The 2016 Outline for SPS827, Public Sector Financial Management is now available under the Teaching Tab. So too are the lectures and supplementary material for the first weekend.
The 2016 Outline for PMPA 809 is now posted under the Teaching tab as well as lectures.
Courses Planned for 2016-17:
Emerging and Current Developments
Review of the Professional MPA Program.
I have been asked by the Executive Director of the School of Policy Studies at Queens to undertake a review of the PMPA program, with an eye to suggesting a future direction, building upon the many strengths of the current program and what we also have learned in offering this program for so many years. Click here to see the Scoping Document.
A survey of alumni can be found here or by scrolling down the sidebar menu. Please fill it in and send it to me. Your input is valuable to us.
National Case Competition is Moving On and Up
With the successful conclusion of the fourth National Public Administration Case Competition in Halifax, the time has come to review our successes to date, what we have learned and how we can broaden participation in this new way to showcase emerging public administration talents across the country. As well, the time has come to involve more people and organizations in the work of this event, which has become a singular event in the cycle of public administration schools. to that end, CAPPA - the Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration - is leading a review. this is timely and much needed as the event has well outgrown the capacity of one person to carry.
Presentations: Recent and Forthcoming
Presentation to the Senate Committee on National Defence and Security, Presentation on Critical Infrastructure Risks and Threats, March 21, 2016. Click here to access.
Police Governance 101: Presentation in March, 2015 to the Police Commissions of Manitoba. Click here to access.
Putting Policy to Work: Policy Implementation Checklist: This checklist is the product of a workshop offered through Queen's to the Ontario Public Service, last held in Toronto, April, 2015. Click here to access.
Discussion Guide: Summit on Police Governance, Toronto, April, 2015. Click here to access.
Briefly Noted: Passing Comments on Management and the Meaning of It All
The Seven Scourges of Modern Public Management
I try to focus on the positive. For instance, I hold the entirely unpopular view that we have good public administration in Canada. I also think that public administration has proven itself time and again in terms of rising to the occasion in emergencies, but also in doing the heavy lifting of policy development and sound implementation. There is lots of evidence of this.
That being said, such support (for what it is worth) means that I also get well and truly worked up about some trends within public management generally that get in the way of this work. Some of it is imposed by the political realties of public administration. And just as much is self-imposed. Here are a few of things that I see that get in the way of good public management.
Institutional Spaghetti: This is when we hear more about a unit or division or ministry than we hear about the problem to be solved. This is when segmentation of a problem – and what big problem today is not segmented – ensures that nothing will be done. This is when everyone is accountable so no one is.
Bloated Policy: Not every problem needs a new policy to fix it. Sometimes, it just needs to be fixed. Sometimes mistakes happens. Sometimes our perfectly crafted policy hits the real world and has to accommodate.
Short-Term Memory Loss: This occurs when organizations fail to learn from their mistakes, forget what they have done in the past to solve a problem and how that worked and declare new strategies that look like old strategies to fix something that did not work, but they forgot that.
Fear-Driven Paralysis: This is a big ugly one. Christopher Pollitt has called this the blame game: plan your response to avert blame, not fix the problem. This is when you hear phrases like risk aversion and zero risk, both two very dangerous concepts. This is also another way to lead to control lasagna.
Organizational Guerilla Warfare: This is hardly new. But today it is reaching dangerous proportions where we see not just good old-fashioned turf protection, but systems that do not interact very well or not at all. Or, where knowledge is not shared to solve a problem. You might call this one targeted interoperability.
Shrinking Scope for Action and Risk-Taking: This is really a form of paralysis by analysis, or strangulation by interdependence. This is where inaction feels like the easiest form of action, even if there are real costs to the public. It is also where error or off-target results are seen an unnatural events. Finally, this is where we see pre and post auditing or review that second guesses the actual work being done.
Empty Words: More and more governments are putting out big ideas like security, public safety, and on and on, that imply they are in control of what is happening. For the most part, they are running on hope and aspiration. Good public administration is not a communications exercise.
What are a few antidotes to these scourges? This is tough stuff once you have been addicted to them: