Thank you very much.
Good afternoon, Madam Chair, and members of this committee.
I am very pleased to be here on behalf of the Privy Council Office and with my colleagues from the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer. I understand you are interested in how the public service is preparing for the challenges that lie ahead.
As you know, the public service is an essential part of our democratic institutions and is also Canada's largest employer. In an increasingly complex world, the public service of Canada needs to be both capable of adapting and actually adapting in order to remain a relevant and high-performing institution.
A strong public service is critical to the continued success of our country. Strengthening the capacity of the public service to provide high-quality advice to the government and excellent services to Canadians is an on going priority for all of us. This is why public service renewal is our top management strategy. This is especially true in the context of fiscal restraint when difficult decisions will need to be made and implemented.
I will speak briefly about the role of the Clerk of the Privy Council as the head of the public service, focusing on two of his key responsibilities--first, public service renewal, and then the overall management of the community of deputy ministers.
The clerk as head of the public service supports the Prime Minister and cabinet, and plays a key role in ensuring that the senior leadership of the public service has the necessary capacity to advise on and deliver the government's agenda. He sets the overall strategic direction for the public service through his annual reports to the Prime Minister, and he is responsible for succession planning, talent, and performance management for the senior leadership cadre.
As a large, complex, national institution, the public service faces considerable pressures, such as: the globalization of most policy issues and the need for collaborative decision-making; the impact of ever-changing technologies on the way we do business and even the nature of our work; and the demographic realities of an aging and increasingly diverse population.
Public service renewal is our response to this changing and unpredictable environment. Fundamentally, it's about making sure that the federal public service continually improves its ability to deliver on the business of government, no matter how circumstances change.
Starting in 2006-07, the strategic foundation for the renewal of the public service of Canada has been set out in the clerk’s annual reports to the Prime Minister. The strategy has been built on four pillars of renewal: better planning, targeted recruitment, effective employee development, and infrastructure improvements to enable our workforce.
Two important committees were established to guide the work on these priorities: the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Public Service, co-chaired by the Honourable Paul Tellier and the Honourable David Emerson; and the Deputy Ministers' Committee on Public Service Renewal, which is chaired by the associate secretary to cabinet.
Framed by these pillars and grounded in annual public service renewal action plans containing specific commitments each year, we have made good progress and have achieved results.
We have embedded integrated business and human resources planning in departments as a fundamental management practice to improve HR capacity across the government.
We have consistently met our post-secondary recruitment goals and are steadily increasing our diversity.
We have strengthened the public service brand and sense of common purpose through enterprise-wide career fairs and an improved job seeker website.
We have created a leadership development framework for all employees, and we are aligning our development programs within this framework.
We're also moving forward with pay modernization to replace our 40-year-old system, laying the groundwork for other improvements to our back office systems.
We have changed the way human resources are governed by creating the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, streamlining the central agency roles, and making deputy ministers clearly responsible for managing their people.
These are steps we have taken as a result of a sustained and consistent strategic focus and the active participation of public service leaders, managers, and employees. These were accomplished without new funds, simply by looking at things differently.
In a period of fiscal restraint, renewal becomes even more important. We still face the demographic pressures, the complexity of the issues, and the requirement for ongoing development of our employees and leaders. The need for restraint provides a further incentive and an opportunity to review how we do business and to become more efficient and effective in support of government and the provision of services to Canadians. Our capacity to rethink the way we work, to plan, to reach out to others for good ideas, and to work together within and across departments will sustain a high-performing public service.
The clerk's 2009-2010 annual report to the Prime Minister will be tabled this week and will set out how we will continue with our efforts going forward. The deliberate focus on people management will continue—that is, better planning, recruitment and employee development. Integrated business and human resource planning is the underpinning for effective decision-making about the allocation of departmental resources and the delivery of outcomes. Recruitment must continue to meet our demographic challenges, but must be targeted, strategic and rooted in the results of integrated planning.
We must continue to develop employees and our leaders and strengthen our performance management system across all levels of the public service. A strong learning culture promotes innovative ideas as well as organizational efficiency.
Our managers community is an extremely important determinant of our future in the public service, since they are the carriers and creators of the culture change necessary for successful renewal.
While continuing to emphasize people management, there will also be a new emphasis on what we call the renewal of the workplace. We need to pay greater attention to how we work, the business processes, the tools we work with, and what we do. The engagement of public servants and the harnessing of new technology are key levers to drive workplace renewal.
In this multidimensional context, the development and support of senior leaders for the public service of Canada is essential. Given the demographic challenges, we have made substantial improvements in our talent management and succession planning processes for the most senior executives. These have helped us deepen our understanding of current and future needs through better workforce analysis for our assistant deputy ministers and deputy ministers.
We have also made the performance management program for senior leaders more rigorous to improve alignment with priorities and focus on results.
The Prime Minister's advisory committee in its fourth report stated:
We believe we are now seeing tangible results of the concerted efforts to renew the Public Service. First launched in 2006, public service renewal continues to be the top management priority led by the Clerk of the Privy Council. The past year has proven the value of having this strategy in place.
A systematic review of renewal priorities and a clear reporting of progress has been published each year through the clerk's annual reports to the Prime Minister. This has served us well, providing a means for demonstrating accountability, maintaining the momentum for change, and deepening the engagement of senior leaders, managers, and public servants in this endeavour. The sustained focus on renewal will continue so that the public service is well equipped to serve the government and Canadians now and into the future.
Merci, Madam Chair.