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My thoughts on the Clerk’s 19th Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service of Canada

Even as an external consultant, every year I very  much anticipate the Clerk’s Annual Report. It’s usually full of solid guidance quotes and it gives a good sense of some of the challenges faced in the prior year (albeit carefully written).

This year, my favourite excerpts are as follows:

“…the traditional relationship between government and citizens continues to evolve. Enabled by instantaneous communication and collaboration technologies, citizens are demanding a greater role in public policy development and in the design and delivery of services. They want greater access to government data and more openness and transparency from their institutions”.


“Doing new things in new ways comes about only by trying. We must couple creativity with courage and start to work in fundamentally different ways. We must resist the urge to create layer upon layer of rules and processes to shield ourselves from every possible error. This has been our tendency in the recent past. It cannot be our approach in the future…

…Across our vast enterprise, public servants are already devising creative ways to do a better job and get better results. We need to shine a light on these trailblazers so that we can all learn from their experiments and build on them. Managers and senior leaders can foster innovation—large and small—by encouraging their teams to ask how their work can be done better, test out new approaches and learn from mistakes.

So much innovation in the 21st century is being made possible by well-developed communication technologies. Yet many public servants are frustrated by a lack of access to the Web 2.0 and social media tools that have such potential for helping us transform the way we work and serve Canadians. Public servants should enjoy consistent access to these new tools wherever possible. We will find a way to achieve this while at the same time safeguarding the data and information in our care.

I also encourage departments to continue expanding the use of Web 2.0 technologies and social media to engage with Canadians, share knowledge, facilitate collaboration, and devise new and efficient services“.

Lots of great content, unfortunately still no differentiation between social media tools and actual social media engagement. While calling on departments to enable access is a great starting point, it doesn’t solve the problem of public servants not being empowered to engage once they have access, nor having the proper human resource allocation to do so effectively.

I look forward to the day Mr. Wouters directly addresses this.

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Published inInsightReview