At the Institute of Public Administration of Canada’s (IPAC) recent annual conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick, I had the privilege of becoming its 61st president. IPAC is the only organization in Canada that brings together public servants from all orders of government and academics from our prestigious post-secondary institutions to discuss, learn and exchange ideas on public administration and policy.
Since its founding in 1947, IPAC has espoused what is best in public service in Canada. The high calibre of public service is evidenced everyday by the work of dedicated people from all orders of government. Through its research, vibrant programming at the regional and national levels, awards program and dynamic international program, IPAC reflects and promotes those outstanding qualities.
During the last seven years, I have served on the board of IPAC in a number of different capacities and have seen tremendous change and growth in the organization. Our international program has grown from working with a handful of countries to close to 30 countries on a diverse range of projects from job classification to land valuation to helping countries form their own networks and support one another. We have also assisted these countries in better understanding the dynamics of the interface between a professional, non-partisan public service and the political level.
Over the last number of years, IPAC has created a much-needed focus on new professionals. When I began work with the IPAC board we didn’t yet understand the importance of fostering and supporting our newest public servants. Today, we have a new professional on the national board and there are many new professional organizations across the country.
We have added to the value of the IPAC membership with an increasing number of professional development opportunities – last year our regional and national groups delivered more than 135 events that attracted over 8,000 participants. And we have modernized and expanded our publications to ensure broad availability of the fine work produced through IPAC. Our flagship publication, the Canadian Public Administration journal has been accessible on the web since 2008 – all 52 years worth of scintillating articles.
As is the case with all organizations, IPAC must continue to evolve and grow to meet the needs of the public administration community in Canada and around the world. As a membership-based organization, IPAC is developing a strategy to increase our formal members. We know that our reach is much beyond our membership, but we want to encourage those who are not yet members to join and benefit from all that IPAC has to offer.
We are developing new ways to reach out to our busy members. IPAC has grown both in reach and depth but there is still so much to do.
As I have observed the work of our national board and organization, I understand how quickly one year goes by and why I must focus on a few priorities. These priorities are part of the forward-thinking work we have just completed on IPAC’s strategy direction (www.ipac.ca/strategicplan). Over the next year, I hope to contribute to growing IPAC’s relevance and strength by:
- increasing the number of champions of IPAC across all jurisdictions and member organizations;
- ensuring we continue to investigate and promote discourse in new and important areas of public policy and management. IPAC is well positioned to lead discussion in many diverse areas such as succession planning, performance management, population policy and the public service/political interface (“the purple zone”);
- working with the regional groups and our national office to explore new ways to reach our members and fit into our busy lives. Ideas like webinars, new partnerships with schools of public administration, and continuing to grow our website will help to bring even more value to the membership; and
- developing and implementing a new membership strategy for our organization.
I believe we need to keep challenging ourselves to ensure we continue to be relevant to those we serve – our membership, the jurisdictions where we are employed, and the citizens of our cities, provinces and country. IPAC is always open to new ideas and we would like to hear from you.
I strongly believe that all public servants across Canada from all orders of government, as well as academics teaching the next generation of public servants, would greatly benefit from membership in IPAC. If you are not yet a member, I urge you to join us; if you are a member, thank you for your support in promoting excellence in public service.
Wynne Young is Deputy Minister of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport for the Government of Saskatchewan and president of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (www.ipac.ca).