Public administration expert Donald Savoie calls ‘em as he sees ‘em.
In a recent study he has published, Savoie views the federal public service as (ed. -get ready for this vivid imagery!!) – “a big whale that can’t swim.”
The whale-like simile is on account of the federal government having too many management layers and oversight bodies and spending far too much time churning out performance and accountability reports.
Fact: Canada’s public service has seven levels of executives. There are 6,500 executives at the first five levels (Ex 1-5) with associate deputy ministers and deputy ministers at the top of the heap.
Fact: The assistant deputy ministers – known as Ex 4s and Ex 5s – earn between $179,000 and $200,000 a year. Of the now more than 400 ADMs we have in the federal service, about seven of them a year will be promoted into deputy minister ranks.
This is an alarming number, given that the role of ADMs became smaller as the executive cadre grew over the past 25 years.
Overall, Savoie reveals, the executive numbers of the federal bureaucracy has soared nearly 50 per cent in the last 25 years, outpacing 12-per-cent growth in the overall public service. The big surge came in the 2000s when the size of the bureaucracy grew 35 per cent. The number of ADMs shot up 49 per cent while the numbers of those at Ex 1 to 3 levels jumped 68 per cent. The number of deputy ministers, led by new associate deputy minister positions, increased 25 per cent over the past decade.
Here are numbers relating to the federal ADMs as compiled by the Ottawa Citizen:
54: Average age of Ex-4s and Ex-5s
20: Average years worked in the public service
12: Years spent as executive before promoted to ADM
40: Percentage of ADMS who are women
50: Percentage who held three of their last four jobs in the same department
87: Percentage of ADMs in the National Capital Region
42: Percentage of ADMs who work in programs, services or operations
15: Percentage of ADMs who work in central agencies
8: Percentage working in policy
3: Percentage working in communications
7: Average number who get promoted to deputy minister annually
10: Percentage who retire each year
59: Average age at retirement
The full Ottawa Citizen article on ADMs can be seen here: ADM’s role diminished as top executives have become too insular and inexperienced – study