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Reflections on the Working of Government

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					  Reflections on the
Working of Government

 Presentation by Stephen Dixon
Professional Development Week
      November 29, 2006
    Spotlight on Accountability
•   How did we get to where we are today?
•   Have management reforms been effective?
•   Where are we now?
•   The Way Forward?
•   What is your role in making it work?


                                          2
         How did we get here?
• Royal Commissions:
   – Glassco (1962) – let the managers manage
   – Lambert (1979) – make the managers manage
• Auditor General:
   – FMCS (1976) – lost control of the public purse
   – FMCS II (1987) – too many detailed directives
• Treasury Board:
   – PPBS (1960-70s), OCG (1977), IMPAC, ZBB, IMAA, Modern
     Comptrollership, Public Service 2000, accrual accounting,
     CASS, strengthened Internal Audit, a new CFO Concept…
• The Gomery Commission of Inquiry

                                                             3
    Have reforms been effective?
• G. Osbaldeston – Keeping Deputy Ministers Responsible:
   – a long history of attempted reforms have met with limited success,
     including PPBS, MBO, A-Base reviews, OPMS, and strategic
     plans (1998)
• A.W. Johnson – Reflections on Administrative Reform in the
  Government of Canada 1962-1991 published by OAG:
   – the heart of the failure was that the advocates of the comprehensive
     reforms did not adequately cope with the questions of how the
     reforms would “fit” in parliamentary government
• Denis Desautels – Reflections on a decade serving Parliament
   – Financial management has not improved substantially… Attitudes have
     begun to change, but we have yet to see the changes carried through to
     actual management systems. (2001)
                                                                              4
         Where are we now?
•   Unclear role of the federal government
•   Vague measures of results & performance
•   Imprecise roles & accountabilities
•   Weak information systems and reporting
•   Internal control concerns
•   Insufficient financial management expertise
•   Plus que ça change, plus c’est la même chose

                                                   5
             The Way Forward?
• Far beyond my mandate today to outline a grand plan but
  here a few thoughts
• Clarify central agency versus departmental FM roles
  resulting in stronger DM authority and accountability
• Design simple yet more effective financial management
  and control processes and systems – less is more!
• Match cost-effective control practices to the assessed risk
  and materiality of the particular activity
• Build a stronger FM community inclusive of both
  accountants and other financial professionals
• Better integrate departmental management and
  professional staff input into key business decisions
                                                                6
  What is your role in making it work?

• Regardless of the flavor of the month FM process
  or system, you should consistently demonstrate
  “professionalism” along with:
• Leadership – you must be more than a follower
• Knowledge & Skill – up-to-date & relevant
• Values and Ethics – principled but value-added
• Common Sense – don’t let theory get in the way
• Speak Truth to Power – the most important of all
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