Opening the Government of Canada
312 pages, 6 x 9
6 tables
Release Date:01 Aug 2019
Release Date:15 Feb 2019
Release Date:15 Feb 2019
Release Date:15 Feb 2019

Opening the Government of Canada

The Federal Bureaucracy in the Digital Age

UBC Press

In the digital age, governments face growing calls to become more open, collaborative, and networked. But can bureaucracies abandon their closed-by-design mindsets and operations and, more importantly, should they?

Opening the Government of Canada presents a compelling case for the importance of a more open model of governance in the digital age – but a model that continues to uphold traditional democratic principles at the heart of the Westminster system. Drawing on interviews with public officials and extensive analysis of government documents and social media accounts, Clarke details the untold story of the Canadian federal bureaucracy’s efforts to adapt to new digital pressures from the mid-2000s onward. This book argues that the bureaucracy’s tradition of closed government, fuelled by today’s antagonistic political communications culture, is at odds with evolving citizen expectations and new digital policy tools, including social media, crowdsourcing, and open data. Amanda Clarke also cautions that traditional democratic principles and practices essential to resilient governance must not be abandoned in the digital age, which may justify a more restrained opening of our governing institutions than is currently proposed by many academics and governments alike.

Striking a balance between reform and tradition, Opening the Government of Canada concludes with a series of pragmatic recommendations that lay out a roadmap for building a democratically robust, digital-era federal government.

This book will be of equal interest to political science and policy scholars and practitioners of public administration, including public servants, Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, as well as Canadian political journalists, communications scholars, and information sciences scholars.

Amanda Clarke’s Opening the Government of Canada provides an exceptional study of how the Canadian government has responded to external and internal pressures to integrate digital into its governing practices and structures. Andrea Rounce, Canadian Journal of Political Science
The more I read, the more I learned and the more I enjoyed going on a journey inside the public service as it responded to digital demands. Alex Marland, The Hill Times
Amanda Clarke has written an excellent book that demonstrates the potential and limits of public sector communications in the digital era ... Everyone interested in the theory and practice of public sector communications will learn from reading this book. Paul G. Thomas, professor emeritus, Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba
Opening the Government of Canada makes a valuable contribution to the field of public administration by showing empirically how some core principles of the Westminster/Weberian model have hindered efforts to implement digital government initiatives in Canada. It is an informative, insightful, and thought-provoking book. Luc Juillet, associate professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa
Amanda Clarke is an assistant professor and Public Affairs Research Excellence Chair at Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration. Prior to joining Carleton, Clarke completed a doctorate at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, as a Pierre Elliott Trudeau scholar, a Clarendon Press scholar, and as a fellow of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She is published in Canadian Public Administration, Governance and Policy and Internet and is co-editor of Issues in Canadian Governance. You can find her work at and on Twitter @ae_clarke.

1 Opening Government in the Digital Age

2 Canada’s Closed Government

3 #Fail: Adopting Social Media in the Government of Canada

4 Stephen Harper’s Open(ish) Government Initiative

5 Internal Openings in the Federal Bureaucracy

6 The Digital Skills Gap in the Federal Bureaucracy

7 The Future of Digital Government

Appendix A: Interview Index

Notes; References; Index

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