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Promiscuously partisan bureaucracies

Friday, October 23, 2015
by Nick Charney RSS / cpsrenewalFacebook / cpsrenewalLinkedIn / Nick Charneytwitter / nickcharneygovloop / nickcharneyGoogle+ / nickcharney

The title isn't mine, it comes from a piece that ran in Australia's Canberra Times back in 2012 that explains late Peter Aucoin's final essay which warns against what he dubbed the "new political governance". Here's a snippet:
"Aucoin observed further: ''In the environment of [new political governance], moreover, ministers, sometimes explicitly, usually implicitly, expect those public servants who are seen and heard in countless public forums to support government policy; that is, to go beyond mere description and explanation. The expectation is not that they engage in the non-partisan political process, for example, at elections or political rallies. Rather, it is that they be promiscuously or serially partisan …'' 
He observes that ''impartiality remains the official doctrine … Yet, breaches are commonplace. The typical response to … instances of public servants crossing the line of impartiality in support of the government is to view the matter … as an aberration [Canada], or … simply part of the reality [Britain] … or as belonging to that grey area between what is and what is not acceptable [Australia]."

Both the article and the full paper are worth reading, especially in the context of the current transition.

I'll just leave it at that.