Four Million Dollar Typo
Author: Sandford Borins, E. St.-Laurent
Publication Date: 2006

It was only a simple clerical error and that resulted in an overpayment of $4 million in unemployment benefits to 15,000 claimants. Students are asked to assume that they are either the Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for unemployment benefits and the Minister of Employment and Immigration. Events in the Case took place in 1978 but the relevance of the issue of "Ministerial Responsibility" is very much in the forefront of politics and administration. Students have the opportunity to marvel at how $4 million can simply go astray. They will also have the opportunity to discuss responsibility and accountability. What shouldbe done? Should the Government go after its $4 million and try and extract itfrom the unemployed? What things should be taken into consideration? And, ofcourse, who should be held responsible politically and accountable administratively? The Instructor's Manual discusses what actually was done and provides a basis for discussion of conflict between institutional and individual values as well as a public communications strategy. The Case provides an opportunity to discuss concepts such as 'ministerial responsibility' and its corollary 'accountability'. Experience with the Case suggests that students do enjoy working with it. It has been used very effectively in entry level Political Science and Public Administration courses as well as middle-level management training courses.

Un excès de paiement d'indemnités d'assurance-chômage s'élevant à  quatre millions de dollars a été découverte; ce montant a été versé à  15 000 bénéficiaires au cours de l'année 1978. L'étude de cas demande aux étudiants d'assumer les rôles du sous-ministre adjoint chargé du programme d'assurance-chômage et du ministre de l'Emploi et de l'Immigration; ils doivent ensuite décider si l'on peut faire quelque chose à  propos de l'excès de paiement et si oui, que faire et comment s'y prendre?

Le manuel du professeur porte sur ce qui a été fait dans la réalité et analyse les questions suivantes que l'étude de cas soulève : les conflits entre les valeurs personnelles et les valeurs institutionnelles, la stratégie de la communication, les mandats organisationnels et la responsabilité des ministres et des fonctionnaires.
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