This is a Finalist in the Government Best Practice Recognition Awards
DOLE ZAMPEN’s ICT-Enabled Frontline Services
Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office No. 9
Best practice Focus Area(s)
Strategy, Citizens / Customers, Operations
Due to the COVID 19 outbreak, many offices implemented measures to reduce personal interaction of employees. Working from home has limited the gathering of employees and helped contain the virus in the workplace. The availability and use of online system and technology comes into play, but long before this, DOLE 9 was already providing ICT-enabled service to the public for efficiency of service and transparency of transactions. While other offices are adjusting to the threats of COVID-19 given the “new normal”, DOLE 9 has already built the capacity and resilience of its workforce through a more responsive online system of services.
Almost all programs of the government were at a standstill during the enhanced community quarantine, however, DOLE 9’s frontline services were operating and serving the public in the most innovative way. Their online Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES), Government Internship Program (GIP), Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), Rural Workers Association (RWA) registration, Construction Safety and Health Program (CSHP) approval and the grant of COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) and Department of Labor and Employment – Abot Kamay Ang Pagtulong (DOLE-AKAP) benefits are all linked to the Financial Monitoring System (FMS). The system is cost-effective, efficient and responsive.
The online system simplified the release of registration certificates, payment of salaries for SPES, TUPAD and GIP, and giving-out of financial assistance for CAMP and DOLE-AKAP. It also decreased the required number of days in processing the mentioned outputs. The staff’s safety has been ensured and work became easier since transactions are done online. The cost on paper and printer ink was reduced as well since less paperwork was involved. The simplified work process has significantly increased personnel productivity.
Background and Problem
DOLE 9 was hounded by issues of delayed payment of salaries of its SPES, TUPAD and GIP beneficiaries. The financial performance of the office was severely affected by the constant delay in payment processing, as unused funds had to be reverted by the end of the year and beneficiary payouts are regarded as accounts payable.
There were also complaints of late releases of certificates of registration of Rural Workers’ Association (RWA) and approval of the Construction Safety and Health Program. These documents were manually processed for several years.
It was also a challenge to travel to the location of DOLE 9’s Regional center in Zamboanga City. The travel time will take around 3 hours for the nearest Province (Zamboanga Sibugay) and 2 hours for the nearest City (Isabela). The farthest provinces (Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte) and cities (Dapitan, Dipolog and Pagadian City) will take around 7 – 8 hours of travel just to submit the documents for processing.
Manual processing of documents would take several days. The documents for payment of salaries or grant funds must be moved from office to office and poses a danger since the funds and documents will be transferred from one hand to the other. The ambush of DOLE employees in Region 10 on the way to the site where they were supposed to pay the salaries of students after the conclusion of the latter’s summer job prompted DOLE to automate its services.
Solution and Impact
The institutionalization of DOLE’s frontline services serves to address the concern for faster service delivery, enhanced transparency, improved productivity and the elimination of red tape with reduced person-to-person interaction.
For DOLE Programs that require payout of salaries and grants, the beneficiaries receive their salaries/grants through a third-party money remittance center allowing them to claim funds wherever they may be in the Philippines. Time, cost and traveling hazards were reduced in going to DOLE Regional and Provincial Offices for the same purpose. Transparency was also enhanced especially in handing out funds and claiming certificates of registrations since person-to-person interaction is no longer a necessity.
Transactions are simplified by using online systems, and the number of days required to process documents significantly decreased. This also led to prompt actions or resolution of all government transactions with efficiency. The timely delivery of service runs congruent to the Government’s Republic Act on the Ease of Doing Business. Employees were able to get more tasks done and quality was emphasized on the work done due to shorter turnaround time. Aside from this, cost on supplies were reduced since the system allowed paperless transactions.
DOLE 9 Personnel also enjoys the benefits of being able to generate real-time reports on transactions and utilizing accurate data as key elements in management’s decision-making process. The online system is a new way of managing public service – it is innovative and added more value to the services provided by DOLE employees.
These innovations led DOLE 9 to be recognized as one of the Best Performing Regions of DOLE in 2018. Civil Service Commission (CSC) also recognized then Regional Director of DOLE 9, Ofelia B. Domingo, with the Honor Award Programs Search for Outstanding Government Workers (Presidential Lingkod Bayan Category) for innovative public service strategies she initiated in Region 9. It can be recalled that in 2011, the highest distinction given to a DOLE employee via the DOLE Lingkod Manggagawa National Award was bestowed to Edilberto M. Angeles, Jr. of DOLE 9 for the innovative Financial Monitoring System (FMS) he developed in 2010.
In 2019, the Region garnered a total rating of 4.89 out of 5 in the Office Performance Commitment and Review (OPCR). The efficiency and effectiveness of the organization in its service delivery inspired stakeholders’ active engagement evidenced by the support of the tripartite body during the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Industry Tripartite Council (ITC) Summit and presence of 98% Local Chief Executives (LCEs) in the 2018 and 2019 LCE Forum.
DOLE Regional Offices 4B, 7 and 8 benchmarked DOLE 9 to learn about best practices in systems development and IT infrastructure. Year 2020 also marked the onset of planning for development and enhancement of online systems for other programs of the department such as the Alien Employment Permit (AEP) Issuance, Tulong Pang-Hanapbuhay sa Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers Program, Human Resource Information System, Document Tracking System, Case Management System, Registration of Contractors and Sub-Con and Establishments and Single Entry Approach (SENA) for Labor Disputes.