Development
May 7, 2012

Leading from the front: Commonwealth public sector development

CGE Vol.14 No.3 March 2008

The Commonwealth Secretariat convened the first Commonwealth forum of ministers responsible for public service in 2006. The aim of the forum was to advance public sector development in the Commonwealth. The outcome exceeded expectations.

In service to the Commonwealth, public sector leaders came together to mark progress, to exchange experiences, and to chart the way forward. They capitalized on the special bond of trust, respect, tolerance, and understanding that is shared among the Commonwealth’s 53 member countries and with the international community.

In travels around the Commonwealth, one is struck by the innovation that abounds in the public sector. The environment is diverse, fast-paced, and ever-changing. There are mounting pressures on governments to reform their structures and processes and to achieve excellence, responsiveness, and integrity in public service.

We’ve learned that, first and foremost, public sector development (or renewal) is everyone’s responsibility. There are “local heroes” throughout the Commonwealth. Politicians and public servants alike are the champions of change.

Governments innovate to improve citizen-focused service, to reduce cost, to increase efficiency, and to stimulate economic development. Change depends on individual country circumstances. More and more, reforms must connect with and support the Millennium Development Goals.

In many Commonwealth countries, the metaphor of the village is a powerful cultural symbol and motivator of national development. It recognizes diversity of people and of nations as strength. We need to “think globally and act locally” for sustainable development.

“Networked government” has succeeded the “new public management.” The view elaborated at the 2004 Commonwealth Conference in Singapore was of many agencies but one government, of citizen engagement, and of networking beyond borders. We in the Commonwealth are being challenged to think collectively “outside the box” to find new ways to be inclusive and collaborate.

Public sector development and renewal is a process of continuous learning and improvement. Naturally, member countries are impatient to see quick results. They have imperatives to improve service delivery and to help the neediest in society. Poverty alleviation and sustainable development depend on placing the people most affected at the centre of decision making and service delivery.

A capable public sector is grounded in the principles of good governance. Governments need a professional and apolitical public service, guided by shared values and ethical standards. The value system of progressive public organizations today is about service, not bureaucracy. Accountable leaders have the self-confidence to model the desired behaviours. They also know instinctively that it is good politics.

Issues of public sector transformation have been on the Commonwealth radar for more than a decade. The Secretariat must consult with its primary stakeholders to advance public sector development. The Governance and Institutional Development Division convened this groundbreaking forum and asked ministers to set the forward agenda.

More than 100 delegates representing 30 member countries and five stakeholder organizations attended. The level of response was testimony to the desire of political leadership in the Commonwealth to lead from the front to create more transparent and accountable governance with improved service delivery to citizens. Highlights of the communiqué from the forum are summarized in the sidebar.

The next Commonwealth Ministers Forum on Public Sector Development will be held in Barbados in October 2008. Meanwhile, the Secretariat has responded to ministers’ priorities for action by featuring three major initiatives:

  •      Development of a governance framework to guide improved service delivery by member governments
  •      Strengthening public service training institutes, to close public sector skill gaps, in partnership with other Commonwealth associations
  •      Acceleration of Commonwealth Connects using national information and communication technology strategies, e-governance, and knowledge management to bridge the digital divide.

We live in interesting times in the public sector. Growing complexity, not just rapid change, is causing us to rethink and redouble efforts in public sector development. This gathering of ministers was a historical nexus from which a new order of things can unfold. The Commonwealth and its people are counting on it.

John Wilkins became Head of Section and Adviser (Public Sector Management) with the Governance and Institutional Development Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat in October 2005. He served 32 years in the Canadian public service, the last four in Ottawa advising Treasury Board on governance and service delivery innovations. Previously, he managed in Manitoba’s health, government services, culture, and finance portfolios and taught public management at the University of Manitoba (j.wilkins@commonwealth.int).

SIDEBAR

Communiqué
The Commonwealth Secretariat convened the first forum of Ministers responsible for public service, with support from the Government of Australia and the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM).

The aim of the Forum was to advance public sector development in the Commonwealth. The Forum focused on public management issues and developments, on the implications and challenges for governments and on experiences and lessons learned from the delivery of public services. Ministers were asked to set the forward agenda for public sector development.

Ministers discussed the trends and challenges of public sector development and agreed upon the following priorities for action relative to the three themes of the Forum.

Modernizing governance for integrated service delivery:

  •      Lead and sustain the momentum of public sector reform
  •      Monitor, evaluate, and report publicly on the outcomes of service improvement initiatives
  •      Benchmark Commonwealth good practices
  •      Develop a better practice guide on integrated service delivery
  •      Undertake comparative research on alternative service delivery.

Renewing human resources for leadership development:

  •      Support a global dialogue on building human resource capacity and managing global skills distribution
  •      Strengthen and enhance the relationship between the political and executive leadership through learning from good practice around the Commonwealth
  •      Invest in executive leadership capability in the delivery of public services, including through Commonwealth attachments and leadership programs
  •      Ensure that there are human resource plans in place to recruit, retain and develop public service human capital.

Bridging the digital divide for networked government:

  •      Develop a strategy to en

About this author

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Development
 
Thanks to the development of new technologies that make previously unimaginable...
 
Since debuting in 2000, Survivor has traversed the world and humanity...
 
In late March the ONS detailed the occupations in the UK...
 
In the next year, one in three US federal government workers...
 
Despite a rapid expansion in digital democracy initiatives around the globe,...
 
In the show, J. Richard Jones talks with Colin Earp, Partner...
 
Deforestation interventions in Latin America and Asia may be more effective...
 
Below is a piece of design fiction focused on what it...
 
Service delivery is an integral part of the work of governments...
 
In recent years, growing evidence about the importance of early childhood...
 
In the past 18 months or so, new governments have taken...
 
Could robot doctors be on the horizon? A study published February...
 
We are excited to announce that the February/March 2019 issue of...
 
The use of “nudges” in policymaking has been a major trend...
 
There is an interesting paradox playing out with the public sector...
 
Last week, Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand-based financial services company, announced...
 
Canadian Government Executive, in collaboration with Dalhousie University, is seeking your...
 
Imagine your favorite world class service provider replacing the Board of...
 
Lately, all levels of the Canadian public service have devoted much...
 
We have been hearing quite a lot about superclusters. The Government...
 
In this episode of CGE Radio, J. Richard Jones talks with...
 
In 2017, identity theft cost Americans $16.8 billion, and, in just...
 
In this episode of CGE Radio, J. Richard Jones interviews Alex...
 
It is time to reboot democracy. This year, the French constitution,...
 
We are excited to share with you the October/November 2018 edition...
 
Ontario Northland is a crown corporation that provides transportation solutions to...
 
Canada’s international reputation for welcoming and integrating newcomers is unparalleled. At...
 
In the three years to 2020, Canada will welcome almost a...
 
Mining embodies progress. Mining provides civilization with the materials required for...
 
On today’s show, J. Richard Jones sits down for a chat...
 
We are excited to share with you the May/June issue of...
 
In this episode of CGE Radio, J. Richard Jones speaks with...
 
As the world grows more digital – and increasingly mobile –...
 
Throughout Canada, healthcare systems are challenged by population growth, aging, and...
 
Over half a billion children live in countries that are falling...
 
According to a recent McKinsey study there is a potential for...
 
On the global scene, technology has revolutionized and automated the work...
 
Today on CGE Radio, we speak with Craig Szelestowski, President and...
 
The adoption of new technologies provides many opportunities, poses unique challenges...
 
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This quote from management specialist Peter...
 
On a recent visit to Ottawa, I had the opportunity to...
 
Professional development is tremendously important to members of Canada’s public sector....
 
Over the last two years, an ever-growing number of organizations around...
 
Ships docked in a harbour may not be going anywhere; however,...
 
Canadian Government Executive Media (CGE) and CATAAlliance , Canada’s one voice for...
 
Do Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs) make a difference? Our evaluation...
 
The design needed and practiced in government departments and the broader...
 
As social media becomes ever-more prevalent in the lives of today’s...
 
Evaluation is performed for a range of reasons:  to improve programs,...
 
Radical candour sounds rather outré as a prescription for government executives....
 
In this episode of CGE Radio, J. Richard Jones is joined...
 
Behavioural Insights (BI) is a multidisciplinary approach that uses principles and...
 
In March, the Canada Revenue Agency’s website was shut down by...
 
How does a mandate for innovation challenge evaluation? Increasingly, the public...
 
As the face of the Association of Professional Executives of the...
 
One of the writers in this month’s issue started a note...
 
Excellence in leadership is instrumental in serving the public interest. New-age...
 
Canadian Government Executive Media (CGE) announced last Friday, that George Ross...
 
We are thrilled to offer the July/August issue of Canadian Government...
 
At this time a year ago, the 88,000 displaced people of...
 
“Former Metro banker stole $73,000.”  “Enbridge sues ex-employee.”  “Woman stole $51,000...
 
The recent introduction of the new Government of Canada (GC) IT...
 
So, what can be said about Canada’s public administration as the...
 
The way forward to engaging Millennials in the public sector Passionate,...
 
We are happy to share with you the May/June issue of...
 
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA Alliance) is Canada’s One Voice...
 
Since Confederation in 1867, more than 17 million immigrants landed in...
 
In today’s world of heightened focus on good governance and accountability...
 
Orchestrating the transition from present to emergent leadership Millennial is the...
 
As ‘month 13’ for Canada’s Syrian refugee arrivals comes and goes,...
 
As governments around the world move towards the digital transformation of...
 
The way organizations recruit, shape and manage their workforce to find...
 
The promise of web 2.0 was the emergence of a user-driven...
 
Commodity Management (the official term for life-cycle asset management of goods...
 
During the past decade, the international university-level student population in Canada...
 
We have all heard the sayings: “Home, sweet home”; “There’s no...
 
Imagine a Canadian government that shares best practices in service delivery....
 
There is a new buzz in policy circles. Advances in data...
 
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with its 28 independent member countries...
 
The internal audit function in the Canadian public sector finds itself...
 
As Canada’s government agencies strive to improve delivery and efficiency under...
 
To boldly go where no one has gone before STAR TREK:...
 
In recent months, Canadians have borne witness to a new cycle...
 
Professionals, managers, and executives in the cost estimation industry can gain...
 
Canadian Government Executive kicked off its CGE Leadership Series for 2017...
 
The rapid advances in digital technology, demographic and societal shift even...
 
The critical challenge facing the public service is changing its culture....
 
Having the right talent is critical to delivering right results. But...
 
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are part of the new global “Agenda...
 
An Interview with Larry Ostola, Toronto’s Director of Museums and Heritage...
 
For all its subtleties and mysteries, the Westminster system of government...
 
When Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “the medium is the message”...
 
Laskey Hart guest hosts CGE Radio this week with a summary...
 
The non-profit sector is operating within an era of increased accountability,...
 
Earlier this year the Ontario Ministry of Health announced that it...
 
Gladwell made Anders Ericsson famous—or, at least, his research work. A...
 
Canada’s top soldier said the Armed Forces continue to be locked...
 
BC Hydro said it is pushing through with it $9-billion, hydroelectric megaproject on...
 
Yesterday, Federal and Atlantic Provincial Ministers of the environment met to...
 
After writing the book “Megatrends: The Impact of Infrastructure on Ontario’s...
 
Governments around the world are seeking to tap technologies such as...
 
Signaling a realignment of Canada’s involvement with NATO, Prime Minister Justin...
 
As an executive you’ve probably experienced frustration when you ask for...
 
The Public Health Agency of Canada has long been aware of...
 
Dispersed organisations can be very powerful structures. There is ample evidence...
 
By Nicole Verkindt Despite growing up in a small town in...
 
Canada, today, became a full supporter of the United Nations Declaration...
 
A research project at that explores the design and feasibility of...
 
A landmark Supreme Court ruling has paved the way for some...
 
Years and years ago when I was unemployed, being able to...
 
Local job figures blew away expectations as records indicated that 41,000...
 
At first glance, the title may seem counterintuitive. By their very...
 
The Liberal government’s first federal budget laid out $11.9 billion over...
 
The Liberal government is expected to announce on Tuesday a new...
 
A leader’s credibility begins with personal success. It ends with helping...
 
Monday was the final day for Canadians to donate money to...
 
Huawei is bringing back to Canada and expanding its information communication...
 
Many women entrepreneurs in Canada struggle to access capital, technology, networks...
 
Written by Tim Wacker Almost a quarter century ago, when most...
 
Written by  Brady G. Wilson You may not realize it, but...
 
Continuous, life-long learning is the future of the public service. Building...
 
Mega-ConnEX is an annual speed networking event organized by the Health...
 
Canada’s contribution to development and humanitarian assistance is recognized around the...
 
Deliberations and negotiations in the United Nations are intensifying on what...
 
The UN consultations on the post-2015 development framework are focused on...
 
At the turn of the millennium, the international community made a...
 
Budgets are statements of political will and power. They are performance...
 
Decades of reform in developing countries point to four enduring dilemmas:...
 
The Lough Erne Accountability Report states that the G8 has played...
 
While there can be no singular solution for good governance, building...
 
it’s not the most original saying...
 
With the demographics of an aging workforce and a significant number...
 
Shakespeare’s “dark comedy,” Measure for Measure, deals with the issues of...
 
Reform is almost always about developing the capacity of government to...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 Assembly of First Nations National Chief...
 
CGE Vol. 14 No.5 May 2008 Before dawn on Monday, 18...
 
CGE Vol. 14 No.4 April 2008 “What is a Foreign Service...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.3 March 2008 Most observers expect more than 40...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.3 March 2008 The Commonwealth Secretariat convened the first...
 
If you want to understand someone else’s position, walk a mile...
 
What makes a perfect mentor? Is it age and seniority? Perhaps...
 
Often, decisions about how to recruit are made based on habit...
 
It has been said that if everything is important, nothing is...
 
The Mosaic Index, by Professor Richard Florida, which measures the percentage...
 
Government policy agendas have long been fraught with complexity....
 
Looking at all the engineering diagrams overlaid on maps on the...
 
Gérés efficacement, les conflits peuvent favoriser la résolution conjointe des problèmes,...
 
Popular wisdom holds that the public service will need to recruit...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.2 February 2008 As I mentioned previously, one cannot...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 What is the toughest job in...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Growth can mean opportunity. Significant increases...
 
The subtitle of this report, prepared by the U.S. National Governors...
 
We can learn from archetypes. They can help us lead, if...
 
Improving leadership development is widely recognized by HR leaders and senior...
 
Natural Resources Canada is accustomed to nurturing, protecting and growing Canada’s...
 
In an increasingly competitive and complex global marketplace, both employers and...
 
The transition from the private sector into an executive role in...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
Thanks to the development of new technologies that make previously unimaginable...