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Thursday, 29 February 2024 8:27pm

Delivering Better Services

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Public service continuously reform to be more effective, efficient, open and responsive to policy challenges.

Civil servants need the right skills to keep pace. This presents a double challenge: the first is to identify which skills will be needed for a civil service which is fit-for-purpose today and into the future; the second is to figure out how civil services can invest in these.

Delivering better public services within tight financial constraints is one of the Government’s priorities.

Government faces increasing expectations for better public services in the context of prolonged financial constraints compounded by the global financial crisis. There is demand for improvements in addressing complex, long-term issues that affect Sarawakian.

The key is to doing more with less lies in productivity, innovation, and increased agility to provide services. Agencies need to change, develop new business models, work more closely with others and harness new technologies in order to meet emerging challenges.

Making progress on society’s biggest problems requires public service to make better use of data, involve citizens, invest in employees, and collaborate with other sectors.

Results-oriented public service are progressively making use of hard data and statistical analysis to inform decisions.

Public service must decide what to measure and how, always with an eye on the overall goal of the program or initiative.

National and international benchmarks are powerful but underutilized as inputs into decision making, mostly in a world where public service everywhere face similar issues.

Professional civil services are as important as ever to respond to complex challenges and to deliver public value.

Civil servants in a professional civil service are qualified, impartial, values-driven and ethical. These are foundational and suggest the need to ensure civil servants are certified professionals in their area of expertise.

Sometimes professional and strategic skills reach their limits because of legacy structures and systems of public sector organisations. In these cases, civil servants need to be innovative to redesign the tools of governance and develop fresh solutions to tenacious and growing policy challenges.

Reliable, clean data can inform the design or refinement of government initiatives.  In United Kingdom, the UK government’s Behavioural Insights Team was formed explicitly to use data about citizen behaviour to improve the effectiveness of government interventions.

The team sets up randomized control trials (long used in the medical field but only now gaining favour in the public sector) to test the impact of small changes, like adjustments in the language and tone of the letter that the tax department sends to delinquent taxpayers.

In its first two years, the team paid for itself 22 times over in savings. It has identified interventions expected to save the UK government at least £300 million over the next five years. And the unit has started to advise other governments on how to use data and randomized control trials to improve government performance.

Innovative governments are making it easier for citizens to access public services. This shift is not just about increasing choice and well-being; it’s also about boosting government productivity, with the help of technology and the use of open data.

By using innovative channels, it create new ways for citizens to make their voices heard, giving them the ability to provide input into regulations, budgets, and the provision of services.

Regulations.gov, one of the US government’s earliest e-government programs, allows citizens to search, view, and comment on federal regulations. Users post more than 27,000 comments on the site every month.

Other governments are going even further to solicit citizen feedback: Iceland in 2010 chose 950 citizens at random to participate in the drafting of a new constitution, a significant example of “deliberative democracy” at work. And the city of Cologne, Germany, has used participatory budgeting: residents helped decide how to allocate a portion of the municipal budget.

Traditional building blocks of service and engagement skills include professionals with expertise in public relations, communications, marketing, consultation, facilitation, service delivery, conflict resolution, community development, outreach and so forth.

Innovative approaches to problem solving and service delivery are multiplying across public service as they contend with complex problems for which there are few precedent solutions.

At the same time, front line public servants face “customers” who have come to expect tailored, responsive products and services that they routinely experience from business.

Public service/sector does not choose its customers. Public service required to service them. Public service customer’s diverse requirements is a factor driving the need for new service delivery models.

In order deliver the best service as promise, public service must build ‘connected government’, seamlessly aligning multiple government departments with customer journey needs. The promise of best service deliver is part of the inherent agenda of governance for the public service and sets out the standard of service that government is required to provide to its customers.

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