Quote of the week
“I’m counting on you to make change happen.”
— Wayne Wouters, Clerk of the Privy Council
The first day of the APEX Symposium has been a great success, and kudos to the organizing team for what so far has been a stimulating and imaginative event.
The only apparent downside for federal public sector executives has nothing to do with APEX: IPAC in its wisdom decided to hold its annual conference this same week in Edmonton, ensuring that probably the only federal public sector executive there is its president, CRA Commissioner and CEO Andrew Treusch.
Anyway, back to APEX. The theme this year is Transformational Leadership, and the first day focused on how leaders can shape the future. The Clerk led off the day, focusing on what his expectations are for Destination 2020, and later in the afternoon Louise Levonian elaborated.
A panel on “nudge,” the use of behavioural economics to encourage citizens to make the right decisions, discussed this tool for making change happen.
Some thoughts from the panelists:
- For governments, nudge is a low cost intervention (such as changing a form) that can have a large return. Also, nudge is about smarter service delivery, thinking better about how we deliver services (Jennifer Gold, Mowat Centre).
- Studies show that public servants are discontented, feel disengaged, are critical of information flows and do not feel empowered. Behavioural economics can help change public servant culture (Sunil Johal, Mowat Centre).
- For nudge to work, you need a problem to solve and a community of stakeholders or citizens you can interact with as part of the solution. (Michael Snauuw, CRA).
The U.K. is the leader in this area: David Cameron created the now famous Nudge Unit that has been spun off. Canada is behind, although Destination 2020 commits to setting up an “Innovation Hub” that will spur and coordinate innovation and the use of new policy techniques like behavioural economics.