Staff and officers from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) completed a series of workshops to reimagine their services and processes through experimentation. The sessions were part of the Development Academy of the Philippines’ (DAP) partnership with the Asian Productivity Organization and Finland-based think-tank Demos Helsinki on experimentation in the public sector.

Three workshops were conducted online:

  • 7 June: Identifying the problem and the potential solutions
  • 8 June: Defining the experiment hypothesis
  • 22 June: Experiment design and rollout plan

At the end of the sessions, the DOLE team designed an experiment to improve the quality of their auditing and eliminate program implementation deficiencies while the DENR-EMB team will try to incentivize local government units’ compliance with environmental regulations. They will carry out these tests with additional guidance and support coming from the DAP and Demos Helsinki before presenting the results in November.

Lectures complemented the activities by tackling how governments can use experimentation to navigate a highly unpredictable landscape by trying new ideas at a smaller scale. The resource persons also presented cases from the private sector and the government to further expound and contextualize the types, purpose, and benefits of testing.

Mr. Mikael Sokero introduces the participants to his organization’s work.
Mr. Ryan Chua presents examples of hypotheses related to public service delivery.

Opportunity for transformation

The workshops also served as vehicles for introducing new tools and mindsets for brainstorming and planning. They were designed around the idea that even the smallest of experiments could eventually lead to major transformations. Using the Finnish experience with testing universal basic income, Mr. Mikko Annala, Lead of Transformative Governance at Demos Helsinki, explained how the test accelerated the debate on the future of social welfare while reducing potential risks.

Mr. Mikael Sokero, Senior Capacity Building Expert at Demos Helsinki, also highlighted the role of imagination. He emphasized that experimentation, used in a robust way, is a perfect way of looking for a solution outside one’s perceived reality, thus moving away from the fixation on “perfect policies” towards moonshot initiatives.

Participants share their thoughts on imagination.
Mr. Mikael Sokero explains how innovation is a process of learning and experimentation

The participants take a photo with the resource persons

The Development Academy of the Philippines, as the focal organization of the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) Center of Excellence on Public Sector Productivity (COE-PSP), successfully implemented this year’s second batch of the Development of Public Sector Productivity Specialists – Foundation Course (DPSPS-FC) from 13 to 17 June 2022.

In his opening speech, Mr. Peter Dan Baon, the COE-PSP Program Manager, welcomed the participants from the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – Mines & Geosciences Bureau Regional Office IVA,  House of Representatives – Congressional Policy & Budget Research (HOR-CPBR), National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and Professional Regulation Commission – NCR. He explained that the five-day course seeks to provide an avenue for them to gain insights, learn from the experience of other participants, and collaborate with other agencies as they work together towards a more productive public sector.

Capacitating future PSP specialists

Ms. Maria Rosario Ablan, Program Director of the DAP AO25 Secretariat, led the discussion for Session 1: Understanding Public Sector Productivity Concepts and Principles. She discussed basic productivity concepts and issues, the importance of public sector productivity, the productivity management framework, and the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle.

Ms. Rosario Ablan discussing the outline for Session 1.

For the second session on Measuring Productivity in the Public Sector, Ms. Ablan presented the Productivity Measurement Framework and the key considerations and challenges in measuring public sector productivity. She also explained the index-based PSP measurement and steps in building output and input indices to compute productivity at the organizational level.

Representatives from each participating agency presenting their identified organizational inputs, outputs, and outcomes during the sharing session

Ms. Elena Cruz, former DAP Vice President and Managing Director of the Center for Knowledge Management, facilitated Session 3: Diagnosing and Analyzing Productivity. Ms. Cruz tackled Lean Management principles and concepts, emphasizing the eight wastes of Lean Manufacturing. She also discussed various problem-solving tools and techniques, such as Quick Assessment, Value Stream Mapping, Work Study, Process Chart, Method Study, Work Measurement, and Root Cause Analysis. According to Ms. Cruz, diagnosing and defining productivity issues are important preliminary steps to productivity improvement. 

Ms. Elena Cruz discussing the Session 3 Outline with the participants.
Representatives from each agency presenting their matrix diagrams during the sharing session.

For the fourth session, Ms. Niña Estudillo, an Honorary Certified APO Productivity Practitioner and independent trainer and consultant specializing in Productivity and Quality (P&Q) and Organizational Development (OD), discussed how to identify and plan productivity improvements to address productivity problems identified in the previous session. She introduced the tools and techniques for productivity improvement, focusing on Quality Circle and Business Process Re-engineering (BPR). During the workshop, the participating agencies were tasked to identify solutions to their identified wastes using the Root Cause Analysis, specifically the Ishikawa Diagram, Potential Problem Analysis and Solutions Formulation Matrix. They were also given time to brainstorm and prepare for the initial outline of their Productivity Improvement Plan (PIP), which will serve as their final output for the course.

Ms. Niña Estudillo outlined the steps in preparing a Cause-and-Effect Diagram, which is one of the workshop outputs for Session 4.

On the program’s final day, two case presenters discussed and shared exemplary experiences in developing and implementing interventions that have addressed internal and external productivity issues concerning citizen satisfaction, public trust, cost-effectiveness, competitiveness, and quality of life. Mr. Michaelangelo R. Severa, Local Government Operations Officer at the Department of the Interior and Local Government Regional Office No. 5 (DILG Region 5), presented the key components, results, and challenges they faced in the implementation of the “Saloobin ng mga Mamamayan” project, which seeks to establish a citizen feedback mechanism and address issues surrounding feedback mechanism protocols at the barangay-level. The second presenter, Mr. Joel O. Mendoza, Head of the Quality Workplace Committee at the Department of Education (DepEd), shared their quality workplace journey through 5S Good Housekeeping. 

For their main course activity, the participating agencies presented their initial Productivity Improvement Plan. Each of the agencies was provided an opportunity to raise questions and give comments on the outputs of one another. The resource persons during the previous sessions, Ms. Niña Estudillo, Ms. Elena Cruz, and Mr. Peter Dan Baon also provided their inputs and suggestions after each presentation.

Participants posing for their class picture.
Participants posing for their class picture.

To formally close the program, Ms. Imelda C. Caluen, Vice President and Managing Director of the DAP Center for Governance, delivered the closing remarks. She congratulated the participants for completing the first step to becoming productivity specialists, adding that any effort to improve government productivity starts with the workforce, improving skills, and reforming administrative cultures.

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The 21st century has seen radical changes and advancements in its early years. Driven mostly by technological innovations and digital revolutions, information technology has evolved beyond imagination and continues to progress in exponential potential. At the core of this phenomenon is a shift in the major resource of economic activity, from land in the agricultural age, capital in the industrial age, and now, knowledge in the knowledge age.

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We are currently in the Knowledge Age, a new form of capitalism where knowledge and ideas have become the primary source of economic progress. From a perception of knowledge as an inactive form of asset of ‘know how’ or ‘know what’, it is now valued not for what it is but for what it can do. It is a form of energy that flows outward and inward, enabling things to happen or to facilitate creation. In this sense, knowledge is treated as an invaluable resource especially in an organizational setting where knowledge is required to be in constant use and motion. Harnessing knowledge has been a practical strategy to document knowledge and information for common systematic use such as manuals, guidebooks and policies. This is defined as Knowledge Management where various data and information is managed systematically to achieve organizational objectives.
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Ikujiro Nonaka, with the fundamental insight that a company is not a machine but a living organism with a collective sense of identity and purpose, together with Hirotaka Takeuchi developed the Socialization, Externalization, Combination and Integration (SECI) model for knowledge creation process. There are two types of knowledge in an organization: tacit and explicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is knowledge articulated, expressed, codified and is readily transmitted, while tacit knowledge is described as knowledge not readily expressed or transferred. The knowledge spiral follows the SECI process where in tacit and explicit knowledge share vibrant interactions, crystallizing ideas into standardized concepts and knowledge. This process develops organizational knowledge, enhances efficient processing and interoperability, as well as effective decision making for a high corporate IQ. Developing a shared vision, shared knowledge and wisdom enables a vast wholeness in moving forward towards attaining the goal of the organization. And this is possible through an active pursuit of knowledge creation, harnessing knowledge from an individual and transforming this idea down to business process improvements and organizational understanding. Stephen Covey, as the famous author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said that when trust goes up, productivity goes up and costs go down; when trust goes down, productivity goes down and costs go up. Knowledge management is no longer just a nice-to-have; it is now a must-have to improve productivity, to innovate and to stay relevant in a knowledge economy.

In its crucial function to assess and collect national taxes, fees, charges, and accounting for all revenues collected, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) serves as an indispensable arm of the Philippine government especially with the passage of Republic Act No. 10963 or better known as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law. The unprecedented pressure to improve the quality of public service delivery also stresses accountability, transparency and productivity. This period of transformation puts more emphasis on measuring the productivity of the government and assessing its performance. Productivity is generally defined as the ratio of output over input, and its measurement describes the efficiency of production. Using Atkinsons Review’s methodology, tax collection activities were examined and its commensurate gains, total collections, operational costs, and administrative costs. Data culled from the BIR Annual Reports 2000 to 2012 showed an increasing trend in tax collection, achieving its breakthrough PHP 1 trillion revenue in 2012. Even so, the remarkable performance was achieved at generally lower administrative costs and fewer personnel. BIR reduced its cost of every PHP 100 tax collected by more than 50%, from PHP1.25 in 2001 to PHP0.60 in 2012.   The bureau also maintained a steady decline in staffing complement with a 15% decrease from 2000 to 2012. It continuously explored means of increasing productivity by doing more with less, and this showed in its productivity ratios reflecting an overall highly positive Total Factor Productivity (TFP) which is computed by the value of outputs over the value of total inputs. While it exhibited slight fluctuations, the TFP index demonstrates a generally upward trend as it altered with the changes of the value of inputs and outputs through the years. The general uptrend from 2002 to 2006 can be attributed to new revenue measures and intensified collection efforts combined with an escalation in the automation of its frontline and backroom operations. However, this was disrupted by the slowdown of tax collection in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, the implementation of the Salary Standardization Law, and increased operating expenses of two major BIR projects, e.g., the National Program Support for Tax Administration Reform and the Tax Computerization Project. The TFP series bucked the downtrend in 2011 with vigorous tax collection efforts and containment of administrative costs. During this timeframe, notable best practices identified were the introduction of the Tax Computerization Program, e-Services, and the Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) Program. These initiatives resulted to better public service delivery with increased tax collections and minimized administrative costs whilst simplifying processes, modernizing procedures, and offering citizen-centric services. This study formed part of the Asian Productivity Organization’s (APO) Research on Performance Management in Public Sector Organizations in 2013 which looked into how effective and efficient the public sector has been in the changing phenomenon of recent years, what new approaches and systems have been introduced and how effective and efficient they were which are all meant to gauge productivity. Productivity measurement of the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s tax collection serves as a pilot study into the Philippine government’s productivity stories where organizational changes and developments provide an explanation of the trends in productivity performance over time. It can also serve as a prospect of comparative productivity performance data through various offices to encourage yardstick competition in the government.