A Different Kind of Annual Report from a Different Kind of Clerk
Clerk Janice Charette tabled her twenty-second annual report on the public service yesterday, except this one was a bit different than previous iterations. This one stepped away from tradition and could even be labeled “new and funky,” as the Clerk has said before. At the same time, it embodied a practical and dynamic report that incorporated colour, infographics, images and all around projected a modern public service that’s in tune with the Blueprint 2020 vision.
In the Clerk’s video on the report, she summarized some of the public service’s notable accomplishments such as continued excellent service to Canadians, modernized border services, collaboration in discovering one of the lost Franklin ships and a more efficient citizenship decision-making process.
2014 Public Service Employee Survey
The report began by admitting that, “This has been an exciting but challenging year for the Federal Public Service” and then referenced the results from the 2014 Public Service Employee Survey. The Clerk was honest in saying, “the survey also highlighted that there are areas where we face challenges, and where further work will be required.”
The Clerk then touched on short term pain for long term gain as:
We are in the midst of a far-reaching transformation as a public service, both at the enterprise level and in departments. While many of these reforms are designed to reduce costs, our goals go well beyond that. For public servants, over time, our reforms will mean simpler and fewer processes, more efficient information technology infrastructure, and a more coordinated and effective approach to people management and learning. For government and Canadians, what we do to manage the Public Service must translate into better and faster service, and more integrated and aligned operations.
Blueprint 2020 was referenced along with the innovation taking place across departments over the past year on external initiatives, as well as internal ones. The Clerk only used the words “world-class results” with the Canada Revenue Agency when describing its efforts to improve digital services for taxpayers, making it easier to file securely online:
In 2014, the Canada Revenue Agency achieved world-class results by receiving 80 percent of individual returns and 83 percent of business returns electronically.
Collective successes over the last year were also highlighted such as the Government’s open data initiative, Industry Canada’s Connecting Canadians initiative, the quick response to the Alberta floods, the assistance provided in Iraq and the whole of government response to Ebola.
Innovation Highlighted from the Past Year
- Canada Border Services Agency – launched a new tool that forecasts border wait times;
- Canada Revenue Agency – launched MyCRA and CRA Business Tax Reminders to provide Canadians with more ways to access and manage their tax information;
- Citizenship and Immigration Canada – launched “Express Entry,” a new electronic application management system that is a faster and more effective way to welcome the top economic immigrants to Canada and respond to labour market needs;
- Public Health Agency of Canada – launched “The Play Exchange,” a first-of-its-kind partnership with the private and not-for-profit sectors that asked Canadians to submit ideas on how the public service can be more active; and
- Service Canada – enhanced the Canadian Retirement Income Calculator—available online, on tablets and smartphones.
The Clerk’s Priorities for the Coming Year
- Recruitment: recruit new entrants whether they are post-secondary graduates or later in their careers that consist of fresh ideas, diversity, and skills that will allow the public service to meet contemporary challenges;
- Mental health and focusing on building a healthy, respectful and supportive work environment: must work towards creating the space for open and stigma-free dialogue that allows for honesty and compassion as well as focus on preventing harm, promoting health and resilience, and addressing incidents or concerns; the joint task force with the Public Service Alliance of Canada to improve mental health and safety in the workplace is an important step; and
- Policy innovation: to ensure that the public service can continue to provide world-class, timely advice to government.
The Clerk wrapped up with a reminder that 2015 is an election year and that during this process, as always, the federal public service will remain professional, and non-partisan. She reiterated that public servants must always be, and be seen to be, impartial. Lastly, she called on all public servants to continue to show how they are proud and join in the dialogue, in their departments, agencies and functional communities, to move the public service forward.