IPP Program Journey: IT Project for a Pay Transparency Initiative

Guest blog written by Judith Buchanan

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 7-month blended learning course in December 2019. These are their learning journey stories.

My Implementing Public Policy (IPP) journey began with enthusiasm (and was mostly sustained throughout). Having previously attended a Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education course – Strategic Management of Regulatory and Enforcement Agencies – I was keen to attend the course. I knew that, not only would the course be enriching, the learning from other participants would be a big part of the experience and I was so right! IPP also appealed to me due to the extended virtual learning and the opportunity to apply the material to a work-related initiative. What I didn’t know when I applied is that my job would soon change and that as the course began I also started a parallel learning journey in a new role with new problems to address.

I chose to advance the IT project for a legislative pay transparency initiative and to get the building of the new capabilities started (Building on an existing system.) Of course, there were numerous governance protocols to address and in September we were delayed from getting our Gate 3 approval by two weeks. Luckily there was confidence in the work my team had done that we were able to get unofficial approval to advance. At the time, this was especially concerning given our planned implementation timelines (mid-2020) and knowing that we would likely face project difficulties along the way. Now as we await decisions on timing due to having a new Minister (see below), we continue to advance the development work as far as we can with the resources on hand. Were there to be a later implementation date, adjustments would be needed and we have made contingencies that allow for this. (Hoping it is enough but not too worried. Once we will be in our later stages there will be good momentum to obtain authority to complete the work.)

At the same time, over the journey we advanced on regulatory work and received input from stakeholders after the public comment period on draft regulations. Some stakeholders are of the view that the changes are premature and that a broader examination of the legislative framework is required. The enabling legislation, The Employment Equity Act, is 30 years old and could use a bit of “sprucing up” through a Parliamentary review. Were this to occur, my team would support the policy review and any subsequent legislative initiative. In the meantime, the team has been working on analyzing the stakeholder feedback to assess whether adjustments to the regulations are needed.

In Canada, the election for the federal government was held in October and a new Cabinet announced in late November. As of this date, we have yet to fully brief the new Minister on the pay transparency initiative and expect to do this shortly. Key decisions on timing are needed and this will set the path forward for the completion of the regulations and development of various program elements (guidance and tools for users). If and when we get to a legislative review, I certainly intend to construct my problem and create a fishbone (probably be a whalebone or a school of fish) to map all the elements at play. Continue reading IPP Program Journey: IT Project for a Pay Transparency Initiative