Director General

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Director General Definition

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The term director-general (plural directors-general, as "general" is postpositive) is a title given the highest executive officer within a governmental, statutory, NGO, third sector or not-for-profit institution.



In most Australian states, the director-general is the most senior civil servant in any government department, reporting only to the democratically-elected minister representing that department. In Victoria and the Australian Government, the equivalent position is the secretary of the department.

The Australian Defence Force Cadets has three Directors-General which are all One-star rank''s;

  • Director-General of the Australian Navy Cadets
  • Director-General of the Australian Army Cadets
  • Director-General of the Australian Air Force Cadets

In Canada a director general is not the highest civil servant in a department. Directors general typically report to a more senior civil servant, e.g. at the assistant deputy minister level. Deputy ministers are the highest level bureaucrat in the Canadian civil service. Deputy Ministers are not politicians but professional bureaucrats. At school boards in Quebec, the director general is the highest-ranking employee.

European Union

In the European Commission as well as in the Council of the european union, each department (called a directorate-general) is headed by a non-political director-general. This is roughly equivalent to a British permanent secretary.


In France, the similar word président-directeur général (short: PDG) means the highest person in a company, who is in same time chairman (président) of board of directors and CEO (directeur général). From 2001 the two charges may be disjointed. The directeur général délégué has a role similar to a chief operating officer.

French ministries are divided in general directorates (directions générales), sometimes named central directorates (directions centrales) or simply directorates (directions), headed respectively by a directeur général, a directeur central, or a directeur.


In Germany, Generaldirektor may be used for the CEO of a large and established concern, corporation, company or enterprise, particularly if inferiors have the title director. The title is, however, unofficial (theoretically any person, and even practically every entrepreneur with one employee, may call himself director-general) and by now largely out of use. Officially a GmbH has a Geschäftsführer ("managing director ") and an Aktiengesellschaft a board of executive directors (Vorstand) with a chairman (Vorstandsvorsitzender).


In India, there is a Director General of Police and Director General of Income Tax in each state. Indian Coast Guard is headed by Director General of Indian Coast Guard (DGICG).


In Italy, the direttore generale of a company is a corporate officer who reports to CEO (amministratore delegato) and has duties similar to a chief operating officer.

Some Italian ministries are divided in departments (dipartimenti) who are in turn divided in general directorates (direzioni generali) headed by a direttore generale; other ministries, who haven''t departments, are directly divided in general directorates. In Italian provinces and greatest communes direttore generale is a chief administrative officer nominated by president of province or by mayor. The title of direttore generale is also given to the chief executive of an azienda sanitaria, a local public agency for health services.


A general director is the highest executive position in a Russian company, analogous to a US chief executive officer (CEO), or a UK managing director. The position exists for all Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) legal forms (e.g. joint stock companies (AO) and limited-liability companies (OOO)) except for sole proprietorships (IP).

The general director is the "single-person executive body" of a company. He or she acts without power of attorney to represent the company, and issues powers of attorney to others. His or her powers are defined by the company charter, by decision of the general meeting of shareholders (AO) or participants (OOO), and by the board of directors.


In Spain, México, and other Spanish-speaking countries, the term "director general" of a company (similar to a US corporation) means the highest person managing the company and translates as the CEO into United States English.


In Sweden, the similar word generaldirektör (short:GD) means the head of a government agency.

United Kingdom

In the UK, director-general is the professional head of an executive agency which contains other agencies headed by directors. For example the chief executive of the British Broadcasting Corporation is called the director-general. The head of the UKs internal security service MI5 is also a director-general, who operates at Permanent Secretary (Grade 1) level. (See British Civil Service#Grading schemes for details.) Ministerial department chiefs are known as Permanent Secretaries.

United States

This term is commonly used in international organisations and government departments, though often called an executive director or managing director in the U.S..

Typically, the chief administrative officer of an opera company in the US holds the title of "General Director". Such is the case with Plácido Domingo who functions in that capacity for the Los Angeles Opera, albeit that he continues to sing.

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