The province relies on non-profits to deliver many government services. But are the Liberals thinking about getting those societies to do even more of that delivery work? That's one conclusion that can be drawn after the premier's deputy minister scheduled a meeting with a senior British mandarin late last year about "the role of the non-profit sector in the delivery of public services."
According to travel documents obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request, Jessica McDonald took a transatlantic flight this past November to meet with a number of Blair government bureaucrats - including Richard Clarke, deputy director of the office of the third sector (which includes everything from large charities to community groups).
The Campbell administration hasn't yet responded to a request for details about that meeting. It would be reasonable to assume, though, Ms. McDonald wanted to talk to the deputy director about a recent United Kingdom initiative that will enhance the role of non-profits in delivering "public services that are more focused around the needs of individuals and communities." In fact, a report issued by Mr. Clarke's office this past December earmarked a number of areas - from correctional services to health and social care - where societies can play a "central role" in that regard.
But before Ms. McDonald and Gordon Campbell get too inspired by that report, they might want to pay close attention this bit of fine (but not small) print: "The greater involvement of the third sector in delivery must not be about government abdicating its responsibility to fund public services. Instead, it is about ensuring that, in the right circumstances, the sector can deliver services where it is best placed to do so." The following is a copy of one of the aforementioned travel documents.
Meetings with the UK Government were held from November 22-25 2006 and attended by Jessica McDonald, Deputy Minister to the Premier; Kim Henderson, Assistant Deputy Minister, Premier's Office; and James Gorman, Deputy Minister, Public Service Agency.
Discussions occurred with the following UK officials:
1. Sir Gus O'Donnell, Cabinet Secretary (informal discussion)
2. Siobhan Benita, Cabinet Secretary's Office (role, accountability and governance structure of Cabinet Secretary, Permanent Secretaries, and Ministers, Cabinet Secretary's civil service initiatives)
3. Andrew Tuggey, Secretary of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (general orientation of current politics and key issues)
4. Richard Clarke, Deputy Director, Partnership and Delivery, Office of the Third Sector (role of not-for-profit sector in the delivery of public services)
5. Stephen Aldridge, Director, Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office (public service reform, strategy development, role of Cabinet Office, horizontal integration)
6. Wendy Piatt, Deputy Director, Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office (public service reform, strategy development, role of Cabinet Office, horizontal integration)
7. Carole Kelham, Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office (education reform)
8. Jim Bewsher and Adam Pemberton, Capability Review Program, Cabinet Office (departmental capability reviews)
9. Ray Shostak, Director, Public Services and Growth Directorate, and Tia Raappana, UK Treasury (horizontal integration, comprehensive and regular spending reviews, linkage of budget decisions to strategic priorities, service plans and capability reviews, horizontal budgeting)
10. Russell Coleman, (Budgeting) UK Treasury (fiscal management framework)
11. David Dipple, Estimates Clerk, UK Treasury (estimates debate)
12. Angelita Bradney, UK Treasury (horizontal budgeting)
13. David Halpern, Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office (strategic audits, horizontal integration and horizontal budgeting)