Quote of the week
“Government can’t simply step into the void to provide support.”
— Wayne Wouters, Clerk of the Privy Council
First things first: thanks to Vic Pakalnis for using this space to give good advice on networking. He reminded us of the importance of informal relationships in organizations that are dominated by hierarchy and formal decision-making structures.
Thoughts from the IPAC 2011 Conference in Victoria BC, where a recurrent theme has been the need for public sector change:
First, the Clerk of the Privy Council. Wayne Wouters spoke of the importance of adaptation. He argued that government can no longer expect to be all things to all people; programs that were created a decade ago may not be needed any more, and we must be willing to let them go.
Wouters noted that younger public servants need to understand public sector values so that when faced with a potentially risky situation they know right from wrong.
Second, Katy Haire, a board member of the Institute of Public Administration of Australia. Picking up on the values notion, she argued that public service values will provide the continuity for the inevitable change that is coming to the public sector and reassured the public servants in the room that they have the tools to make change happen.
Her advice? “Don’t plan for the last war: think of the skills needed for the future.”
Third, Erik Bergrud, president of the American Society for Public Administration. He asked the audience: how big are your silos? In other words, how isolated are you from the real world? To drive the point home, he recounted that when planners were preparing for the evacuation of New Orleans due to a hurricane, the only people around the table were those who owned cars…
And here’s a neat idea he shared: ASPA published a book called Memo to the President that provided President Bush with its views on how public administration could be improved at the federal level. Is there an opportunity here in Canada?