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Thinking Government

Thinking Government: Public Sector Management in Canada, Second Edition

David Johnson
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: 2
Pages: 664
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Thinking Government
    Book Description:

    Thinking Governmentoffers a 'one-stop' resource, perfect for courses on Canadian public administration and governance." - Evert A. Lindquist, University of Victoria

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0217-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 9-20)

    This text deals with government, politics, public administration, and public-sector management in Canada. While these subject matters are not ones that tend to be viewed in popular culture as inherently interesting, this attitude betrays a stunning lack of insight regarding the nature of our society and the importance of the role played by the state in the life of every Canadian. Whether we are aware of it or not, the institutions of the state, in one manner or another, and whether for good or ill, touch the lives of every man, woman, and child in this country, whether desired or...

  5. one Thinking about Canadian Society and Government
    (pp. 21-54)

    A puzzle exists with respect to how most Canadians view government, the public service, and public-sector management in this country—a paradox in that two contradictory positions, beliefs, or viewpoints prevail, both of which, however, are commonly held to be true.

    The first part of the paradox is that most Canadians, and likely many of the students who are beginning to read this book, have a skeptical, jaundiced, even cynical attitude towards government. Governments tend to suffer from a terrible public image of being big, complex, unhelpful entities whose work is slow, uneconomic, inefficient, incompetent, and wasteful. Government institutions likewise—...

  6. two Competing Ideologies of Government and Public Service
    (pp. 55-116)

    The state is a major player in our society. Governments and their administrative functions are omnipresent in the routine life of every Canadian, and debates about desired public policies are ongoing, as individuals, business corporations, interest groups, the media, political parties, and governments wrestle with fundamental political issues: What type of society do we want to live in? What should be the appropriate balance between individual and collective rights and duties? What should be the appropriate role of the public sector in this society?

    These questions, and the differing answers that various groups of people give to them, are crucial...

  7. three Institutions of Governance: The Environment of Public-Sector Management
    (pp. 117-166)

    As the foregoing chapters have illustrated, government plays a major part in the life of this society and is the focal point of significant debates regarding the appropriate role of the state in Canadian politics. Differing parties bring many contrasting viewpoints to this debate, and a major reassessment of the desired place, function, and purpose of the federal government in this country is already underway. Regardless of these broader policy developments, however, one fundamental political truth remains: the state in general, and the federal government in particular, will continue to be vital components in Canadian social and economic life, and...

  8. four Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and Cabinet Decision-Making Systems
    (pp. 167-216)

    The previous chapter introduced the main institutions of federal governance, outlining the functions of such political actors as the prime minister, ministers and cabinets, and bureaucratic entities like departments and Crown agencies. Although it offered some critical analysis of the power relations between these various actors, its purpose essentially was to define the main players and institutions constituting the heart of the executive system of governance in Ottawa. As suggested at the end of Chapter 3, however, the power relations between these actors is of great importance not only to those involved “in the system” but to those of the...

  9. five Theory of Organizational Design and Management Decision-Making
    (pp. 217-284)

    Thus far we have examined a number of basic concepts related to the nature and working of government in this society. We have assessed the breadth and depth of the state presence, its important and omnipresent impact on most facets of socio-economic and cultural life in Canada, and the major ideological views on the ideal role of government in the state. As well, we have studied the structure of political parties and the expectations we have of government in our own country. We have explored the basic structure of the federal government, the nature of the roles of the main...

  10. six Public-Sector Financial Management
    (pp. 285-340)

    As we have seen in the first two chapters of this text, Canadian governments have enormous responsibilities that involve them in most facets of life within this society. One practical truth flows from this: governments live on money—large amounts of cash, income, securities, and credit. Governments could not function without billions upon billions of dollars to sustain their public policy and program management activities, so matters of revenue generation and expenditure management are among the most important and controversial aspects of public-sector management.

    For the better part of two decades, macro-financial management concerns have dominated the Canadian political landscape...

  11. seven Dealing with Deficits and the Post-Deficit Future
    (pp. 341-388)

    The 1990s were remarkable in the history of the federal government and its system of financial management. The decade began with the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney facing a budgetary deficit of $28.9 billion on program spending of $103.8 billion; it ended with the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien boasting of a budgetary surplus of $12.2 billion on program spending of $111.7 billion. Whereas at the beginning of the decade government deficits had seemed like a permanent fixture of public finance, impervious to change despite years of budgetary reform attempts by the Mulroney government, by the middle of the...

  12. eight Public-Sector Personnel Management
    (pp. 389-444)

    As mentioned in Chapter 1, government and the effects of government are found everywhere within Canadian society. Canadian governments provide a myriad of public services throughout this society as they fulfil public policy needs, and the provision of these services requires large, professional, and permanent bureaucracies. As federal, provincial, and municipal governments address policy matters ranging from defence and tax collection, through the provision of social welfare and judicial administration, to public education and sanitation, governments need the services of hundreds of thousands of “employees” to make desired public policies a living reality.

    From the broadest definition of “public servant,”...

  13. nine The Representative and Equitable Public Service
    (pp. 445-486)

    The previous chapter has provided a general overview of the federal personnel management system, its origin, the problematic aspects of patronage, the development and nature of the merit system, and some of the major initiatives in personnel management reform over the past quarter-century. This chapter directs attention to a number of more specific yet controversial aspects of the personnel system within the Public Service of Canada. If the first great administrative reform to modernize personnel management within the federal government was the push for the merit principle, the second has been the drive for a public service that is generally...

  14. ten Canadian Administrative Law
    (pp. 487-532)

    Previous chapters have examined a wide array of traditional subject matters of relevance to understanding public-sector management in this country. This chapter takes a somewhat different tack by presenting a close descriptive and analytical review of the field of Canadian administrative law. Although administrative law has been seen historically only as a branch of legal studies and thus the preserve of judges, lawyers, legal academics, and law students, this approach is far too narrow. Given its substantive focus on due process and administrative justice, the field of administrative law is an important and vital aspect of public-sector management. It deals...

  15. eleven Contemporary Issues in Management Reform
    (pp. 533-588)

    The past quarter-century has experienced significant change in public-sector management in Canada. As we have observed in previous chapters, over the 1980s and 1990s there was widespread concern about the growth of the state, its increasing presence in social and economic life, and burgeoning public-sector deficits and debts. The rising prominence and influence of conservative thought over these years resulted in the promotion of ideas supportive of smaller government and of government that would be less intrusive and interventionist to the private sector and more supportive of the interests and values of private enterprise. These ideas, in turn, spurred demand...

  16. twelve Public-Sector Accountability: Responsibility, Responsiveness, and Ethics
    (pp. 589-622)

    As this book has recounted, governments in Canada play an enormously important role in the political, social, and economic life of all Canadians. Unless one lives as a hermit, it is impossible to escape contact with the state—public policy and public-sector management are all around us. Debate over the appropriate role of government is fundamental to Canadian politics, with the evolution of the state being greatly influenced by the ebb and flow of ideological beliefs held by Canadians and reflected through their political and electoral choices. The presence of the state is felt in all aspects of life. From...

  17. thirteen Public-Sector Management: The Challenges of Leadership
    (pp. 623-646)

    This book began with the presentation of a paradox. On the one hand, most Canadians tend to have a very critical, skeptical, even hostile attitude towards government and the work of public servants. They may express the view that governments are uneconomical, inefficient, incompetent, or wasteful. They think, or say, that government institutions—departments, agencies, offices—are confusing, awkward and bloated bureaucracies staffed by people who are overpaid, underworked, and generally self-serving. This widespread and cynical attitude treats public administration as a joke and public-sector management as, in essence, boring, tedious, uninteresting, and ultimately unimportant.

    Yet, paradoxically, most Canadians also...

  18. Index
    (pp. 647-664)