The Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management

By Stevenson, Art | Canadian Parliamentary Review, Winter 1995 | Go to article overview

The Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management


Stevenson, Art, Canadian Parliamentary Review


This article draws attention to a new Commonwealth association for professional administrators established in August 1994 at a meeting in Charlottetown.

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The new association was created because the forces of globalisation are affecting governments everywhere, and administrators can benefit from increased contacts with their counterparts in other countries. There are already strong networks among academics, but public administration practitioners need to have better contacts. Since the Commonwealth countries have similar government structures and institutions based on the Westminster model, it will be particularly useful for them to have information about innovations--successful or otherwise, in other Commonwealth countries.

The Association is directed toward Commonwealth public servants, elected or appointed, and it was the result of two years' preparation by a Steering Committee of fourteen senior officials, chaired by Sir Kenneth Stowe.

The association was jointly sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London and the Canadian Institute of Public Administration in Canada. Funding for the inaugural conference and start-up in 1994 was provided by the Australian International Development Assistance Bureau, Canadian International Development Agency, the Commonwealth Foundation, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Overseas Development Administration of the U.K.

The Inaugural Conference in Charlottetown was planned around the theme Government in Transition. Papers were presented by representatives of 22 of the Commonwealth's 51 member nations. There was a surprising degree of agreement about the issues facing governments today.

Professor Sandford Borins attended and wrote a summary report on the Conference entitled Government in Transition: A new paradigm in public administration. He concluded that: Despite the diversity of the Commonwealth Countries, there was a common pattern in their responses. So strong is this common pattern that it could be labeled a new paradigm in public administration The new paradigm which has emerged in little more than a decade emphasizes the role of public managers in five components:

* Providing high-quality services that citizens value;

* Advocating increased managerial autonomy, particularly from central agency control;

* Organizations and individuals being measured and rewarded on the basis of whether they meet demanding performance targets;

* Providing the human and technological resources that managers need to meet their performance targets; and

* A receptiveness to competition and an open-minded attitude about which public purposes should be performed by the public sector as opposed to the private sector.

The first meeting of the CAPAM board since the inaugural meeting was held in London on January 20, 1995. …

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