The 2012 Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada

Backgrounder - Outstanding Achievement Award

22 January 2013
Ottawa, Ontario

The Government of Canada introduced the Outstanding Achievement Award in 1966. This award is considered the highest expression of recognition for senior public servants in the Public Service of Canada. It is presented to senior public servants whose leadership has been distinguished by 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 globally. The award emphasizes the importance that the Government 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. A total of 87 awards have been conferred since the program's inception, including this year's recipient.

The Selection Committee for the Outstanding Achievement Award consists of distinguished Canadians appointed by the Prime Minister, covering a broad cross-section of individuals with diverse interests, experiences and backgrounds from outside the public service. The committee reviews nominations and makes its recommendations directly to the Prime Minister. To be eligible for consideration, candidates must be professionals at the executive, deputy head or equivalent levels, including Governor-in-Council appointees, and occupying a full-time position in the Public Service of Canada at the time of nomination.

Recipient of the 2012 Outstanding Achievement Award: Susan M. W. Cartwright, Privy Council Office

During the tenure of her long career as a public servant, Susan Cartwright consistently and unwaveringly exemplified the values of the Public Service of Canada, as well as the intellect, integrity and professionalism that made her a strong leader among her employees and peers.

After obtaining her Masters of Arts at the University of Waterloo, Ms. Cartwright entered the federal public service as a trade commissioner with what was then the department of Industry, Trade and Commerce. She went on to spend most of her career with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, enhancing Canadian interests in some of the largest global markets in Africa, India and Australia. In the late 1990s, Ms. Cartwright served as the Canadian Ambassador to Hungary, Slovenia and Albania, ensuring that Canada's foreign policy reflected true Canadian values and advancing Canada's national interests abroad.

From 2002 to 2007, Ms. Cartwright served in senior executive positions at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat, and Health Canada. In each role she demonstrated extraordinary enthusiasm and vision. These two qualities were especially evident on issues focusing on transformation and change, and often inspired engagement and support among her colleagues.

During her tenure at Treasury Board, Ms. Cartwright was asked to lead on the development of a central and sensitive piece of legislation for the Government: the Federal Accountability Act. This act sought to strengthen accountability and increase transparency and oversight in government operations.

Following her skillful handling of the complex Federal Accountability Act and her tenure at Health Canada, Ms. Cartwright was appointed as the Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister and Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet at the Privy Council Office in 2007.

With her commitment to action and good government, Ms. Cartwright led the legislative review of the Public Service Modernization Act from 2009 to 2011. As with her work on the Federal Accountability Act, Ms. Cartwright again made it clear that engaging federal public servants at all levels in the review was as important as the final product. With this in mind, she reached out to as many people as possible, challenged conventional thinking, and embraced a multi-disciplinary approach. The result was a high quality report, tabled in Parliament in December 2011, that is a call to action for the public service of the future.

Ms. Cartwright retired from the Public Service of Canada on March 30, 2012, after 31 years of service. She continues to serve Canadians as a part-time Commissioner of the Public Service Commission and acts as a community leader in her capacity as a member of the Board of the Ottawa Hospital Foundation.