What government is good at, and how it can improve: Donald Savoie

Great summary of his book by the author.

While I found his provocative diagnostique largely convincing in laying out some inconvenient truths, his policy recommendations are relatively undeveloped, reinforcing ironically one of his main insights/critiques of the upstairs/downstairs nature of those who manage policy (or analyze it) and those who serve Canadians directly:

Being good at managing the blame game matters a great deal in the Ottawa bubble and in the national media, but less so elsewhere. Adding oversight bodies and rules and regulations has made the federal public service not only thicker but also more Ottawa-centric. Other than opposition politicians calling for still more oversight, no one is happy with the incessant calls for more rules and regulations. Morale in the federal public service has plummeted and surveys reveal that citizens are unhappy with the quality of public service.

One can only applaud the Clerk of the Privy Council’s recent call for public service to be better at taking risks, delivering front-line services, and producing change and making it stick. To give life to this call, the government will have to revisit the many layers of oversight bodies and accountability requirements put in place over the past 15 years. Unless this is done, management reform efforts in the federal government will continue to give the appearance of change, while actually standing still.

Was pleased to see my book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism, cited for its examples of the political level asserting its control over policy.

Source: What government is good at, and how it can improve – The Globe and Mail

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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