GovScience 4.0: The rise of “social” science – Canadian Government Executive

NEWS

SEARCH

Policy
March 27, 2014

GovScience 4.0: The rise of “social” science

The federal government’s Blueprint 2020 initiative provides an opportunity to re-think how governments deliver public science in the digital age. The following article argues that government science has evolved from make-or-buy to cloud-and-crowd (the “clowd”).

Blueprint 2020, the federal public service renewal initiative, offers a vision of “a world-class Public Service equipped to serve Canada and Canadians now and into the future.” The question is: how can the federal science and technology (S&T) system continue to support the achievement of that vision?

The federal government uses S&T to meet its legal and regulatory responsibilities and to support strategic national priorities. While it is generally accepted that the government has an important role in funding S&T activity, its proper role in performing S&T has been debated at length in Canada.

It can be argued that while Ottawa continues to support S&T in the academic and private sectors, the public service must also maintain its core capacity to conduct S&T in the public interest and as a key enabler of the nation’s broader science and innovation ecosystem. Key responsibilities include:

• providing scientific information to support regulatory and policy decision-making and standards;
• producing public good products and services;
• supporting public welfare and national security;
• providing capacity to anticipate and respond quickly to national priorities and adverse events; and
• supporting innovation to improve the economic well-being of Canadians.

As Blueprint 2020 makes clear, there are a number of pressures on how the public service operates, and government science is not immune. At the same time, however, Blueprint 2020 offers an opportunity for the public service to embrace the emerging “social economy” in which Web 2.0 tools, social media and mass collaboration are reshaping our traditional institutions.

In his book, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations, Clay Shirky (2008) explains that “we are living in the middle of a remarkable increase in our ability to share, to cooperate with one another, and to take collective action, all outside the framework of traditional institutions and organizations” (my emphasis). To understand where we are heading, it is helpful to briefly review where we have been.

Following an early period of “nation-building” activities, government science came of age during the Second World War. The post-war period can be viewed as a series of phases or versions of government science associated with a particular institutional form – hierarchies, markets and networks.

Beginning with the wartime expansion of Canada’s federal S&T enterprise, GovScience 1.0 can be characterized as a period of hierarchy as the government sought to build the required S&T capacity in-house within large departmental bureaucracies. This wave reached its high-water mark in the early 1970s with the creation of the Department of the Environment, but hierarchies remain relevant today.

Under GovScience 2.0, beginning in the 1970s with the federal Make-or-Buy policy, markets (or quasi-markets) were preferred as government science was expected to adopt more market-oriented goals and business-like practices such as innovation support, cost-recovery, contracting out and intellectual property revenue streams. This market logic became dominant over the last two decades and continues to inform, for example, the transformation of the National Research Council.

More recently, in response to the growing influence of innovation systems thinking and recognition of the public good nature of a significant portion of government science, we have entered a phase in which collaboration, partnerships and network-based approaches are increasingly the norm. Of course, government scientists were highly networked long before networks became managerial fashion. Now, however, our networks are increasingly at the level of institutions, not just individuals.

Under GovScience 3.0, networks enable the government to draw on the required scientific expertise wherever it resides to address national priorities. Networks mitigate Canada’s traditional challenge of too little capacity spread over too much geography.

It is important to note that successive waves have not replaced the previous institutional ones. For example, it would be difficult to argue that hierarchies are not still a dominant institutional form in government. Rather, each new policy emphasis is overlaid on top of the previous layers and competes for influence. The key point is that the policy choices for government science have evolved from merely “make” or “make or buy” to now “make, buy and collaborate” and various combinations of all three.

GovScience 3.0 has not yet reached its high-water mark and network-based approaches will likely be the focus through to year 2020. However, it is important to note that the period between the phases is decreasing. As we work to increase inter-sectoral collaboration and fully deploy the network-based approaches of GovScience 3.0 we must also contemplate the next big wave.

Our ongoing penchant for hierarchies has affected our ability to fully embrace the power of networks as a new mode of organizing government science. It is as if the public service runs to its comfort zone by trying to make our networks more like hierarchies. Hence we prefer formal, well-defined “private-public partnerships” and stable, well-structured networks in which we know all the players, have fully negotiated intellectual property rights, and where we can easily track the color of money. We understand that collaboration is essential, but we want it to be managed, planned – frankly, hierarchical.

Through the power of cloud computing and crowd-sourcing (i.e., the “clowd”), we are seeing the rise of “social” science. Here, we are not referring to the social sciences such as behavioural economics and sociology, although integrating these disciplines will be increasingly important as our resource-based economy grapples with adaptation to climate change, sustainable development and the social license to operate. Rather, the rise of “social” science is about a more social approach to government science. The “clowd” allows informal, mass collaboration and social production, in which participation is voluntary, transient, mobile, virtual and less amenable to top-down management and planning.

GovScience 4.0 will embrace open science and open innovation, big data, citizen science, inducement prizes, peer production and new approaches to innovation management, knowledge mobilization and the integration of science and policy.

This can be uncomfortable territory for government. Yet the potential benefits for innovation, citizen engagement, and science in the public interest are huge. As we look to 2020 and the full embrace of network-based GovScience 3.0, we must also exercise thought leadership on what comes next. Canada should lead the world in advancing GovScience 4.0.

 
SIDEBAR
GovScience 4.0: Some Quick Hits

As we move forward with Blueprint 2020 here are some potential low-hanging fruit related to GovScience 4.0.

Chief Digital Officer
During his recent Manion Lecture, Dominic Barton recommended that the federal government create a new C-suite position entitled Chief Digital Officer (CDO). CDOs play a strategic and transformational role in enhancing an organization’s productivity and value delivery by going digital. Reporting to the Clerk, the CDO would be a transitional role driving digital initiatives such as GovScience 4.0, Open Government, e-Cabinet, etc.

GovLab Canada
Drawing on U.S. and U.K. examples, Barton also recommends the creation of a public service “innovation lab.” Consisting of 10 to 15 forward thinkers drawn from across the public service, such a unit (perhaps reporting to the CDO described above) would provide important thought leadership on how to advance GovScience 4.0 as well as other renewal initiatives. For example, GovLab (thegovlab.org) in the U.S. seeks “new ways to solve public problems using advances in technology and science.” We should consider a GovLab Canada.

SPINE – the public servant’s digital backbone
Under the leadership of Chrystia Chudczak, Assistant Commissioner, Northern Pipeline Agency, SPINE is the Social Platform for Innovation, Networking & Entrepreneurship. Exhibiting the best digital technologies (e.g., cloud, big data analytics, mobile, social, semantic search) and integrated with existing tools like the GCDocs document management system, SPINE will help transform how government science is delivered in the 21st century. It will address the loss of productivity that occurs daily due to, among others, document search, email management, and toggling between applications. SPINE will enable crowdsourcing, collaboration, co-creation and community – the hallmarks of GovScience 4.0.

Complex, Adaptive S&T Networks (CAST-Nets)
In 2000, the federal Framework for S&T Advice advised that decision makers should “cast a wide net consulting internal, external and international sources” in addressing public priorities that require multidisciplinary S&T inputs. This advice is even more relevant today and Canada cannot afford to maintain a fragmented science and innovation system – seamless inter-sector collaboration is essential. Building on our experience with various mechanisms in the academic sector (e.g., the Networks of Centres of Excellence), the public service should pilot several complex, adaptive S&T networks (CAST-Nets) that draw upon the best and brightest, regardless of their employer of record, to address the emerging public policy challenges and opportunities.

Canadian S&T @ 150
As we look to 2017 and prepare for the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we should also prepare to celebrate Canada’s many S&T successes, including the discovery of insulin, Marquis wheat and the Canadarm. In the 2016-2017 period, Canada will also observe the 175th anniversary of the Geological Survey of Canada (1842), the 135th of the Royal Society of Canada (1882), the 100th of the National Research Council (1916), and the 50th of the Science Council of Canada (1966), each an important institution in the history of Canadian science and technology.

About this author

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Policy
 
Three years before his death in 2011, Jack Layton released a...
 
Risk is always present in any undertaking, no matter the size...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Canada’s top soldier said the Armed Forces continue to be locked...
 
Ontario’s provincial government needs to act fast in building a coordinated...
 
The bootleg fentanyl overdose crisis that is sweeping across Western provinces...
 
Terrorism operates with deadly regularity. In June 2016, a gunman who...
 
BC Hydro said it is pushing through with it $9-billion, hydroelectric megaproject on...
 
Just as the federal government has begun consultations on cyber security,...
 
The association representing more than 42,000 physicians and medical students in...
 
Efforts by the government to counter the radicalization of young Canadians...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
The largest effort in 20 years to seek public input on...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
As much a 20 per cent of grade seven students in...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Upon receiving numerous complaints regarding add-on fees that turn making economy...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Conservation efforts in the Canadian Arctic will be obstructed and sensitive...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Now more than ever, organizations in both the public and private...
 
Laid off workers in Canada will soon get some relief with...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
The ambitious immigration plan of the Liberal government promises to zero...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Faced with plummeting crude oil prices and the worldwide move to...
 
Meet Bob Heart.  He is an outstanding employee who works hard...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
It was a sad day for taxi operators in Edmonton Wednesday...
 
Uber Canada is prepared to work under city regulations, however, current...
 
Declining TV revenues caused by a growing shift in viewing habits...
 
The Province of British Columbia is doubling down on deepening its...
 
Yesterday, Ontario Supreme Court Justice John Sproat ruled that the Peel...
 
Changes to the Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act (PSLTRA) have...
 
The much delayed and greatly anticipated April federal budget has now...
 
During its recent annual meeting, the World Economic Forum decided to...
 
In January 2015, Chinese Ambassador to Canada, Luo Zhaohui wrote in...
 
“Track Two Diplomacy” is a term that first appeared in the...
 
As the 21st century unfolds, agricultural exports continue to play a...
 
In April 2014, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development...
 
The world is an ever more complicated place and diplomacy, the...
 
Digital diplomacy has been heralded as 21st century statecraft. It involves...
 
In theory, successful digital government is pretty simple—deliver government services that...
 
Last weekend I had the honour of being a judge for...
 
It seems that everyone is down on the public sector nowadays:...
 
One of the most challenging debates today among Westminster experts is...
 
Canada 2020 has released a policy paper by Nic Rivers that...
 
Stephen Teles from Johns Hopkins University has coined the term “kludgeocracy”...
 
It is interesting to reflect back to 1995 when the internet...
 
Ontario’s future prosperity depends on engaging and encouraging meaningful participation of...
 
There have been many conversations within the policy community about the...
 
Accenture has come out with a report that looks at U.S....
 
A number of complex issues are emerging from the background that...
 
The need for local government innovation is now greater than ever....
 
Anyone familiar with NORAD and ballistic missile defence issues will remember...
 
Canada has been among the more active countries in conducting trials...
 
Government plays a central role in promoting business interests. Good government...
 
At 9:43 on the morning of May 17, 2013, a magnitude...
 
Social enterprises are the wave of the future. There are more...
 
The recent sparring between Justin Trudeau and Jason Kenney about the...
 
The federal government’s Blueprint 2020 initiative provides an opportunity to re-think...
 
Regardless of the outcome of the Sochi Olympics for Canada, the...
 
I was a judge last weekend at the National Public Administration...
 
The accounts of the reckless behaviour of our senators, the allegations...
 
The spectacle of the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, attacking his...
 
The spectacle of the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, attacking his...
 
One of the key responsibilities of government departments of labour is...
 
On October 15, 2013 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the...
 
The Comprehensive Community Plan…was a community-driven project, where we talked about...
 
FOA Canada sees finance, business and management capacity as a bridge...
 
According to the World Health Organization, up to 10 percent of...
 
In the spirit of nation building, Treaty 7 Management Corporation and...
 
The last 10 years has seen a new course charted for...
 
It is no secret that many worry about the alleged lack...
 
Frances Lankin’s and Munir Sheik’s review of social assistance programs in...
 
We do not like paying taxes. This is not big news:...
 
In November 2012, the government of Canada announced that the University...
 
Be happy, dear public servant reader, that you work for a...
 
Mining defines civilization. Without metals and mineral resources to fuel society’s...
 
The fruits of mining are all around us. Minerals and metals...
 
Employees at Natural Resources Canada are strengthening their science policy knowledge...
 
Over the past two years, Alberta’s government has put into place...
 
Internal policy capacity is an important topic at the present time...
 
Industrial policy is something that has often been criticized throughout the...
 
As a deputy minister for the past 13 years, most recently...
 
New Brunswick’s Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation has announced that it...
 
In January 2013, the government of New Brunswick announced the One-Job...
 
Half of a Yellow Sun is the 2006 award-winning novel by...
 
An analysis of the likelihood of an act of military aggression...
 
Governments are looking for ways to cut costs and provide more...
 
Policy, of course, is the engine by which government works. Policy...
 
At a time when technology is advancing more rapidly than ever...
 
Health Canada has developed six diversity collaboration tools that are readily...
 
In Budget 2013, the federal government responded to municipal concerns over...
 
The Yukon Territory labour market is changing considerably. To ensure Yukon...
 
A “made in New Brunswick” solution, a first in North America,...
 
To meet the current and future needs for skilled workers, the...
 
In May 2013 Canada will take on the Arctic Council chairmanship...
 
Regardless of stage and scale of development, governments need assurance that...
 
The year 2012 presented a milestone in Canadian history, marking three...
 
Canada is sleepwalking into a long-term care funding crisis and urgent...
 
Canada’s approach to industrial benefits is focused on providing business opportunities...
 
The North is, in political and administrative terms, a young land,...
 
Yukon is the only territory to have authority over its natural...
 
We are entering what Neil Bradford calls the third wave of...
 
Ontario and jurisdictions across Canada are entering a new golden era...
 
The U.K. deliberations decided real change will come when politicians see...
 
As foreign markets create an ever-increasing demand for minerals and metals,...
 
The not-for-profit sector is an important part of Canadian society. In...
 
As the global financial crisis continues to stagger forward, one thing...
 
As colonies of the former British Empire, a common history forms...
 
As colonies of the former British Empire, a common history forms...
 
Diplomacy is back. The short era of a single superpower is...
 
Mining and exploration companies are struggling to revise their business plans...
 
Kevin Costante is Deputy Minister, Ministry of Northern Development and Mines...
 
When I began to lead implementation of a new full-day kindergarten...
 
As spring blooms across the country, a group of public servants...
 
Talent, technology and tolerance represent what I call the 3Ts of...
 
Science and technology have been major contributors to the economic prosperity...
 
In a technologically enabled, globalized world where the bad lending practices...
 
Ontario’s Business Sector Strategy is a groundbreaking initiative that has challenged...
 
One of the unfortunate developments in the last few years has...
 
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the creation of the...
 
The federal Red Tape Reduction Commission, which tabled its report in...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.2 February 2007 High-profile financial mismanagement scandals have occurred...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.4 April 2007 For the past 17 years Jean-Pierre...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 In December 2006, the Ontario government...
 
Two decades after the Thatcher government revolutionized the provision of government...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.1 January 2007 IT projects Ms. Fraser, your recent...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.1 January 2007 Nicholas I, Czar of all the...
 
For much of the past decade, the government of British Columbia...
 
In recent years, the Ontario government and the Metis people have...
 
Natural resources have and will continue to play a significant role...
 
Confidence is an essential element of economic recovery. Many Canadians remain...
 
À l’image de ses diamants sans défaut, le Lesotho est un...
 
Like its flawless diamonds, the precious jewel that is Lesotho is...
 
Les administrations fédérale, provinciales et municipales versent des milliards de dollars...
 
Parallèlement à l’importance accrue accordée à la gestion du rendement, la...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.10 December 2007 A politician’s view of what a...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Independent audit committees are an integral...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.7 September 2007 "Whenever the people are well-informed, they...
 
Policymakers agree that municipalities are critical to Canada’s future prosperity and...
 
Parliament is back in session and despite the “sound and fury”...
 
In the wake of the G8 and G20 meetings it was...
 
"Canada as a nation just doesn’t work well enough and we...
 
During the last few months, many public servants in Canada have...
 
Maintenant que l’excitation provoquée par les élections canadiennes et américaines est...
 
We’ve seen that real progress is achieved through First Nations building...
 
The Science & Policy Team Challenge was modeled after business school...
 
The historical legacy of the residential school era within the broader...
 
British Columbia’s Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation leads efforts towards...
 
In August, the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs held its annual...
 
When the global economic crisis hit, the federal government called on...
 
Navigating today’s complex social, economic and political issues is taxing our...
 
Charles Abrams, legendary urbanist and creator of the New York City...
 
The public sector faces many challenges this year. At a high...
 
Driven by a growing population and an export-based economy, transportation networks...
 
The West has spent so much money and treasure on military...
 
For Canada, unlike non-Arctic nations, the Arctic is a matter of...
 
The Canadian North is hot. Sovereignty, climate change, social conditions, spectacular...
 
The Arctic has gone from being totally ignored to being the...
 
L’Arctique, qui naguère laissait l’opinion publique de glace, est devenu récemment...
Three years before his death in 2011, Jack Layton released a...

Member Login

Forgot Password?

Join Us

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.