The 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada

Backgrounder - Outstanding Achievement Award

The Government of Canada introduced the Outstanding Achievement Award, considered the most prestigious in the Public Service, in 1966. This award is presented to senior public servants who have distinguished themselves through a sustained commitment to excellence, with an emphasis on modernizing service delivery, building the Public Service as a vibrant national institution geared to future needs, or enhancing Canadian interests in the global arena. The award emphasizes the importance that the Government of Canada attaches to efficient operations in the Public Service and to the provision of quality service to Canadians.

Each award consists of a framed certificate signed by the Prime Minister and the Governor General, a gold pin and a Canadian work of art. Including this year's recipients, a total of 86 awards have been conferred since the program's inception.

The Selection Committee for the Outstanding Achievement Award consists of distinguished Canadians appointed by the Prime Minister and covers a broad cross-section of individuals with diverse interests and backgrounds from outside the Public Service. The Committee reviews the nominations and makes its recommendations directly to the Prime Minister. Candidates must be professionals at the executive, deputy head or equivalent levels – including Governor-in-Council appointees – and must occupy a full-time position in the Public Service at the time of nomination.

Recipients of the 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award

Louise Branch, Service Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Ms. Branch is an executive head of service management for Service Canada. She envisioned a workforce focussed on service that would attract and retain employees and promote progression within the ranks of the Public Service of Canada.

Transforming her vision into reality took hard work, the capacity to listen, sure judgment, credibility and the ability to foster engagement and involvement. She garnered support from managers and employees at all levels of the organization. She went to extraordinary lengths to foster involvement, which was necessary because her vision required that management and staff let go of a historical framework for service delivery.

Implementation of her vision has transformed Service Canada, a typical large government organization focussed on programs, into one whose culture and organization are based on service delivery to citizens. Changes in human resources management and training supported this new structure. Common competencies in delivering service were used to define jobs and career paths, and state-of-the-art training and certification based on these common competencies were developed. Employees who have gone above and beyond in service delivery are recognized.

Ms. Branch's Service Management Structural Model is a best-in-class solution for providing service excellence. It has been identified as a best practice in the Report of the Expert Panel on Integrated Business and Human Resources Planning in the Federal Public Service and has attracted interest domestically and internationally. For example, the service excellence curriculum is currently being piloted in three provincial government jurisdictions, and the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates are interested in exporting this innovative solution overseas.

After obtaining her bachelor of arts at the Université de Moncton in 1972, she worked for several years in various operational and human resources positions in the private and public sectors. New Brunswickers know her for her tireless work and unswerving commitment to laying the foundation for a learning organization as a regional director and then Associate Director General, HRSDC New Brunswick Region. In 1998, she received the Head of the Public Service Award—Valuing and Supporting People for her effective leadership and promotion of learning organizations.

Dr. Jeffrey Farber, Health Canada

Dr. Farber has spent his career focussing on the health and safety of Canadians. He arrived at Health Canada in 1982 for a post-doctoral fellowship after having obtained an MSc (applied) in Medical Microbiology and Immunology and a doctorate in Food Microbiology from McGill University. In 1983, he joined the Public Service of Canada as a research scientist with Health Canada's Bureau of Microbial Hazards, and in 2001, he became its Director.

Highly respected by his peers around the world as a passionate scientist, Dr. Farber's work has advanced basic and applied knowledge of food-borne pathogens. He is noted for developing innovative strategies and programs to protect and strengthen the health and safety of Canadian and global citizens, and he has had a direct impact on Canada's success in dealing with issues such as food-borne listeriosis and the microbial safety of powdered infant formula. He was instrumental in developing and implementing the standard methodology for detecting Listeria in foods now used in Canada and many international jurisdictions.

As Director of Health Canada's Bureau of Microbial Hazards (BMH), Dr. Farber has developed and continues to foster a dynamic team of scientists that produces some of the most trusted research. Under his leadership, the Bureau has become recognized nationally and internationally as a centre of excellence in scientific research, risk assessment, policy and food safety education. He has devoted considerable time to grooming the next generation of experts through continually supporting, inspiring and encouraging members of his team to venture into challenging areas and through his work as an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa. He is regarded by many of his peers and mentees as a role model.

Dr. Farber is also noted for his efforts in bringing together lead scientific experts to contribute to the best science and research possible, and for reaching out to engage industry stakeholders to assist them in improving their systems. He also involves the public through initiatives such as the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education. Through his participation on World Health Organization expert panels, the international standard-setting body for foods, as well as President of the International Association for Food Protection and as a member of the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods, Dr. Farber has had a significant influence on the standards for controlling food-borne pathogens around the world.

Dr. Farber has demonstrated the type of leadership, initiative, innovation and engagement that is essential in a global science research community. His world-class scientific expertise and unwavering passion for protecting the health of the public have contributed to maintaining the credibility and effectiveness of Canada's food regulatory system.

Jim Judd, Canadian Security Intelligence Service

With a bachelor of arts in Political Science and a master of arts in International Affairs, both from Carleton University, Mr. Judd entered the public service in 1973 as a Foreign Service Officer with the then-Department of External Affairs. He spent several years in various positions related to his field of expertise in Canada and abroad before accepting a management position in 1981.

In the following years, Mr. Judd demonstrated vision and outstanding judgment as he faced some of the toughest leadership challenges in the federal government. From assignment to assignment, he was often called upon to revitalize departments in the midst or aftermath of difficult situations. At External Affairs, he became a central figure in creating and managing a corporate centre for the department when it was struggling to incorporate its new responsibilities for trade. He implemented a four-year renewal program for National Defence when it was still embroiled in controversy after the Somalia Affair.

At the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS), Mr. Judd tackled the most fundamental governance and public management issues facing the government. His initiatives on corporate stewardship and results management, including the development of the Management Accountability Framework, the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service and the Public Service Modernization Act, have contributed significantly to building a culture of performance and enhanced accountability in the government.

In the post-9/11 environment, Mr. Judd steered the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) through a very challenging period, bringing fundamental changes on many levels. He came to CSIS with a vision of a transformed organization that would provide advice not only on domestic security issues, but also on all key Government of Canada security and intelligence matters. Today, CSIS supports the government's efforts in Afghanistan, counters terrorist plots in our major cities, and supports a safe and secure Olympics in Vancouver. At CSIS, he transformed the culture of the organization into one of openness and accountability, and implemented changes in recruitment, management, and training and compensation. As a result, CSIS was named as one of Canada's 100 best employers in 2008.

In the face of enormous challenges, Mr. Judd has consistently shown equanimity. He played a key role during the Charlottetown negotiations and was a trusted foreign policy advisor to the Prime Minister. His expertise in world affairs and security is sought by peers, colleagues, and international partners and experts.

John Sims, Department of Justice Canada

Mr. Sims received a bachelor of arts (honours) in History and Economics and a bachelor of laws from Queen's University. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 1973 and joined the Public Service of Canada in 1977 as legal counsel to Transport Canada.

As a lawyer, Mr. Sims has provided high-quality legal advice to ministers and the Government of Canada on some of the most complex and sensitive policy and operational priorities of the government, such as aviation safety, war crimes, labour relations and national security (including as the first head of legal services at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service). His advice has always reflected the highest standards of integrity and ethical behaviour and has been informed by the broader context and potential implications.

As a colleague, Mr. Sims is well-respected across the country and around the world. He has represented Canada at international conferences and events, at times on very contentious issues. He headed the Canadian delegation when the United Nations reviewed Canada's human rights record, and his open and constructive approach ensured that Canada's review served as a model for other countries and ultimately enhanced the credibility of the review process.

As Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Citizenship and Immigration, Mr. Sims played a key role in increasing public awareness and understanding of the Canadian war crimes program at a time when it was under tremendous strain.

Nothing illustrates Mr. Sims' approach to managing and problem-solving more than his handling of the employment equity file at the Department of Justice Canada. When Mr. Sims' emphatic rejection of public accusations of racism produced a negative reaction in some quarters, he responded in typical fashion - he met with representatives of the visible minority and Aboriginal communities and encouraged an honest and open dialogue. He then took concrete action to ensure that the department's culture was truly inclusive, including the implementation of a national mentoring program, mandatory diversity training, and employment equity objectives in managers' performance agreements. As a result, representation of visible minorities, persons with disabilities and Aboriginal peoples in the senior ranks of the department's workforce has increased significantly.

In recognition of his outstanding accomplishments, high standards of ethical and professional conduct, and excellence in leadership, the Canadian Bar Association awarded Mr. Sims the John Tait Award of Excellence in 2005.