The Development of Academy (DAP), through its Center of Excellence on Public-Sector Productivity (COE-PSP) on 28 February 2023 officially launched the Productivity Challenge, a multi-year crowdsourcing of ideas and actions that can help boost public sector productivity in the Philippines. The launch also featured the productivity webinar, Elevating Public Sector Productivity: From Awareness to Action, which aimed to increase awareness and stimulate discussion on public sector productivity.

COE-PSP Program Manager Peter Dan Baon headed the launch of the Productivity Challenge, which will run from 2023 to 2026. For 2023, the Challenge will focus on collecting and curating 1,000 ideas that spark productivity in the Philippine public sector. This Challenge also aims to provide a platform for innovative ideas on productivity to be submitted by individuals and groups working in the public sector. These ideas will be housed in an online repository that public sector practitioners and decision-makers can refer to give them ideas on how they can champion for public sector productivity within their organizations.

“The Productivity Challenge is a nudge to accelerate the much-needed productivity change in the Philippine Government,” said Mr. Baon.

The Productivity Challenge envisions an advancement in the productivity movement by raising awareness, enabling a culture of innovation to improve productivity performance, and quality service delivery. Entries will be accepted starting 1 March 2023 through this platform.

As part of the launch, the COE-PSP also organized a webinar where Ms. Maria Rosario Ablan, Fellow of the COE-PSP, provided an overview of productivity in the public sector and discussed some practical examples of innovative ideas on public sector productivity.

Understanding productivity

Ms. Ablan explained that traditionally, productivity refers to the volume of inputs over the volume of outputs. Productivity is used to measure the efficiency of production inputs such as labor and capital.

She added that productivity can be explained in three concepts:

  • As a technical concept – Productivity can either be partial (which refers to the ratio of output to a single input) or total (which is the ratio of output to all of the inputs).
  • As a social concept – Productivity is all attitude of the mind and seeks to continuously improve what already exists and think of ways on how to do better today than yesterday.
  • As a management concept – Productivity is a managed process, where an organization efficiently converts inputs to outputs (products/services) to satisfy the expectations of its clients and stakeholders.

Common Productivity Issues

In her presentation, she shared the concepts of three Mus introduced by Mr. Taiichi Ohno, a Japanese industrial engineer, who is considered the Father of the Toyota Production System.

  • Muda (waste) – Any activity that consumes resources without adding value to the customers. Muda essentially increases organizational costs while increasing the possibility of committing errors. Defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra processing fall under muda.
  • Mura (unevenness) – This productivity issue refers to the erratic pace of work (i.e., rushed, slowed down, or stopped). Mura promotes inconsistencies within the organization, which can be attributed to poor planning and unbalanced workload.
  • Muri (overburden) – This means people or equipment are utilized beyond their capacity. Mura brings unnecessary stress or burden to people and equipment.

Webinar participants also had the opportunity to share the productivity problems and concerns they face in their respective organizations, which were also aligned with the productivity wastes discussed.

Productivity in action

Ms. Ablan also shared examples of productivity initiatives from other countries and in the Philippines. Some are summarized below:

  • Facial Recognition to prevent crimes by the Penang State Government, Malaysia. The intervention helped in easing law enforcement and address street crimes through the installation and upgrading of the CCTV control center.
  • Vehicle Mapping System by the Hong Kong Lands Department, Hong Kong. The mapping system helped in efficiently acquiring street view imagery and point cloud data, helping the government assess the conditions of buildings.
  • Citizen Relationship Management Application by the Jakarta Provincial Government and Jakarta City Management, Indonesia. The app aims to bridge the gap between the citizens and the provincial government and promotes a transparent, clean, and citizen-focused type of government.
  • Baliwag Treasury Information and Management System by the Provincial Government of Bulacan, the Philippines. The system required less manual paperwork and allowed real-time monitoring of cash flow and efficient report generation.

In her discussion, Ms. Ablan mentioned that “if the productivity at the national level is high, it means we have an effective use of resources—leading to economic growth and better standard of living and human welfare.”

Did you miss the event? Watch the webinar recording here.
Are you up to the challenge? Join and visit us at

The growing adoption of fast innovation in public services has become increasingly prevalent since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of 2020. This is indicative of a potential shift in the public service model from being reactive to being proactive. The following trends related to the public sector that can help decision-makers craft national strategies and navigate an uncertain future toward achieving global sustainable development goals.

Post-COVID Fiscal Rules: A Central Bank Perspective
Source: European Central Bank

This paper provides a simulation analysis for the euro area and individual countries to assess the short- and longer-term budgetary and macroeconomic implications of a move to a two-tier system with an expenditure growth rule as single operational indicator linked to a debt anchor. In particular, providing additional fiscal accommodation in a low inflation environment would enable monetary policy to operate more effectively, especially in the vicinity of the effective lower bound, thereby improving the synchronization of fiscal and monetary policies.

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Governments Need Agile Fiscal Policies as Food and Fuel Prices Spike
Source: International Monetary Fund

Just as increasing vaccinations offered hope, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted the global economic recovery. One of the most visible global effects has been the acceleration of energy and food prices, triggering concerns about episodes of food shortages and increasing the risks of malnutrition and social unrest. Economies worldwide have accumulated layer upon layer of legacies from past shocks since the global financial crisis. In response to the pandemic, extraordinary fiscal actions led to a surge in fiscal deficits and public debt in 2020.

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South Asia Sees Slower Growth as War in Ukraine Impedes Recovery, Worsens Existing Challenges
Source: World Bank

South Asia has faced multiple shocks in the past two years, including the scarring effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. High oil and food prices caused by the war in Ukraine will have a strong negative impact on peoples’ real incomes. Given these challenges, governments need to carefully plan monetary and fiscal policies to counter external shocks and protect the vulnerable while laying the foundation for green, resilient and inclusive growth.

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6 Ways Indonesia Can Green Its Infrastructure Pipeline
Source: Southeast Asia Development Solutions

With 65% of Asia’s infrastructure projects not considered bankable and with the clock ticking to deliver on their net-zero goals, countries like Indonesia are under pressure to line up green projects that would attract investments from the private sector. A new report from Climate Bonds Initiative, an investor-focused not-for-profit that promotes large-scale investment in the low-carbon economy, said greening Indonesia’s infrastructure pipeline could be accelerated by key policy and institutional changes.

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Malaysia launched its Roadmap Towards Zero Single-use Plastics
Source: Asian Productivity Organization

The APO recognizes the diverse, unique strengths of its members and offers opportunities for mutual collective benefit through the Individual-country Observational Study Mission (IOSM) Program to tap each other’s strengths to inspire and guide the development of strategies, policies, and action plans for new initiatives and evolving ideas that are critical for development. Malaysia launched its Roadmap Towards Zero Single-use Plastics, 2018–2030, to create a cleaner, healthier environment by 2030. The government is seeking to address plastic pollution through a holistic approach in an environmentally sound manner, taking into account the public interest, readiness of the industry, and sustainability.

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Measuring Costs and Benefits of Citizen Science

Today, citizen science is on the rise with bigger projects that are more ambitious and better networked than ever before. And while collecting seawater samples and photographing wild birds are two well-known examples of citizen science, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to new data collection techniques enabled by the internet, smartphones, and social media, citizen science is evolving. Increased connectivity encourages a wide range of observations that can be easily recorded and shared. The reams of crowd-sourced data from members of the public are a boon for researchers working on large-scale and geographically diverse projects. Often it would be too difficult and expensive to obtain this data otherwise.

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AI in Education: Lessons for Schools in a New Era
Source: GovInsder

The UK government turned to AI to predict students’ grades during the pandemic when students couldn’t complete exams in person. But the algorithm was scrapped after it disproportionately marked down students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Creating strong regulations and ensuring teachers are on-board are two steps that schools can take to ensure classrooms in adopting AI smoothly. Addressing these concerns will help schools realize AI’s potential for personalizing learning. At the recent AI x GOV summit, public sector officials and education experts gathered to discuss the responsible and ethical adoption of AI in schools, and what this technology can bring to the learning environment.

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Solar-Powered Radios, Tablets, Wi-Fi Sets to Enable Distance Learning in Remote Schools in Philippines
Source: Asian Development Bank

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) turned over to the Philippines’ Department of Education (DepEd) the last batch of tablets, solar-powered transistor radios, and other information technology (IT) equipment as part of its $2.4 million in grant support for distance learning among secondary school students from poor and disadvantaged families in remote areas during and beyond the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The support is financed by technical assistance grants from ADB and the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific under the EdTech Solutions for Last Mile Schools in COVID-19 program.

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US-ASEAN Business Council, USAID, ASEAN launch SME Academy 2.0 to support ASEAN Economic Recovery
Source: Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Aiming to reach more micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and help accelerate their businesses recoveries, SME Academy 2.0 introduces many new features including courses available in local languages (Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, and Vietnamese), new attractive visual design features, and top-quality resources including specific modules for COVID-19 recovery. ASEAN SME Academy 2.0 also offers MSMEs self-certification opportunities, provides access to the SME Community and Academy Facilitators and integrates a seamless interface across both desktop and mobile platforms. The COVID-19 recovery tab focusing on contents specific to support MSMEs’ recovery from the pandemic will be launched in Q3 2022. Overall, the primary goal of the Academy is to provide a platform for ASEAN MSMEs to develop their digital skills.

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IMO’s Work to Cut GHG Emissions from Ships
Source: International Maritime Organization

IMO adopted the first set of international mandatory measures to improve ships’ energy efficiency on 15 July 2011. In the past decade, IMO has taken further action, including further regulatory measures and adopting the Initial IMO GHG strategy. To support their implementation IMO has been executing a comprehensive capacity building and technical assistance program, including a range of global projects. The Initial GHG Strategy includes a series of candidate short-, mid- and long-term measures, building on already-adopted mandatory energy-efficiency requirements for ships.

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Police Surveillance and Facial Recognition: Why Data Privacy is Imperative for Communities of Color
Source: The Brookings Institution

Governments and private companies have a long history of collecting data from civilians, often justifying the resulting loss of privacy in the name of national security, economic stability, or other societal benefits. But it is important to note that these trade-offs do not affect all individuals equally. Surveillance and data collection have disproportionately affected communities of color under past and current circumstances and political regimes. In this paper, we present the case for stronger federal privacy protections with proscriptive guardrails for the public and private sectors to mitigate the high risks associated with the development and procurement of surveillance technologies.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, a lot of things have changed and need to be considered in delivering quality services to the citizens. And as the public sector increasingly becomes more digital, many policies, regulations, frameworks, and infrastructure need to be reviewed. To help broaden your knowledge and give an idea of how international local governments adopt these changes, here is a list of emerging trends in to the public sector.

Quality Health Infrastructure Strategy

Source: African Development Bank Group

The African Development Bank developed a strategy to address Africa’s health infrastructure deficit, as highlighted by the ongoing pandemic. The strategy focuses on three categories and is anchored in national health systems and sets out three cross-cutting themes: improved internet and communications technology, connectivity to strengthen health information systems and support innovation; promoting regional collaboration and harmonizing health policies and regulation; and policy dialogue and technical assistance.

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Sustainable and Circular Fashion Value Chain

Source: African Development Bank Group

As Africa’s textile and fashion industry is seen to contribute largely to the country’s economic transformation potentially. Experts say that the industry also largely contributes to global warming. To address the industry’s growing developments, the Fashionomics Africa Initiatives presented through a virtual session potential ways and frameworks in reducing the fashion industry’s environmental and climate impacts, such as circular business models, life cycle thinking, eco-innovation, and a proactive mindset on the use of sustainable materials.

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Eradicating Poverty in All its Forms is the Greatest Challenge Today and Constitutes an Indispensable Requirement for Sustainable Development

Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

The attending countries from Latin America and Caribbean stressed the 2030 Agenda by United Nations is people-centered, universal and transformative, and that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest challenge the world faces and constitutes an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, ensuring that no one is left behind, including its goals and targets, which are integrated and indivisible nature and conjoining the three dimensions of sustainable development, economic, social and environmental

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Transparency Recommendations for Regulatory Regimes of Digital Platforms

Source: Center for International Governance Innovation

Policy makers in many jurisdictions have concluded that social media companies have too much unchecked power and are failing to protect the public and their users from online harms. They are prepared to move forward with an ambitious reform agenda that includes focusing competition policy specifically on tech companies and addressing online safety issues. In many ways, transparency measures are low-hanging fruit in this new digital regulatory scheme, an area where different countries might agree even if they disagree on more controversial topics such as the mandated removal of harmful but legal material.

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Open Data for Social Impact Framework

Source: The Living Library

The Open Data for Social Impact Framework is a tool that leaders can use to put data to work to solve the challenges most important to them. Recognizing that not all data can be made publicly accessible, we see the tremendous benefits of advancing more open data, whether that takes shape as trusted data collaborations or truly open and public data. We use the phrase ‘social impact’ to mean a positive change towards addressing a societal problem, such as reducing carbon emissions, closing the broadband gap, building skills for jobs, and advancing accessibility and inclusion

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The world is changing in dramatic ways and public servants are in a good position to take advantage of these changes. Here is the list of trends related to the public sector that can help decision-makers craft national strategy and navigate an uncertain future towards achieving global sustainable development goals.

Advance Long-Term Health Security Across Africa

Source: African Development Bank Group

To increase the production capacity of vaccines and reduce reliance on imports in the African continent, South Africa announced a partnership with Biovac, together with nine development and finance institutions in Cape Town, to support vaccine manufacturing expansion. This initiative will boost the country’s response to COVID-19 and advance long-term health security throughout the African continent. 

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Improving the quality of post-harvest processes in Ghana’s rice value chain

Source: United Nations Industrial Development Organization

Rice is an important crop in Ghana, with a steady increase in consumption over recent decades due to population growth, urbanization and changes in consumer habits. As a joint effort of the government of Ghana and Japan, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), this project will strengthen competencies along the value chain in order to make use of modern technologies, realize higher value creation, and comply with market requirements. 

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How VR, Data, and AI are Revolutionizing Higher Education

Source: GovInsider

Technology is transforming the way students are learning in institutes of higher learning across the world. Students majoring in pharmaceutical engineering are faced with learning how to use complex equipment necessary for their field of study through virtual simulation. At the Applied Learning Conference 2022, speakers from Singapore institutions shared how tech such as virtual reality (VR) and games can help students learn better beyond the classroom. 

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A whole new world: Education meets the metaverse

Source: Brookings

As technology advances to bring us new immersive and imaginary worlds, how we can educate children and prepare teachers must also advance to meet these new opportunities. Today, as the metaverse infrastructure is still under construction, researchers, educators, policymakers, and digital designers have a chance to lead the way.

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Digital Transformation: A New Roadmap for Success

Source: Harvard Business School

Organizational change is never easy,  but achieving digital maturity can be a difficult journey, even for digital-first companies. A roundtable discussion with 175 senior executives around the globe and more than 1,500 executives from 90 countries helped form a picture of today’s digital transformation. 

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How design thinking can improve digital public services

Source: GovInsider

As citizens become used to personalized platforms like TikTok, they expect the same from government public services as well. Governments can fulfil citizen needs even during a crisis by designing flexible systems that can quickly respond to new challenges, citizens rely on governments to share reliable and updated information during public crises. 

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