In the last two decades, managing for results has gained momentum in the public sector, strengthening the disciplines of strategic planning, risk management, audit, evaluation, and performance measurement and reporting. These reforms are being implemented by skilled professionals, who continue, however, to face many challenges.
Each year the Performance and Planning Exchange (PPX) addresses these challenges in its annual symposium and series of learning events. The 18th annual PPX Symposium in May, “Getting to More Effective Government,” recognized the need to understand the effects of programs and services. It attracted some 150 participants, as well as sponsors Interis-BDO, and exhibitors SAS, FMI, Landmark Intersol, ITWorx, Canadian Government Executive and the Ottawa Public Sector Quality Fair.
The opening plenary, in keeping with the theme, addressed public service effectiveness and key human resources management issues. Daniel Watson, the Chief Human Resources Officer of the government of Canada, gave an insider’s view of the major issues, including the new initiatives for performance management; arrangements for sick leave and disability; talent development; and a perspective on Blueprint 2020.
Concurrent workshops highlighted the renewal of the Management Accountability Framework, and developments in performance measurement, reporting and interdepartmental collaboration. The MAF session, led by Treasury Board Secretariat, was offered on both days of the symposium due to high demand, and explained the major changes in the framework.
Presentations from Health Canada included new approaches and lessons learned in a key contribution program and a case study on performance reporting for integrated strategic, operational and financial planning. Shared Services Canada focused on methodologies for evaluating the efficiency of internal services. The Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education explained progress in establishing evaluation and performance measurement. Public Works and Government Services Canada presented its client service strategy for integrated performance measurement at the service standard level.
The luncheon address from Stuart Campbell from the Office of Good Government of the State of Michigan provided a lucid overview of the extensive reforms under way in Michigan, including the successful application of the balanced scorecard and other key tools of results-based management.
Jane Washburn, chief of strategy management for the government of New Brunswick, led a keynote session on how the implementation of modern management techniques such as balanced scorecard and Lean-Six Sigma have helped transform government operations in that province. As key tools in the government’s Formal Management System, these methodologies have helped realize significant savings in just two years. Jane’s presentation is available for replay at www.fmi.ca.
The second day began with a lively keynote on the evolution of the Treasury Board framework for results, resource allocation and accountability, led by Sally Thornton from the Secretariat and Mike Joyce, formerly with TBS and now at Queen’s University. In the context of the history of key developments relating to these initiatives, there was a good exchange on the issues. The session provided a better understanding of the intent and effects of the policy framework.
Concurrent workshops provided insights into working with big data and evaluation policies. One presentation explained how to use and understand data visualization. Another explored issues relating to the development of evaluation policy in the Philippines and Canada.
Michael Ferguson, the Auditor General of Canada, the second luncheon speaker, talked about the role of his office. He spoke with passion and humour about the challenges that have confronted him in the first two years of his mandate. Uniquely placed to value results-based management, Ferguson explained the relationship with performance audit and encouraged the PPX community to continue to pursue its valuable work.
The symposium closed with a compelling keynote discussion of Blueprint 2020, featuring experts from schools of public administration and public policy at four universities across Canada, and moderated by CGE editor Toby Fyfe. The session addressed the basic questions of rationale, relevance and evidence, arguing both pro and con. It was a rich exchange that gave participants a unique perspective on the chances for success.
Many of the presentations are available at www.ppx.ca. You can also join the PPX Discussion Forum group on LinkedIn or check out the website for the latest in opinion, events and news in the domain of planning and performance in the public sector.