10 June 2013

Canada is celebrating Public Service week, in both its federal and provincial governments. This celebration is linked to the annual World Public Service Day – designated by the United Nations as 24 June – but Canadians mark the event more dramatically than most, with a range of events and award ceremonies.  Twenty one years ago Canada’s shortest statute, with its purpose explicit in its title, was enacted to entrench  Public Service week as the third week in June (National Public Service Week; Serving Canadians Better Act 1992). The celebrations may be a little flat this year however as the public sector unions are boycotting events to show opposition to Government proposals to reduce conditions of employment in the sector –  affecting salaries, leave and redundancies.

At least four United Nations bodies are involved in the UN celebrations this year which will take place in Bahrain.  The theme is of “Transforming e-Government and Innovation – Creating a Better Future”. The General Assembly has indicated a need to promote the exchange of experience related to the role of public administration in the implementation of internationally agreed goals including the Millennium declaration and “South-South and interregional cooperation”.

Few  OECD member States seem to give much priority to the World Public Service day, although, this year, the United States Government celebrated public service achievements in a week of events and award presentations in early May.

There is no direct recognition in either Australia or New Zealand.  However, the annual NZ Institute of Public Administration Excellence Awards, to be presented this year on 3 July 1013,  have an accidental concurrency.