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.


Media frames election agenda: “May the best PR win”

September 10, 2008

This  morning, a Toronto Star editorial is lamenting that “The early days of the federal election campaign have been dominated by images – mostly negative ones of Liberal leader Stéphane Dion – rather than substance.” The Globe’s headline is about process stories overshadowing policy announcements. The Ottawa Citizen’s sole front-page election text complains that there’s too much talk of gaffes and strategy in the campaign so far. Read the rest of this entry »


E.X.: Spam column

July 17, 2008

Does anyone read E.X. in the Ottawa Citizen? It seems to be the perfect example of a good idea, badly executed.

Of course there is a market for a column about the dysfunctional side of the Public Service in a city like Ottawa. I love those hilarious water-cooler conversations about HR processes gone bad, unprintable intranet forms and paperwork for which there seems to have no useful function whatsoever.

Instead of laughing about it, which is what public servants do, the Citizen is running a column that is bland, boring and leaves you with the taste of ashes in your mouth. Like Spam.