In September 2017, the Policy Community was launched for the Canadian public service.

The momentum to launch stemmed from a 2016 Report to the Clerk of the Privy Council of Canada on the Policy Community Project, and on the heels of 2017’s first annual Policy Community Conference, the Clerk announced his support for the Policy Community.

Policy has always been core to the public service, but this is the first time a concerted effort has been made to formally establish a functional community for policy practitioners within the Government of Canada.

With the evolving context of policy practices, we need to rethink the supports for people who develop, inform and implement policy. We need to treat them as professionals: create networks, enable and equip them, and share knowledge and learning. Ultimately, it’s about policy excellence for Canadians through a community that is relevant, modern and responsive.

The Policy Community is inclusive and can broach all types of policy functions: strategic policy, program policy, service policy and more.

Since launching, the Policy Community Partnership Office — the team behind the Policy Community — has been tackling some key items in collaboration with partners and policy practitioners from the federal public service and beyond. In addition to building its membership, the team has set its sights on delivering some ambitious results early on. Here are some of them.

A competency framework

A modern framework will marry time-tested competencies with emerging ones to provide the basis for learning and skills development, new policy resources, recruitment and staffing. Once completed, the success of this framework will be measured by its utility and recognition in providing public service policy practitioners with a common understanding of what skills, abilities, mindsets, characteristics and knowledge are required to support policy excellence now and into the future.

A mobility program

Using the competency framework as a foundation, a policy practitioner mobility program is in the works. The aim of this program is to make it easier for public service policy professionals to gain experience in a range of functions that will enable them to build the skills and competencies outlined in the framework.

An open, online portal

Work is also under way to create an open, bilingual and accessible portal. The portal is an effort to link policy practitioners within and outside of the federal government to each other to share knowledge, resources and practices. It will house information on new policy instruments and approaches, link to Canadian case studies and facilitate discussion among users.

The Policy Community wants policy practitioners to get involved, because building a vibrant community requires active participation from across the policy ecosystem in Canada (and even internationally) — not just within the federal public service.

Creating partnerships is one of the key tenets of the Policy Community Partnership Office’s operation. The success of the community depends on shared ownership and involvement, and the office plays a critical role in linking up a broad spectrum of policy work already happening, in order to amplify and leverage efforts.

To be responsive to the needs of community members, the team works openly and collaboratively, sharing information on its progress and inviting others into the conversation, in order to allow for co-creation with community members and partners. This permits early feedback to be incorporated as the team progresses on deliverables.

There’s still much to be accomplished — including expanding partnerships and outreach beyond the federal public service — but the Policy Community is encouraged and empowered by the tremendous growth in its membership and the strong support for its actions.

This will no doubt continue as the second annual Policy Community Conference takes place this week on March 28-29. (You can participate virtually and follow the conference @policommpoli and #policomm on Twitter.) The conference is an opportunity for participants to learn, connect and explore important topics such as user-designed policy, Indigenous perspectives, building trust in government, experimentation, and much more.

Find the Policy Community on People working outside of the federal public service can request an invitation to join the group by e-mailing

Illustration: Shutterstock, by faithie.

Do you have something to say about the article you just read? Be part of the Policy Options discussion, and send in your own submission. Here is a link on how to do it. | Souhaitez-vous réagir à cet article ? Joignez-vous aux débats d’Options politiques et soumettez-nous votre texte en suivant ces directives.

Stephanie Percival
Stephanie Percival is a founding member of the Policy Community Partnership Office and the lead for the 2018 Policy Community Conference. She is also a Free Agent in the Government of Canada.

You are welcome to republish this Policy Options article online or in print periodicals, under a Creative Commons/No Derivatives licence.

Creative Commons License

More like this