skillset and acquire the functional knowledge/experience you are missing to be a well-rounded policy practitioner. In the program, you will be able to pursue your own opportunity at one of the funding departments or have the option of choosing from the available assignments, as long as it aligns with your objectives and you work in a new functional area. 

The majority of existing developmental programs, such as the Advanced Policy Analyst Program and the Policy Analyst Recruitment Development Program, are external recruitment efforts. These programs generally offer guaranteed level advancement, pending success in the program and pre-identified work opportunities.  There are also recruitment programs, such as the Recruitment of Policy Leaders Program and the Post-Secondary Recruitment Program, which help candidates enter the government.

The XFN program is for current Government of Canada professionals in any classification who are looking to expand their skillsets and acquire experience in different functional policy areas. If you apply to the program you will be assessed based on the criteria outlined in the draft Policy Community Competency Framework and a developmental mindset. Further, each participants’ experience will be personalized, based on what they need to develop into a well-rounded cross-functional policy practitioner. Participants will receive individual support from the program’s Talent Manager. 

All indeterminate and term federal public servants whose positions are located in the National Capital Region (NCR) in the federal public service below the EX level who can be deployed* are eligible to apply.

*Please ensure that your substantive indeterminate position resides in a federal organization from which you are deployable to the core public administration. It is your responsibility to verify whether you’re “deployable” by checking on the policy functions. The insights from the prototype phase of the Program will inform changes for future cohorts of the Program, including participation by employees in the regions.  

If you apply, you will be screened for your experience in at least one policy functional area, for the competencies identified in the beta version of the Policy Community Competency Framework and a developmental mindset.  

Should you make it through the screening, you will be invited to participate in individual and group assessment activities. Reference checks may be used.

The program accepts all language profiles. 

NOTE: Host managers may specify their language requirements based on the duties to be performed.

Please visit the application section of our website.

If you would like to apply, you are required to complete a self-assessment questionnaire before submitting an application. The self-assessment will take you approximately 10-15 minutes to complete and will help you determine if the Program, as well as the timing is right for you. 

If you are a participant, you will be deployed into an indeterminate or term position with the program’s home department, the Canada School of Public Service. 
If you are accepted into the program you will be expected to stay in the program for the full 18-months to gain the experience you need to become a well-rounded policy practitioner. 
You may take assignments that allow you to act if the host manager offers you to perform duties above your substantive level. This will be dependent on the assessment of your candidacy and you meeting the essential qualifications of the position.

Assignments will be 6 or 12 months to provide a balance between learning new policy functions and gaining a diversity of experiences. All assignments will be in the Policy Community funding departments (currently there are over 25). 

The Program has secured potential assignments across the different policy functions in a variety of funding departments. You will be able to pursue your own opportunity at one of the funding departments or have the option of choosing from the available assignments, as long as it aligns with the objectives of your Personalized Talent Plan.  

Your salary will be paid by your assignment host manager. If you are between assignments your salary will be paid by the program. 

The program will cover any training costs up to $1000 that you have, though you will need approval for the time out of office from your host manager. 

All Program participants will establish a Personalized Talent Plan upon accepting a position in the Program. The Plan will identify the policy functions you need to gain experience in, as well as the competencies within the Framework you need to further hone. Participants will be supported by the Talent Manager throughout the Program to achieve the goals identified in their Plan. 

In addition to your Personalized Talent Plan, you will have a performance agreement in the performance management system. The Talent Manager will work with your host manager to accurately document your performance in the system, as per the regular yearly cycle.

At this time, promotion is not an intent of the program. That said, a non-advertised appointment may be considered on a case-by-case basis prior to graduation for a participant who has successfully demonstrated capacity through acting assignments for a significant length of time during the program.

If you participate in the program, you will graduate as well-rounded cross-functional policy practitioner, should you meet the objectives of your Personalized Talent Plan. 

You will need to deploy out of the program and into an indeterminate or term opportunity upon graduation. You will determine where you deploy to with the support of the Talent Manager. In addition, the Policy Community Partnership Office with its broad network in the federal public service will support you, as an XFN graduate in connecting with potential hiring managers, as needed. 

As a participant of the program, you will be well positioned to pursue opportunities that align with your interests, skillset and experiences. Working in various functional areas not only offers you the opportunity to discover the type of work you would like to do, but allows you to build a network and gain the experience needed to continue to do that work post-program. 

Self-Assessment Questionnaire

Click here to complete the self-assessment questionnaire, designed to help you decide if you should apply to the XFN Program. The self-assessment takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. Should now not be the time to apply, the self-assessment is still a useful tool for you to understand your areas for growth to prepare to apply in the future.

Submit an application

Click here to submit your application. Applications close September 23, 2019 at midnight.

Previous Next