The Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) is an innovation initiative under Malaysia’s National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS). It adopts a one-stop shop concept to facilitate the delivery of a maximum number of government services to a maximum number of city dwellers under minimal costs.
Background and Problem
In 2009, the Malaysian government started developing initiatives under the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) as a key strategy to improve efficiency in the public delivery system and to accelerate the country’s transformation process. As NBOS employs the concept of blue ocean strategy, a systematic approach to forming creative solutions without directly competing with existing socio-economic boundaries, the government expected that it will address social development gaps at the soonest possible time and at an optimal cost.
Solution and Impact
As one of the key initiatives under the NBOS, the UTC was designed as a one-stop center that houses all government services and key NGO and enterprise services placed in strategic locations or highly urbanized areas where more city dwellers can be serviced. One UTC is usually composed of about 30 government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and business enterprises which can be clustered under 10 themes, namely: government services, health, security, education, practical and job seeker, finance service, financial development and entrepreneurship, NGO services, utilities, welfare and human development, and youth development. UTC allows people to avail of many government services in one place. Unlike the regular public office that operates from eight-to-five, the services available under it extend beyond the traditional business hours (except for public holidays) so that people with busy schedules can still transact with the government even at the last minute. As a creative innovation under NBOS, UTCs avoid the usual costs of constructing multiple separate centers as it only targets and develops under-utilized government buildings. Malaysian government reports that with UTC, the conversion of existing buildings into the UTC office allows them to save at least RM 300 million for every UTC. The client impact of UTC suggests that a satellite center can cater to as much as 100,000 customers in a month, depending on the center’s location. In the same manner, it ensures transactional efficiency in the roster of services it offers, though efficiency rates may still vary from one UTC to another. In Melaka UTC for example, passport application can only take an hour to process.
The announcement on the launching of UTC happened during the National Blue Ocean Strategy Meeting last April 24, 2012. Six weeks after the conceptualization of the initiative, the government was able to establish the first UTC in Melaka. Other UTCs in various urban areas of the country followed through since then and by September 2017, there were already 14 UTCs. Finally, by 2018, a total of 18 UTCs have been spread in Malaysia: Pudu Sentral, Sentul, Keramat, Kedah, Sungai Petani, Perak, Pahang, Johor, Kelantan, Melaka, Terengganu, Kuching, Sibu, Miri, Kota Kinabalu (Sabah), Tawau, Keningau, and Labuan. It was reported that since its inception in 2012, the UTC initiative was able to assist a total of 48.5 million people.
In May 2018, Malaysia launched the UTC Establishment and Management Guidebook, a guiding document for setting up UTCs. The document details the roles and responsibilities of UTC managers in managing the center. It also tackles other management topics such as operation hours, rental of office space, maintenance, utility fees, and UTC asset management. The UTC initiative is among the most successful projects under the National Blue Ocean Strategy. In 2014, it won the Prime Minister Innovation Award. The success of the project as an exemplary illustration of innovation is widely recognized even at the international level, especially by the World Bank, Indonesia, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania, among others.