Civil service effectiveness – Canadian Government Executive

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September 5, 2017

Civil service effectiveness

Canada has emerged as having the world’s most effective public service. One would think that in our 150th year, this would be great cause for celebration, yet very little has been made of this in the media.

In a rather unusual, quiet manner this past summer, a new report has emerged from the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and the UK’s prestigious Institute for Government – the International Civil Service Effectiveness InCiSE Index 2017.

This report ranks the overall civil service effectiveness of 31 countries and is the first comprehensive attempt at independently measuring the unique attributes of civil service effectiveness – something that has eluded politicians, Public Service Executives and Public Administration scholars alike.

As no surprise to many who work in or study our system, Canada has emerged as having the world’s most effective public service. One would think that in our 150th year, this would be great cause for celebration, yet very little has been made of this in the media.

Perhaps the lack of attention paid to this report was because everyone has been focused on summer pursuits and Canada 150 celebrations or watching the political transition and forest fire situation in British Columbia unfold (all of which have a strong connection to our public services). Or maybe this lack of mainstream attention is because Canada’s number one ranking simply doesn’t fit with the normal public narrative of inefficient, unresponsive and scandal-plagued public services.

Well, in this issue of CGE, Ken Rasmussen of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School at the University of Regina shines a light on the InCiSE Index and gets inside the report with some analysis of where Canada has a particular strength, and where we should be focusing on the future.

Even in a highly effective public service, there is a constant, unrelenting need for adaptation and innovation brought about by technological advancement, ever increasing public expectations and political pressure for new policy responses. These factors create their own set of workplace issues, and in this issue’s cover story, Glenda Fisk and Jodi Himelright offer a practical perspective on “fostering resilience” as a key management tool. In keeping with the theme of modern workplace issues where power structures are shifting and hierarchical organizational models are being deconstructed, Deirdre Moore explores the mental health challenges associated with the virtual networked workplace and urges leaders to make healthy virtual workplaces a priority.

Rapid, global and seismic economic shifts and the associated workforce implications are creating extreme pressures and increasing inequalities in society. Jeffrey Roy, a regular contributor to CGE, asks the question whether our social welfare policy is keeping pace. The development and delivery of effective, relevant and resilient public policy is the goal of all governments, but in so many cases, failure to deliver results leaves senior managers and politicians scratching their heads.

All around the world, governments are focused on how to transform the policy role of government, and Canada is no exception. Seeking meaningful citizen and expert input into the formation of policy is now seen as mandatory in most circles, but in some cases, the policy development model can be significantly strengthened with input from community-based, civil society actors. Carey Doberstein makes this case and explores the comparative power of community-based homelessness networks and their effect on policy innovation and enhanced system coordination.

For this issue, the last word goes to Lori Turnbull, who writes on the Federal government commitment to the legalization of marijuana and the realities of the relationship between the Federal government and the Provinces and Territories, in meeting the timelines and publicly stated commitments.

On a personal note, this is my first issue as Editor-in-Chief of CGE. I must express my sincere appreciation to outgoing Editor-in-Chief Patrice Dutil for his steady leadership over the years and for the warm welcome and support, I have had from the whole CGE family. I look forward to continuing the long tradition of providing relevant and thought-provoking articles for public servants from coast to coast to coast.

Over the coming weeks, I will be announcing a new Editorial Advisory Board who will assist me in shaping the publication for the future. To all our readers in the public service, academics and scholars, and anyone who cares about public sector excellence consider CGE your voice. I urge you to give me your ideas for articles or stories and provide me with your feedback. You can reach me at george@promotivemedia.ca.

About this author

George Ross

George Ross

George Ross was the Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Resources, Deputy Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Deputy Minister of Consumer Services, Deputy Minister of Research and Innovation, and also held a number of ADM positions within the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Research and Innovation.

He also served in the role of National President of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and currently as the CEO and principal consultant of George Arthur Ross and Associates Inc. George is also an active volunteer who serves on several boards.

George is the editor-in-chief of Canadian Government Executive.

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