He has held senior positions with the Government of Canada, including Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Board.
When the founder and executive director of the Canadian Institute for Research on Regional Development, Donald J. Savoie, is asked what special quality was required to take the path he has taken, when he is asked if he was an especially serious teenager, for example, he immediately replies, "No! More than anything, I was especially passionate. And I still am." He then adds, with a laugh, "And it's impossible for an Acadian to take himself seriously!" Yet Donald J. Savoie holds a Canada Research Chair in Public Administration and Governance and is a professor of public administration at the University of Moncton, and has also held senior positions with the Government of Canada, including Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Board and Deputy Principal of the Canadian Centre for Management Development. He has served as an advisor to several federal, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, private-sector entities, independent associations, the OECD, the World Bank, and the United Nations. At the request of the Prime Minister of Canada, Professor Savoie undertook a review of the federal government's regional development programs in Atlantic Canada and prepared a report that led to the establishment of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. He has published numerous books, including Governing from the Centre: The Concentration of Power in Canadian Politics (1999), Breaking the Bargain: Public Servants, Ministers, and Parliament (2003) and Visiting Grandchildren: Economic Development in the Maritimes (2006). In 1999, Professor Savoie was awarded the Vanier Gold Medal by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada.
Averse to cynicism in politics, his extensive knowledge and his experience of great institutions have convinced Donald J. Savoie of the real possibility that they can be instrumental in furthering the welfare of individuals.