I had a busy month reading about governance, risk management and value.

First, a great research paper titled Postmoder n IT from Gartner, which had the following quote:

Governance prefers the known: Reality revels in surprise.” (Gartner analyst Chris Howard)

Recently, I wrote about governance and the correct balance in applying governance. Governance needs to be flexible enough to adjust to new or previously unforeseen risk or to accept new evidence that necessitates a new way to look at previously identified risk. Don’t we all.

I also read Kent Aitken’s great post on the value of people. This post rang true as I have been considering the Treasury Board policy suite as visualized by Nick Charney and the Treasury Board website. Seeing the policy suite as a set of risk management practices, proportionately published by number to meet each risk according to the value of the assets at risk.

1. Budget/Money assets – Governance and Expenditure Management, Assets and Acquired Services, Financial Management – (Chief Financial Officers)

2. People assets – Human Resources, Compensation, People Management – (Chief Human Resource Officers)

3. Information assets – Information and Technology – (Chief Information Officers)

Seeing the Service framework in there, will we have a need for a Chief Service Officer?

Finally, if you have not read up on John Doe v. Ontario, 2014 SCC 36, it is worth a look for any public servant. There is much more to the issue, but here is an interesting section to whet your appetite:

[45] Political neutrality, both actual and perceived, is an essential feature of the civil service in Canada… The advice and recommendations provided by a public servant who knows that his work might one day be subject to public scrutiny is less likely to be full, free and frank, and is more likely to suffer from self-censorship. Similarly, a decision maker might hesitate to even request advice or recommendations in writing concerning a controversial matter if he knows the resulting information might be disclosed. Requiring that such advice or recommendations be disclosed risks introducing actual or perceived partisan considerations into public servants’ participation in the decision-making process.”

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful month.


Disclaimer: Note that while I work as a public servant, this is entirely my own initiative and what I post here does not necessarily reflect the view of the government, my office or my position there in.

Craig Sellars
Craig Sellars is a passionate Canadian public servant and biologist. Connect with Craig on Twitter @CraigSellars.