Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Canada Aviation and Space Museum
11 Aviation Parkway, Ottawa
Thank you for that introduction. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you, especially in such a magnificent venue.
This world-renowned collection of more than 130 aircraft represents various milestones in aviation history. It was here in 2009 that the Government marked the centennial of powered flight in Canada.
Aviation has evolved rapidly and continues to do so. All you have to do to understand that is to look around you.
Canada itself is in constant evolution. The role of government and how it interacts with and serves Canadians is continuously changing.
I’ve been eager to be part of PSEngage because this conference has its eye on the future. It is timely; it provides all of you a chance to address one of the most important keys to the Public Service of tomorrow: the issue of collaboration.
What does collaboration mean in the context of your work?
You can look at it any number of ways. But in order to have the greatest impact on an open and modern Public Service, collaboration must be about knowledge-sharing.
This means exchanging information, engaging in dialogue and working together. This is about enhancing our productivity which, in turn, makes Canada more competitive in the global economy.
I want to describe to you today my vision of the changing Public Service.
I will talk about the future of the Public Service and the importance of a collaborative approach. I will tell you about the technological innovations already underway to modernize government.
I will tell you why I see technology as an important tool for change but also underline how policy – through movements such as Open Government – can play a part.
Finally, I will address the environment in which all these changes are taking place. I want to show how our efforts supporting deficit reduction will also help lead us to the Public Service of tomorrow.
Today, Canadians see government as a partner when they confront social and economic problems. Community groups, the voluntary sector and the private sector all have roles to play. So does the Public Service.
The Public Service has a very significant role in the lives of Canadians. How it plays that role is very different from the way it has in the past and in many ways, more difficult.
In this environment, public servants are adapting, developing partnerships, being creative and finding more efficient ways for programs and services to be delivered. To succeed, they must develop consensus with a wide variety of stakeholders on the best approach.
This is no easy task.
To play a leadership role in the changing public service environment, it is critical that you continue to leverage opportunities to collaborate.
Internet-based tools are allowing public servants to be more productive than ever, by sharing information and communicating with Canadians more effectively and efficiently than even a few years ago.
The potential for greater knowledge-sharing is there.
The Public Service prides itself – quite rightly – on its fairness and impartiality. The work of the Public Service is grounded in values exemplified throughout this country: excellence, integrity, stewardship, respect for people and for democracy.
These are values that will be further reinforced in the renewed Values and Ethics Code. These values take on special importance in a time of significant workplace change.
We are, in effect, laying the foundation for the Public Service workforce of the future.
The Public Service is finding new and innovative ways to achieve its objectives. At the same time, it must ensure it has the capacity and expertise to meet the needs not just of today, but also of five, ten and twenty years from now.
I want to help create a government workplace that allows public servants to thrive. This means building an environment that will make workers of the future consider the Public Service as a viable, long-term career choice.
An efficient and expert Public Service is essential for our country to be ready and able to respond to the myriad of social, economic, environmental and security challenges that are on our doorstep.
The Public Service is adapting to the pace of unprecedented technological change that is having an impact on how people communicate, consult, collaborate, manage data and share information.
There is a tremendous opportunity now to take the tools of information technology and make government faster, more effective and more efficient. I believe the Public Service can enhance core government business such as program and service delivery, and even policy-making, with the right technology tools.
This summer, we launched Shared Services Canada to transform and get better value for money from information technology services across the federal government. This marked a key turning point in the management of government IT services.
Shared Services Canada is consolidating existing resources and personnel relating to email, data centres, networks, and associated internal services from the most IT-intensive departments and agencies in government.
It will not only allow us to keep up with technological change, but it’s also the best approach to fully harness the power of IT to do more for Canadians than what is done today.
Let’s not underestimate technology’s profound effect on the workplace – in government and beyond.
Faster technology, a more connected world, wider networks and complex problems will make teamwork and collaboration required skills.
Public servants will have to be savvy in their efforts to modernize their workplace. A modern workplace can have a tremendous positive impact on the overall performance of the Public Service and on a renewed organizational culture.
As President of the Treasury Board, I consider myself the minister responsible for championing innovation within government. I want you to help me achieve the goal of a Public Service of the future.
The Government is looking at ways to modernize services and service delivery to Canadians. These include the use of productivity enhancing Internet-based tools and services that allow people to share information, engage in a dialogue and collaborate.
These are the principles of Open Government. Through this initiative, policy-makers around the world are more connected and collaborate more with their citizens than ever before.
In Canada, Open Government is being pursued through three main streams:
As part of our leadership role in increasing transparency and accountability, Canada has signalled its intent to join the international Open Government Partnership. This important initiative was launched by the United States and Brazil and aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
The Government encourages the use of new Web 2.0 tools and technologies such as blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These tools help create a more modern, open and collaborative workplace and lead to more "just-in-time" communications with the public.
The forthcoming social media guidelines and policies will lead to improved interaction between Canadians and their government.
Web 2.0 tools and services provide additional means of interactive communications. They are the modern-day equivalents of "town halls" and are being used for various purposes including recruitment, emergency communications, service delivery, stakeholder outreach and as tools for collaboration and consultation.
It is important to remember the caveats involved.
Technological improvement can contribute to productivity enhancement only as far as it helps us address government’s practical needs. Technological solutions should answer questions, solve problems and create opportunities.
They must be driven by the needs of users.
And all this must be done in an environment of fiscal restraint.
As most of you are aware, departmental operating budgets have been frozen. As we speak, all departments are reviewing their spending as part of the deficit reduction action plan, which aims to achieving ongoing savings of at least $4 billion by 2014-15.
This will require organizations to be creative in re-imagining how programs, services and back-office work can be delivered in a more efficient, streamlined way.
This is, to me, an opportunity; an opportunity to ensure that what the government is doing is being done as effectively and efficiently as possible. This is also our chance to modernize our government.
Good management dictates that it is important to undertake a rigorous assessment of what we do on an ongoing basis. Just because we put a program in place to deal with something 10 years ago doesn’t mean that it still works.
We have to ask, is it still effective?
We all have to do this in life. We’re always assessing what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and how much it costs.
In 2007, our Government put ongoing vigour back into how we manage expenditures and it works. Positive changes, such as the establishment of Shared Services Canada, are proof.
Government today is increasingly collaborative. Very little can get done without the ideas, help and involvement of each other, within our organizations and beyond.
Moving forward, we will need to work harder to reach out to Canadians—from stakeholders, citizen groups, academics, non-governmental organizations, and beyond, to ensure we’re exposed to a broad spectrum of ideas, information and views. Such knowledge-sharing can only lead to cultural renewal within the Public Service and better program delivery.
Our drive towards excellence will be founded on creativity, adaptability and being nimble. We will thrive where resources, human and fiscal, are harnessed and shared.