Quote of the week
“Do you think the Clerk’s Destination 2020 report will change the public service?”
— CGE Web Poll
The Blueprint 2020 exercise has been presented as a broad, bottom-up e-consultation process. The Destination 2020 report on the process tells us, for example, that over 18,000 tweets included the #GC2020 hashtag and that over 110,000 public servants participated to some degree in the “engagement activities.”
So you would think that there would be a groundswell of support for the goals of the report, and optimism that it really will make a difference to the public service.
The CGE web poll that we launched suggests otherwise: when asked “Do you think the Clerk’s Destination 2020 report will change the public service?” only a quarter of respondents (26.1%) said YES. 14.8% were UNSURE and almost 2/3 of respondents (59.1%) said NO.
While I would be the first to caution against taking these numbers too seriously, one wonders why there is not more confidence that this initiative will really make a difference.
Many public servants I talked to suggest that the directions outlined by Destination 2020, while laudable, are just about the process of how business is done and will not really address the core issues of trust and relevance.
That trust debate was first raised by APEX. Its submission to Blueprint 2020 expressed concern about the supposed eroding trust between politicians and public service.
Ralph Heintzman then wrote a report which argued that public trust in government is declining because the public service has been politicized and is thus less relevant.
Ruth Hubbard then said in an interview that the senior ranks of the public service don’t have the competencies needed to do the job. And last Monday Maryantonett Flumian argued that any alleged “trust gap” should not be addressed by isolating the public service from the reality of politics.
This debate is healthy. It speaks to change, the responsibilities of the public service as an institution, and the role of public servants working within it.
And it leads to our next CGE web poll question: “Do you believe public servants are too ‘politicized’?” Go to https://canadiangovernmentexecutive.ca and click on any article to give us your views.