Round-Up: September 25

Thursday, September 25, 2008
The Ottawa Citizen published this dandy today, most likely prompted by this story we linked to yesterday.

I feel the need to quote the entire text:

Slow government
The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Thursday, September 25, 2008

A federal election call can spark a flurry of activity across the country. In Ottawa, it tends to have the opposite effect.

For some Ottawa-area residents who work for the federal government -- as either permanent or contract employees -- a federal election means work slows down. Although some functions of the federal government -- food inspection, for example -- involve jobs that must be done no matter what, the election effect stalls or delays other work until the election is over.

This year, thanks to a clampdown on federal purchasing, the election effect is bigger than ever. And that is worrisome.

Public Works and Government Services Canada is reviewing all possible purchases of goods and services by the government to ensure only those deemed "essential and urgent" are purchased during the campaign. Add to that a clampdown on communications and business imposed by the Privy Council Office and you have a government crawling its way through the campaign.

Although it is normal to avoid signing large contracts during an election, the action taken in this campaign is considered unprecedented. It seems to be aimed at avoiding any gaffe or misstep that could affect the election. This is not only an unnecessary intrusion into the regular workings of government, but it sends a damaging signal about the government's faith in the competence and professionalism of the federal public service.

I will concede the last paragraph. But let's move on.

I would like to note that simply because outside procurement is being slowed it doesn't mean that every federal employee is sitting on their hands. The article alludes to "some functions of government (i.e food inspection) must be done no matter what"... when in fact its much larger then 'some'.

For example, the ENTIRE regulatory function of government operates its daily machinery REGARDLESS of election call (not to mention all the other services the GoC provides -- EI, immigration, and passports to name but three).

I would argue that one of the benefits of separating the politicians from the bureaucracy is so that the country can continue to function during election periods.

Oh and, on a more personal note, try telling someone working on (or in my case coordinating) a briefing book, that election calls grinds the wheels to a halt -- we are living in a completely different universe then the one the Ottawa Citizen is painting in this article.

On a more humerous note, sosaidthe.org put up this dandy, for which we officially have no comment.

1 Leave a comment on this post to Round-Up: September 25:

Patrice Collin said...

Glad you posted something on this article, ironically it seems that most of my clients found out that their contracts and projects might be delayed or in jeopardy by the Ottawa citizen article or myself (the supplier)...PWGSC and the internal procurement teams didn't for the most part inform anyone else in the depts. they support....I am generalizing, however I can say this is true for approx 4 depts. that I am currently dealing with ;-)

I agree that the sad part in all of this is that because an election is launched the current government now questioning the integrity and abilities of the public servants who do their jobs everyday without issue....It inherently shows a distrust and maliciousness that is unnecessary....and borders on the paranoid.

The most damaging part of this action and the underlying reasons behind it...is quite simply FEAR! We only reinforce the idea that Public Servants should be scared of how they do their job or how they take a decision or god forbid use free thought!

At its root...a knee jerk reaction like this one only further damages the poor image that Public Servants often suffer from (anyone been called a drone lately!!) How about that for Brand Damage!

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