I have written widely on questions of governance, accountability,
strategy, development assistance and corporate social
responsibility. (Items in blue
can be downloaded.)
Performance Measurement Q & A
Following a recent engagement with a Canadian federal government client I was asked to respond to a series of written questions from staff on elements of performance measurement that were at the top of their minds. The issues they raised were of relevance to public sector managers everywhere. This paper is adapted from the text prepared for the client. Elements that reponded to issues unique to the client have been removed or rewritten.
Tell Me What I Need to Know. A Practical Guide to Program Evaluation for Public Servants
Few of the public servants who are involved in the preparation of program evaluations, or who read evaluation reports, are or need to be evaluation experts. Instead, they need to be familiar with key evaluation concepts, and with the strengths and weaknesses of evaluation. They need to understand how to use evaluation to become better managers. This paper aims to help public servants be better informed consumers of evaluation.
The Art of the Performance Dashboard
There is growing demand for performance "dashboards" in government departments. Unfortunately, dashboards often fail to live up to expectations because too much attention is paid to the instrument itself and not enough to how it is supposed to help public managers. This paper describes an approach to dashboards that has a better chance of making a positive difference to public management.
Economic reporting in the red: much ink, no insight
This commentary, published on j-source.ca, criticizes the superficiality of economic news reporting in advance of the Canadian general election of October 2008.
How Good is Your Government? Assessing the Quality of Public Management
This paper aims to stimulate discussion on the key characteristics of good public management at the whole-of-government level. It presents a draft framework for measuring the quality of government-wide public management.
performance targets miss the mark
published on globeandmail.com,
argues that setting performance targets for public programs
can often lead to worse rather than better performance.
the Possible. A Guide to Strategic Management in
Public Service Organizations
This paper aims
to bring clarity to the notion of “strategy”
and “strategic management” in public service
organizations. These terms are simultaneously over-used
and poorly understood in the Canadian government. Even
so, public managers are asked to “be strategic”
and develop “strategies” as a basis for rationalizing,
implementing, being accountable for and justifying funding
for public programs and policies.
Results-Based Management; or, Throwing Out the Baby with
the Bath Water
as "In Defence of Results-Based Management"
in Public Sector Management, Vol. 18, No. 1,
A recent article
in Canadian Public Administration questioned
the wisdom of implementing results-based management across
the Canadian federal public service. This paper
argues that the spotty record of RBM to date in the Canadian
public service is not a reason to back away from implementing
it in Departments and Agencies. Doing so would amount
to throwing out the baby with the bath water.
I'm not an organization man. Are you?
published on April 7 in The Globe and Mail, Canada's
leading newspaper, is a reflection on employment, self-employment
Worth of a Garden. Performance Measurement and Policy
Advice in the Public Service.
commissioned by the Treasury Board Secretariat, aims to
stimulate discussion on the question of measuring the
performance of policy-advice units (“policy shops”)
in the federal government. It observes that the
measurement challenges are conceptually identical to,
but more acute than, those related to the performance
of program shops. It suggests that evaluation, rather
than performance measurement, may be a more suitable option
given the special nature of the policy-advice process.
rush wait-times decisions
published on January 11 in The Globe and Mail,
Canada's leading newspaper, argues that Canadian politicians'
single-minded focus on waiting times for health services
could do more harm than good.
Measurement Meets the Real World. Leadership, Accountability,
Politics & Scandal
management (RBM) is a great principle, but it has to be
implemented in the real world. This speech, delivered
to the Cognos Government Forum, addresses the gap between
the rhetoric and reality of RBM in the Canadian federal
you clamour for results-based management in the civil
service, remember that Chuck Guite could be its poster
published on November 23 in The Globe and Mail,
Canada's leading newspaper, argues that caution is required
when translating "results-based management"
from the private sector to the public sector.
Face New Social Responsibility
appeared in the May 2005 edition of CAmagazine.com,
a publication of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.)
corporate directors are expected, increasingly, to look
out for the interests of corporate stakeholders as well
as shareholders. Identifies four major trends that
will affect how directors deal with "corporate social
Framwork for Evaluating Institutions of Accountability
Fiscal Management, by Anwar Shah (ed.), Washington:
The World Bank).
operationally-oriented framework for diagnosing weaknesses
in public institutions of accountability. The analysis
has broad applicability, but is directed especially to
practitioners who are working in developing countries
and are focused on anti-corruption reforms. (For
information on how to purchase this book,
Responsibility is All About Governance
appeared in the FSA Times, Second Quarter, 2005,
published by The Institute of Internal Auditors Inc.,
social responsibility becomes a prominent issue for business
leaders and oversight management teams, internal auditors
should ensure that pertinent issues are included in their
organization's risk management plan.
Directors Need to Know About Corporate Social Responsibility
This paper argues
that the discussion about CSR is best understood as a
special type of discussion about corporate governance.
It aims to help corporate directors appreciate CSR’s
relationship to the exercise of corporate power, and equip
them to engage with executives on the strategic question
of how to manage the full range of the corporation’s
relationships with the world around it.
Corruption: Look Before You Leap (with
in Finance and Development, a quarterly journal
of the International Monetary Fund)
approaches to fighting public sector corruption in developing
countries, and offers a simple framework for developing
an anti-corruption strategy.
Provision of a Whistleblower Reporting System: A
Relevant Solution for the Federal Government?
aims to help Departments in the Canadian federal government
arrive at an informed assessment of whether management
of their whistleblower reporting systems by an external
contractor would make these systems more effective.
It draws upon the experiences of 21 public and private-sector
organizations with the operation of corporate whistleblower
the Performance of Corporate Ethics Programs. Creating
an Ethics Performance Story (with Zachariah
by The Conference Board of Canada)
Presents a strategy
for measuring the performance of corporate ethics programs.
Management at the Water Cooler. Perspectives from
the working level on RBM.
Based on opinion
data from public servants, indicates that staff have concerns
about senior leadership of results-based management in
the Canadian public service. Also indicates that
staff capacity to implement RBM is low.
Society and Public Governance: Getting a Fix on Legitimacy
(with John Saxby)
2003 (Published by The Conference Board of Canada)
Civil society organizations have gained a strong foothold
in governance. This briefing looks at their legitimacy
as political actors, and provides some guidelines for
interaction between government and civil society.
(For an abbreviated version of this paper, see p.10, Winter
2004 edition, of The Conference Board of Canada's
"Inside Edge" newsletter. )
Leaders Must Be Tamed
published in The Globe and Mail, Canada's leading
newspaper, argues that problems we see in corporate governance
and public-sector governance have the same root causes.
Will Be, Will Be. The Challenge of Applying Results-based
Thinking to Policy
This handbook examines the special challenges of applying
results-based management and performance measurement to
policy as opposed to programs.
a Toolkit. Practitioner's Guide to Measuring the Performance
of Public Programs
This brief handbook covers the basic concepts and steps
involved in developing a performance-measurement framework
for a public program. Not a Toolkit is based on the author's
experience working on performance measurement with Canadian
government agencies. It argues that telling a believable
"performance story" is at the heart of good
Before You Leap. Notes for Corruption Fighters
Describes a practical framework for thinking about
anti-corruption initiatives in the public sector in developing
countries. Suggests that a direct approach to fighting
corruption may not always be the best or the only option.
Wide Approaches, Accountability and CIDA. Issues and Recommendations
The sector-wide approach (SWAP) is emerging as a vehicle
for delivering international development assistance. This
paper looks at how SWAPs are forcing donor agencies to
re-think accountability between (i) themselves and their
own governments, (ii) themselves and developing countries,
and (iii) the developing country and its own people. It
concludes with a set of recommendations.
(Une version française
de ce document est disponible.)
Heart of the Matter. Donors, Development Assistance, and
Public Sector Reform
Provides an overview of major lessons learned from donor-supported
efforts at public sector reform in developing countries.
Assesses promising future directions.
Accountability Fails. A Framework for Diagnosis and Action
2001 (Published in Isuma.
Canadian Journal of Policy Research)
Describes a simple framework for understanding and
strengthening the relationship between "institutions
of accountability" and public-sector agencies.
Building: A New Way of Doing Business for Development
challenges faced by development assistance agencies in
adopting a capacity-building perspective, and describes
approaches to addressing the challenges.
and Evaluation Capacity Development in Sub-Saharan Africa
: Lessons from Governance Programming
2000 (Published by the World Bank)
Reviews lessons learned from governance programming
in Africa, and assesses their relevance to interventions
aimed at building public-sector evaluation capacity on
Restorative Justice to Restorative Governance. (with
Shereen Benvzy Miller)
2000 (Published by the Canadian Journal of Criminology
and Criminal Justice)
Argues that the concept of restorative justice must re-framed
within the broader principle of restorative governance.
Policy Leadership in a Federal State : International Lessons
for Canada (with Elder Marquez)
Outlines ways in which central governments in federal
states have exercised a leadership role in social policy.
Sector Reform in Developing Countries. Issues Lessons
and Future Directions
Provides an overview of recent lessons and experiences
in public sector reform in developing countries.
Opportunism and Points in Between: Trends and Practices
in Corporate Social Responsibility
Provides a detailed analysis of corporate social
responsibility. It describes key concepts related to CSR,
how they are being interpreted and implemented by companies,
and provides a framework for incorporating CSR into corporate
Good, Private Gain. A Study of Canadian "Exemplary"
Companies and Their Relations with Government
An examination of what constitutes an exemplary company
in the eyes of senior public officials. It also shows
how admired companies view their relationships with the
public sector and with civil society.
... Ends ... Indicators: Performance Measurement in the
Operationally-oriented overview of key concepts related
to performance measurement in public sector organizations.
Decision-Making in Canada : Lessons and Practices
Based on a study commissioned by the World Bank,
this paper examines the cabinet-level decision-making
process in Canada .
Une version française de ce document est disponible.
(La prise de décision du Cabinet au Canada : leçons
Management and Multilateral Programming at CIDA: A Discussion
This paper seeks to contribute to discussion within
in the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
on the use of Results-Based Management (RBM) for assessing