Trudeau nominates new head of public service commission; US reclaims first place in digital competitiveness rankings: news in brief

By on 07/12/2023 | Updated on 07/12/2023
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau sits at a desk flanked by Canadian national flags.

Global Government Forum’s digest of the news you need to know but might have missed.

Trudeau nominates new president of the Public Service Commission of Canada

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has announced his nomination of Marie-Chantal Girard for the role of president of the Public Service Commission of Canada.

According to the government’s website, Girard’s nomination follows her record as “an accomplished administrator” who has served Canadian citizens at the regional, national, and international level.

Trudeau said that Girard had “a proven track record of dedicated public service and people-focused policy development”, making her experience “a valuable asset to help uphold the integrity of the public service”.

If her appointment is approved by the House of Commons and the Senate, Girard’s job would be to advance and protect an impartial public service representative of Canada’s population, and which is based on merit.

“For over two decades, [Girard] has worked to design and implement policies to better the lives of Canadians, including by supporting socio-economic development, advancing pay equity, fostering good labour relations, and promoting fairness for equity-seeking groups,” the government said.

Girard currently serves as assistant deputy minister, pensions and benefits, at the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

The mandate of the Public Service Commission of Canada is to support federal departments and agencies to hire qualified individuals and to ensure that integrity remains at the core of public service hiring.

It also protects the non-partisan nature of the public service, and delivers recruitment programmes and assessment services.

Read more: Canadian government plans C$500m of in-year budget cuts

US jumps back to first place in global digital competitiveness rankings

The US regained the top spot on the International Institute for Management Development (IMD)’s 2023 World Digital Competitiveness Ranking.

According to IMD’s annual report, the rankings analyse and evaluate how well economies around the world have adopted and explored digital technologies responsible for “transformation in government practices, business models and society in general”.

Each of the 64 ranked countries was given a score out of 100, based on 54 criteria, with scores calculated using a combination of statistics from international, regional, and national sources, and survey data from an international panel of expert executives.

The report said that the US had reclaimed first place for digital competitiveness after coming second to Denmark in 2022, due to its performance in three key areas: knowledge, technology, and future readiness.

This secured it a score of 100. The Netherlands came second this year with a score of 98.10, and Singapore ranked third with a score of 97.40. After coming top last year, Denmark slid to fourth place with a score of 96.93. Switzerland came fifth with a score of 96.24.

For the study, each of the three digital factors – knowledge, technology, and future readiness – are divided into three subfactors. These include talent, training, regulation, ‘framework capital’, adaptive attitudes, business agility and IT integration.

The report noted that many top world economies exhibited similar weaknesses in the areas of adaptive attitudes and business agility. These weaknesses were found in countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Finland (which this year ranked eighth, with a score of 94.05). The report also noted that the US came 12th in the talent subfactor, and 20th in the training and education subfactor.

The US received a perfect score despite ranking lower in certain subfactors as performance is calculated relative to other countries.

The country ranked least competitive of all was Venezuela, which scored 22.55. Japan ranked middle in 32nd place, with a score 75.43.

Register for upcoming webinar: Harnessing the digital potential of government services

New digital brand to lead UK government’s tech hiring drive

The UK Cabinet Office announced last week that a new digital brand would lead the government’s efforts to attract top tech talent to the public sector. 

The department called the newly-rebranded Government Digital and Data function – it had previously been the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) function – “the first ever community leading digital transformation in government”.

It said it would help the civil service “to be viewed alongside tech giants” and to recruit the most in-demand skills.

The proportion of digital and data roles have almost doubled in five years, from 2.8% of the total civil service workforce in 2018 to 5% in 2023, equating to 28,000 people. This rise in state-employed data analysts, software developers and infrastructure engineers made government “one of the largest employers of digital and data professionals in the UK,” the government said.

Alex Burghart, parliamentary secretary for the Cabinet Office, called tech talent the “driving force behind creating essential and accessible public services” for which “a more coherent network of specialists” was needed to meet government’s challenges.

“Embracing technology isn’t just about efficiency, it’s about crafting a government that’s agile and ready to support the needs of tomorrow and the digital talent community is essential to that,” he said.

The Cabinet Office said that growing the government’s digital workforce would aid efforts to shrink the overall workforce to secure taxpayer savings.

Read more: Tech talent urged to ‘give working for government a go’ as UK seeks to boost skills

New Zealand announces emergency budget to dodge ‘fiscal cliffs’

The New Zealand government has announced an emergency mini-budget to tackle the risk of “fiscal cliffs”.

Nicola Willis, the country’s new finance minister, who also serves as deputy leader of the ruling National party, warned that action needed to be taken to avoid economic decline stemming from discrepancies in the government’s balance books.

“I am concerned by the scale of the financial challenges left to us by the outgoing government,” she said on 4 December. The mini-budget is expected to be delivered on 20 December.

She added that the shortcomings of the budget could amount to “many billions” of dollars across a four-year forecast period.

“We must put New Zealand on a firmer financial footing and this will require a much more disciplined approach to government spending decisions than has been the case in recent years,” she said.

Read more: New Zealand set for public service cuts under National government

Governments make fresh call for ‘responsible’ digital payments in climate-change fight

Story from Global Government Fintech, the sister title of Global Government Forum.

Governments of nations including the Philippines and Ghana have joined international organisations including the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme and UN-housed Better Than Cash Alliance to launch a fresh “call to action” to encourage “responsible” digital payments.

Those behind the global push – launched on 4 December at the COP28 gathering in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – are urging further governments, humanitarian actors, international and global financial institutions, and private sector, particularly financial service providers, to use responsible digital payments for “timely emergency response and preventive action”.

Their central message is that digital financial inclusion can enable people most impacted by climate change to be more “financially resilient to shocks and stressors” and that “anticipatory action can be seven times less expensive than emergency response”.

Ethiopia’s government, as well as the Vulnerable Twenty (V20) Group – the co-operation initiative of economies systemically vulnerable to climate change – and humanitarian aid organisation Mercy Corps are also backing the call, which has three pillars: expanding digital payments and digital public infrastructure for a “more climate-resilient future for all”; “closing the digital divide by increasing access and connectivity to reduce climate-vulnerability”; and “putting women, youth, indigenous peoples and communities in fragile and climate-vulnerable areas at the centre of adaptation planning”.

Read more: Governments make fresh call for ‘responsible’ digital payments in climate-change fight

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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