Bureaucrats working in a “climate of fear”, says Citizen

September 20, 2008

At last, somebody is writing about the fact that activity in the Public Service has, in many case, slowed to a crawl during the election campaign. A lot more than usual, I mean.

It’s not that the Privy Council Office rules governing our work have changed, write David Pugliese and Kathryn May this morning. It’s that there’s such a climate of fear that all of our bosses are afraid to do anything that could end up being in the news.

I didn’t know military equipment orders had been put on hold – aren’t we supposed to be, you know, at war? But I did know about the cancelled conferences, meetings between bureaucrats and partners, etc. Not mentioned are the Federal Council meetings that won’t take place, etc.

The funniest one is the Public Service Employee Survey being delayed, even though the results wouldn’t be known for several months anyway. That’s when the bureaucracy asks its bureaucrat how they feel about their job, if they’ve been harassed by colleagues, that sort of things. Perhaps they could take advantage of the delay to insert a question:

“Do you sometimes feel your Department is in the grip of a paralytic fear of being wacked on the head by the Privy Council Office, Treasury Board or the Prime Minister’s Office?”

My guess would be a 80%+ “Yes”

September 24 UPDATE: Kathryn May publishes a follow-up. Public Works cracks down on contracts.


Poll: Public Service out of style

August 6, 2008

What is surprising about today’s Angus Reid poll on where Canadians want to work is not that the Public Service is out of style, but rather that the situation is apparently far worse than people think.

Among those still interesting in becoming a bureaucrat, women in particular wish to join the Public Service “to better balance the demands of work and family. The problem, says Linda Duxbury of Carleton U and reporter Kathryn May’s go-to woman for anything PS-related, is that they will quickly become disillusioned because public servants, especially managers and executives, are overworked and putting in long hours. The benefits, hours and flex time is on the books and the perception is this is utopia for work-life balance, but they will quickly find out that is not what they will get.”

So… people have a generally negative image of the Public Service and what they think is good about it actually isn’t true?

I don’t know… Sure, the PS is a hellhole of regulations and the current landlord may send any of your initiatives to the shredder without having to provide a justification. But from what I can see from my little corner of Paperpusherland, the money is fair, there’s not too much unpaid overtime, it’s a great place to learn new skills and there’s usually somebody reasonably qualified to do your job while you enjoy fairly long paid vacations. On top of that, your continued employment doesn’t depend on the sales of your company’s latest dangerous gadget.

And yes, serving the public still counts for something. Absolutely. Even the poll says so.

Seems to me there’s still enough good selling points for a recruiting pitch.