Framing Innovation: Westminster 2.0 in the Digital Age

Framing Innovation: Westminster 2.0 in the Digital Age is an applied research and engagement project that seeks to provide a conceptual, behavioural and institutional framework for innovation in the Canadian federal public service; one that positions our public institutions to take full advantage of the digital age and the opportunities it provides to government as we seek to evolve Westminster in the Canadian context.

The project will aim to identify guiding principles that challenge the public service to move forward and build on the skills and competencies required for Canada to lead in digital era governance, while taking into account the realities and constraints that public servants must grapple with as they seek to innovate; principles that are rooted in our Westminster traditions, but recognize that, as we redefine Westminster for the digital era, many of the traditional roles and activities of public servants may require a new orientation.

The guiding question the project will seek to answer is: given the opportunities afforded by the digital age, how do we encourage innovation and responsible risk-taking on the part of public institutions, to ensure that governments meet the challenges imposed by an informed public that increasingly expects engagement in the development of policies and programs, and tangible, visible results within ever tighter timelines?

These are some of the themes that the project will explore:

Increased openness and transparency in government;

Increased collaboration with external stakeholders;

Increased emphasis on communication with the public;

Increased attention to the parliamentary-bureaucratic interface, including the interface between parliamentarians and public servants, as well as relationships with governing parties;

New leadership and accountability approaches for a growing number of multilateral files that respond to government-wide priorities;

More effective approaches that exploit the potential of data analytics within realistic financial and institutional constraints;

A forward-looking approach to new business models, such as those supplied by the sharing economy – to allow public institutions to learn new ways of working while supporting and leveraging collaborations to the advantage of the Canadian economy and Canadian society at large;

A renewed emphasis on results, delivery and outcomes – and the institutional adaptation required to align with these priorities;

Inclusiveness and diversity in our governance approaches, to ensure that outcomes match the Canadian reality.

Dialogue discussions will be open to our institutional partners, public servants and to other interested stakeholders and will involve participants from a broad spectrum of institutions and sectors, including academic institutions, private sector entities and public institutions. Attendance will be 80-100 with break-out sessions leading to tangible results in the form of a framework with recommendations.

*This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.