Civil Service and Public Administration

Week 8

Class coordinators

William Hoskins, Anthony Kinahan


I have avoided the term bureaucracy, which has become pejorative. In this section we will consider public administration in Canada. There is room for a focus on the organization and accountability of the ‘guardian’ elements of the state – the armed forces and police – if the class chooses to go there. Beyond the role of departments, we should consider crown corporations and regulatory agencies, means of controlling bureaucracies, and efforts to reform them – from traditional public service to new public management and digital era governance. Behavioural psychology is providing new means to adjust behaviour in positive ways, perhaps offsetting with public engagement some of the negative impacts of marketing and private sector manipulation. One of the central problems for liberal democracies is to defend themselves without losing control to the guardians: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Learning objectives

Explain the characteristics and management of the public service, efforts to reform it, and successes and failures of those efforts.

Key terms: Characteristics of a bureaucracy, Bureaucracy, Accountability, Regulations, Departments, Crown Corporations, Administrative agencies, Central agencies, Public service

Required reading


Weekly activities can be adjusted by class coordinators in consultation with the professor

Week 8 checklist of material

[1] Introduction from class coordinator – time allocation
[2] Current events of political significance (domestic, international) [60s]
[3] Review/amend focus of learning objectives [5D]
[4] Key terms [5D, GLI]
[5] Critical Approaches and Studying Politics [5D, GLI]
[6] External resources [class coordinator]
[7] Exam questions [5D, GLI]
[8] Looking ahead: next week’s class coordinator introduces (last 15 minutes)

Suggested resources

Presentation – Public Administration, Policy Making, and Lobbying (75 slides)
Public Service Commission of Canada
Public Service Alliance of Canada
Union of National Defence Employees
Corrections Canada Regional Headquarters – consider privatization pressures
CF Organization
Savoie (2003) Breaking the Bargain (see me to borrow copy)
Savoie (2013) Whatever Happened to the Music Teacher: How Government Decides and Why.
Paquet and Hubbard (2014) Probing the bureaucratic mind (see me to borrow copy)
Max Weber –  characteristics of bureaucratic types
Regulatory capture – a short video succinctly describing Stiglitz’s theory of regulatory capture.

Next up

The policy process.  Policy is about what is to be done, and civil service is about the execution of policy, so there is a logical connection between these two weeks.