Manitoba

Scorecards, dashboards: Manitoba transforming civil service

The head of Manitoba's civil service says changing technology, the province's demographics and issues such as climate change have pushed the bureaucracy into transforming how it does its work.

New strategy aims to improve bureaucrats' workflow: executive council clerk

New strategy aims to improve bureaucrats' workflow: executive council clerk 2:08

Words such as scorecards and dashboards are fast becoming part of the language of a provincial civil servant.

Changing technology, the province's demographics and issues such as climate change have pushed the bureaucracy into transforming how it does business, the head of Manitoba's civil service says.

Fred Meier, the clerk of the executive council, outlined some of the changes at a news conference Wednesday, flanked by Premier Brian Pallister and Finance Minister Cameron Friesen.

"These challenges are very different from the ones we have encountered in the past, so our tried and true approaches are no longer effective," Meier told reporters. 

Meier called the steps being taken over the next few months "truly transformational of the culture of Manitoba's civil service. 
Manitoba public service head Fred Meier says the province has to find innovative approaches to solving complex problems (Sean Kavanagh CBC)

The strategy has two parts: changing how the civil service works and building a culture of innovation within the bureaucracy.

Government staff toiling on projects will soon load information into a database that feeds an ongoing scorecard. This will allow internal measurements of performance and progress, as well as monitor funding as it's spent.

Meier says the scorecards "will keep us [in the bureaucracy] essentially focused on each project," but cautions the changes are a "high-level framework" that does not include efforts to improve work-life balance, allow staff to work from home or other specific initiatives.

As the work is being done the government has committed to reporting on progress through a "public outcomes dashboard."

Cameron Friesen, who heads Manitoba's Civil Service Commission, called the phasing-in of the changes a "shift from outputs to outcomes."

The province's public service has been coping with layoffs since the Progressive Conservative government took office and initiated deficit-fighting measures.

The province is also centralizing it's public consultations to gather input from citizens on programs and policy changes.

The changes come as the province deals with an attrition rate of approximately eight per cent of its workforce through staff retiring or leaving for other jobs. 
Premier Brian Pallister: 'How do you keep score? Scorecards.' (Sean Kavanagh CBC)

Meier says the timing of these changes allows the government to "talk about what the public service of the future is going to look like in Manitoba so we can attract like-minded people that are focused on innovation, that are focused on collaboration and different ways of doing business." 

Pallister cautioned the changes may mean "some changes in the culture of some public sector unions" and pledged to work together on the effort.

Friesen told the media the various unions were given a briefing on the changes approximately a week ago.

However, the head of the Manitoba Government and Employee and General Employees Union calls the whole exercise an "empty pep talk" that has no substance or detail, and says the information provided at the meeting was inadequate at best.

"It felt more like they called us in because they could say they met with us. I don't believe that they had any intent on listening to any ideas or suggestions that we have or our members have at this time," Michelle Gawronsky told CBC News.

Gawronsky says she felt the tone of the meeting was that the government was going through the motions and mirrored other times when public sector unions have sat down with the Progressive Conservative government on issues such as wage freezes and job cuts.

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