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 Philippines as APO Center of Excellence on Public Sector Productivity

The Asian Productivity Organization, an international governmental organization which aims to drive the productivity movement in Asia and the Pacific, has been implementing the Center of Excellence program which designates national productivity organizations in specialized fields in recognition of their initiatives and expertise.  A COE’s role is to share its knowledge and best practices to other NPOs through trainings, workshops, and study missions. There are currently four COEs designated by APO – Business Excellence (Singapore), Green Productivity (Taiwan), Public Sector Productivity (Philippines), and Information Technology in Industry 4.0 (India).

What is the COE-PSP?

In 2015, APO recognized the initiatives of the Philippines in raising the productivity of its government departments and agencies and designated the country as the COE in Public Sector Productivity. As the COE, the Philippines leads the public sector productivity movement in the region. The Development Academy of the Philippines as the country’s NPO works to address common and critical issues on public sector productivity, foster cutting-edge research, facilitate training and knowledge-sharing, and support outreach to raise productivity levels. Currently, the COE-PSP operates under four components: Knowledge Bank, Innovation Laboratory, Capability Development, and Research.

Knowledge Bank develops an online library of pertinent data, information, materials and references on public sector productivity including a database on experts and knowledge products. It accumulates, codifies and publicly disseminates PSP knowledge products derived from APO projects, experiences of NPOs and relevant studies on public sector productivity.

Capability Development offers a range of face-to-face or online training and other learning solutions to develop new capabilities and hone competencies on productivity methods, tools and techniques as applied in the public sector to develop a critical mass of P&Q professionals. In 2017, the COE on PSP conducted the Workshop on Public Sector Leadership, Common Assessment Framework Training, Workshop on Performance Management, and International Conference on Public Sector Productivity.

Innovation Laboratory provides a venue to stimulate strategic thinking and innovation, understand, experiment and obtain first-hand experience in applying new solutions to address critical public sector productivity issues, under the guidance of technical experts.

Research conducts focused studies on contemporary and emerging trends, assessment of productivity performance, best practices, adaptation of P & Q tools, effectiveness of P & Q technologies, etc. A compendium of innovation and productivity initiatives is published annually. The COE-PSP also serves as the hub of ‘web of collaborators’ on innovation and productivity in the public sector.  As the hub, the COE-PSP establishes a network of NPOs and relevant regional and global institutions with knowledge and expertise on public sector productivity. It is partnering with the Institute of Public Administration and Bruce Searles of Global Benchmarking Network and Benchmarking Partnerships. The center is also exploring possible partnerships with the UN Public Administration Network, the EU Public Administration Network, the OECD Public Governance and Territorial Development Office, other P&Q organizations, and academic institutions.

Way Ahead

In the next years, DAP aspires to further expand and strengthen the COE-PSP.  It plans to establish a future center which is aimed to be a creative platform for collaborative innovation on public sector productivity. The center will also serve as a repository for PSP knowledge and information library for civil servants and the public to access PSP-related data, information and resource. It will include high-tech and high-touch facilities to help create innovative solutions for the public sector. The COE-PSP is also working on conducting a demo project on productivity measurement and a technical expert’s service on Knowledge Management for the Public Sector. Further, it plans to undertake comprehensive research on baseline data for better appreciation and sharing of best practice in public sector productivity movement among APO member countries.

To learn more about who we are and what we do, you may watch this video: The APO Center of Excellence on Public Sector Productivity