Chief Administrative Officer Performance Appraisal

Ordinarily the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) is the only employee of a municipal council. The CAO is a position of authority and influence and serves as a link between the council and municipal operations; as such, a high degree of trust between each party is required.

The CAO's Performance

The performance of the CAO can have such a direct and lasting impact on the ability of council to carry out its mandate that a functional and successful relationship should be viewed as essential. A CAO performance appraisal is a valuable tool for councils to use when assessing competencies and provides an opportunity to establish consistent and regular feedback for the CAO role. The performance appraisal allows the CAO with the opportunity to draft and discuss their annual objectives, assess the results, and make necessary changes for future evaluations.

It is in everyone’s best interests that an atmosphere of trust, respect and transparency develop and characterize this relationship; a well-developed and planned CAO performance appraisal can help establish this.

The performance appraisal is mandated in the Municipal Governance Act Section 205.1, so it should be expected. The appraisal should set out:

  • To formally discuss the relationship between the municipality and the CAO.
  • To relate performance to the role, responsibilities, authority and duties as defined by the MGA, the bylaws and policies and the job description.
  • To set objectives and criteria for future evaluation.
  • To recognize strengths and weaknesses and reward or correct them.
  • To serve as a basis for salary adjustment.

The review should at least include the following areas:

  • Management and leadership practices
  • Relationship with council
  • Relationship with staff
  • Relationship with the public and media
  • Objectives and accomplishments
  • Areas for improvement/suggested training

The following resources are available for you to use and to help develop a CAO performance appraisal that works for your municipality’s council and CAO. 

Webinar - Performing Chief Administrative Officer Evaluations 

Gord Syme of Conroy Ross Partners

Remote video URL

Please refer to this example of a Performance Appraisal of a Chief Administrative Officer and Template Forms

CAO Performance Appraisal Guide

CAO Performance Appraisal Guide Template Forms


Article from Harvard Business Review: Delivering an Effective Performance Review

CAO performance appraisals FAQ

CAO performance appraisal course presentation

Did you know that Alberta Municipalities' Casual legal service is included in membership fees for all Regular and Associate Members? This resource is available to any elected or appointed officials. Casual legal advice is intended to provide general guidance to members to assist them in avoiding potential legal problems.

Phone: 1.800.661.7673 or casuallegal [at] (send an email).

Performance Appraisals for Municipal Employees, Local Government Resource Handbook

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, Government of Nova Scotia, March 2005


Performance Evaluation form for the Position of CAO

District of Summerland, BC - November 10, 2014


Example Performance Appraisal

George Cuff Performance Appraisal


City of Grande Prairie

CAO Appraisal Procedure

CAO Appraisal Policy