Quote of the week
“I don’t think it does … any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified.”
– President Barack Obama
President Obama has it right, and it’s a message that all governments should take to heart: government employees deserve to be treated with respect. And particularly in these tough times, where in Ottawa alone we can expect large numbers of layoffs, this message of respect for work done rings true.
So kudos to the Canada School of Public Service for bringing up John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, to speak at the annual Manion Lecture in Ottawa. He will discuss how the budget cuts in the U.S. are impacting the civil service there, and explain how the U.S. government hopes to turn this difficult exercise into one that in the long run stimulates public sector innovation.
Berry hasn’t been afraid to defend public servants. Last February he challenged a Congressional Budget Office study that found federal employees are compensated 16 percent higher than private sector employees, arguing that the study didn’t take into account the complexity of jobs in the public sector.
And last year, when a federal government pay freeze was announced by the government, Berry issued this one-sentence news release: “Federal employees work hard for our nation each day, and this sacrifice the President asked them to make today is significant and emblematic of the shared sacrifice we all will have to make if we are to bring the deficit to heel and preserve an economic future for our children.”
So timing, topic and tone are right for Mr. Berry’s visit to Ottawa. The Manion Lecture takes place on Thursday, April 17 from 4:15 to 6:30 pm at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. You can register or get more information at www.csps-efpc.gc.ca/eve/manion2012/index-eng.asp