Blueprint 2020: The Journey Continues

Remarks by
Janice Charette, Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
At the National Webcast of January 29, 2015 – Blueprint 2020: The Journey Continues

“Check against delivery.”


Thank you Louise, and good afternoon everyone.

I’m happy to be here. I have often talked with members of the Public Service, both in the National Capital Region and when I have travelled to other regions of the country.

But this is the first time I can talk to the Public Service as a whole since my appointment as Clerk, using this platform – I have previously used videos and Twitter, but it’s great to have the opportunity for a real dialogue. 

I’m honoured and proud to have the opportunity to take on this role, which includes serving as the Head of the Public Service.

I’d like to talk to you today about Blueprint 2020.

I’d like to spend a few minutes on the progress we’re making towards the vision, and what I see as the next steps. I’ll then take your questions.

Blueprint 2020 is our future

First off, I want to say that I fully endorse the Blueprint 2020 vision. Wholeheartedly.

The Blueprint 2020 vision was shaped by thousands of public servants across the country, who commented and provided great ideas.

It is the framework for all of us to modernize the Public Service for the future.

Working towards a high-performing public service means becoming more client-focussed and efficient in how we interact with citizens and business.

It means using technology and other tools that allow us to work together as one government to drive results for Canadians through policies and programs.

It means motivated public servants using all of their talents, knowledge and expertise, working in healthy, respectful workplaces to tackle the challenges the future holds.

Indeed, Blueprint 2020 is the cornerstone of all our modernization and transformation efforts that we have undertaken in the Public Service.

Canada has a great public service. But we need to become even stronger and more resilient to face whatever challenges come our way.

Why do we need to do this? Because Canadians, including all of us, deserve a public service that is working to get better, to anticipate their needs and to be ready with solutions that they expect of their federal government – which includes working with provincial, territorial, and local governments and other partners to serve citizens.

Because as we all know, whether we’re managing the Ebola outbreak, protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians, or helping those in our society in need, we have to work collaboratively, with partners, to find solutions.

This is not new; we have never had all the answers.

Now we need to integrate into our professional activities the new tools and the new technologies that empower us, every day, to forge linkages among different ideas, different viewpoints.

And we need to draw on those perspectives to improve the way we work.

This is easier said than done, of course. We live in a 24/7 world, with rising expectations for services that are not only fast but also accurate, secure, respectful and cost-conscious.

And that is what Blueprint 2020 is all about – positioning this great institution, the Public Service of Canada, to rise to not only today’s challenges, but tomorrow’s as well.

Progress towards the Blueprint 2020 vision

During the Blueprint 2020 engagement exercise, public servants embraced a vision that describes the Public Service we all want to be.

I’m happy to tell you that we are making progress toward achieving the vision government-wide, including through the initiatives announced in the Blueprint 2020 report last spring.

We’re working to establish an open and networked environment that engages citizens and partners for the public good.

Service Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat are leading a government-wide initiative to renew and re-design all of our webpages to provide Canadians with easier access to government services. This work is advancing well, and it’s central to our goal of citizen-centred service delivery.

Also, I’m excited to say that on February 11, we’re officially launching the central Innovation Hub at PCO in its brand new physical space at 90 Sparks Street.

Together with a network of over a dozen hubs and labs in departments, we are working together to embed innovative practices and encourage creative thinking.

We’re committed to pursuing whole-of-government approaches that enhance service delivery and value for money.

We’re transforming how we manage and use IT within government, for instance, through Shared Services Canada’s efforts to consolidate IT services, including the delivery of a single email system. We will have streamlined and more effective IT services for all public servants, on which we can build better services for Canadians.

Public Works and Government Services Canada is also leading on pay modernization, replacing our 40 year old pay system with a modern, commercial system, which will provide more service options and help meet increasing employee and client demands for better service.

We’re modernizing our HR regime through the adoption of common business processes and new tools, which will save time, money and effort and help us better plan and manage HR – getting the right resources in the right place at the right time.

We’re modernizing our workplaces and making smart use of new technologies to improve networking, access to data and customer service.

Standardized videoconferencing services are now being offered by Shared Services Canada, with 25 partner departments already adopting these services as part of their desktop modernization strategies.

This will increasingly allow employees to connect with each other and stakeholders in a 2.0 way that increases our reach and makes us more efficient, no matter where we are located.

Wireless technology is being rolled out – over thirty thousand public servants will have access by the beginning of fiscal year 2015/2016, and those numbers will continue to grow.

We’re establishing a capable, confident and high-performing workforce that embraces new ways of working and mobilizing the diversity of talent to serve the country's evolving needs.

Through the new public service-wide performance management regime, for example, every employee should know what is expected of them, have an opportunity to understand how their performance will be measured, get feedback on their strengths, help on areas for improvement, and be able to maximize their contribution to the Public Service.

And here we are at the Canada School of Public Service, which is at the centre of so much of our transformation efforts as they lead the establishment of an enterprise-wide approach to learning, directly tied to how we develop the talents of public servants at all levels.

All learning events at the Canada School of Public Service are now free of charge, as will be the entire curriculum in 2016-17.

And today is a testament to this modern platform, allowing us to leverage events like this one to become the modern, learning organization that we want to be.

These core initiatives are important, but as your deputy ministers and your Blueprint 2020 champions have probably told you, many other projects are underway.

I have read a lot of departmental Blueprint 2020 progress reports, and I’m impressed by what I’ve seen so far. It’s clear to me that we’re on a roll.

There are so many examples. Let me give you a brief overview.

Departments are continuing to focus on improving their business processes.

For instance, Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency is continuing with its “Kaizen” exercises – a Japanese term meaning “good change” that focuses on continuous improvement. In other words, business improvement that is part of everyday work, not something that is done once in a while.

Departments are becoming more and more open and transparent. For example, I was impressed by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, which is inviting EX-01s to attend senior management meetings, so that they can see the decision-making process and share their impressions with their employees.

Many departments are offering new development opportunities and finding new ways to support their employees.

Correctional Service Canada, for example, has created coaching circles: small groups of people who help one another out and provide useful advice and comments. This is exactly the type of initiative that makes the Public Service an organization dedicated to learning and improvement, every day.

Our functional communities are very active. For instance, the Community of Federal Regulators is piloting their ‘innovation alley’ to demonstrate how innovation and experimentation is benefiting the regulatory field.

The Translation Bureau, in collaboration with the Network of Official Languages Champions, Treasury Board Secretariat, and Canadian Heritage, is piloting Video Remote Interpretation services, which provides multilingual and sign language interpretation service over distance, immediately, from anywhere with Internet-based videoconferencing technology.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg – go and see them for yourselves on GCPEDIA – there are videos, blogs, text reports, and all kinds of formats.

These are our initial steps. I plan to say more about initiatives like these and our goals of modernizing the Public Service for Canadians, as part of my very first Annual Report to the Prime Minister on the Public Service coming this spring.

We will need to do more to achieve our BP2020 goals.

Blueprint 2020 in everything we do

Many of these undertakings – both within organizations, horizontal communities and government-wide – are complex and long-term in nature. We are making progress though, and people are starting to see it. Nothing worth doing is easy, and if it were, it would have already been done.

We are moving away from talking about what Blueprint 2020 means, to doing it, from engaging with people to having people engaged, energized, and personally invested in creating the future that we know is possible for the Public Service.

Employee engagement needs to be considered more than a ‘nice to have’ or something that is done from time to time – it needs to be accepted as a critical organizational function.

I’ve noticed that when departments and agencies hardwire, or “bake-in” the Blueprint 2020 concepts into their everyday work, their decision-making processes, their business plans and their service delivery, both internally and externally – that’s when we see real change occur.

We will only be successful if we move these initiatives from the side of our desks – the Blueprint 2020 principles need to be embedded in all that we do. 

For instance, as part of their work on Blueprint 2020, Western Economic Diversification Canada integrated the goals and themes of Blueprint 2020 into the organization’s strategic priorities.

I think it’s fair to say that we are now at the "messy, noisy point" of transformation where we’re experiencing real and painful transition costs, but have yet to realize many of the benefits.

And yet, as we move forward, we must above all not lose sight of the human aspect. The Blueprint 2020 vision is not focussed solely on what we do. It also has an impact on our behaviour and on how we do things.

The days of gatekeeping and information hoarding need to come to an end. Information must flow well across the organization. We must set our default to “open and share”.

We also need a culture that enables people to be bold and innovative.

Often we think of innovation as something big and grand – but innovation does not need to be revolutionary, nor does it have to be technological or systems change – it’s about doing things differently, which is at the core of Blueprint 2020.

To borrow a term I have recently heard – we need more “minnovations” – or mini innovations.

This could be something as simple as fewer rounds of changes on a briefing note because everyone is now focused on thinking about the value they are adding, before they take their red pen out.


I’d like to conclude by setting you a challenge.

I believe that each of us must contribute personally to the vision.

Over 110 000 people took part in the Blueprint 2020 engagement exercise, generating thousands of ideas. That says a lot about the desire and enthusiasm for change.

That exercise was unprecedented in scope, and I am proud of what we have achieved. 

I believe that our success depends heavily on employees playing an active role, taking ownership, and feeling personally empowered and accountable for achieving the Blueprint 2020 vision.

So my challenge is – I want each and every one of you to think about how you can make positive change in your workplace to help us get to the Blueprint 2020 vision.

Taken together, individual actions will make the difference on whether we get to our vision, or we don’t.

Are you wondering what you can do? The possibilities are unlimited. For example:

  • In your next learning plan, propose a way to acquire new skills that you feel would be essential in the Public Service of tomorrow;
  • Identify a process that you feel is far too slow, find out what its purpose is and how you could simplify it, and propose a new process.

Working for Canadians is an inspiring mission, and an important mandate. We live in an incredible country that offers such an amazing opportunity to serve.

Every day, I meet proud public servants who are committed to serving Canadians.

We should all take pride in what we do and actively communicate our pride, serving as ambassadors of the Public Service.

I know that the Public Service is capable of great accomplishments and we have the chance to rejuvenate it for the future.

What an exciting time it is to be a public servant!

Thank you again, and with that, I would be happy to take some of your questions.