The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), in cooperation with the Asian Productivity Organization (APO), through the Center of Excellence on Public Sector Productivity (COE-PSP) Program Management Office, implemented this year’s first run of the APO Development of Public Sector Productivity Specialists (APO DPSPS).

The course was conducted online and ran from 16 to 20 May 2022. It was attended by 50 participants from APO member countries such as Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Republic of China, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, and the Philippines. It trained the participants in the relevant concepts, approaches, tools, and techniques to develop their competencies as productivity specialists in the public sector. 

The course predominantly featured Dr. Shin Kim, Senior Research Fellow with the Division of Regulatory Innovation Research, Korea Institute of Public Administration, Republic of Korea, and Dr. D. Brian Marson, President of the Public Service Excellence Institute, Canada, as its two main speakers. They were supported by presentations from DAP officers Mr. Arnel D. Abanto, Vice President and Managing Director of the Productivity and Development Center, and Ms. Maria Rosario A. Ablan, Program Director of the AO 25 Secretariat, as well as case presentations from key Philippine government officials.

Productivity Trends and Concepts

NEDA Undersecretary Jose Miguel de la Rosa, the APO Director for the Philippines, during his opening remarks

The opening day began with a message from National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Jose Miguel de la Rosa, the APO Director for the Philippines, who emphasized the need for more individuals capable of transforming the public sector to become more innovative, agile, and impactful. This was followed by the first session of the course, The Role of the Public Sector and Global Trends in Improving Productivity, in which Dr. Kim discussed the importance of productivity in governance. This was further enriched by the day’s final session on Public Sector Leadership. Dr. Marson used this session to clarify the differences between leadership and management, especially in the context of the public sector, and how each can contribute to productivity.

Dr. Shin Kim discussing key concepts in public sector productivity

Dr. Marson opened the following day’s sessions, beginning with the topic Citizen-Centered Service and Opportunities for Improving Public Service Delivery in the New Normal.  Much of the discussion revolved around the experiences of the Philippines, Singapore, New Zealand, and Canada in measuring client satisfaction with government services and addressing the gaps and problems that were highlighted by the public.

Dr. Kim followed with a session on Performance Management, particularly on its relation to productivity, accountability, and, ultimately, results. One of his insights was that, in the past, organizations approached this by first thinking about how to manage their resources. But now, the thinking has shifted to first identifying goals and objectives before determining the required actions and resources.

To close the day’s sessions, Dr. Marson facilitated a group exercise on citizen-centered services. Participants were divided into four groups to brainstorm service improvement plans based on their group’s assigned case study. Afterwards, each group’s representative presented their findings and discussed with the larger group.

Participants presenting their outputs from the exercise on citizen-centered services

Assessing, Measuring, and Improving Productivity

The third day of the course opened with the session on Development of Productivity Improvement Plans, where Dr. Marson discussed the key steps needed to devise an initiative that would increase an organization’s productivity in a systematic way. These include conducting baseline performance assessments, establishing clear objectives, and selecting the appropriate components that would ensure the effectiveness and quality of the resulting action. He highlighted the use of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) as a basis for developing a thorough and well-executed improvement plan.

Dr. Marson discussing how to improve productivity using the Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

The next session, Measuring Public Sector Productivity, was covered by Mr. Abanto, who began by discussing the key considerations in estimating public sector productivity, such as the effective communication of productivity information for policy, decision-making, and improvement action. He then proceeded to demonstrate index-based productivity measurement, highlighting the use of cost-weighing and deflating to ensure the accuracy of the resulting productivity estimates.

Mr. Abanto conducting an exercise on index-based measurement of public sector productivity

Dr. Marson led the fourth day of sessions with his discussion of Change Management in the Public Sector. This particular session included mini-case studies and group discussions on theories of and best practices in change management specific to the public sector. The participants’ questions centered on the change management process, its challenges, and the solutions needed to overcome the said challenges.

The following topic, Approaches for Improving Organizational Productivity, was covered by Ms. Ablan. She discussed a range of practical tools and techniques to improve productivity such as the 5S Methodology or Practical Industrial Engineering (IE). She also highlighted the importance of understanding the underlying principles in choosing the right tools and techniques and employing the appropriate solutions for the problems at hand.

Ms. Ablan sharing her insights on continuous improvement in the public sector

The Application of Technology in Public Sector Productivity

The last day of the course began with two presentations of local projects showcasing how their initiatives and leadership strategies concretized the concepts and tools of productivity, particularly in the use of digital technology.

First to present was Ms. Maria Luisa Khristina C. Oliveros, Supervising Labor and Employment Officer for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) CAMANAVA Field Office. She demonstrated how her project on virtual site inspections proved to be a safe means of conducting labor inspections, especially given the difficulties brought by COVID-19. 

Ms. Oliveros sharing her presentation on adapting on-site inspections to the risks associated with COVID-19

Second was Dr. Edward E. Baña, Education Program Supervisor for the Department of Education Schools Division Office of Antique. He presented how his project on using RFID technology for student monitoring helped prevent children from dropping out and also provided more efficient workflows for the school’s employees.

Dr. Baña presenting on the use of RFID technology to better monitor the attendance and performance of schoolchildren

These presentations flowed directly into the final session of the course, which was on the topic of E-Government. Dr. Kim discussed how best to understand the concept of e-government, and showcased some best practices in the use of ICT across different public sector cases from various countries.

DAP President and CEO Atty. Caronan giving his closing remarks.

To formally close the five-day training, APO Alternate Director for the Philippines and DAP President and CEO Atty. Engelbert C. Caronan, Jr., delivered a message that thanked the APO and DAP teams for their efforts in hosting the course and commended the resource persons for sharing their knowledge and guiding the participants. He added that he is looking forward to the innovations that the participants will implement to help public sector organizations improve their productivity.

The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), as the Center of Excellence on Public Sector Productivity designated by the Asian Productivity Organization (APO), held a multi-country training program to develop public sector specialists from 6 to 10 December 2021. With the Philippines as the hosting country, 43 representatives from APO member countries learned concepts, issues, challenges, tools, frameworks, and strategies related to public sector productivity (PSP) improvement.

Throughout the course, the participants listened to various presentations from Dr. Brian Marson, Dr. Shin Kim, Ms. Maria Rosario A. Ablan, and Mr. Arnel Abanto on PSP measurement, performance management, leadership, change management, citizen-centered services, and organizational productivity. There were also group discussions on case studies and exercises on the tools provided to practice what they learned throughout the program.

The course is the first step towards certification as public sector productivity specialists. After their training, the participants are tasked with developing action plans to raise the productivity of their respective agencies using the tools and skills they have gained.

Building the foundation for understanding PSP

Dr. Kim of the Korea Institute of Public Administration discussed first the role of the public sector and global trends in improving productivity. He explained that the role of the public sector in economic development is crucial, and thus a careful strategy is required to promote the social and economic well-being of the people through efficient and effective public sector management. He also discussed the evolution of public administration and provided different case examples to support transforming government. 

Dr. Marson of the Institute for Citizen-Centered Service discussed the importance of leadership in achieving key results focused on the 3Ps: purpose, people, and performance. He also showed how the organizing principle around which public service delivery is designed and planned can be conceptualized through identifying and addressing the citizens’ needs. Dr. Marson recommended that responsive government services can be implemented through listening to citizens, meeting their needs, and providing efficient, honest, and integrated service delivery.  “To improve citizen satisfaction scores, we need to actively listen to the people we serve,” he told the trainees.

Regulatory reform is also crucial in improving productivity. Dr. Kim defined regulatory reform as changes that enhance the performance, cost-effectiveness, or legal quality of regulations. He explained that while the public perception around regulatory reform focuses on deregulation, it should also include reregulation, smart regulation, and regulatory management. Comprehensive reform is thus recommended over a piecemeal approach, provided that governments must first identify objectives and weigh its options before any reform is implemented.

Dr. Kim then discussed result-oriented performance management, particularly as it is used in South Korea to improve organizational, sectoral and national productivity. He also showed how e-government can improve the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, and accountability of governments while bringing forth new concepts of citizenship, both in terms of needs and responsibilities, by engaging, enabling and empowering citizens. Governments can use the UN’s E-Government Survey to assess their performance and develop policies and strategies.

Improving organizational productivity was then classified by Ms. Ablan into four approaches: doing more with less,  doing more with the same, doing much more with more, doing the same with less, and doing less with much less. Government units that face productivity issues can diagnose and solve them through the Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle,  but for productivity improvement projects to be successful and long-standing, they have to manage political, technical, and behavioral conditions. Ms. Ablan also recommended striving for continuous improvement and innovation to ensure continued productivity.

Operationalizing productivity improvement

To open the session on the development of productivity improvement plans, Dr. Marson discussed models, frameworks, and thematic approaches that are the focus of the management excellence agenda in APO member countries. He also discussed steps to improve overall organizational performance using the CAF (Common Assessment Framework) Model, which uses self-assessment to generate and prioritize possible improvement plans, and the APO Business Excellence Model. 

Mr. Abanto followed with a presentation on measuring public sector productivity, discussing key considerations in estimating public sector productivity such as the level of analysis, the availability and quality of data, the information needs of the user of productivity information, and the productivity measurement framework being used. He also explained how to calculate public sector productivity indexes to prepare participants for a breakout session that would allow them to try their hands at productivity measurement. 

On the last day of the training, local presenters from the Philippines shared their best practices and experiences to illustrate the concepts and approaches at work. Mr. Joel Mendoza, of the City Government of Ormoc, Leyte shared the city’s improvement and intervention for better service through the in-house development of systems for business and franchising permits that enable small enterprises to easily process their permits. Ms. Marizza Grande, of the Philippine Statistics Authority, also shared the agency’s improvement with the Decentralized Copy Annotation Process (DeCAP) project, which provides seamless processing of documents at regional centers.