Tackling the Implementation Gap: Adaptive Approaches to Public Service Delivery

November 30, 2016 to December 1, 2016
University of Ottawa, Canada

The public sector, in any country and at all levels of government, operates in a complex environment in which organizations are tasked with delivering a wide range of products and services intended to address the constantly evolving and often conflicting needs of multiple stakeholders. Results are not always optimal, and disparities between the desired outcomes and the actual performance on the ground of public sector organizations, the so-called ‘implementation gap’, has fuelled discussions, research and developments for years. There are numerous concepts, methods and tools associated with implementation and the science of delivery: results-based management; deliverology; Systems Thinking; Vanguard Method; Kaizen; Problem-Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA); Rapid Outcome Mapping Approach (ROMA); leadership for results; action-learning; rapid results initiatives; coaching for results; change agent methodologies to name just a few. 

So what are the impediments and the drivers of public sectors implementation? This is the questions that the University of Ottawa’s Centre on Governance (CoG), the National Capital Region Group of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC-NCR) and their partners will address in a one-day conference on November 30th 2016. The event will bring together practitioners, academics, consultants, researchers and graduate students from Canada and abroad. The conference will focus on sharing knowledge and experiences; discussing methodologies and approaches to address public sector implementation challenges. The conference will be followed by an on-invitation workshop that will convene academics and others interested in exploring avenues for further action-research and collaboration to refine and enhance responses to public sector implementation challenges. 

This event has three purposes:

1.    To expose participants and broaden the discourse on various methodologies, approaches and case studies currently in use – with varying degrees of success at addressing public sector implementation challenges.
2.    To leverage the development and dissemination of a knowledge base and lessons learned relative to public sector implementation challenges in complex situations in Canada and abroad. 
3.    Develop partnerships and explore avenues for further action-research with a view of connecting practitioners, academics, consultants, researchers, and public sector institutions interested in studying implementation challenges and solutions in the public sector.


Time Agenda
9:00 – 9:30

 Welcoming word from the organizers

  • Representative from the University of Ottawa (TBC)
  • Representative from IPAC-NCR (Danielle Poulin, President)
9:30 – 9:45

 The Drivers of Public Sector Implementation: an Introduction

  • Eric Champagne, University of Ottawa, School of Political Studies
9:45 – 10:30

Innovative Implementation Methodologies and Approaches

  • Arm Chair Interview Style


  • Maria Gonzalez De Asis, World Bank, Global Delivery Initiative
  • Emmanuelle Gille, Government Technical Advisory Centre from South Africa
  • Dan Ross, University of Ottawa, Telfer School of Business
  • David Dewar, Prime Minister Office and/or Tolga Yalkin, Treasury Board Secretariat (TBC)
10:45– 11:30 Small group discussion and Q&A (15 min. group discussion – 30 min. plenary and Q&A with the Panel)
11:30 – 12:15 Guest Speaker: VP Borders (TBC)
12:15 – 13:30 Lunch 
13:30 – 14:45

Case studies - PPT presentation style

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada (Syrian Refugees) (TBC)
  • Melanie Winzer, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, The performance regimes toolbox
  • Bangani Ngeleza, GTAC, A new service delivery model for public school, the Case of Eastern Cape, South Africa
  • Silvester Obongo, Public service commission, Kenya, Leadership and Rapid Results Approaches in Kenya 
15:00 – 16:00

Case studies - PPT presentation style

  • Ronette Engela, GTAC, The role of Performance and Expenditure Reviews (PERs) in policy implementation
  • Stéphane Tywoniak, Telfer School, case study from Australia (TBC)
  • Philip English, International consultant, case studies from Senegal and Rwanda
16:00– 16:45 Small group discussion (Small group discussion and Q&A (15 min. group discussion – 30 min. plenary and Q&A with the Panels)

Closing remarks 

  • Moira Hart-Poliquin, Senior Fellow, Centre on Governance 
  • Serge Blais, Director, Centre on Continuing Education


After the participating the conference, we expect the participants could obtain the following outputs:

1.    PUBLICATIONS: The organisers will produce a discussion paper on promising approaches and tools to tackle the implementation gap in the public sector. The organisers will also publish a brief summary report of the workshop proceedings. 

2.    COLLABORATIVE ACTION-RESEARCH AGENDA. This event will be an opportunity to mobilise partners and expertise to develop a collaborative action-research agenda. The day after the public conference, partners will meet in order to share ongoing initiatives, expertise and interests and to discuss a common action-research agenda. This initiative will involve the inclusion of graduate students in support of the research projects. 

3.    MULTIMEDIA MATERIAL AND ONLINE COURSE. In collaboration with the Canada School of public service and the University of Ottawa Centre for Continuing Education, we will develop a series of short video clips with experts and practitioners to be made accessible to the public. We will also develop an online course based on the research paper, case studies and other inputs.