Department of Foreign Affairs Consular Office (CO) Lucena
Best Practice Focus Area/s
This is a GBPR Entry
The Courtesy Lane Appointment Schedule System (CLASS) is a database for Courtesy Lane Appointments received through emails, telephone calls, and walk-in inquiries. With the implementation of the no walk-in policy and the AlternativeWork Arrangement (AWA), CO uploaded the CLASS in google sheets to be able to address backlogs for request accommodations for Courtesy Lane. The CO of Lucena’s Courtesy Lane Appointment Schedule System (CLASS) is the CO’s database for appointments made via e-mails, telephone calls, and Inquiries in Public Assistance and Complaint Desk (PACD).
Background and Problem
When CO Lucena reopened on 18 May 2020 after the Enhanced Community Quarantine, the CO received requests for courtesy lane accommodations from OFWs, Senior Citizens, PWDs, and minors with urgent or emergency travel abroad. At that time, the Department is implementing a no walk-in policy to comply with the current health protocols. CO is scheduling the request through a database accessed by the Communication Officer only. The numerous emails received through the official email by the Communications Officer have averaged 100 emails/day since the pandemic. The CO encountered backlogs in scheduling requests for accommodation for the Courtesy Lane. CLASS has been developed to be more responsive to the problem and assist the Communications Officer in dealing with numerous requests.
Solution and Impact
To address the backlog of requests for accommodation in the CO’s Courtesy Lane and to provide a more responsive approach to the demands while complying with the minimum health requirements being implemented. The CLASS was uploaded in Google Sheets, and the CO’s Team was able to access it online. Work from Home personnel can now support the onsite personnel by handling the requests for accommodation of applicants. The program will be utilized and improved further as the need arises. Currently, the Administrative Officer is monitoring the content of the CLASS every week to check on the appointment’s status and the data’s content. There has been no time that the program cannot be practiced because all frontline personnel is involved in the CLASS. If one person has difficulty with internet connectivity, other team members can update the CLASS using their device as long as it has internet connectivity. It is also being discussed in the daily meetings using Zoom or Google Meet platforms.
CO’s implementation procedure is as follows: CO’s Communications Officer will receive requests for CLASS through email. He will then forward the email to CO’s Consular Supervisor for assessment if the request is eligible for inclusion in CLASS. For other cases that need approval/assessment, the Consular Supervisor will request guidance from HCO or AO for the accommodation request. If the request is approved, personnel from work-from-home will receive an email from the consular supervisor that an applicant needs to be included in CLASS. Personnel from WFH will include the name on the next available date in the CLASS; and for telephone calls received and walk-in inquiries from the Public Information and Complaint Desk (PACD), the Information Officer will request the applicant to email their request for accommodation, including the attachment of supporting documents for their eligibility to CLASS accommodation in CO’s Official email.
Before the CO implemented CLASS, walk-in applications were accommodated for Courtesy Lane. With the current pandemic, which required compliance with minimum health requirements, the CO developed CLASS to be more responsive and organized to the requests for the service.
- With the implementation of the CLASS, the CO noticed the following remarkable results:
- The CO can easily monitor available dates for CLASS;
- The CO has become more responsive to the request for accommodations;
- The CO became compliant with the existing health protocols;
- Work from Home personnel became more productive.
When the Department implemented the Alternative Work Arrangements, personnel on Work from Home were given the task of closely monitoring their emails so that they could immediately input the names requesting the service. The CO is more organized in addressing the request for Courtesy Lane. It is also convenient to the management since it can also see real-time the available dates or search for the names who requested the service. Presently, the CO has highly motivated personnel and is responsive to the needs of the public. Even with limited resources, we can be as responsive as other offices in the Philippines.