No Department Left Behind

Published On Oct 6, 2023

Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard from dozens of people who would like to attend our November conference, but couldn’t because of budget constraints. When we learned about sweeping belt-tightening across the public service this month, we knew we had to do something.

FWD50 is fortunate to have the support of some amazing sponsors, and several departments have invested in FWD50 as part of their training plans for all employees. But there are plenty of people who can’t attend, and many departments who’ve never heard of FWD50. We want to change that—and help boost learning and training in spite of budget cuts.

So we’re launching our No Department Left Behind program, and making two in-person passes available, absolutely free, to new attendees from every department in the Federal Government. This way, the entire Federal government can benefit from the talks, workshops, and networking happening in Ottawa this November.

The details

  • Every department gets two passes. One pass is available to any Federal employee; the other is for a public sector executive from that department who wants to join the Executive Cohort as well as the main conference.
  • These are for first-time attendees. We want to grow the community and bring new faces to the event.
  • Yes, every department. To be fair to departments who’ve already bought tickets, this applies to every department (but we can’t refund existing purchases.) If you’ve bought 10 tickets already, you get two more, one for anyone and one for an executive.
  • First come, first served. You can apply via this form on our website. We’ll check to see if someone from the department has already claimed the pass; if not, you’re in.
  • Act before October 16. We’ll shut down the form, and stop taking applications, on October 16. That’s the day before the Executive Cohort kicks off.

What if I already have a ticket?

If you’re already coming, now you can bring a colleague or two with you. We really appreciate the support of everyone who’s already purchased a ticket; it’s thanks to your purchases that we’re able to welcome your peers and make networking onsite even better.

If you know someone you think would love FWD50, particularly if they’re in a department that’s never participated, please let them know. Digital transformation affects every facet of the public service; the more people who can handle the huge changes technology brings to government, the better for all of us.

Why are we doing this?

We thought hard about offering these passes for free.

  • We know that it means some departments won’t buy a ticket they were planning to buy, and we’ll lose some money as a result. We’re okay with that; we’ve always tried to strike a balance between running a sound business and embracing the community that FWD50 has become over the years.
  • We also know some people might see this as a last-minute attempt to shore up attendance. It’s not. We’ve increased the number of people each department can send by a factor of five this year, and added a second building to the venue. In fact, attendance is already exceeding what we had last year, a month before the conference.

This just seems like the right thing to do.

When we founded FWD50, we promised ourselves we wouldn’t be like other commercial conferences. We’d focus on learning and community, and try to make the event accessible to everyone who wanted to participate. That’s why we run our Regional Access program that welcomes hundreds of virtual attendees, free of charge, from around the world. It’s why dozens of people attend through our volunteer program, helping to produce the event. And it’s why we run an online content and community platform—Access—that’s packed with hundreds of amazing talks from past years, absolutely free.

We simply want as many people as possible to experience the community and learning FWD50 has to offer, regardless of their department size or training budget. We know that recent cuts to Federal spending will make it harder for some people to attend. We’re all in this together, in good times and bad, and we want to play our part.

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