|by Nick Charney|
There's been a whole lot of public discussion in the media lately on the role of the public service:
|Photo courtesy of the NCC|
- Towards a Charter of Public Service by Ralph Heintzman (Canada 2020)
- The Real Problem of the Public Service by Ruth Hubbard (Ottawa Citizen)
- To Everything There is a Season by Maryantonett Flumian and Nick Charney (Canadian Government Executive Magazine)
- How public servants support democracy: a response to latest Canada 2020 study by Maryantonett Flumian and Karl Salgo (The Hill Times, subscription required, but I can email you the submission)
- Reforms to bring neutrality to public service could lead to 'government by the unelected': think tank by Kathyrn May (Ottawa Citizen)
And of course there was Tariq's timely reflection on the public service as an ideology and subsequent discussion in the commentary (See: Public Service as Ideology).
All of this – the experts weighing in and my discussions with friends and colleagues – has got me thinking more and more about my own public service ideology; and while anyone could probably deduce it from views from the last 6 years of blog posts, I figured why not just simply declare it outright.
My public service ideology
I believe that public service is at the same time personally rewarding, professionally meaningful, and vitally important to the health of the nation.
I believe in a public service that trusts its people, where public servants are confident to exercise autonomy within the boundaries of their work and resist the urge to codify that which could otherwise be normative.
I believe in a public service that pursues continuous improvement in its service to citizens, a public service that consistently puts people before processes and seeks mastery over its professional domains by investing more heavily in the former than the latter.
I believe in a public service that is deeply connected to its sense of purpose, that holds up its end of the social contract and in so doing allows public servants to connect to mission the way they connect to everything else in their lives: directly, with few or no intermediaries.
I believe in a public service where pride in one's work is the rule, rather than the exception. One that allows civil servants to demonstrate their pride through their ongoing work as civil servants but also in their pursuits as citizens.
I believe in a public service that sees and accepts the challenge of innovation for what it is: the hard work of future-proofing society. One that understands that there is no magic bullet, and that leans into the hard work of governance.
I believe in an inclusive public service that recognizes that some divisions are artificial. One that recognizes that we are bound together through our common service to the country and its people regardless of our geographic location, place within our classification systems, or jurisdiction within which we operate.
But I also believe in a public service that recognizes that some divisions are necessary. One that recognizes that ultimately, the elected government represents the will of the people, and continues to respect that.
Finally, I believe in a public service that sees the time-honoured principles of fearless advice and loyal implementation as not only the bridge between those artificial and necessary divisions, but also as ongoing, concurrent and constant - rather than static, sequential or time limited.
There you have it. I've declared my public service ideology.