The more plans I’ve read on public service renewal, the more it seems like a vanity exercise that most departments go through. This seems relatively consistent across a fairly wide cross section of departments. Renewal has become, dare I say, part of “feeding the beast”. It’s an exercise we go through each year, writing various action plans and then hoping for the best.
Renewal is not about more social events, sport teams, etc. It has to do with how we actually conduct our business when serving Canadians. Renewal is there to enhance our ability to do that.
The time has come: CPSR is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – it’s a business imperative.
The Speech from the Throne and Budget 2010 outlined 3 challenges that Public Servants will need to operate under:
- Targetted measures to restrain program spending
- Freeze on departmental operating budgets
- Administrative services review
Certainly, these goals present massive challenges to departments. In order to meet those goals, the strategies used in the past likely won’t work – we need new and innovative thinking that will save resources, eliminate the reinvention of the wheel, and leadership from all areas of the public service.
The biggest way that, in my opinion, we can contribute to overcoming these challenges is to cut down on reinventing the wheel. Many departments face similar challenges, but instead of working together to address these issues, most departments will address the challenges on their own.
By encouraging interdepartmental dialogue – whether through GCPEDIA or through other fora – we start to get people to share ideas. GCPEDIA is obviously the method I prefer, but this requires people at all levels to get over the idea of a “final” copy being posted. Post your drafts! Let’s see what’s out there. If we wait for the final, then we still encourage isolation and working in silos. 10 final version documents posted on the same project at the same time represents a failure on the part of public servants to engage with one another. And I don’t think there’s a legitimate reason for wasting such resources.
To show some great work already on GCPEDIA (internal links):
Look at all those resources! Can you imagine if other departments were working on the same thing in isolation, and all posted their final copies up at the same time?
Next time you propose a renewal initiative, be sure to cast it as what it is – a business imperative. This also means that sharing our work while we’re working is an imperative. To meet the large challenges ahead, we need to not only work better, but we need to work together.