Scott Brison expands on Canada’s plan to adopt ‘results and delivery approach’

By on 06/06/2016
Scott Brison, speaking at the APEX symposium for senior civil servants held in Ottawa last week

The minister responsible for Canada’s public service has expanded on the government’s plan to create a culture focused on results and delivery in a speech to senior officials.

Canada’s new Liberal administration announced a new results and delivery unit to be created at the Privy Council Office (PCO) and a new Cabinet Committee on Agenda, Results and Communications, to be chaired by the prime minister as part of its first budget in March this year.

Addressing executives at the APEX (the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada) symposium – a two-day conference for senior civil servants held in Ottawa last week, Scott Brison, president of the Treasury Board, said that the current system “focuses more on process and activities than on results and delivery”, features “too many performance indicators, with too few that actually tell us how a department is doing” and evaluation “lacks flexibility and responsiveness to user needs or emerging priorities.”

Government programmes, he said, should be focussed on “making a proactive difference in people’s lives.”

To achieve the government’s new “results and delivery approach,” he added, “three steps are crucial:

“First, being clear about the goals for programs and policies – what are we trying to achieve?

“Second, having a very detailed implementation plan – how will we achieve our goals?

“And third, systematically measuring and assessing our progress – are we achieving our desired results and how will we adjust if we are not meeting our goals?”

The public service, he said, must “do away with unnecessary reporting and create an easily understood, simplified results framework that tells people what the department actually does and the results it’s achieving.”

The government’s evaluation process, he said, needs “flexibility so that it can best support experimentation and innovation in departments.”

The PCO will get up to $49m (US$36.8m) in 2016–17 and up to $50m in 2017–18, to support the government’s results and delivery agenda.

Brison, who was giving a keynote speech introducing the winners of this year’s APEX Awards of Excellence, also called on officials to “create a culture of innovation and intelligent risk-taking.”

He added: “We must not be constrained by how things were done in the past.

“Right now, our culture rewards those who play it safe.

“We need to create incentives for innovation and tolerance for failure.

“If we are afraid to fail, we will never succeed.”

APEX (the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada) is an independent, not-for-profit organisation which lobbies the government on behalf of senior officials on issues such as compensation, the work environment and public service management reform.

Winners of the APEX Awards of Excellence

Winners of this year’s APEX Awards of Excellence

Click here for a full transcript of Brison’s speech

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About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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