Kevin Page delivers a warning to the public service

Excerpt from Kevin Page’s book, Unaccountable: Truth and Lies on Parliament Hill. Some uncomfortable observations that merit reflection:

The ethical values section of the code speaks to a public service reflecting the need to act at all times in such a way as to uphold the public trust. It says that public servants shall act at all times in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny, an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.

This does not happen when deputy ministers refuse to provide spending plans to Parliament and the PBO that outline where Budget 2012 cuts will take place, along with an explanation of how those cuts will affect services to the public. Shame on all of us for sticking our collective heads in the sand.

Finally, under the code, the people values stipulate that public servants should demonstrate respect, fairness, and courtesy in their dealings with both citizens and fellow public servants. It says that appointment decisions in the public service shall be based on merit and that public service values should play a key role in recruitment, evaluation, and promotion. This did not happen with the recruitment of the new PBO.

What I learned from my PBO experience is that our public service has become good at avoiding accountability and transparency. The result is that public trust in the public service declines. Jane Jacobs, the famous American-Canadian urban activist, said “the absence of trust is inimical to a well-run society.” If only we could institutionalize trust, but alas, that is impossible.

Our public service leaders are going to have to step up and earn trust! To my friends and colleagues in the public service, I say this: Blueprint 2020, more than anything else it espouses, must be about restoring trust to the public service in Canada.

Source: Kevin Page delivers a warning to the public service | Ottawa Citizen

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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