Decorative photo of St. John's Harbour

Project Update: Fiscal Federalism and Decentralization in Iraq

2 minute read

The IOG’s work in Iraq is in an ongoing and exciting new phase, where we are preparing work for phase two of the project on Fiscal Federalism and Decentralization, funded by Global Affairs Canada, while continuing to see results in the ongoing process of the establishing of the Centre of Excellence in Karbala, our Women’s Cohort, and the pilot project in Al Qadisiyah and Maysan. Additionally, we have recently accepted a contract from the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to establish civil society platforms in Wasit and Babil, while also training civil society representatives on how to engage in local development processes.

To start, our work with the pilot projects is ongoing, with the establishment of technical committees and a steering committee for the two governorates, Al Qadisiyah and Maysan. The technical committees serve as a medium where issues of the decentralization process can be worked out between relevant technical experts at both the federal and governorate levels, and produce a report that is collected at the steering committee level which involves the governor and members of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council, which then makes recommendations to the High Committee on the Coordination of the Provinces (HCCP) to act upon. Essentially, this work is meant to streamline the decentralization process and establish further intergovernmental connections and means of communication between the governorate and the federal government.

Next, the Center of Excellence has successfully kicked off at the University of Karbala. This Center serves as a training location for government executives at the governorate, regional, and federal levels of Iraq. The goal of the Center is for it to become a form of government training school, where best practices and lessons learned of Iraqi federalism and public administration can grow and be passed on to new generations of Iraqi civil servants.

In November, we saw our ongoing cohort of Iraqi women come to Ottawa for a 10-day training program that involved lessons on leadership, collaboration, communications, and operating in a federal system with lessons learned from high level provincial federal NGOs, politicians, and civil servants. In follow up to this, we have recently engaged in the Gender Unit Mapping in Al Qadisiyah and Maysan, with the initial meetings occurring in early December.

On the same trip in late November/early December, IOG President Toby Fyfe met with various Iraqi federal ministers and staff to discuss and affirm the IOG’s commitment to the country and discuss with the new government the benefits of decentralization.

Lastly, the Financial Management Law brought forward by the IOG to replace the current CPA Order 95 is now on the agenda to have its first reading by the House of Representatives in Iraq. This law is designed to update the current financial management structure of Iraq to suit the federal design of the country.

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New Book Announcement by IOG Executive Director, Jeff Kinder

2 minute read

A Lantern on the Bow: A History of the Science Council of Canada and Its Contributions to the Science and Innovation Debate

By Jeff Kinder and Paul Dufour, eds., (Ottawa: Invenire Press)

The Science Council of Canada (1966-1992) was at the forefront of a global assessment of how knowledge can shape society. As a federally-funded, independent think tank, it stimulated a dynamic yet critical dialogue about the role of science, technology, and innovation in Canada.

The book describes the Science Council as a “lantern on the bow,” a light shining forward to illuminate the course ahead, to help the ship of state navigate through unknown waters and potentially rocky shoals. Through over 50 studies, the Science Council grappled with a wide range of issues that still resonate: priority-setting in research; STEM education and the supply and demand of highly qualified personnel; foresight and science advice to government; the social and economic returns of investments in basic research and big science; climate change, environmental conservation and natural resource management and sustainability; and, the impact of disruptive innovations and related issues of risk perception and risk assessment.

Consistent with its overall nautical metaphor, this history and examination of the Science Council is organized into three parts. In the first part – Lighting the Lantern – the authors explore the historical context for science advice in Canada and relate the story of the Science Council’s beginnings and evolution.

In the book’s second part – Navigating a Course – the focus shifts to the work of the Science Council with chapters examining one or more of its core studies in areas of national concern. This part is organized around the three major focal points of the Science Council’s advice: a) Canada’s science system; b) science and technology (S&T)-based public policy priorities, including the environment and the rise of an information society; and c) industrial technology and innovation policy.

In the third part – Extinguishing the Lantern – the authors tell the story of the demise and closure of the Science Council and take a look back through the eyes of Janet Halliwell, the Science Council’s final president. A concluding chapter reviews the Council’s legacy and contemplates where we might be heading.

Lacking decision-making authority and with very limited resources, moral suasion, and the authority of knowledge were the Science Council’s primary tools of influence. It had to rely on its outreach and communications to constantly make its case. Ultimately, however, government decision-makers need to see the value in obtaining advice in the domains of science, technology and innovation. As Paul Dufour notes in his chapter: “If there is a lesson in all of this, it is that demand cannot be forced for science advice – there must be a receptor and champions who are prepared to accept and ask for independent views and advice.”

In this “post-truth” era of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” the need has never been greater for decision-makers who are thirsty for the evidence and insights of science, technology, and innovation to help chart and navigate our common future. As Canada continues to experiment with its science advisory ecosystem, there is much we can learn from the history and contributions of this important institution.

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Results and Delivery: Is it Delivering?

3 minute read

By: Gregory Richards, Vice-President of Business Development and Research and Elizabeth Seymour, Senior Associate

We have the opportunity to speak with many public servants on the front lines of the R and D agenda. While we don’t claim that the outcomes of these conversations represent a scientific study, the feedback we’ve received highlights specific opportunities and challenges and suggests three things managers can do to use analytics effectively to improve program results.

A core theme that emerges from our conversations is that, due to the Directive and Policy on Results, evidence-based management is now top of mind in most departments. In addition, the added transparency related to the mandate letters makes it relatively easy to get a sense of overall objectives for the department.


On the other hand, the R and D agenda does call for different ways of working. Participants tell us that the need for more narrative style reporting related to the mandate tracker and being able to tell meaningful visual stories is now important. In addition, institutionalizing evidence-based managementacross entire departments is a challenge since many are still working on getting the right data. Also, targets that change and shifting standards of service can also present difficulties. And of course, the operational work must continue, which often takes priority over developing new ways of working.

One solution is to develop an analytics roadmap unique to the program. This roadmap starts with understanding the results chain. In the diagram above, a simplified results chain indicates that data from the nodes track whether certain targets are met and therefore are useful for reporting. Data from the arcs between the nodes, however, provide insights into how the nodes relate to each other. Since every result is driven by activities that use resources, data from the arcs help us understand whether resources are being used effectively, and whether the activities being done deliver the expected results. This information, which requires the use of analytics to understand the relationships between and among the data points, naturally leads to conversations about how to do things better to achieve better outcomes.

Our conclusion is that some progress is being made but there is still work to be done in using data to improve program outcomes. The greatest challenge is finding the time and space to analyze, discuss, and imagine new ways of working while continuing to deliver ongoing operational requirements.

There are three things managers can do: understand the results chain for their own program, validate the types of data needed, and design an analytics roadmap that is unique to their specific results chain.

First, some programs have logic models which are, in fact, results chains describing how resources are being used to deliver expected outcomes. Some of these models are high level and need to be translated to as specific program area. A simplified results chainas depicted in the diagram above is often useful as a start so that all members of the program team has a good idea of what outcomes they need to deliver and how they plan to make it happen.

Second, the results chain will help you identify the data needed both for reporting and for managing your program. Getting access to certain types of data, at the right level of granularity, in the right time frame, can be a daunting task. But it is made much easier if we can clearly identify what is needed.

Third, just having access to data does not mean you can start analyzing things. There are well over 200 different analytic models and algorithms that can be applied. From visualization through to advanced machine learning algorithms, the selection of the right model depends on the type of data available, the objective of the program, and the capability of the people involved to fully interpret the results. Based on these considerations, program managers should create an analytics roadmap that reflects the unique nature of their programs. More on these issues will be discussed in the next article.

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François Gagnon joins the IOG as the new Vice-President of the Learning Lab

1 minute read

François Gagnon is joining the Institute on Governance as Vice-President of the Learning Lab. He brings rich experience in the area of public sector learning and leadership, most recently as founder and President of Lead-Action, and will be using his knowledge and expertise to build on the IOG’s strong reputation in this area. Gerard Etienne will take over new responsibilities as the Vice-President of Diversity and Inclusion.

The Institute on Governance (IOG) is recognized for its public sector executive leadership programs, day courses and custom programs tailored to specific government departments. François and Lead-Action are bringing their leadership programs for aspiring executives and Indigenous employees, as well as their experience offering a wide range of tools and services (e.g. Insights Discovery, executive coaching and 360-degree feedback products), to strengthen further the IOG’s contribution to improved, 21st century leadership in the public sector. All these products and services will be offered under the banner of the IOG.

In addition to his over 25 years in the public sector, including thirteen in executive positions, François has taught courses at the Master’s Project Management Program of the Université du Québec en Outaouais for ten years and is an experienced leadership development practitioner. After having led the portfolio of leadership development programs with the Canada School of Public Service, François founded Lead-Action which has delivered over 3500 psychometric assessments, 800 360-feedback programs, and 650 training days of leadership development.

Francois will be joining the IOG team on January 7th. He can be reached at or at 613 562-0090 x 202.