Macro Level: Governance Arrangements and Network Perspective
At the macro level, it was hypothesized that the infrastructure and climate change VPN would show increasing centrality and increasing density under pressure for climate change adaptation. This was confirmed as can be seen in Table 4 and Figures 1 and 2. The level of centralization in the network has increased moderately.6 In terms of density, this was also confirmed with a significant number of new actors circulating in the network.7
Table 4. Infrastructure and Climate Change VPN
| ||2010 VPN||2011 VPN|
|Number of actors||65||41|
|Total number interlinkages||761||679|
|Government of Canada nodality||0.08||0.10|
Provincial governments were well represented in the 2010 infrastructure and climate change VPN including British Columbia (BC) (26 inlinks), Nova Scotia (10 inlinks), Northwest Territories (nine inlinks), Newfoundland (nine inlinks), Nunavut (9 inlinks), Prince Edward Island (8 inlinks), Yukon (8 inlinks), Saskatchewan (7 inlinks), Ontario (6 inlinks), Manitoba (6 inlinks), New Brunswick (6 inlinks), and Alberta (6 inlinks).8 In total, the aggregate of all inlinks received by provincial governments' main Web sites was 14 percent of total links in the network. Municipal organizations were also present in the VPN including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities with 12 inlinks, Union of BC Municipalities with 8, and Fraser Basin Council with 6. In the 2011 VPN, the aggregate inlink received by provincial governments' main Web sites was 11 percent, which was a slight drop but still includes the Government of BC (12), Government of the Northwest Territories (11), Government of Nova Scotia (9), Government of Prince Edward Island (9), Government of Saskatchewan (9), Government of the Yukon (9), Government of Newfoundland and Labrador (8), and Government of Nunavut (7). The overrepresentation of BC Web sites did not characterize the 2011 VPN nor were any municipal representatives retained. The level of internationalization in both 2010 and 2011 was very low. With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (19) and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (14) receiving inlinks in 2010, in 2011 only the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (9) was included in the VPN.
Graphically, this situation is represented in the sociometric data presented in Figures 1 and 2.
As Hood (2010) has long argued, nodality is a key tool of government used to both detect information available in the network and effect behavior through coordination. In Web-based environments, this is particularly true as government authority may be undermined by nondomestic content or competing views and agendas. This was not however the case in the infrastructure sector as the federal government demonstrated strong leadership in the sector with extensive network resources.
This suggests that while the federal government has traditionally been characterized as weaker on many aspects of environmental policy than subnational levels of government (Harrison, 1996), in the infrastructure sector it is dominant. As detailed later, this is due to the greater availability of resources, a legacy of federal involvement in large-scale infrastructure development, and recent federal involvement in municipal infrastructure through economic stimulus funding (Stoney & Graham, 2009).
Meso Level Capacity: Organizational Mandates and Resource Considerations
As Table 3 suggested, the general axioms of organizational structure and behavior supported by most existing literature in organization and network studies are that the more narrow and precise the mandate, the fewer resources (budgets/personnel) are needed to have high policy capacity. A review of IC's official reports over the last ten years reveals a clear shift in departmental activity related to its role in policy coordination and management (see Table 5). The department has also seen significant change related to the development of expertise, seeing a shift from a focus on departmental capacity building to one of knowledge and research generation and mobilization in recent years. Moreover, the department has also seen a growing emphasis on community-based infrastructure programming and horizontal interdepartmental partnerships. Recent and notable changes as reflected in the department's program activities and reported in their official departmental reports underscore the impact of implementing the Government of Canada's post-2007 financial crisis Economic Action Plan including increased infrastructure “stimulus” funding and the creation of a new $1 billion “Green Infrastructure Fund.”
Table 5. Combined Fiscal and Human Resources: Infrastructure Canada 2000–10
|Fiscal Year||Overall Department Spending (Actual, $ Thousands)||Infrastructure Specific Spending|| |
In the years leading up to the creation of the department, infrastructure programming and policy were coordinated through the Infrastructure National Office located in the Treasury Board Secretariat, a central federal government agency. The emphasis during this period was the provision of infrastructure policy and program-related expertise to various infrastructure programs housed under various program activity lines across government. In the lead-up to the creation of IC, the key emphasis was department level capacity building and significant coordination of existing programs and activity across government.
Overall, as Table 6 shows, the department has shifted from an initial emphasis on capacity and expertise development to a focus on downstream infrastructure projects and as a vehicle for economic stimulus expenditure. The official establishment of the department in 2002 marked a concerted effort to centralize all existing policy and program activity in one department. IC's first ever departmental report filed in 2002–03 notes that the organization assumed responsibility for the large volume of existing infrastructure programming and established itself as the focal point for the government of Canada's various involvement in infrastructure development. That is, the department assumed the role of a “center of expertise,” serving as the focal point for all infrastructure policy and programming with a growing emphasis on city- and community-based infrastructure. With a variety of existing and new infrastructure programming, IC activity was largely conducted under the two principal rubrics of community- and strategic-based infrastructure programs (e.g., local water or waste projects, border- and security-related infrastructure). This approach based on a healthy and sustainable cities and a communities9 focus remained in place for the first half of the decade.
Table 6. Thematic Infrastructure Program Activity 2000–10
|Fiscal Year||Managing/Advice/Coordination||Developing Expertise/Capacity||Financing||Sustainability||PPPs||First Nations|
|Pre-2000||Coordination of existing infrastructure programs across government and provision advice and support via Infrastructure National Office—Treasury Board||Department capacity building|| || || || |
|2002||Managing infrastructure investments||Center of expertise, focal point for cities and communities||Leveraging infrastructure investments: i. community based; ii. strategic||Healthy and sustainable communities|| || |
|2004||Managing community and strategic investments||Research, Knowledge, and Outreach||Leveraging community and strategic infrastructure investments||Sustainable cities and communities|| || |
|2007||Supporting Canada's economy, environment, and quality of life||Policy, Knowledge, and Partnership Development||Sun setting of existing programs, shift to long-term infrastructure funds||Modernizing infrastructure, environmental, and economic sustainability||Public–private infrastructure fund||First Nations infrastructure fund|
|2010||Managing economic stimulus and green infrastructure||Knowledge and Research||Long-term infrastructure funds and expedited infrastructure stimulus fund||Strengthening economy delivering modern and greener public infrastructure||Public–private infrastructure fund||First Nations infrastructure fund|
IC's focus on leveraging strategic and community infrastructure investments during this period was further underscored by organizational and policy shifts in the 2003–05 period, notably around a growing emphasis on sustainable cities and communities and formalization of infrastructure-specific research and policy development activities. Official departmental reports underscore this shift beginning with the transfer of the Cities Secretariat from the Privy Council Office to IC in 2004 and subsequent policy work around the New Deal for Cities policy initiated in 2004–05. Together, these two organizational and policy focus shifts served to further focus the department's policy and program work at the city and community levels.
Table 6 further highlights 2003–04 and 2004–05 as periods dominated by a community-based and city-centric infrastructure investment and programming strategy. Several existing programs under the department's community and strategic infrastructure investment program activity lines continued to receive funding. Initial departmental reports highlight the importance of IC playing a leading role in the policy, and research expertise front and initial efforts toward this were realized through departmental capacity development. The 2003–04 period represented a formalization of research- and knowledge-based programming under the program activity priority area of “Research, Knowledge, and Outreach.” Community-based infrastructure programming reached its zenith with the 2005 federal budget “A New Deal for Canada's Communities” and in February 2006, IC and Transport Canada became part of a new portfolio, Transport, Infrastructure, and Communities, reflecting further efforts to better integrate infrastructure planning with similar and overlapping policy work.
More recent shifts in the key program activity areas and mandates of IC demonstrate a clear shift toward large-scale and longer-term infrastructure via the initiation of sun setting of existing programs and the introduction of the $33 billion Building Canada Plan (2007). The Building Canada Plan includes greater use of the newly created federal crown corporation Public Private Partnership Canada (2007) and greater emphasis on Aboriginal infrastructure programming via the First Nations Infrastructure Fund (2007). Both are managed by departments outside of IC (Finance and Indian and Northern Affairs, respectively) but are indicative of the overarching interdepartmental infrastructure approach flowing out of the large-scale long-term Building Canada Plan. Additional shifts related to knowledge and policy type of activities are reflected in the emergence of “Policy, Knowledge, and Partnerships” as a stand-alone program activity in the department 2006–07 DPR, a trend that has continued.
Both streams of funding emphasize community- and national-based projects that have an economic stimulus effect, but a search of the DPRs for 2009–10 yields no results for projects explicitly tied to climate change adaptation. Inspection of these reports reveals that over the last decade the departmental mandate has included six key areas. These are managing/advice or coordination activities, developing expertise and capacity, sustainability, and First Nations issues. The 2009–10 official report underscores the most recent shift toward expedited infrastructure spending and emphasis on the sound management of Economic Action Plan (EAP)-related infrastructure and “Green” Infrastructure Funds. Significantly, however, recent reports indicate actual spending on these environmental programs and projects was much less than initially envisioned (Curry, 2012).
The second key metric related to meso-level governance arrangements and climate change adaptation as set out in Table 3 relates to the ability of the department to effectively match or meet mandate changes with the requisite financial and human policy resources. As Table 5 illustrates, a review of the IC's Departmental Program Activity reports (2002–10) reveals that IC has seen its budget increase steadily. A clear spike in activity is detectable in recent years due to the additional funding of infrastructure projects through the EAP and the $1 billion Green Infrastructure Funds, although, again, much of the allocated funding were not actually disbursed (Curry, 2012). These increases in department-wide funding are mirrored by steady growth in departmental human resources, which are tracked on a FTE basis. Both the departmental-wide budget and human resources spiked in 2009–10 in response to the imperatives generated through economic stimulus funding. The figures as reported in the most recent versions (2006–10) of IC's DPRs provide for particularized staffing figures along program activity lines.
Thus, clear linkages can be assessed with respect to the policy and “knowledge”-related activities of the department and its staffing contingent. As Table 7 makes clear, while organizationally the department has captured its analytical and research work under various titles, a consistency that is clear is a demonstrated shortfall of planned versus actual staff for policy-related program activity lines. That is, at the federal level, we find an increased mandate, although not all of which is related to climate change, and a consistent shortfall in resources.
Table 7. Infrastructure Canada 2000–10 Policy Analytic Capacity Spending48
|Infrastructure Canada “policy”-related program activity category||Policy, Knowledge, and Partnership Development||Policy, Knowledge, and Partnership Development||Policy, Knowledge, and Partnership Development||Economic Analysis and Research (EAR)||EAR|
|Actual spending ($ thousands)||13,773||12,714||8,199||4,142||15,498|
|FTEs|| || || || || |
Prima facie, then, one would expect IC to have experienced significant capacity losses in recent years. This finding is supported by a 2006 audit by the Federal Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development which concluded that:
The government has developed knowledge through research on impacts and adaptation; however, without identified expected results in adaptation, it is difficult for the federal government to determine where to focus adaptation research efforts and how it should plan to contribute. Access to information and technical expertise on adaptation varies considerably across the country. (Environment and Sustainability Commissioner, 2006, 22)
As this quote suggests, Canada's federal system, presents opportunities for asymmetrical levels of collaboration and/or partnership between levels of government. This type of policy activity can sometimes offset losses at one level of government with gains at another or can compound the problem (Bakvis & Brown, 2010; Cameron & Simeon, 2002; Fenna, 2007). A review of the specific federal and provincial level infrastructure spending saw considerable partnership between levels of government, particularly related to the major infrastructure programs included in the Building Canada Plan and more recent green/infrastructure stimulus programs over the time period examined.
A review of provincial climate change plans and strategies, as well as infrastructure ministries' departmental plans and yearly reports, however, found limited programming and funding explicitly related to infrastructure climate change adaptation. As per the Appendix—Provincial Infrastructure and Climate Change Adaptation—each province did have a strategic plan or policy related to climate change (e.g., Climate Change Adaptation Framework Strategy ; Towards a Greener Future: Nova Scotia's Climate Change Plan ). These plans had little specific infrastructure focus, however, and largely dealt with carbon emission reduction and energy efficiency writ large. The various provincial “strategies” or “action plan” references to adaptation generally lacked specifics regarding the nature of anticipated impacts or steps taken to invest in adaptation related to infrastructure.
In general, most of the provincial infrastructure-related adaptation programming is led by ministries other than infrastructure, notably ministries of transportation, environment, and agriculture. Such sector-specific adaptation approaches focused on coastal erosion, agriculture, transportation, or water and wastewater infrastructure, for example. Generally, these mentions referred to “strategic infrastructure” and the need to invest in infrastructure more generally but without any specifics.
Provincial infrastructure departmental reporting and “action plans” however report little if any direct program-specific funding related to infrastructure adaptation. Problems with current project management practices in this area at the provincial are legion (Crawford, 2009). In the BC public sector prior to 2007, for example, critics had argued that there had been too many projects, with various inconsistent methodologies, and projects that were poorly selected and prioritized vis-à-vis overall climate change strategy. Most Assistant and Associate Deputy Ministers and Directors in the government lack a background in program and portfolio management, and the private sector vendors certified and promoted by organizations such as the provincial Project Management Institute only had portfolio and program management experience in a private sector context—and a vested interest in promoting as many projects as possible (Crawford, 2009). One ministry in 2006, for example, had 89 projects in its portfolio and ten different vendors with a disparate collection of project management methodologies, making comparison and coordination difficult (Christenson, 2009). Promoted by the vendor community and encouraged by the government, project management yielded mixed results because of the lack of effective “program management” (i.e., expertise in implementing projects) and “portfolio management” (i.e., skill at prioritizing and selecting projects). This only began to be corrected by the creation of the Project Management Centre of Excellence in 2007, which is housed in the BC Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services (Crawford, 2009).10
Two principal findings emerge from the review of provincial climate change action plans: a clear regionalization of adaptation plans and “strategies” and, second, uneven patterns of formal institutional policy analytic capacity related to climate adaptation. Partnerships between subnational levels of government and/or federal–provincial regional partnership agreements to facilitate adaptation and climate change strategies were common.11 This highly collaborative regional planning is indicative of the multijurisdictional and multilevel nature of national adaptation planning at the strategic level. Provincial climate change plans frequently cited the importance of research or strategic planning related to the integration of adaptation imperatives. As shown in the Appendix, several provinces had formalized organizations conducting research or had joined collaborative efforts related to the development of strategic or integrated research related to climate change adaptation in general. These research and knowledge investments, were however, remained focused on adaptation more generally with limited mention of infrastructure adaptation, which remained very much a federal initiative.
Micro Level Findings: Policy Workers Activities, Attitudes, and Interactions
Evaluation of micro-level survey data related to the self-reported policy activities, attitudes, and perceptions of policy workers in the infrastructure sector further supports these conclusions.
About 8 percent of survey respondents (n = 50) self-identified as infrastructure sector policy workers.12 Their responses along the six categories used to operationalize policy work (tasks undertaken, concern for climate change, issues examined, networks of contact, perception of policy capacity, and attitudinal disposition) were compared with those of their counterparts in eight other surveyed sectors (finance, forestry, infrastructure, transportation, climate change, environment, natural resource management, and water). A cross-tabulation of data provided in Table 8 supports the hypothesis that infrastructure policy workers engage in lower levels of climate change activity and policy work compared with their natural resource or environmental counterparts. While a strong majority of these policy workers reported some climate change activities, the activity levels reported were below those of their colleagues in natural resource/environment sectors, though well above those reported in some sectors, such as finance.
Table 8. Involvement in Climate Change Work by Sector
|Yes||11 (17.5%)||92 (82.9)||26 (65.0)||41 (65.1)||117 (97.5)||121 (73.3)||71 (77.2)||49 (80.3)|
|No||52 (82.5)||19 (17.1)||14 (35.0)||22 (34.9)||3 (2.5)||44 (26.7)||21 (22.8)||12 (19.7)|
Table 9. Major Tasks Undertaken by Sector52
| ||Briefing||Consulting||Policy Work|
|Natural resource management||2.65||2.46||2.95|
Table 10. Perceptions of Policy Capacity to Deal with Climate Change
| ||Capacity Mean|
|Natural resource management||3.19|
An additional dimension of policy work involves the interaction of policy workers with various other actors in the policy subsystem. This provides an improved understanding of with whom infrastructure sector policy workers are interacting, supplementing the macro-level assessment undertaken earlier. The data were also analyzed with a factor analysis of the frequency of involvement with others within the respondent's organization (e.g., senior management) and those outside (e.g., environmental nongovernmental organizations). There were two factors obtained (“internal” and “external” networks) with 55.1 percent of the variance explained. As Table 11 shows, policy workers from the infrastructure sector reported higher scores above mean levels for both internal and external dimensions. This underscores that in this policy sector a considerable degree of policy work involves participation within both internal and external networks, but internal activities continue to dominate, insulating policy work from possible sources of change in the external environment.
Table 11. Comparison of Sector Involvement in Internal and External Sectors
| ||Internal Network||External Network|
|Natural resource management||2.92||2.24|
Finally, infrastructure respondents were also assessed against a battery of questions to measure attitudinal responses. Policy studies examining capacity and policy work have increasingly found that attitudinal predispositions are important determinants of policy capacity (Wellstead, Stedman, & Lindquist, 2009; Wellstead et al., 2011). Thus, understanding policy analysts' attitudes toward policy making and how they differ between policy sectors is important. As hypothesized, infrastructure sector policy workers were found to hold attitudes that saw climate change as less of a significant issue than their natural resources/environment counterparts. While they scored above the mean in personal attitudes related to the importance of climate change, they were well below those of resource/environment sector policy workers. Furthermore, intersector comparisons reveal that respondents from this sector were also below the mean scores for organizational and climate change strategy scales (see Table 12).
Table 12. Attitudes Toward Climate Change
| ||Personal Attitudes Toward Climate Change||Organizational Attitude Toward Climate Change||Climate Change Strategies|
|Natural resource management||4.17*||3.58***||4.04|