Administrator of the Government

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An Administrator (Administrator of the Government, Officer Administering the Government) in the constitutional practice of some countries in the Commonwealth is a person who fulfils a role similar to that of a Governor or a Governor-General.

Temporary administrators[edit]

Usually the office of administrator is a temporary appointment, for periods during which the governor is incapacitated, outside the territory, or otherwise unable to perform his/her duties. The process for selecting Administrators varies from country to country.


The Administrator is usually the Chief Justice of Canada. In the absence of the Chief Justice the senior puisne judge of the Supreme Court of Canada is appointed. Administrators can also be appointed to the Canadian provinces to perform the duties of the Lieutenant Governor, in which case a justice of a provincial superior court is appointed.

In Yukon the position of Administrator is a political appointment corresponding roughly to that of "deputy commissioner".[1]


In the Commonwealth of Australia, the Administrator is usually called the Administrator of the Commonwealth. State Governors hold a dormant commission and by convention the longest-serving state Governor becomes Administrator.

In the states of Australia, the Administrator is usually the Chief Justice of the state's Supreme Court or the next most senior justice. In 2001, the Constitution of Queensland was amended to restore the office of Lieutenant-Governor in that state. Links:

New Zealand[edit]

Under letters patent issued in 1983 and revised in 2006, the Chief Justice of New Zealand will be Administrator, followed by the other Judges of the New Zealand judiciary in order of seniority.


Papua-New Guinea[edit]

As a former External Territory of Australia, the head of the Territory's administration was called the Administrator of Papua-New Guinea before independence in 1975. The appointment was by the Governor-General of Australia on the advice of the Australian Minister of External Territories. The Minister for External Territories consulted with the territory's Chief Minister as part of the appointment process.

Hong Kong[edit]

When Hong Kong was a British Crown colony the Chief Secretary (Colonial Secretary before 1976) would be the Acting Governor, followed by the Financial Secretary and the Attorney General. The practice has remained after the transfer of sovereignty to China. Rotation takes place between the Chief Secretary for Administration (formerly Chief Secretary), the Financial Secretary and the Secretary for Justice (formerly Attorney General) as the Acting chief executive.


When the self-governing colony of Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1965, the Government of Prime Minister Ian Smith ignored the Governor of Rhodesia, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, and reorganised itself as a Commonwealth realm. Smith intended to have Deputy Prime Minister Clifford Dupont named Governor-General, but when he was rebuffed by London, Smith named Dupont as Officer Administering the Government. Dupont remained administrator until 1970, when Rhodesia was declared a republic, after which Dupont became President of Rhodesia. The country renamed itself Zimbabwe Rhodesia in 1979, returned to colonial status following the Lancaster House Agreement later that year. In 1980, it achieved internationally recognized independence as Zimbabwe.

Permanent Administrators[edit]

The term Administrator is also used for a permanent officer representing the head of state where the appointment of a Governor would be inappropriate; it is also used for the representative of a Governor.

United Kingdom overseas possessions[edit]

  • The civil Administrator Akrotiri and Dhekelia Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus is traditionally the military Commander of British Forces in the areas.
  • The Administrator of the British Indian Ocean Territory is the junior to a Commissioner (Chagos Archipelago, notably Diego Garcia. He mandates the Commander of British Naval forces on Diego Garcia as his representative and Justice of the Peace, alongside the American Commander US Navy Facility Diego Garcia
  • The two dependencies of Saint Helena, both sparsely populated Atlantic islands, are responsible in the first instance to the Governor of St Helena :


There is no administrator in the Australian Capital Territory and the Chief Minister is elected by the Legislative Assembly.


In the Union territories of India, which are ruled directly by the Union Government, the President of India appoints an Administrator.[2] Administrators differ from the Governors of the states of India in that they are an agent of the President and not a head of state.[3]

The President may also appoint the Governor of a neighbouring state to be the Administrator of a union territory. Since 1985 the Governor of Punjab has acted as the Administrator of Chandigarh. In three union territories: Andaman and Nicobar Islands; Delhi; and Puducherry; the Administrator uses the title Lieutenant Governor.

New Zealand[edit]


United States[edit]

In the United States, the rank of Administrator denotes a high-level civilian official within the United States federal government. An official of sub-Cabinet rank, Administrators are appointed by the President of the United States with the consent of the United States Senate and are assigned to run a specific US government agency. Administrators often manage major agencies housed within specific Cabinet Departments (e.g., Research and Innovative Technology Administration within the United States Department of Transportation) while others are stand-alone agencies (e.g., the United States Environmental Protection Agency).

Sources and references[edit]


  1. ^ "Choice of Next Commissioner Praised." Chuck Tobin, the Whitehorse Star, 1 December 2010. Accessed 1 March 2011.
  2. ^ Union Territories. Know India: National Portal of India Archived 26 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ M Laxmikanth (2004). Indian Polity (3rd ed.).