Reeling in the years – Canadian Government Executive

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February 3, 2015

Reeling in the years

History is temporal. What mattered yesterday may not matter today. Or as often happens, the debate of a few years ago turns out to be remarkably prescient and apropos in a modern context. To celebrate our twentieth anniversary, we picked three themes to explore, editorial themes that speak both to moments in time and ongoing challenges for the public sector: innovation, leadership and technology. As you follow our 20-year timeline, you will see that some stories speak of challenges that are simply snapshots in time, and others that, in retrospect, speak not just of then but of today as well.

 

Leadership
December 1995 – CGE publishes its first issue
Vol. 1, No. 1

Good Government: Will we ever be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again?
by Patrick Lafferty

“The large evaluation and policy development communities in programs and centralized agencies have compartmentalized and micro-managed their thinking, and, quite deservingly, been marginalized, while the ‘slash and burn’ advocates move ahead.”
Technology
Spring 1996 – A lesson in archaic data warehousing
Vol. 2, No. 2

Data warehousing technology: one answer to tighter budgets and public demand
by Paul Bachteal and Jeffrey Read

“[Currently data base management systems are] little more than electronic file cabinets where information is stored in hierarchical data groups. These systems make data retrieval difficult and time consuming…Governments everywhere are under growing pressure to provide information and services faster and more efficiently… the solution is two-fold: to build a centralized data warehouse that will enable their business units and departments to access internal data quickly, and secondly, to find faster and easier ways to develop new applications that will make their operations more efficient and provide better services.”

Technology
Summer 1997 – Y2K scare kicks-off
Vol. 3, No. 3

Year 2000: Making a mole hill out of a mountain
by Tracey Riley

“You may have heard doomsday scenarios in which chaos and anarchy reign on January 1, 2000. You may even have heard that the entire issue was conceived by the computer industry so that it would have something to do once everyone had their PCs up and running.”

Leadership
Fall 2008 – Knowledge is power
Vol. 4, No. 4

Knowledge: The new currency for competitive success
by Mary Anne Lamb

“Understanding what management is and the role that it plays within an organization can be like trying to fish bare-handed: it can be done, but achieving results quickly is irritatingly illusive – and the whole effort is a slippery task.”

Leadership
Winter 1999 – The times they are a change-managing
Vol. 5, No. 1

Change Management: The next generation
by Ellen Corkerry-Dooher

“During the last 18 months, more and more executives have insisted on actively leading change management…it was once viewed as a discretionary budget item – ‘a nice to have’ rather than a ‘need to have’…That’s not surprising given that it was usually the most poorly defined element in a project.”

Innovation
Winter 2000 – Waiting on the knowledge-based economy
Vol. 6, No. 1

Managing in the knowledge-based economy
interview with Jocelyne Bourgon, former Clerk of the Privy Council

“Innovation and creativity are the driving forces of the new economy. In this knowledge-based economy, the comparative advantages of countries are created, not inherited.”

Innovation
Fall 2001 – Age-old battles with telecom regulation
Vol. 7, No. 4

CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee: Telecom Regulation 2.0 – faster, smarter better
by David Colville

“In the days of monopoly, questions about the hundreds of complex technical issues that make the system work were resolved in a pretty straight forward fashion that involved relatively few players. The CRTC’s decision to introduce telephone competition in 1997 changed all that.”

Leadership
Winter 2002 – Justice for information
Vol. 8, No. 1

Integrated justice information in the federal government
by Greg Wright

“Integrated Justice Information had its origin in the response to a series of unfortunate and distressing cases in the 1990’s, with the Bernardo case at the top of the list. Criminals benefited from the fact that law enforcement agencies faced obstacles in sharing information quickly and effectively in the course of their day-to-day operations.”

Innovation
Spring 2003 – Turning the public private
Vol. 9, No. 2

Public private partnerships: An innovative public instrument
by Lucien Bradet

“Key to success in P3s is the establishment of a realistic business case and involvement of the community from a preliminary planning stages.”

Leadership
February 2004 – The Premier speaks out
Vol. 10, No. 1

Working with the public service
interview with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty

“We all work for the same people whether they’re Torontonians, Ontarians or Canadians. We all have to work better together to serve them. No single level is as smart as all of us combined so if we pool our intellectual resources as well as our financial capabilities then suddenly we can better serve our citizens.”

Technology
October/November 2004 – eGovenrment, not just a typo anymore
Vol. 10, No. 5

eGovernment: If we build it, will they use it?
by Al Shaver

“Canada has one of the world’s highest Internet access rates and a range of online services has been an instant hit with citizens. So why hasn’t the number of eGovernment users grown more quickly?”

Innovation
May 2005 – A business-like way to buy
Vol. 11, No. 2

Procurement Reform
interview with Scott Brison, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada

“We are taking a more business-like approach to procurement. Formerly, 98 different departments and agencies did their own procurement of goods and services, about $13 billion annually. Through central coordination of those activities we will be able to negotiate better prices and get better value for the taxpayer.”

Leadership
March 2006 – Living in the Gomery age
Vol. 12, No. 2

Judging Gomery
by Paul Crookall

“The battle cry of previous reports was ‘let managers manage.’ The fear that Gomery would add too many rules has not materialized. But rather than supporting the ‘let the managers manage’ tradition, the new motto seems to be ‘make the managers manage’: be accountable, appear in front of parliamentary committees, add audit capacity.”

Leadership
January 2007 – The Art and Science of Accountability
Vol. 13, No. 1

Canada’s management guru
interview with Henry Mintzberg

“This idea that you can sit up high and do the big stuff while and everybody runs around doing the grunt work is very destructive. Instead we need to build communities… I’m a much bigger fan of engaging management than heroic leadership.”

Leadership
September 2008 – A century of service
Vol. 14, No. 7

Professional Public Service
interview with Maria Barrados, president of the Public Service Commission

“The Civil Service Commission was created in September 1908 to eradicate widespread political patronage and to provide the Government of Canada with a professional public service. The adoption of a merit-based staffing system, managed by an independent commission, has shaped the identity of the public service over the last century.”

Technology
February 2009 – Canada’s CIO talks IT strategy
Vol. 15, No. 2

IT project success: It’s about managing change
by Ken Cochrane

“Helping operations be more effective and sharing ideas across government has always been a big part of the CIO agenda, and will be even more so in the future. We’ve taken a strong stand on using Web 2.0 technologies, to get people to share information and ideas more effectively.”

Innovation
January 2010 – Missing governance
Vol. 16, No. 1

Both sides now: Looking at clouds and the gathering storm
by Jeffrey Roy

“Two important global events are garnering much attention: the upcoming Winter Olympics and December’s global forum on climate change in Copenhagen. A lesser known but nonetheless crucial gathering was held in Egypt in November. The latest round of the Internet Governance Forum took place in an effort to update rules and frameworks of understanding for how we govern ourselves in an increasingly virtual universe. If you missed the mainstream media coverage, you are not alone – there wasn’t any.”

Technology
February 2011 – The 24/7 effect
Vol. 17, No. 2

Public sector risk management in an era of global uncertainty
by Kevin Lynch, former Clerk of the Privy Council

In this age of instantaneous communications comes an expectation of instantaneous responses. The 24/7 multi-channel universe demands 24/7 responses from governments, from public services, from businesses, from whomever. This, in turn, has changed the complexity of public policy management in general, but particularly so in the event of crises, and raises the challenge of whether the speed of management processes can match the expectations for the speed of responses.

Leadership
May 2011 – Nenshi vs. Ford
Vol. 17 No. 5

A tale of two cities: Differing perspectives on city governance

“Since I was first elected over 10 years ago to City Council, I have always been mindful of how taxpayers’ dollars are being spent. Too often the city government simply raised taxes and increased spending without any attempt to reduce waste. I campaigned on a commitment to respect taxpayers’ money while maintaining the level of services residents of Toronto expect.” Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

“To say that ‘taxpayers are fed up’ is, I think, a misreading and oversimplification of the case. In Calgary, as in other cities, taxpayers are certainly fed up with what they see as waste: the issue is not the overall level of taxation, but that taxpayers have lost the connection between the taxes they pay, on one hand, and the services they receive on the other.” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi

Innovation
September 2011 – Reducing government
Vol. 17, No. 7

Redefining government’s role
interview with Tony Clement

“I believe that thinking government is necessarily the solution to a problem is outmoded these days. Canadians, based on the research I have seen, are looking for a more targeted approach. There are areas where they see government being the first line of activity on things like protecting the public but there are other areas, particularly related to economic growth and development, where they expect government to be more of a collaborator with the private sector and other non-governmental organizations to arrive at better solutions.”

Technology
May 2012 – Getting engaged in the web age
Vol. 18, No. 5

Dungeons & Dragons: Revealing the mysteries of digital engagement
by Blaise Hebert

“Many people tend to think that engagement works like a binary code. Participants are seen as ones and zeros. You’re either engaged or you’re not. But if you think about it, people will play games and complete tasks with differing levels of enthusiasm. Here are some factors that one needs to take into account to maximize motivation: time, interest, complexity of task, stimulation and reward.”

Technology
February 2013 – The BYOD revolution
Vol. 19, No. 2

If you can’t fight it: Three steps toward mobility
by Fiaaz Walji

“You can’t fight mobility. It’s here. And government employees expect to be able to work from anywhere using the device of their choice. In most cases, mobility is a good thing and brings with it increased productivity. But as a government IT professional, you need to prepare for the associated security risks in the public sector.”

Innovation
September 2013 – Updating the policy process
Vol. 19, No. 7

The critical role of policy advice
interview with DM Rob Fonberg

“…while our elected governments clearly set policy direction, and make final decisions on precise programs and legislation, where their initial direction is less than fully precise – which is often the case – policy development by the public service becomes critical to articulating the options for proceeding and the implications and impacts of those options.”

Leadership
February 2014 – A blueprint for reform
Vol. 20, No. 2

Blueprint 2020: The canary in the coal mine
by Kent Aitken

“This is bigger than Blueprint 2020. This is a canary in the coal mine, because the same limitations will apply externally in the coming era of citizen participation in governance…Engagement is hard. And it’s going to be particularly hard for the Canadian public service. People have conversations with people, not organizations, and we have a historical underpinning of anonymity.”

Innovation
September 2014 – Improved service delivery
Vol. 20, No. 7

New Clerk to tap OPS for innovative ideas
interview with Steve Orsini

“We need to find new and effective ways to provide services and connect with the changing needs of the population. We need to understand where the public is going and, as people say, to look where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.”

Technology
November 2014 – Technology improves service
Vol. 20, No. 8

City recognized for green engagement
by Nikki Thompson

“Using the web as a platform, [Grande Prairie] made an investment to transfer all Council and committee packages from paper to online download. The municipality was using roughly 7,000 units of paper at a cost of five cents per sheet. Transitioning these documents to digital download results in a savings of approximately $4,300 annually.”

 

Complied by Jeff Mackey. Jeff is a Master’s of Political Management candidate at Carleton University and a regular contributor to Canadian Government Executive.

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Blockchain. There’s probably no other technology trend in recent years that...

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