How Government Really Works

A field guide to bureaucracies in Canada

by Jane Allt and Angela Poirier

The authors lift the veil on the work bureaucrats do and offer practical advice on how to survive and even thrive in the bureaucracy.

"We want to lift the veil on the world of bureaucracy," write Jane Allt and Angela Poirier in their introduction to this book. For anyone working in government, they offer an informal guide based on their experience on how to survive and prosper in a complex and challenging environment. For everyone else, they provide valuable insight into how bureaucrats think and act, and how to work successfully with them.

Among the topics covered:

  • government workplace culture
  • the love-hate relationship between bureaucrats and politicians
  • how bureaucrats plan for new policies and measures — and how they can stall them
  • the bureaucracy's role in selling government policies and actions

"We share the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to serving elected officials," the authors say, and they deliver the goods. The authors are career civil servants with more than 60 years of service between them. They share their experiences plus case studies, talking points and insights from senior bureaucrats and academics. The result is an insightful, entertaining and fast-paced read.

About the Authors

Jane Allt
Jane Allt
Angela Poirier
Angela Poirier

The authors are former career civil servants with more than 60 years of service combined who have worked in many different government departments including HR, justice, finance, transportation and culture. They are excited about building camaraderie and offering guidance to people dedicated to serving the public good. Jane Allt lives in Halifax and Angela Poirier lives in Shad Bay, Nova Scotia.


“This page turner offers first hand information regarding the complexities of government offices and environments and provides an insight to assist readers in understanding the dynamics of provincial governments in Canada. Jane and Angella are well respected civil servants who have shared more than 60 years of service between them. The information provided in the book comes from their personal experience as well as from senior civil servants and academics.”

Rafah DiCostanzo, MLA Clayton Park West
"A rare and valuable behind-the-scenes look at government."
The Saltwire Network

Subjects (BISAC)


Scroll to Top