THE REFORM DEBATE IN PERSPECTIVE
Prepared by Gerald Schmitz
Political and Social Affairs Division
APPROACHING THE QUESTION OF PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM
MEANING OF MINISTERIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN THE 1990s
THE EXECUTIVE "POLITICAL MANAGEMENT" SYSTEM
AND CONTROLLING THE EXPENDITURE PROCESS
EFFICIENCY AND DEMOCRACY: CONVERGENCES
AND TRADE-OFFS ON THE ROAD TO REFORM
THE REFORM DEBATE IN PERSPECTIVE
APPROACHING THE QUESTION
OF PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM
Government is not working
as it should. That appears to be the consensus of most outside government,
and is shared even by many within it. Discontent has been focused on unresponsive
politicians and distant bureaucrats. Much of it implicates the "system"
generally and its alleged "wasteful" spending habits. In a report
(Making Government Work, June 1993) advocating immediate reforms,
the Public Policy Forum cited a 1990 public opinion survey in which 95%
of respondents agreed that significant changes were required to the institutions
of parliamentary government. Despite several decades of administrative
reviews and frequent organizational shifts, the demand is stronger than
ever for government to be more democratic and more cost-effective in how
it serves the public.
The malady of expensive
unresponsive government seems clear enough. Yet the remedies are likely
to be much more contested, and difficult to apply even when there is political
will to do things differently. Some analysts see valuable lessons in the
experiences of large private firms which have had to restructure and innovate
to become more competitive, more attuned to their employees and their
customers. Yet fundamental differences between public and private sector
organizations may limit the usefulness of such comparisons. What precisely
does it mean to "reinvent" government and to put public service
activities on a frugal "entrepreneurial" basis? Can public-sector
entrepreneurship that is driven by economic concerns be made compatible
with the requirements of democratic accountability and calls to democratize
the policy process? This is a theme taken up later in this paper, and
also in the companion Library of Parliament Background Paper 375E, by
Brian O'Neal, which deals more specifically with attempted innovations
in civil service management.
Before proceeding to that
level, there is first the distinctive Canadian context of federal parliamentary
government to be considered in order for proposed reform and reorganization
solutions to have legitimacy as well as realistic chances for success.
Change is much easier to effect in certain areas of our national governmental
environment than in others. Form and process are also extremely important
in making government decisions (especially in a constitutional democracy
which upholds the rule of law), whereas cost-benefit results are the overriding
determinant of the business bottom line.
Canadians hardly need to
be reminded of the frustrations involved in achieving constitutional change.
Nonetheless, issues of constitutional jurisdiction and intergovernmental
negotiation cannot be avoided when it comes to deciding the appropriate
roles of the federal government, how it should work with other governments,
how duplication should be minimized, which level of government is best
suited to deliver which services, etc. Take, for example, the case of
proposals for national educational standards or training programs to boost
Canadian competitiveness. Parliamentary government also operates according
to certain traditions and constitutional conventions. While these can
be modernized and adapted in practice, they cannot simply be brushed aside
whenever reasons of efficiency or expediency might warrant.
Issues of philosophy and
ideology are also central. The public sector has evolved into a vast enterprise
comprising hundreds of organizations large and small. Reformers need to
ask a number of questions related to their proper size, scope, purpose
and function. Should government be doing more or less of some activities?
Should it be doing certain things at all? What are the key goals of public
policy and the public service? Should government be directly doing the
regulating, funding, and operating, or should it work through market incentives
and arrangements as much as possible?
The political complexion
of government does not turn only on such large policy issues. The personal
approach of each prime minister remains a big factor in our present Cabinet
government system. Regional and linguistic representation at the centre
are highly symbolic concerns in a country like Canada. Another often sensitive
matter is how to handle the inescapable facts of patronage and political
appointments. This raises the issues of standards of ethics and integrity
in government, what rules and procedures are to be followed, and how fair
the public perceives governmental processes to be.
Within a "good government"
agenda there are also issues of organization per se that can be
crucial to governmental effectiveness. How should the Cabinet be structured?
How should ministers work with their Cabinet colleagues, their officials,
Parliament and the public? How should policy and operational functions
be assigned and departments structured to perform them? What systems are
in place to control public spending and the activities of government agencies
and corporations? As the authors of Making Government Work affirm:
"We do not believe that good process automatically guarantees sound
policy, but we are sure that sound policy is seldom the result of bad
These issues lead back to
the onus on government to make credible efforts towards realizing goals
of both efficiency and democracy. Given the magnitude of debt and deficits,
no government can ignore economic exigencies, "value for money"
criteria, lesser cost options and alternatives to existing practices.
At the same time, as Tim Plumptre points out, "government leaders
pursue many goals in addition to that of efficiency."(1)
And in doing so they must pay particular attention to questions of public
accountability and participation. Responsible government in the 1990s
requires new ways of relating governments to people as well as fiscal
With those considerations
in mind, the following pages concentrate on changes to the accountability,
executive-parliamentary, and expenditure management systems of the Government
of Canada. BP-375E documents previous efforts to achieve public administration
reforms, starting notably with the legacy of the Glassco and the Lambert
Royal Commissions. In the concluding section of this paper, the goals
of efficiency, accountability and democracy are juxtaposed, with the intent
of bringing out some of the challenging choices and potential trade-offs
involved in taking systemic reforms to the next step.
MEANING OF MINISTERIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN THE 1990s
The classical conception
of parliamentary government is under siege. Its essence is that a Cabinet
of ministers drawn from (though not exclusively) the elected House of
Commons(3) holds the reigns
of government as long as it enjoys the confidence of the elected chamber.
The Cabinet as a whole is collectively responsible to Parliament in this
sense. As well, each minister, who is appointed to the privy council at
the discretion of the prime minister, is held individually responsible
to Parliament for everything within government that comes under his or
This conception has the
merit of very clearly locating political responsibility for the conduct
of government in a relatively small group of ministers of the Crown, with
the prime minister at the "apex of power."(4)
The buck stops at the Cabinet's door, where all of the lines of authority
and accountability converge. The House of Commons is divided between supporters
of the ministry and a "loyal opposition," which may present
itself as a sort of alternative government-in-waiting. But the Commons
itself does not attempt to govern. It must approve the fiscal and legislative
program of the government. It ought to hold ministers to account for their
responsibilities. And it may try to influence policy and to improve legislation.
These are all parliamentary functions, however, undertaken in an intrinsically
adversarial and partisan arena. They are not government functions as such.
As for the bureaucracy, it is expected to be politically neutral in itself,
but to serve the government of the day loyally and anonymously. The civil
service is accountable to Parliament only indirectly through ministers.
Yet this traditional hierarchical
scheme of things seems anachronistic and no longer persuasive to many
if not most observers, especially when it comes to controlling the vast
array of activities of contemporary government, which employs hundreds
of thousands of people and spends hundreds of billions of dollars. The
nature of the bureaucracy (the "permanent" government) has changed
radically, it is argued. The administrative side of government is now
a hugely complex organizational system which runs according to many of
its own professional rhythms, norms and interests. It is not simply a
meek servant to ministerial direction. Officials have become as much the
object of an expanding lobbying industry as the politicians in whose hands
the ultimate decision-making authority nominally rests. As one critic
concludes: "Democracy is ill served by a deliberate obstruction of
the location of power and responsibility by reference to a constitutional
fiction; it is well served by a realistic understanding of bureaucratic
interest group politics which defines the administrative state."(5)
Given the power of professional bureaucracies, it is certainly debatable
whether democratic reform of the state can be accomplished adequately
through the traditional "Westminster" model of "top-down"
accountability or, whether there is also a need for "bottom up"
processes of accountability directly involving the public and citizens'
Even as articulate a defender
of the classical view of Cabinet responsibility as Sharon Sutherland admits:
"Canadians seem particularly willing to accept that the doctrine
of ministerial responsibility has mostly outlived its application to modern
But, she argues, this is not because government has changed so much as
to make no longer valid the idea that the buck should stop at the minister's
door. Rather, she suggests, the principle has been allowed to be weakened
and devalued, so that it is no longer as reliable and effective an instrument
of democratic control as it should be. There is nothing wrong with seeking
to empower Parliament to do a better job of scrutinizing the actions of
government, or to experiment with extra-parliamentary forms of enhancing
public accountability. In Sutherland's view, however, there is no good
substitute for strong political accountability through ministers. Reforms
to the workings of parliamentary government that underestimate this may
create more problems than they solve, she argues.
Some of the reforms in question
have been associated with the widely shared goal of giving ordinary MPs
more power inside the "loop" of responsibility, rather
than remaining mere bystanders in a talking shop. This raises sensitive
issues of party discipline and of shifting the power balance between the
executive and the legislature that have never been fully resolved. Coincidentally,
in recent decades there has been a strong movement to modernize parliamentary-based
government in order to equip politicians, both in the executive and legislative
branches, to deal more effectively with the problems of "big government."
Much of the thrust for this on the expenditures side has come from the
rapidly growing office of the Auditor General (OAG), which reports directly
Since 1977, the OAG has
been able to move on a far broader range of "value for money"
concerns than was the case during Canada's first century. Since then as
well, studies focusing on financial accountability matters have tended
to support the OAG's more aggressive approach. The idea of greater parliamentary
control in this area has found a sympathetic hearing, especially among
backbench parliamentarians who have felt marginalized by executive-bureaucratic
dominance of policy and spending decisions. Reflecting longstanding frustrations,
parliamentary reformers have sought to rehabilitate the role of the private
member, and to assert the legislature's accountability functions through
new ways of relating to government and the bureaucracy. It is unclear
whether MPs' ongoing concerns can be successfully accommodated in the
sweeping reforms promised by the Chrétien government for the 35th Parliament
early in 1994 notably those in regard to parliamentary committees'
roles in the development of legislation and in relation to the expenditure
budget.(8) The new strengthened
standing committee structure, which eliminates the special legislative
committees established by the previous reform phase, was only just announced
at the time of writing.(9)
Time will tell if this is an improved system that can meet the expectations
it will raise, among the public, as well as among parliamentarians themselves.
Details of previous reform
developments in regard to expenditure management and executive-parliamentary
relations are described in other Research Branch publications, and so
will not be repeated here.(10)
A few highlights, however, deserve mention. In particular, spurred by
the Auditor General's complaints about poor controls over spending, the
Lambert Commission recommended a comprehensive accountability regime that
would "make the managers manage," with the guidance of continued
central direction, and within a system of strong parliamentary supervision.
This system attempted to draw a rational distinction between the "political"
accountability of ministers and the "administrative" accountability
of deputy heads of departments. Specifically, senior mandarins were to
be held accountable not only to ministers and the central management agencies,
but also separately and directly to Parliament, through the House of Commons
public accounts committee, for "performance of specific and assigned
The Lambert proposals seemed
to draw their inspiration from the British practice of senior departmental
"accounting officers" who are vested, by law and convention,
with responsibility for the proper adminstration of financial accounts.
These officers answer to the public accounts committee of the British
House, and if they are overruled by ministers, this must be recorded and
reported to the committee. However, as Sutherland points out, the officials'
responsibility is quite narrowly circumscribed and governed by two overarching
principles: "that the minister is responsible for all management
and organization, and that all officials derive their authority from ministers
and are accountable to them." In other words, the British example
supplements, but appears not to subtract from, the doctrine of individual
Apart from stretching the
British concept, the notion that Canadian deputy ministers (i.e., the
bureaucratic leadership of government) ought to be held individually and
directly responsible to Parliament for broad areas of administration assigned
to them rests on some shaky premises: that "administration"
is clearly separable from policy functions and political decisions; that
bureaucratic responsibility alone is required in cases of alleged bureaucratic
errors or failings; that separate lines of responsibility to Parliament
do not compromise the necessarily confidential and fiduciary relationship
between the minister and his or her deputy. Unsurprisingly, therefore,
the Lambert recommendations did not convince the Privy Council Office
of the day and were never adopted. Many senior officials dismissed them
as betraying a basic misunderstanding of the principles of Cabinet government.(13)
Others criticized Lambert for a naive expectation that parliamentary bodies
would put aside politics and partisanship in favour of an accountants'
eye-view scrutiny of management processes and decisions.
Despite the scepticism which
greeted Lambert, the idea of separate and distinct bureaucratic responsibility
to Parliament was kept alive by the enthusiasm it of successive Auditors
General and of some parliamentary reformers. In 1982 the Auditor General
told the House of Commons Special Committee on Standing Orders and Procedure:
"I think it is no longer really feasible or practical or desirable
that [the minister] assume responsibility for decisions and actions that
are carried out by public servants."(14)
Members of that committee subsequently formulated radical proposals for
a new system of accountability-related committees to oversee government
operations and expenditures. Although not acted upon, these ideas set
the stage for the untraditional view of responsibility contained in the
1985 landmark report of the Special Committee on the Reform of the House
of Commons. The McGrath Report was blunt in stating:
A minister cannot possibly
know everything that is going on in a department. The doctrine of
ministerial accountability undermines the potential for genuine accountability
on the part of the person that ought to be accountable the
senior officer of the department. (...) In this context administration
includes policy implemen-tation.(15)
This potentially sweeping
reinterpretation of bureaucratic responsibilities resulted in rather more
modest and incremental changes in practice. Parliamentary committees were
given greater powers and independence which could be used to pursue matters
within departments. Ministers were urged to make officials available when
asked to testify by committees. However, in 1987 the PCO issued a pointed
reminder to public servants that "they attend committees with permission
of the minister and that their loyalties are with the minister's interests."(16)
It is, moreover, hard to
imagine how a parliamentary inquiry into civil service actions that produced
a negative account would not also reflect badly on the minister's management
of the department and on the government as a whole. Indeed, precisely
such problems began to emerge, and were only exacerbated when officials
were perceived as being fingered unfairly and "hung out to dry"
in public proceedings. The most notorious case was the 1991 "Al-Mashat
affair" in which the Commons external affairs committee conducted
a heated post-Gulf war investigation of why a former Iraqi diplomat had
been allowed to settle in Canada. In the process several reputations were
damaged but little satisfaction was achieved.(17)
Commenting on this case, the new minister responsible for public service
renewal, the Hon. Marcel Massé, has argued that it flouted the principle
of ministerial responsibility. His conclusion: "It is neither desirable
nor appropriate, in a parliamentary system of government, to have officials
dragged into public controversy."(18)
This does not mean, of course,
that senior public servants are unaccountable or not answerable to Parliament.
In fact, as Figure 1 shows, deputy ministers are continually on notice
within a complicated web of accountability relationships, some of which
are probably best left informal. Deputies do have an obligation to assist
Parliament and its committees in understanding departmental policies and
operations. They ought to be able to answer to Parliament for the adminstration
of programs. But this duty becomes problematic as well as perverse if
it is used to shift the political heat away from ministers, who must remain
fully responsible for the overall functioning of their departments.(19)
By keeping accountability
relationships in proper perspective, with responsible ministers always
at the end of the line, the unavoidably grey areas between the political
and the administrative aspects of policy and government decisions should
not be a great cause for concern. The reason is that the sheer size and
complexity of government cannot then be used as an excuse to evade political
responsibility for redress when things go awry or performance is unsatisfactory.
As Sutherland states:
The system is designed
so that it does not need to matter much to the citizen whether an
official or the minister made a decision for which a minister can
be responsible in a legal and political sense but not in a personal
moral sense, or even whether events as opposed to actors created a
"decision". In making everything the minister's, everything
can be reopened. ... It is thus through the minister that the democratic
loop of accountability to the electorate is closed.(20)
BEYOND THE BOTTOM
Solid lines denote formal relationships, usually embodied in legislation.
Dotted lines denote informal relationships. Depending upon the issue
circumstances, some informal relationships may be more important than
some formal ones.
Source: Timothy W. Plumptre,
Beyond the Bottom Line, The Institute for Research on Public
Policy, Halifax, 1988, Exhibit 5-1, p. 152.
(IF YOU WOULD
LIKE A PAPER VERSION OF THIS FIGURE, PLEASE CALL 996-3942.)
If adequate political controls
over the bureaucracy are lacking, then that should be addressed directly,
rather than by setting up elaborate systems (or parallel bureaucracies)
in which politicians' and managers' roles are blurred, responsibility
becomes diffuse, and everyone is tempted to second-guess or pass the blame
to someone else. Parliamentary reform, in this view, should support not
subvert the objectives of holding ministers responsible for what government
does. Because parliamentary bodies are inherently political and normally
divided by party, they should not be expected to function as if part of
a theoretically more rational management regime. How, for example, would
they, as a logical consequence, share responsibility for government outcomes?
Between the extremes of
adversarial politics and rational management, there is ample ground to
be explored, however. MPs can be given opportunities to participate creatively,
earlier and more often in policy development, and perhaps too, to have
better input into a more transparent expenditure budget process. Confidence
conventions can be relaxed so that government members are freer to vote
on legislation in accordance with their constituents' wishes. But most
important of all is to sharpen the techniques whereby political ministers
can truly be responsible and held accountable for the myriad activities
of modern government.(21)
government would break down if Parliament itself were to try to run the
government, competing with cabinet and senior officials in a mish-mash
of responsibilities. Rather, the political and management challenge is
to clarify and strengthen the longstanding accountability relationships,
with, at the centre of the system, the political executive acting as the
crucial bridge between the bureaucracy, parliament, and the interests
of citizens as a whole. If the democratic executive is unable (or unwilling)
to discharge these responsibilities effectively, then no amount of either
parliamentary freedom or management theory is likely to improve the performance
and responsiveness of government.
THE EXECUTIVE "POLITICAL MANAGEMENT" SYSTEM
The single most important
actor in the Canadian system of government is the prime minister, who,
as "first among equals," presides over the ministry that is
collectively and individually responsible to Parliament. The size of Cabinets,
their internal structures and processes, the division of labour among
policy portfolios, and therefore the structure of government itself, are
all pre-eminently matters of prime ministerial judgement. Cabinet-making
is a political art not a management science. Important factors other than
bureaucratic logic or efficiency such as representative balance
(region, gender, etc.) and personal/political compatibility will
and should enter into these decisions. The result, therefore, always remains
fluid. Lessons can be gained from the experience of previous Cabinets,
but there is no textbook recipe to follow.
The historical evolution
of the Cabinet, and of the supporting executive and central agency structures
advising it, has been analyzed in several previous Research Branch papers.(22)
Figure 2 indicates how extensive the institutions of political management
had become by 1984. Perhaps the most important observation is that by
this time the system had grown to be extremely complex and unwieldy even
in the eyes of many participants. It promised rationalistic management,
but delivered more competition than ever among ministers, deputies and
"superbureaucrats." The full Cabinet had become too large to
be able to transact business effectively, and in fact rarely met even
on a pro forma basis. Most decisions were delegated to an elaborate
system of Cabinet committees whose job it was to manage the government's
principal policy and expenditure "envelopes."
Real power, however, was
concentrated in a single committee "Priorities and Planning"
(P&P) chaired by the prime minister. Briefly, under Joe Clark, this
distinction between more and less powerful ministers was formalized, with
P&P becoming the "inner Cabinet." Even this central committee
of ministers soon grew too large, however, (at 15 or more members) to
be much more than a broad agenda-setter. In practice, major spending decisions
were controlled by the prime minister and a handful of key ministers,
in particular, the "guardians" over the public purse: the minister
of finance, responsible for the overall fiscal framework, and the president
of the Treasury Board, responsible for the detailed expenditures approval
Source: Richard Van Loon, "Kaleidoscope
in Grey: The Policy Process in Ottawa," in Michael Whittington
and Glen Williams, eds., Canadian Politics in the 1980s, 2nd Edition,
Methuen, Toronto, 1984, Figure 19.4, p. 419.
Within this multilevel Cabinet
system, in addition to the departmental ministers, there were after 1980
two "ministries of state" attached to two of the largest program
spending envelopes: one for "social development" (MSSD), and
one for "economic and regional development" (MSERD). And even
before proposals made their way to the relevant cabinet committee, they
were supposed to be run through a parallel structure of so-called "mirror
committees" of deputy ministers. All in all, the process in
which formal "collegiality" mixed uneasily with informal dealmaking
was very time-consuming and often frustrating for line department
A significant streamlining
took place under the brief Turner prime ministership, when the ministries
of state and the mirror committees of officials were abolished. These
changes carried over into the first Mulroney Cabinet.
A number of other modifications
were made to the Trudeau-era structures in order to simplify the system.(23)
Even so, with a huge government caucus, the Mulroney Cabinet also became
the largest in Canadian history, at 40 members. More importantly, after
a long period in opposition, and perhaps given their more private-sector
orientation, many of the new ministers were suspicious of the bureaucracy
they inherited. The result was a beefed-up political support group attached
to Cabinet, which interposed itself between the ministers and the mandarins.
It started at the top with a much-expanded Prime Minister's Office (PMO)
and spread to large ministerial political staffs headed by a highly-paid
"Chief of Staff."
The verdict of government
watchers is virtually unanimous that this arrangement, founded on mistrust,
did not work well. This is the case even though the planning that took
place for the 1984 federal transition has been described as never having
been "more comprehensive or more effective."(24)
Bourgault and Dion observe that from Confederation until 1984 "there
were no noticeable increases in the number of departures and appointments
of deputy ministers in the two years following the election of a new government."
After 1984, "the high mobility of deputy ministers more or less paralysed
their power until 1987." The "extensive power granted to ministerial
offices aggravated the difficulties usually associated with a period of
transition." Inexperienced partisan policy advisors interfered inappropriately
and got in the way of "the indispensable cooperation which must be
established between ministers and senior civil servants."(25)
The situation deteriorated to the point where, ironically, a career public
servant, Derek Burney, was recruited to take charge within the PMO and
restore stability to the executive ranks.
Bourgault and Dion outline
two essentially different models of how Cabinets and senior bureaucrats
relate to each other. What they term the "hierarchical" model
leaves no doubt that the politicians run the show. In the U.S. case, the
upper levels are very politicized. An incoming administration is expected
to bring in its own political friends and allies. In European cases, the
recruits are more likely to be from among the administrative élites. But
the key point is that ministers choose the top personnel. By contrast,
in the "triangular" model it is expected that ministers, aided
by small political staffs, will develop a cooperative partnership with
their senior officials, who are career civil servants. This is the British
"Whitehall" system which also became part of the parliamentary
government tradition in Canada and Australia. The popular BBC series "Yes,
Minister!" notwithstanding, such a system does not mean that mandarins
run the show, with ministers as mere passing figureheads. It does mean
that departmental expertise and advice normally weigh heavily in ministers'
decisions, and that a relationship of trust is important to cultivate
on both sides.
The first Mulroney Cabinet
severely strained that established pattern at the same time as there was
a large shift underway from Trudeau-style institutionalized and central-agency
dominated Cabinets back towards more direct departmental accountability.
Both were factors in destabilizing the public service.(26)
And as Bourgault and Dion observe, added parliamentary attention to the
government's problems with the bureaucracy only exacerbated an unhappy,
almost adversarial, atmosphere within the executive system.
Deputy ministers were
increasingly summoned to appear before parliamentary committees to
defend the management of their departments and the soundness of their
advice to ministers. High-ranking bureaucrats had the feeling that
the government was trying to put responsibility for the departments
on their shoulders, and the true purpose of reform was to give the
many restless MPs something to do.(27)
The second-term Mulroney
Cabinet (1988-93) promised, if not a less politicized relationship with
the senior bureaucracy, at least a much tighter ship in terms of managing
that relationship and controlling its own operations. Although "P&P"
ballooned to 19 members, the real nerve-centre of Cabinet was a much smaller
eight-member "Operations Committee" chaired by the Deputy Prime
Minister Don Mazankowski, formalized as part of the Cabinet machinery.
The new system was perceived to focus the political command structure
more directly on the prime minister and a few trusted ministers around
him. Jeffrey Simpson argued that "Mr. Mulroney has adopted the British
cabinet model with its strict hierarchies. Far from being a cabinet of
equals ... it now has sharply delineated grades of importance."(28)
In fact, important differences
remained. Junior ministers were still full members of a 39-member Cabinet,
quite unlike the UK government with its many more ministers but much smaller
Cabinet. And large political staffs persisted. By any comparative measure,
the Canadian Cabinet structure was bloated and cluttered by formalized
committees (as many as 15 in 1989, later reduced to 11). Expenditure control
objectives had meant adding yet another committee, not reducing the number
of spending ministers. In Britain, where the internal workings of Cabinet
are secret, even among ministers, there is simply little scope for using
committee politics to jockey for Cabinet position. Ministers are expected
to focus on their own responsibilities, not to "play" the system
In the 1990s, there continued
to be growing pressure in Canada for a leaner style of Cabinet organization
commensurate with the government's commitments to "downsize"
government as a whole. This was understood to be part of the mandate given
to then Secretary of State Robert de Cotret when he was asked by the prime
minister in 1992 to undertake a confidential review of government operations
with a view to streamlining them. Former Privy Council Clerk Gordon Osbaldeston,
who became an advisor to De Cotret, was known to be a strong advocate
of small Cabinets and clear ministerial accountability relationships.
By 1993 a large consensus was also in favour. But how to achieve it?
An important study of government
organization headed by Osbaldeston indicated that it would have to start
at the top, by resisting the "pressures for representation"
which had swollen the P&P committee to a size greater than that of
the entire Cabinet in Canada's early decades. Politicians interviewed
for the study "agreed that there are too many ministers, too many
organizations, and generally too much complexity."(29)
Because of the growth of vested interests, a lot of prime ministerial
political will would likely be required to prune the system to achieve
clarity and focus.
In addition to discipline
at the apex of the system, Osbaldeston addressed the issues of how to
go about organizing government better in order to meet contemporary needs
and priorities. Here he was more cautious, given the "less than edifying"
experiences with past reorganizations. Noting that attractive changes
on paper may take a long time to implement and be costly and disruptive,
he has suggested three practical "rules to live by" when contemplating
to reorganize unless you are certain that the benefits of the proposed
change outweigh the costs." This means doing the advance homework
and taking into account the time, energy and resources consumed
in organizing activities. Any moves should be justified by studies
indicating they will bring clear long-term net benefits to
"If you must
reorganize, think through the design and implementation before launching
the change." This may prove difficult to do if potential moves
are shrouded in cabinet secrecy. However, before matters reach the
stage of final political decision, ways should be explored to solicit
wider consideration of options and to get expert advice. Osbaldeston
lists as possibilities: a major public commission; a permanent advisory
body "perhaps bridging the private and public sectors";
work by independent think-tanks. Moving into a preparatory stage,
advance "implementation teams" could be set up.
agents carefully, and support them during the change." Not
only should there be a plan in place beforehand, key personnel should
also be identified who are capable of implementing the plan. They
should be supported during the organizational phase by clear guidelines
Of course, any significant
restructuring of the executive system is driven by political considerations
as well as a search for a "best" management solution, if such
exists. The two major Cabinet-making exercises of 1993 reflected some
similarities but also important differences in the approaches and situations
of Prime Ministers Campbell and Chrétien. Each had an interest in projecting
the image of system-wide change towards a leaner, more innovative and
performance-oriented structure. Under Campbell, Cabinet was reduced to
25 members, Cabinet committees to five, and government departments to
23. The Priorities and Planning committee was eliminated in favour of
restoring the full Cabinet, meeting on a regular weekly basis, as the
central decision-making forum.(31)
The Chrétien transition
managed an even smaller cabinet size, despite the obvious pressures of
a large regionally-inclusive national caucus. However, this was only accomplished
by adapting the British practice, formally distinguishing between Cabinet
(23 members) and a larger ministry (31 members) which included eight "secretaries
of state" with lesser portfolio responsibilities. Campbell, having
abolished minister of state positions, had fewer ministers. But Chrétien
went further to abolish the political "chief of staff" positions
for all ministers and to trim the size of their offices. The Chrétien
cabinet would also function without a separate P&P committee, and
would have just four committees in all (eliminating the Mulroney-created
"Operations" committee and the Campbell-created "House
Leader's" committee), whose memberships were not immediately announced.(32)
Much of the June 1993 reorganization
to consolidate operations within fewer departments suited the small size
of the November cabinet and was left intact, at least for the time being.
The most substantial and politically symbolic change was to cancel the
controversial superministry of "Public Security," which was
to have absorbed some immigration functions. Instead a new department
of "Citizenship and Immigration" was created. More importantly
for the future of government organization and reform, the Cabinet included
a "Minister Responsible for Public Service Renewal," the Hon.
Marcel Massé, a former Privy Council Clerk under the Clark government.
The appointment signalled a more methodical and open approach to expected
Mr. Massé had criticized
the previous reorganization as being suspect in both its secrecy and top-down
artificiality, proceeding in all directions before having done
what should be its first task namely, a fundamental reappraisal
of federal roles and responsibilities in consultation with those affected.
He indicated that only changes that "made sense" would become
permanent, and that the impact of organizational change would be carefully
assessed in future to ensure that implementation is done "fairly,
with due concern for the public service and the individuals involved."(33)
This is in line with recommendations
made by the Public Policy Forum in June 1993; these emphasized maintaining
the value of a professional non-partisan public service, and improving
relations between the executive and the bureaucracy as well as with Parliament
and the public. Such confidence-building measures were deemed necessary
to restore a faltering faith in the institutions themselves. Moreover,
a change in government can provide the ideal opportunity to introduce
them, suggested Forum chair, respected former deputy minister Arthur Kroeger.(34)
In short, restructuring
for reform is once again on everyone's lips, though hard experience shows
there is no magic management mantra for a successful Cabinet process.
Politics, including politics at the highest level, is a continuous balancing
act, so that qualities of good process and good judgment may ultimately
count for more than academic exercises in rationalizing systems and shifting
structures. Turning to the subject of financial management, this political
lesson applies equally to the accumulation of attempts to reign in government
AND CONTROLLING THE EXPENDITURE PROCESS
There is probably no other
area of federal government management that has received more attention
in recent decades than the expenditure budget process. It is a field strewn
with studies and riddled with acronyms. It has also produced the highest
levels of exasperation among the political-bureaucratic combatants and
taxpaying spectators, in the face of record-setting budget deficits, past,
present, and future. The evolution of systems-based reform is described
in a previous Research Branch paper, and other sources give detailed contextual
accounts.(35) Here it
is possible to cover only a few highlights, indicating what has been put
in place and where some of the major difficulties lie.
Since the 1960s there have
been roughly three broad periods of reform, characterized by shifting
balances in the degree of centralization or decentralization of controls,
and in the degree of direct political responsibility versus reliance on
bureaucratic management structures. The first, post-Glassco period laid
the foundations of the modern system: powerful "guardians" in
a Finance department and a separate Treasury Board secretariat to carry
out specialized planning and oversight roles; delegation of specific financial
administration responsibilities to departments; expenditures presented
on a program basis and rationalized by objectives; introduction of multi-year
forecasts. By the early 1970s, "rational" budgeting systems
were in place along with the "A-B-X" budget concept. The latter
should have allowed savings (from an X budget review) to be applied to
new or expanded programs (the B budget) while maintaining funding for
the "A-base" of continuing programs. The emphasis, however,
was still on the financial design and "how to" of managing more
programs, not on restraint as a primary goal in itself. Indeed spending
rose rapidly and once introduced few programs were ever terminated.
The second period of reform
followed on alarm bells sounded by the Auditor General in 1976 that the
government was close to "losing control" over its spending.
He complained that while everyone was engaged in the complex budget game,
no one was really in charge of policing the process, as a sort of chief
accounting officer, ensuring that appropriate checks were in place and
that government delivered "value for money." The Trudeau government
responded by establishing the Lambert Royal Commission on Financial Management
and Accountability, which like Glassco, had important private sector involvement.
Initially the government tried to resist the Auditor General's campaign
for an "Office of the Comptroller General". However, well before
Lambert reported in 1979, the cabinet bowed to growing pressure and agreed
to create this new expenditure management oversight agency within government.
As well, the Office of the Auditor General was given new statutory powers
to carry out comprehensive value-for-money auditing of programs, moving
well beyond its traditional mandate of verifying the probity and economy
with which money approved by parliament has been spent.
As indicated earlier, the
Lambert report was not welcomed with any enthusiasm by the senior bureaucracy,
which it wanted to make much more explicitly accountable within government
for financial management objectives, as well as directly to Parliament,
notably through the public accounts committee.
Lambert linked everything
to strengthening what it regarded as the weak links in the "chain
of accountability." One of the report's central recommendations was
the adoption of a long-term (five-year) "Fiscal Plan" which
would be presented annually to Parliament and referred to a Commons standing
committee on "Government Finance and the Economy." Essentially,
Lambert wanted to see the spenders as well as the guardians, politicians
generally as well as public servants, starting to take responsibility
for managing the state of the nation's finances within a complete accountability
Although few of Lambert's
specific proposals were actually implemented, the report did pave the
way for a new Policy and Expenditure Management System (PEMS) to be introduced
during 1979-80. Under this forward-planning system the Department of Finance
was charged with preparing a multi-year fiscal framework to be approved
by Cabinet's top policy-making committee. To achieve "rational decision-making,"
policy initiatives would have to be matched with resource requirements
within the limits set out in the plan. Major areas of expenditure were
grouped together within "envelopes" overseen by Cabinet policy
committees whose task it was to determine how to live within the envelope's
means. The two largest policy envelopes, for social development and economic
and for regional development, were given ministry of state secretariats
to help with this collegial "rationalization" of policy with
Essentially, ministers and
their officials were supposed to sort out among themselves how to fund
old and new programs within their envelopes under the constraints set
by Finance and Treasury Board, but without appealing to a higher authority
for extra money. There was to be an incentive, therefore, to create savings
internally that could be applied to emerging priorities. (Envelopes were
given "policy reserves" and could tap several operating reserves
as well. But the former were typically very small and could even become
negative. They could not substitute for either substantial expenditure
reallocation or substantial new money.) The theory was that overall control
could be exerted by forcing spending ministers to discipline themselves
within an elaborate committee and central agency-driven system supervised
by the financial guardians and presided over by the prime minister and
"inner Cabinet." The practice was that PEMS operated at the
diminishing discretionary margins of the budget process. As well, tax
expenditures were never really integrated into the system.(36)
less powerful ones, found PEMs to be excessively bureaucratic, time-consuming,
unsympathetic and ultimately unrewarding. Successful ministers would still
try to deal directly with Finance and through P&P on big items. The
fiscal framework itself became very unreliable as a guide when forecasts
were thrown far off base (notably on the deficit in the wake of the 1981-82
recession). Another rationalistic management plan on paper bowed to political
realities. Indeed, why bother to play by increasingly complicated rules
when political and unforeseen circumstances made theoretically rational
outcomes anything but a sure thing? Moreover, as Savoie concludes, reflecting
on this frustrated experience,
...the failure to cut
government spending is not for want of a policy-making process and
the machinery of government. The actual policy actors, their personalities,
the capacity of ministers to work with their officials, the ability
of some ministers to do "end-runs" on the system, and other
such factors have a far greater impact on the government's expenditure
plans than any well-reasoned policy process ever can.(37)
Though the promise of PEMS
reforms was quickly dimmed, they did usher in some major changes in how
the government's expenditure "estimates" are presented to Parliament,
resulting in the now familiar three-part format. Part I of the Estimates
(usually tabled each February) is to give an overview of the fiscal framework
and envelope shares. Part II details all the individual proposed program
budgets which are appropriations to be voted by Parliament as part of
the granting of "supply." The most important innovation was
that of the "Part IIIs," introduced in the early 1980s to provide
in-depth explanations and rationalizations of program spending by departments
Once again, however, these
elaborate and less than "user-friendly" documents have not turned
out to be the decisive tools for reforming, much less reducing, expenditure
on the basis of "rational, objective" evaluations of ongoing
programs. The incentives have simply not been there, on either the parliamentary
or the government side, for pursuing such rigorous exercises, even if
the means existed to do them well, which is questionable in itself.(38)
Though frank admissions of mistakes or failures are necessary to genuine
evaluation, they are unlikely to be forthcoming in public documents prepared
by bureaucrats if the result is only to provide ammunition for adversarial
Overall, therefore, Parliament's
scrutiny of estimates still tends to be weak, episodic and perfunctory.
In the early 1980s, parliamentary reform proposals influenced by the thrust
of Lambert and the early promise of envelope budgeting envisaged a similarly
complex network of financial accountability and spending oversight committees
that would revive a substantive role for Parliament within the expenditure
Yet these ambitions, too, faltered and never came to political fruition.
The third post-PEMS period
of reform began in 1984, even before the Mulroney government took power.
Under John Turner, the machinery of PEMS was reduced, eliminating the
ministries of state and mirror committees of officials. Then under Brian
Mulroney, while the structure of the envelope system remained, there was
further political streamlining of the processes leading to and from Cabinet,
signalling that it was ministers who were to call the shots. The bureaucrats
and management systems were there to facilitate the minister's job, not
The new government also
decided to take a high-profile political approach to the evaluation of
existing programs. A Ministerial Task Force on Program Review (MTF) was
established under deputy prime minister Erik Nielsen. Nineteen study teams
conducted reviews of program "families" (covering nearly a thousand
programs in all; excluded, however, were defence, foreign aid, and public
debt charges), which were then discussed with private sector advisory
committees before being submitted to the MTF. When the Nielsen reviews
were tabled in Parliament in 1986 they recommended one-time cuts to budgetary
and tax expenditures totalling over $7 billion.
The Nielsen exercise, however,
was dogged by controversy and suspicion at every step. About $500 million
in spending reductions can be attributed to the efforts of the task force,
but this does not take into account the cost of the exercise itself. For
the mountain of paper produced, very little came of most of the recommendations.
Savoie quotes the verdict of a senior official who was directly involved:
"Virtually all the programs reviewed are still in place and virtually
intact. In fact, since 1984 we have added many more new programs than
we have done away with."(40)
The second-term Mulroney
government left behind these largely counterproductive exercises and moved
as well to dismantle PEMS. The expenditure management process was significantly
re-centralized. Finance would have a strong hand. All spending would have
to be approved by P&P and Treasury Board. Two small senior Cabinet
committees a formalized "Operations" committee and a
new "Expenditure Review" committee (ERC) would control
the flow. According to several observers:
"Ops and Chops"
working together, were effective gatekeepers in the policy-making
system. A new proposal had to get by "ops" to get on the
Cabinet agenda, and if the proposal required additional spending it
also had to get through "Chops". ... While "Chops"
was helpful in blocking new spending, it was less successful in identifying
cuts in spending.(41)
This top-down machinery
was then adapted to suit the working relationships among key ministers.
When Deputy Prime Minister Don Mazankowski became minister of finance
in 1992, the ERC which he had usually chaired became sidelined, until
it disappeared altogether in January 1993. However planned, the Budgets
of the early 1990s were all marked by a series of ostensible cost control
measures, inter alia: caps and freezes on programs and transfers;
moves to contracting out and cost-recovery of government services; wage
freezes and rollbacks for employees; a "Spending Control Act"
and "Debt Service and Reduction Fund" (to which GST revenues
were to be applied); abolition of some agencies; successive year cuts
to departmental operating budgets.
Although this agenda of
expenditure reform/reduction was clearly directed by and controlled from
the political centre, there was also an increased delegation of responsibilities
for implementation down the line to managers throughout the bureaucracy.
Instead of just following elaborate systems of rules, they were to be
given more "entrepreneurial" scope and flexibility, but also
made more accountable for delivering the savings required by the government's
expenditure control plans. This thrust reinforced a program in place since
1986 of Increased Ministerial Authority and Accountability (IMAA), wherein
departments were to work together with Treasury Board to remove bureaucratic
impediments to getting better value for money. It also coincided with
the performance-oriented "new managerialism" of the "Public
Service 2000" initiative (described in greater detail in the BP-375E).
One of the PS 2000 task
forces was on "Resource Management and Budget Controls." Its
1990 discussion paper emphasized IMAA as freeing up managers' ability
to get results. It also endorsed the concept of departments each getting
their own operating budgets with full flexibility to shift around these
funds "to achieve the most effective and efficient use of resources
in delivering their programs."(42)
For example, centralized controls on the number of "person-years"
allowed would be eliminated, a move supported by the House of Commons
public accounts committee. The government took steps to implement these
recommendations in the 1992 and 1993 federal budgets.
Yet the fact remains that,
for all the studies and organizational activity, and with some modest
management improvements to be sure, the impact on the size of the expenditure
budget has been very slight. Systems have gone in and out of fashion.
Program evaluations have multiplied. Operating expenditures have been
brought down. None of this has brought controlling huge increases in the
deficit any closer. Macro-economic forecasts are as error-prone as ever.
Senior ministers, especially regionally powerful ones, have many ways
of getting more for what they want. Even the virtuous guardians of spending
who report to Parliament may have contributed to the problem, which in
turn parliamentarians have seemed powerless to fix.
Savoie's blunt assessment
of a few years ago still holds and is worth pondering:
In 1970-3, the Office
of the Auditor General had a budget of $4.4 million and 298 person-years.
By 1988-9, its budget had jumped to over $48 million and 619 person-years.
The auditor general
... has urged government to launch major initiatives [which have]
included the establishment of the Office of the Comptroller General
[*note: eliminated and reabsorbed into the Treasury Board secretariat
in the Campbell government reorganization of June 1993], widespread
evaluation of programs, and Improved Management Practices and Controls
(IMPAC). While costly, it would be extremely difficult to argue that
any of these initiatives has met with any degree of success. (...)
The Office of the Auditor
General, then, has had little direct impact on the expenditure budget,
other than probably increasing the overhead cost of government in
the belief that it would contribute to more effective evaluation of
ongoing programs. (..)
does not control spending in the sense of determining the levels of
expenditure for particular departments, functions, and levels. It
reviews government spending plans but rarely influences them. MPs
by and large see little merit in developing an expertise in the program
requirements of departments....
In any event, members
are not privy to decisions made in preparing the expenditure budget.(43)
Changing this situation
in a substantive way would probably require truly radical rather than
incremental reforms. But that in turn would run up against the unresolved
problem of how to reconcile a new management regime focused on "bottom-line"
concerns with traditions of parliamentary government and accountability
in which the buck is supposed to stop with ministers, rather than
reform-minded parliamentarians, cost-conscious public servants, or sharp-pencilled
auditors. Johnson points out that the "normal" management accountability
of public servants to their ministerial superiors is very different from
the highly political relationship of responsible ministers to Parliament.
"It follows that a frank "here's what went `right' and here's
what went `wrong'" management report will not serve in the political
the Westminster tradition that is part of Canada's constitution, parliamentary
debate is normally supposed to be adversarial; for it to be otherwise
would require a sea change in both constitutional structure and legislative
habit and behaviour.
Then there are the political
and democratic implications of various measures, driven by competitive
and cost-effectiveness considerations, to devolve more executing responsibilities
for the provision of government services to private-sector contractors
or to departmental agencies operating with greater freedom and flexibility
over their resource budgets. How much does a more "business-like"
approach to delivering government programs weaken direct ministerial/parliamentary
control over how tax dollars are used? After all, bureaucratic managers,
much less independent ones, can never be accountable for how the public's
money is spent in the same democratic way as elected politicians. On the
other hand, if the public insists on holding the politicians responsible
for virtually "error-free" administration, this will likely
mean more burdensome centralized executive controls over managers
resulting in passive risk avoidance which in turn risks stifling the innovation
and entrepreneurship that could (but might not) save the government money.
More about such dilemmas in the concluding section.
To bring the discussion
of the current expenditure budget process to a close, it is worth noting
the growing pressures to open up to public and parliamentary scrutiny
the preparatory stages of budget-making, beyond the limited consultations
with "stakeholders" which already take place. This would mean,
as the Public Policy Forum argued in its reform paper of June 1993, reducing
to an "essential minimum" the maximum concern for budget secrecy
which now prevails. The Forum went on to propose: giving the House of
Commons finance committee the power in practice "to effect substantial
changes in budget bills after conducting public hearings"; early
publication of the government's annual expenditure plan; a fixed annual
cycle for presentation of budgets by government and for federal-provincial
finance ministers' meetings; the enshrining of these procedural changes
Another government study
on the subject was subsequently released by then finance minister Gilles
Loiselle in August 1993. It proposed that the formal budgetary cycle begin
in the fall with the tabling in Parliament of a fiscal and economic paper
updating the previous budget. This would be referred to the Commons finance
committee (others could be involved as appropriate), which would report
back before the end of the year. After extensive consultations, the budget
and main estimates would normally be tabled (as has been recent practice)
in February. This would be followed by post-budget consultations with
"interested parties ... ensuring that a year-round process of consultation
and feedback would be carried forward on a wide range of important issues
deserving of continuing attention by Canadians and their governments."(46)
It appears that the Chrétien government will follow a regular consultative
cycle broadly similar to this. The current finance minister, Paul Martin,
has initiated a new atmosphere of pre-budget openness. Four major public
conferences were held outside of Ottawa in January 1994 during the period
of intensive preparations for his first budget.
In addition to reforms aimed
at the formal expenditure cycle, there have been many suggestions for
enhancing tough publicly-accountable scrutiny of major components of government
spending without which major savings are impossible to achieve.
But where and how Parliament fits in to this critical examination is a
matter for debate. Johnson, for example, although a strong defender of
ministerial responsibility and ultimate parliamentary control, worries
that program areas most in need of review (he specifically mentions "unemployment
insurance, regional economic development, agricultural support programs,
and immigration") might be left off the hook because they are considered
too "hot" to handle in partisan political terms. Instead, he
In my ideal world there
would be a number of independent entities devoted to the scrutiny
of such well-established programs and of public policy generally.
There would be Royal Commissions, appointed by the more courageous
governments; and there would be independent, public policy research
institutes, adequately endowed to be independent,and courageous enough
to take on the sacred cows of public policy. And the Auditor General,
in this ideal world, would have a mandate to commission effectiveness
reviews from these independent institutes, or from selected experts
who would have many of the same attributes of mini Royal Commissions.
Both would be examining the effectiveness of major programs and policies,
over an extended period of years and in a totally non-partisan way.
The result would be to ensure that the raw material for public debate
was available to Parliament.(47)
EFFICIENCY AND DEMOCRACY:
CONVERGENCES AND TRADE-OFFS ON THE ROAD TO REFORM
There seem to be two dominant
underlying motivations within Canadian society driving the belief that
we must transform our governing institutions significantly in order to
meet present challenges. The first, and probably hardest to ignore in
the short term, is primarily fiscal and economic. Deficit-burdened governments
and tax-burdened citizens are persuaded that public sector organizations
must learn how to contract as well as expand, to cover more of their costs
as well as to generate them, and generally to do better at delivering
high quality services more efficiently, with fewer resources than have
been available in the past.
The second motivation is
primarily political. As questioning of governments' capacities has increased,
so too have concerns that governments must become more responsive and
accountable to the people whom they are supposed to represent and who
pay their bills. Without means of democratic public participation in policy
development to which the average citizen can relate, the jargon-filled
"insiders'" world of bureaucratic government may appear to be
a costly burden that has grown increasingly inaccessible. Hence, economic
motivations for bringing government "under control" converge
with political ones as doubts about the government's ability to exert
financial control over its situation interact with doubts about the people's
ability to exert democratic control over the government; both feed the
desire for fundamental reform.
Compared to previous reform
periods, however, this is an era marked by diminishing public expectations
of the public sector. A group of essays on Parliament's role published
in 1980 after the release of the Lambert report worried about the contrast
between declining economic circumstances (the impact of the "energy
crisis" was then uppermost) and "public expectations for an
ever-increasing level of material well-being, combined with the pervasive
assumption that government can or should play a large or even predominant
role in its provision ..." This was taken to "mean that any
political reforms are subject to a built-in failure factor."(48)
But the dangers for reformers are now more likely to be from expectations
that have fallen too low. After years of recessionary fatigue, with public
bureaucracies on the defensive, how can confidence be restored that government
can get anything right?
Paul Thomas observes that
the "current period can only be described as one of reorientation.
Not only have several decades of public sector expansion come to halt,
but a fundamental re-examination of the role of governments is taking
place. Public sector organizations are at the centre of the swirl of controversy
over the future role of governments and therefore the change process is
both more difficult and threatening to the people directly affected."(49)
In this brave new world of flux, flexibility, and shrinking job security,
the test of reorganizational adjustment seems to be not how bigger centrally-run
bureaucracies can get better, but how smaller units, which may be public/private-sector
hybrids, can relate more closely to differentiated public needs at the
least cost. To use a communications analogy, it is akin to moving from
a single-command mode to a multi-channel universe of expandable consumer
choice. This is an exaggeration of course, since the old model of delivering
government lingers on. But the momentum is definitely away from sole-source
standardized bureaucratic structures.
government" guru Ted Gaebler sums up the new gospel in rather harsh,
Citizens don't care
who delivers. They don't care if it is the provincial government,
municipal government, federal govern-ment, a consortium of governments,
or not government at all. They will pick and choose among many competing
vendors for services, and they want a seamless operation. We in government
have always thought of ourselves as service providers, when in fact
that is not relevant any more. And so we need to spend some time rethinking
what our role and mission is ...(50)
To the extent that this
is even partly true, it carries major implications for Canadian democracy
especially for the traditions of responsible government and parliamentary
control, and for notions of the "public interest" (e.g., does
it mean greater individual choice or preserving universal social standards?).
The introduction of "entrepreneurial" approaches into a contracting
public sector and/or contracting out of public policy delivery to private
sector operators are quite different processes from, and indeed may be
antithetical to, attempts directly to democratize governance institutions.(51)
More entrepreneurial autonomy
implies a loosening of not only bureaucratic controls, but also political
controls (ministerial and parliamentary) over managers who are then judged
on how well they achieve efficiencies and get "results." The
focus within the organization of government is therefore directed, as
in the private sector, at performance with respect to the "bottom
line." It is not aimed at increasing the democratic accountability
of each stage in the processes whereby public policies are determined
and expenditure decisions are implemented. Indeed efforts to enhance democratic
regulation and review may (for example, in the case of environmental assessment
procedures) be perceived as unduly costly, lengthy, and "inefficient."
Yet issues of public transparency, participation, and ultimate political
control are central to any discussion of a democratic reform of the system
as a whole. Is there a most "efficient" way to achieve an effective
Seidle links the goal of
a more visibly public and democratic policy process to the strengthening
of Parliament's role as a "more `deliberative' body" capable
of "contributing significantly to policy development and mobilizing
This means the legislative
process must be as open as possible, with sufficient opportunity for
groups and interested Canadians to be heard. ... political leaders
and senior public servants will need to recognize that building sufficient
public support for policy changes may well take more time than they
It is important therefore
not to disguise, under the salesmanship of new and improved management,
the potential for significant trade-offs between a more democratic process
of change and one that gives priority only to revenue and cost considerations.
Some American observers are troubled as well that entrepreneurial values
(of autonomy, personal initiative, secrecy, risk-taking) by themselves
could conflict with values of democracy (of accountability, participation,
openness) and long-term public stewardship. But not wanting to abandon
the merits of either, they are looking for ways to reconcile these goals
through "civic-regarding" forms of public entrepreneurship,
perhaps accompanied by a democratization of the whole field of public
policy formation in order to make the issues which are at stake accessible
to citizen-based input.(54)
There are diverse ideas
for increasing citizen involvement in entrepreneurial types of reform.
But there is not yet a clear road map for restructuring the operations
of the civic public realm as a whole in a manner that could satisfy both
the economic and the political motivations of reformers. If the goal is
prudent, sound government that "works" (i.e., has the capacity
to deliver what people want from it), then the most democratic route may
not be the most effective or economically efficient in getting things
done. It should not surprise, therefore, if opinions are divided on how
best government institutions might simultaneously attain (or restore)
their legitimacy and efficacy in the lives of citizens. For example, the
noted theorist of development administration, Goran Hyden, has recently
suggested in another context that political reformers move away from a
preoccupation with democracy per se towards a "performance-oriented"
study of governance regimes that:
comes closer to the
literature on business management. In the same way as business management
theory treats the organization as crucial to business success, the
governance approach treats regimethe organization of political
relationsas essential to social and economic progress.(55)
This perspective is broader
than the entrepreneurial approach to "reinventing government"
alone. But its consideration of politics in relation to "governance"
may be similarly problematic if it measures political and public sector
success only in terms of efficient production of social and economic "outputs,"
and not in terms of the degree of accountability and democracy exercised
over the entire process from the "input" side through to the
impact of policies on citizens.
Turning back to the Canadian
context, there is a danger, as well, that too much emphasis on organizing
to fulfil bottom-line functional imperatives may minimize the unique political
challenges that face public sector organizations in market democracies
notably, in fulfilling the requirements of constitutional accountability,
and in having been handed difficult (often unprofitable) tasks for the
very reason that these could not be handled by the private sector. The
new philosophies of public management and innovation in managing change,
however attentive to market mechanisms, must in the end accommodate the
world of political management, if they are to remain democratic. Cautions
Taken to an extreme,
the advice to public sector managers to develop their own strategies
and to decentralize authority could undermine ministerial responsibility.
And ministers will not long pay the price of a loss to their political
reputations when the mistakes or problems caused by more entrepreneurial
bureaucrats become the focal point for opposition attacks.(56)
In a parliamentary democracy,
elected politicians must bear real executive and public responsibility
for the daily business of government. Cabinet cannot operate as a mere
board of directors entrusting decisions to rational managers functioning
in a businesslike planning environment. Nor are Members of Parliament
likely to be content with arrangements in which, apart from very general
directions, the actual operations of government would be freed from political
controls and run as resourceful bureaucrats and contractors saw fit.
Nonetheless, given the motivations
we described earlier, turning back to the status quo is not an option.
For government, however organized, to "work" in a sustainable
way, it must: be affordable; re-earn disaffected citizens' trust by responding
to their demands, including those for increased participation; and develop
capacities to be effective in solving problems (instead of being considered
part of the problem). In these terms, the practical tasks of renewing
government revolve around what Bruce Doern, in a seminal essay, refers
to as the striking of "efficiency-democracy bargains ... by different
elements of the political system." In particular, he identifies the
following four as central:
choices between the
size of government and the composition of the services most likely
to be in demand for the remainder of the 1990s;
choices between the
number of ministerial departments and the nature of representation
and who is being represented;
choices between the
organizational separation of policy functions from operational delivery
activities and traditional concept of ministerial responsibility for
both policy and administration; and
choices on how to enhance
citizen respect for, and confidence in, basic public services given
that citizens care not only about the input processes of government
but also about the nature of the services delivered.(57)
With regard to the first
set of choices, Doern argues that there will be new demands for public
investment in infrastructure, the environment, developing human resources,
caring for an aging population, etc. Old-style controls on aggregate spending
levels will not contain these pressures, so government will have to experiment
to achieve major efficiences in program delivery, perhaps involving quite
radical rationalizations of resources and the use of "quasi-market"
approaches. Restructuring in the economy and in social support systems
will raise many extremely difficult and complex issues. Democratic debate
is necessary to resolve how best to respond to evolving public needs at
an affordable cost. Public budgeting, which now lumps capital with operating
expenditures, also needs to overcome its bias against long-term investments
that could enhance efficiency in creating the public goods that are sought
through the democratic process.
On the second set of issues,
Doern is among many who have argued the merits of action to cut the size
of the political executive and the corresponding number of departments.
He also sees as a reasonable option the two-tier approach, restricting
Cabinet to senior ministers only. He would probably go further in departmental
streamlining, cutting the number to 20 or less, though he has no illusions
about some of the organizational "puzzles" to be sorted out.
A principal aim is to have Cabinet concentrate on the big policy framework
issues and key trade-offs, maximizing efficient use of ministers' time
while minimizing transaction costs and capture by narrow special interests.
This still leaves the democratic problem of how to represent adequately
within policy determination a large range of legitimate interests and
regional concerns. Doern suggests a strengthening of parliamentary roles,
and such things as an elected Senate, may be the "necessary corollary"
to tighter, more efficient Cabinet-level decision-making.(58)
In this regard, it is significant to note the Chrétien government's promise
to move swiftly to introduce a parliamentary reform package giving MPs
greater input into the development of legislation and the expenditure
The third set of choices,
however, could challenge Cabinet-parliamentary lines of authority over,
and responsibility for, how policy is implemented in operational terms.
According to what Doern calls "the new public management, large departmental
entities should be chopped up into a parent department and smaller operating
units functioning with as close to a market-based financial information
and pricing system as possible."(59)
Obviously the aim is to achieve competitive efficiencies, though Doern
sees the steps taken in Canada to date as too limited and timid to have
much overall effect. The problem is how to introduce a greatly decentralized
system without weakening democratic control over how government functions,
and without losing sight of other values, traditions, and non-market goals
which may be held to be especially desirable in the public service. As
well, echoing Thomas's caution, Doern observes that: "a vigilant
opposition in the House of Commons and in outside interest groups is unlikely,
on a consistent basis, to play the game of separating policy from administration."(60)
The final critical set of
choices brings the public directly into the equation. This may also prove
to be the most difficult challenge, given high levels of public alienation
from government and dissatisfaction with services rendered problems
not solved (and arguably made worse) by resorting to "bureaucracy
bashing," instead of creating incentives for better performance and
the means for remedy and redress. Moreover, the public sector cannot function
democratically without public support and involvement, in addition to
Cabinet-parliamentary and political-managerial accountability controls.
Doern emphasizes in his
conclusion that the choices to be made about efficiency and democracy
are "governed by the reality that government organization is embedded
in a relationship with society rather than an abstract entity separate
from it."(61) Hence
renewal cannot go forward on the basis of a perception of government as
an expensive vending machine imposing its services on an increasingly
reluctant public. Effective system-wide reform means nothing less than
repairing the bridges (some of them parliamentary) that ought to connect
the political managers to their citizen electorates, and the public bureaucracies
to the members of civil society that they are supposed to benefit. And
it means doing so in ways that recognize the other reality of severe budgetary
In short, out of all this
there has to be some basis one that is fiscally feasible and sustainable
for coming to democratic agreements about what Canadians
want their federal government to do, and how they want the public
sector to do its job. One might hesitate to refer to this as constructing
new forms of "social contract," but in a sense this is exactly
what political responsibility for government reform and reorganization
is all about. And from the recommendations of the Public Policy Forum
for "making government work," to the musings of the Hon. Marcel
Massé about "getting government right," there is also wide agreement
that the reform enterprise should proceed from prior public consultations
that build informed consent for necessary changes.
To approach the shape of
government as essentially a matter for management something to be
negotiated by governments and bureaucrats amongst themselves would
probably be fatal to the intent of the whole exercise. This applies to
the toughest areas for decision, from defining appropriate roles to bringing
deficits under control. Reflecting on past constitutional battles, Public
Policy Forum chair Arthur Kroeger suggests that:
In the eyes of many,
the problem is not that one level of government has too many powers
in relation to another, but that governments in general have too much
power and people have too little. Consequently, to transfer a function
from one government to another [or we note: within government from
one department to another] may accomplish very little from the public's
point of view if both are equally locked into traditional ways of
To put more powers in
the hands of people is as difficult to do as it is easy to talk about.
But governments have no choice except to try.(62)
With respect to future expenditure
battles, the recent report submitted to the Forum recommends, in order
to avoid repeating the mistakes of the Nielsen task force, developing
a communications strategy that includes: "insistence on transparency,
openness, consultation and the priority of the general public interest;
simultaneous reporting and shared public debate; ... a synthesis of all
trade-offs rather than a stand alone analysis of individual expenditure
last point deserves emphasis, since as Kroeger has observed from the benefit
of long experience, exhorting governments to "listen to the people"
is not enough. "Government almost always involves a balancing of
conflicting interests. ... Because of such conflicts, any consultative
process which is to have any chance of success must in some way take cognizance
of the need for trade-offs."(64)
What is crucial to the democratic
legitimacy of the process is that these trade-offs are made explicitly
and openly, in the full light of public debate. Reforming how Ottawa organizes
and spends is the business of Parliament and the public, not just the
business of government to determine. Change is a must, required by considerations
of efficiency, accountability and democracy. Canadians, Doern contends,
will not be assisted in this task by preconceived ideological stances
that are simply either "pro" or "anti" government
or market-based approaches.(65)
First, however, citizens need to know that, this time, they will not be
on the outside looking in; this time, politicians will not proceed without
giving them a full opportunity to put forward their own views.
As the federal government
ponders the next steps of reform and reorganization, Seidle's conclusion
Most Canadians do not
want to tear down government; but they certainly want simpler, more
responsive and more open government. Public involvement in previous
reviews of government organizations and programs has been limited,
but this will no longer do. To encourage public response ... consultations
[Seidle recommends using a broadly representative national commission]
should be innovative .... Techniques such as electronic town hall
meetings and a 1-800 line (both used by the Spicer Commission, which
had a tight deadline) could supplement public hearings. Above all,
consultations must not be window-dressing, for both public support
and sustained political will are essential to reshaping the federal
government for a new era.(66)
Albo, Gregory, David Langille
and Leo Panitch. A Different Kind of State? Popular Power and Democratic
Administration. Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1993.
Bellone, Carl and Frederick
Goerl. "Reconciling Public Entrepreneurship and Democracy."
Public Administration Review. Vol. 52, No. 2. March-April 1992.
Blakeney, Allan, with
Sandford Borins. Political Management in Canada. McGraw Hill
Ryerson, Toronto, 1992.
Bourgault, Jacques and
Stephane Dion. "The Minister, the Deputy Minister and the Chief
of Staff: The Difficult Reconciliation of the Ménage à Trois."
Paper prepared for the annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science
Association. Victoria, B.C., May 1990.
Campbell, Colin and Harold
D. Clarke. "Conspectus: Some Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform."
In Clarke et al., eds., Parliament, Policy and Representation.
Methuen, Toronto, 1980.
Canada. Minister of Finance.
"Opening the Budget Process." Ottawa, 10 August, 1993.
Clark, Ian. "Recent
Changes to the Cabinet Decision-Making System." The Cabinet.
Ottawa, updated Autumn 1986.
Doern, G. Bruce. "Efficiency-Democracy
Bargains in the Reinvention of Federal Government Organization."
In Susan D. Phillips, ed., How Ottawa Spends, 1993-1994: A More Democratic
Canada? Carleton University Press, Ottawa, 1993.
Doern. Political Accountability
and Efficiency. Discussion Paper Series 93-20. Queen's University,
School of Policy Studies, Government and Competitiveness Project, Kingston,
Ekos Research Associates.
"Toward a New Consultative Process: Lessons from the Nielsen Task
Force." Report to the Public Policy Forum, Ottawa, 29 October 1993.
Gaebler, Ted. "Situating
the Debate on Government Reform." In Seidle, ed., Rethinking
Government: Reform or Reinvention? The Institute for Research on
Public Policy, Montreal, 1993.
Gaebler, Ted and David
Osborne. Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit is
Transforming the Public Sector. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Reading,
Grady, Patrick and Richard
Phidd. Budget Envelopes, Policy Making and Accountability. Queen's
University, School of Policy Studies, Government and Competitiveness
Project, Kingston, 1993.
Johnson, A.W. Reflections
on Administrative Reform in the Government of Canada, 1962-1991: A Discussion
Paper. Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Ottawa, 1992.
Hartle, Douglas. The
Expenditure Budget Process of the Government of Canada: A Public Choice-Rent-Seeking
Perspective. Canadian Tax Foundation, Toronto, 1988.
Hockin, Tom. Apex of
Power: The Prime Minister and Political Leadership in Canada. 2nd
edition. Prentice-Hall, Scarborough, 1977.
Hyden, Goran. "Governance
and the Study of Politics." In Govan Hyden and Michael Bratton,
eds., Governance and Politics in Africa. Lynne Rienner Publishers,
Boulder, Colo., 1992.
Jeffrey, Brooke. Central
Agencies: Redefining Their Role. BP-107E. Library of Parliament,
Ottawa, December 1984.
Koerner, Wolfgang. Cabinet
Committees: Restructuring the System. BP-106E. Library of Parliament,
Ottawa, February 1989.
Kroeger, Arthur. "Getting
the Consent of the Governed." Policy Options. December 1992.
Manion, John and Cynthia
Williams. "Transition Planning at the Federal Level in Canada."
In Donald Savoie, ed., Taking Power: Managing Government Transitions.
The Institute of Public Administration in Canada and the Canadian Centre
for Management Development, Ottawa, 1993.
Massé, Hon. Marcel. "Getting
Government `Right'." Notes for an Address to the Public Service
Alliance of Canada. Montreal, 12 September, 1993.
Osbaldeston, Gordon F.,
Keeping Deputy Ministers Accountable. National Centre for Management
Research and Development, University of Western Ontario, London, 1988.
Osbaldeston, Gordon F.,
Organizing to Govern. Vol. II. McGraw Hill Ryerson and National
Centre for Management Research and Development, University of Western
Ontario, Toronto, 1992.
Plumptre, Tim. Beyond
the Bottom Line: Management in Government. The Institute for Research
on Public Policy, Halifax, 1988.
Public Policy Forum. Making
Government Work. Ottawa, 23 June 1993.
Rasmussen, Ken. "Democracy
and Bureaucracy in Canada: An Historical Overview." Paper prepared
for the annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association.
Kingston, June 1991.
Rosell, Steven, et
al. Governing in an Information Society. Renouf Publishing
Co., Ottawa, 1992.
Savoie, Donald. The
Politics of Public Spending in Canada. University of Toronto Press,
Schmitz, Gerald. New
Directions in Executive-Parliamentary Linkages. BP-110E. Library
of Parliament, Ottawa, 1984.
Schmitz. The Expenditure
Management System Revisited. BP-108E. Library of Parliament, Ottawa,
Seidle, F. Leslie. "Interest
Advocacy through Parliamentary Channels: Representation and Accommodation."
In Seidle, ed. Equity and Community: The Charter, Interest Advocacy
and Representation. The Institute for Research on Public Policy,
Seidle, F. Leslie. "Reshaping
the Federal Government: Charting the Course." Policy Options,
Simeon, James. "The
British and Canadian Cabinet Systems: Cabinet Decision-Making under
Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Brian Mulroney." Paper presented
to the annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association.
Victoria, B.C.. May 1990.
Stilborn, Jack. House
of Commons Procedure: Its Reform. Current Issue Review 82-15E. Research
Branch, Library of Parliament, Ottawa (latest edition).
Sutherland, Sharon L.
"Responsible Government and Ministerial Responsibility: Every Reform
Is Its Own Problem." Canadian Journal of Political Science,
Vol. XXIV, No. 1, March 1991.
Sutherland, Sharon L.
and Bruce Doern. Bureaucrary in Canada: Control and Reform. University
of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1985.
Sutherland, Sharon L.
and Baltacioglu, Y. Parliamentary Reform and the Federal Public Service.
National Centre for Management Research and Development, University
of Western Ontario, London, 1988.
Thomas, Paul. "Coping
with Change: How Public and Private Organizations Read and Respond to
Turbulent External Environments." In Seidle, ed., Rethinking
Government: Reform or Reinvention? The Institute for Research on
Public Policy, Montreal, 1993.
Tim Plumptre, Beyond the Bottom Line: Management in Government,
The Institute for Research on Public Policy, Halifax, 1988, p. 120.
This is easier said than done of course. Bruce Doern observes that:
and economic efficiency are not concepts that instinctively or warmly
embrace earch other. (...) Political accountability is the antithesis
of efficiency in the sense that accountability regimes consume time
and resources in economically non-productive ways to ensure politically
valued outcomes, namely the political rectitude and control of political
leaders and institutions by the people (...) However... any set of
accountability regimes now in existence can, in principle, be improved
to make them more efficient... (Political Accountability and Efficiency,
Discussion Paper, Series 93-20, Queen's University, School of Policy
Studies, Government and Competitiveness Project, Kingston, 1993, p. 1-2.)
A few appointed Senators have been included in Cabinets, for example,
as government leader in the upper house or when the governing party lacked
elected representation in a region. On occasion someone from outside Parliament
may be appointed to Cabinet, but will be expected to seek election in
a constituency at the earliest opportunity.
The phrase is from Thomas Hockin, Apex of Power: The Prime Minister
and Political Leadership in Canada, 2nd edition, Prentice-Hall, Scarborough,
Ken Rasmussen, "Democracy and Bureaucracy in Canada: An Historical
Overview," paper prepared for the annual meeting of the Canadian
Political Science Association, Kingston, June 1991, p. 31.
For perspectives defending and challenging a "control from above"
approach, see: Sharon Sutherland and Bruce Doern, Bureaucracy in Canada:
Control and Reform, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1985; Gregory
Albo, David Langille, and Leo Panitch, eds., A Different Kind of State?
Popular Power and Democratic Administration, Oxford University Press,
Sharon L. Sutherland, "Responsible Government and Ministerial Responsibility:
Every Reform Is Its Own Problem," Canadian Journal of Political
Science, Vol. XXIV. No. 1, March 1991, p. 91.
For some pertinent observations and suggestions of how to proceed in this
next prospective stage of reform, see F. Leslie Seidle, "Interest
Advocacy through Parliamentary Channels: Representation and Accommodation,"
in Seidle, ed., Equity and Community: The Charter, Interest Advocacy
and Representation, The Institute for Research on Public Policy, Montreal,
1993, esp. p. 206-9.
James Hrynyshn, "Empowering Backbench MPs: Standing Committees to
Get More Power," The Hill Times, 27 January 1994, p. 1
See Gerald Schmitz, "New Directions in Executive-Parliamentary Linkages,"
BP-110E, Library of Parliament, Research Branch, Ottawa, 1984. For parliamentary
reforms to the present see J. Stilborn, "House of Commons Procedure:
Its Reform," CIR #82-15E, Research
Branch, Library of Parliament, Ottawa.
Cited in A.W. Johnson, Reflections on Administrative Reform in the
Government of Canada 1962-1991: a Discussion Paper, Office of the
Auditor General of Canada, Ottawa, 1992, p. 12.
Sutherland (1991), p. 98ff. However, the inevitable tension between the
pressures to retain political accountability through ministers, and at
the same time to reap the promised benefits from increasing managerial
freedom, remains a key matter of contention in Britain. See BP-375E,
See the observations in Donald Savoie, The Politics of Public Spending
in Canada, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1990, p. 131-32.
Cited in Johnson (1992), p. 13.
Quoted in Sutherland (1991), p. 109.
S.L. Sutherland and Y. Baltacioglu, "Parliamentary Reform and the
Federal Public Service," National Centre for Management Research
and Development, University of Western Ontario, London, 1988, p. 15.
Sutherland (1991), p. 114 ff., documents some earlier episodes and
Marcel Massé, "Getting Government `Right'," Notes for an address
to the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Montreal, 12 September 1993,
See Gordon Osbaldeston, Keeping Deputy Ministers Accountable, National
Centre for Management Research and Development, University of Western
Ontario, London, 1988; Plumptre (1988), esp. Chapter Six; Johnson (1992),
Sutherland (1991), p. 120.
Sutherland and Baltacioglu (1988), provides an excellent exploration of
the dilemmas facing parliamentarians in efforts to control government.
Wolfgang Koerner, Cabinet Committees: Restructuring the System,
BP-106E, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, February 1989, and Brooke Jeffrey,
Central Agencies: Redefining Their Role, BP-107E, Library of Parliament,
Ottawa, December 1984.
For a complete description see Ian Clark, "Recent Changes to the
Cabinet Decision-Making System," The Cabinet, updated Autumn
John Manion and Cynthia Williams, "Transition Planning at the Federal
Level in Canada," in Donald Savoie, ed., Taking Power: Managing
Government Transitions, The Institute of Public Administration in
Canada and the Canadian Centre for Management Development, Ottawa, 1993,
Jacques Bourgault and Stephane Dion, "The Minister, the Deputy Minister
and the Chief of Staff: The Difficult Reconciliation of the Ménage à Trois,"
paper prepared for the annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science
Association, Victoria, May 1990, pp. 6, 18, and "Abstract."
On the latter, see the comments of Donald Savoie, "Conclusion: Lessons
Learned," in Savoie (1993), p. 217-18. More generally, these are
lessons that apply to provincial government experiences as well. Compare
the observations of Allan Blakeney and Sandford Borins, Political Management
In Canada, MacGraw Hill Ryerson, Toronto, 1992.
Bourgault and Dion (1990), p. 18.
Quoted in James Simeon, "The British and Canadian Cabinet Systems:
Cabinet Decision-Making under Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Brian
Mulroney," paper presented to the annual meeting of the Canadian
Political Science Association, Victoria, 1990, p. 2.
Gordon F. Osbaldeston, Organizing to Govern, Vol. II, McGraw-Hill
Ryerson and National Centre for Management Research and Development, University
of Western Ontario, Toronto, 1992, p. 144.
Ibid., p. 144-47.
Office of the Prime Minister, Press Release, 25 June 1993.
Office of the Prime Minister, Press Release, 4 November, 1993. Commenting
favourably on the option of a two-tier structure, Leslie Seidle has noted
"precedents for this cabinet/ministry distinction: in February 1993,
Premier Rae reduced the Ontario Cabinet from 28 to 20, while naming seven
`ministers without portfolio' to assist Cabinet ministers; in the United
Kingdom, as of March 1993, 22 of the 88 ministers were in Cabinet."
("Reshaping the Federal Government: Charting the Course," Policy
Options, July-August 1993, p. 28.)
Massé (1993), p. 9.
Public Policy Forum, "Making Government Work," released 23 June
Cf. Schmitz, "The Expenditure Management System Revisited,"
BP-108E, Research Branch, Library of Parliament, Ottawa, 1989; Douglas
G. Hartle, The Expenditure Budget Process of the Government of Canada:
A Public ChoiceRent-Seeking Perspective, Canadian Tax Foundation,
Toronto, 1988; Savoie (1990), Johnson (1992), p. 27-38; Patrick Grady
and Richard Phidd, Budget Envelopes, Policy Making and Accountability,
Discussion Paper, Queen's University, School of Policy Studies, Government
and Competitiveness Project, Kingston, 1993.
Grady and Phidd (1993), p. 34-5.
Savoie (1990), p. 70.
See the sobering observations of Johnson (1992), p. 21-2 and 25-7; also
citing the later agnosticism of the Canadian pioneer of program evaluations,
For more details, see Schmitz (1984), esp. p. 12-13.
Savoie (1990), p. 136. See also the critical "autopsy" done
by Ekos Research Associates and published by the Public Policy Forum,
"Toward a New Consultative Process: Lessons from the Nielsen Task
Force," Ottawa, submitted 29 October 1993. This report recommends
a revised public review process early in a new government's mandate, with
the prime minister taking "the leadership role in announcing a target
for expenditure reduction before the review begins ..." (p. 50).
Grady and Phidd (1993), p. 42.
Ibid., p.52-3. See also Johnson (1992), p. 20.
Savoie (1990), p. 36-7; and more generally, on the problematic of disciplining
budget growth, chap. 13 "The Ghost of Spending Past: Revisiting
the Guardians and Spenders." Doern argues that the answer is not
necessarily to spend more resources on "improved" accountability
systems, expecting them to pay back their costs in terms of increased
overall economic efficiency. As he observes, "it is just plain difficult
to assess entire accountability regimes against any particular effect":
Doern (1993), p. 2.
Johnson (1992), p. 15.
Public Policy Forum, "Making Government Work" (1993), p. 20-21.
Canada, "Opening the Budget Process," Minister of Finance, Ottawa,
10 August, 1993, p. 9.
Johnson (1992), p. 40.
Colin Campbell and Harold D. Clarke, "Conspectus: Some Thoughts on
Parliamentary Reform," in Clarke et al., eds., Parliament,
Policy and Representation, Methuen, Toronto, 1980, p. 317.
Paul G. Thomas, "Coping with Change: How Public and Private Organizations
Read and Respond to Turbulent External Environments," in F. Leslie
Seidle, ed. Rethinking Government: Reform of Reinvention?, The
Institute for Research on Public Policy, Montreal, 1993, p. 42.
Ted Gaebler, "Situating the Debate on Government Reform," in
Seidle, Rethinking Government: Reform or Reinvention (1993),
This is argued by Gregory Albo, "Democratic Citizenship and the Future
of Public Management," in Albo (1993), p. 17-33.
Refer back to note 2, p. 3. Doern cautions that it is problematic
to try to compare the "costs" and "benefits" of more
democratic processes, or the relative efficiency, in economic terms, of
different forms of democratic accountability: Doern (1993), Political
Accountability and Efficiency.
Seidle, "Interest Advocacy through Parliamentary Channels,"
See "Democracy, Analysis, and Entrepreneurship," Public Administration
Review Special issue, Vol. 52, No. 2, March/April 1992,
especially Carl Bellone and Frederick Goerl, "Reconciling Public
Entrepreneurship and Democracy," p. 130-34, and Peter deLeon, "The
Democratization of the Policy Sciences," p. 125-29.
Goran Hyden, "Governance and the Study of Politics," in Goran
Hyden and Michael Bratton, eds., Governance and Politics in Africa,
Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, Colo., 1992, p. 22.
Thomas (1993), p. 56-7.
G. Bruce Doern, "Efficiency-Democracy Bargains in the Reinvention
of Federal Government Organization", in Susan Phillips, ed., How
Ottawa Spends 1993-1994: A More Democratic Canada?, Carleton University
Press, Ottawa, 1993, p. 204.
Ibid., p. 215.
Ibid., p. 216.
Ibid., p. 218.
Ibid., p. 222.
Arthur Kroeger, "Getting the Consent of the Governed," Policy
Options, December 1992, p. 12. Kroeger notes that this has become
a much more complicated task in an "information age." See also
Steven Rosell et al., Governing in an Information Society,
Renouf Publishing Co., Ottawa, 1992.
Ekos Inc., "Toward a New Consultative Process" (1993), p. 50.
Kroeger (1992), p. 12.
Doern, "Efficiency-Democracy Bargains" (1993), p. 225.
Seidle, "Reshaping the Federal Government: Charting the Course"
(1993), p. 29.