As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, a lot of things have changed and need to be considered in delivering quality services to the citizens. And as the public sector increasingly becomes more digital, many policies, regulations, frameworks, and infrastructure need to be reviewed. To help broaden your knowledge and give an idea of how international local governments adopt these changes, here is a list of emerging trends in to the public sector.

Quality Health Infrastructure Strategy

Source: African Development Bank Group

The African Development Bank developed a strategy to address Africa’s health infrastructure deficit, as highlighted by the ongoing pandemic. The strategy focuses on three categories and is anchored in national health systems and sets out three cross-cutting themes: improved internet and communications technology, connectivity to strengthen health information systems and support innovation; promoting regional collaboration and harmonizing health policies and regulation; and policy dialogue and technical assistance.

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Sustainable and Circular Fashion Value Chain

Source: African Development Bank Group

As Africa’s textile and fashion industry is seen to contribute largely to the country’s economic transformation potentially. Experts say that the industry also largely contributes to global warming. To address the industry’s growing developments, the Fashionomics Africa Initiatives presented through a virtual session potential ways and frameworks in reducing the fashion industry’s environmental and climate impacts, such as circular business models, life cycle thinking, eco-innovation, and a proactive mindset on the use of sustainable materials.

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Eradicating Poverty in All its Forms is the Greatest Challenge Today and Constitutes an Indispensable Requirement for Sustainable Development

Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

The attending countries from Latin America and Caribbean stressed the 2030 Agenda by United Nations is people-centered, universal and transformative, and that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest challenge the world faces and constitutes an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, ensuring that no one is left behind, including its goals and targets, which are integrated and indivisible nature and conjoining the three dimensions of sustainable development, economic, social and environmental

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Transparency Recommendations for Regulatory Regimes of Digital Platforms

Source: Center for International Governance Innovation

Policy makers in many jurisdictions have concluded that social media companies have too much unchecked power and are failing to protect the public and their users from online harms. They are prepared to move forward with an ambitious reform agenda that includes focusing competition policy specifically on tech companies and addressing online safety issues. In many ways, transparency measures are low-hanging fruit in this new digital regulatory scheme, an area where different countries might agree even if they disagree on more controversial topics such as the mandated removal of harmful but legal material.

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Open Data for Social Impact Framework

Source: The Living Library

The Open Data for Social Impact Framework is a tool that leaders can use to put data to work to solve the challenges most important to them. Recognizing that not all data can be made publicly accessible, we see the tremendous benefits of advancing more open data, whether that takes shape as trusted data collaborations or truly open and public data. We use the phrase ‘social impact’ to mean a positive change towards addressing a societal problem, such as reducing carbon emissions, closing the broadband gap, building skills for jobs, and advancing accessibility and inclusion

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The public sector must adopt more dynamic strategies and mindsets and continue delivering effective services in the face of fiscal and regulatory constraints. This was the call of the  Conference on Public Sector Productivity, organized by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) in partnership with the Asian Productivity Organization (APO), last August 25, 2021.

Through presentations and a panel discussion, the conference tackled alternative workplace and service delivery strategies, measurement and management of work productivity, and nurturing a productivity mindset in the new normal. 

Over 3,700 participants made up of policymakers and government officials, representatives of government enterprises, and staff of public-sector organizations and research institutions watched the livestream through Zoom, Youtube, and Facebook. Participants also included 181 international delegates from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Republic of China, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam.

APO Secretary-General Dr. AKP Mochtan and APO Director for the Philippines, Undersecretary Jose Miguel R. De La Rosa both emphasized the need to leverage the available digital platforms because of the multifaceted impact of the pandemic Aside from highlighting productivity and innovation, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara added that public sector professionals should perform their duties to the best of their ability and go beyond the call of duty if they can. 

Dynamism, Flexibility for Service Continuity

In South Korea and Malaysia, the public sector used regulations and digitalization to ensure continued functioning despite the pandemic. 

Using public-private data for their Covid-19 Response System, the South Korean government was able to easily detect the location of the patients for effective contact tracing. Data-sharing was also used in their Mobile Vaccine Reservation in cooperation with the leading messaging service in the country, Kakao Talk, making it easier, faster, and more accurate. Through this, the citizens can also easily access information if there are leftover vaccines.

The Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) ensured productivity gains through the integration of regulatory facilitation and digitalization between public and private players. The digitalization of their procurement system diminished the use of hardcopy documents and enabled better tracking of the application process. Increased productivity and flexibility were noted because of the use of online meeting platforms as well as limitless educational possibilities with a full subscription to online platform learning. The transformation from physical seminars to online webinars boosted the number of participants as they can participate from all around the globe. Companies can receive certification from MPC faster and at a lower cost through an online self-assessment mechanism.

One of the public sector’s major stumbling blocks during a crisis is that it does not anticipate and innovate enough. The architecture of system thinking, innovation and foresight functions will enable efficient governance approaches in the new normal, according to Dr. Piret Tõnurist of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Using Anticipatory Innovation Governance, organizations can foresee various futures and explore options. The framework requires an authorizing environment with networks and partnerships, public participation, vested interests, legitimacy, evidence evaluation, and learning loops to develop policies for complex and uncertain contexts. 

The framework pushes governments to challenge the status quo by asking the following questions: Should governments rely on crises to make technology, solutions, and innovations within the public sector possible? What other processes, tools, and methods can organizations use continuously to improve its processes? What behavioral, organizational, and institutional drivers within organizations will drive innovation?

Innovation and COVID-19 Responses

Partnerships are the great enabler for the Office of the Vice President of the Philippines (OVP) pandemic response programs. By working with the private sector, they were able to expand their reach and multiply their efforts making their presence felt throughout the country. By working with local government units, the online application market service Community Mart, improved the income of market vendors and tricycle drivers while having less exposure to customers. Volunteers paved the way for the Bayanihan E-Konsulta, a free teleconsultation service that aims to help decongest hospitals in Metro Manila.

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In Makati City, the Makatizen application and card served as lifelines for residents who needed government support and emergency services. The Makatizen Card is a multipurpose card that allowed the Makati government to transfer financial assistance to its constituents, and enabled citizens to make electronic purchases. The Makatizen app offered a platform where users can access the latest announcements from the city government and offered access to the proper authorities for any emergency that requires urgent government assistance and intervention. Technology aided new possibilities in addressing the demands of governance under the new normal.Education should continue despite the challenges of internet-based/blended learning through the establishment of community learning hubs, which serves multiple school-age children, rather than trying to ensure that each household has a device or internet service.

For his closing remarks, DAP President and Chief Executive Officer, Atty. Engelbert Caronan, Jr. relayed that pushing for productivity, innovation, and foresight in the public sector is not a matter of perspective anymore, and the government’s capacity to respond effectively and efficiently to the current and emerging concerns of the people should be a given. According to him, the government must be agile  and must assume that we have to hurdle the digital divide on behalf of our clients, instead of them having to invest in additional resources to access our services. And lastly, he imparted that every organization’s quest for productivity should consider the effects their interventions have on the lives of the people they serve.

Innovative thinking was the theme for the month’s Public Sector Productivity Webisodes organized by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP). The free webinar series entitled, Innovative Thinking for Enhancing Public Sector Productivity, was held on 15-17 September 2021. It featured innovation champions, Adrian Ramirez, Leanne Lozanes, Anita S. Gubalane, and Paul Vincent Avecilla.

Co-Creation Innovation Process in DAP practice

Day 1 was an introductory course on innovative thinking. Adrian Ramirez, project manager of the Center of Excellence on Public Sector Productivity Innovation Laboratory Program, together with Leanne Lozanes, associate project officer with the Productivity and Development Center in DAP, facilitated the interactive talk attended by over two thousand participants from various government and private agencies.

The speakers discussed fundamental concepts on innovation and ideation tools and techniques such as Revolution, Opposite thinking, Crazy 4s, and Crazy 8s, SCAMPER Technique, and Related World. They also presented the co-creation innovation process that the DAP advocates in implementing innovative projects for the public sector.

Ramirez noted the central role of empathy in the co-creation innovation process. He shared, “we try to involve the stakeholder or the end-user every step of the way. Empathy is our tool to make sure that we include them every step of the way, and I think that is the heart and soul of the co-creation innovation process.”

Constant change calls for continuous intentional efforts to innovate and to improve present standards and practices in the government. As Ramirez explained, the needs of today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world are indeed becoming more and more complex each day, and innovation is key to addressing them. 

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To conclude the episode, Lozanes shared a short quote from Steve Jobs, one of the most successful innovators of all time: “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat.” She added, “just like what we’ve experienced in the past months with the COVID-19 pandemic. Even [though] we experienced a lot of changes because of the pandemic, our government did not stop in delivering the services. We saw it as an opportunity to really improve the delivery of our services, change our approaches in the way we do things in the government, and, basically, revolutionize the way we approach things.”

DepEd Antique Innovation Project

On Day 2 of the webinar, the education program supervisor in Science in the Division of Antique and the Division Focal Person for Special Education, Anita S. Gubalane presented about Count on US, ANITA (United Stakeholders, Activate the Nurturing Intensive Teaching amidst Adversity), a project implemented by DepEd Antique in cooperation with the DAP Center for Governance.

According to Gubalane, the project was implemented to address problems in literacy and numeracy among Grade 3 learners in Antique. It aims to maximize learning support systems for non-readers and non-numerates in the new normal. She explained, “Project COUNT on US, ANITA depicts the true bayanihan spirit wherein our stakeholders collaborate and work together for our beneficiaries.”

In the test conducted by the Schools Division of Antique, it was found that many of the Grade 3 learners enrolled in the school year 2020 to 2021, especially from the vulnerable sectors, struggle with understanding self-learning modules due to factors such as the absence of face-to-face instruction, the inability of parents to provide learning support, and lack of access to technology. These identified factors served as the basis for the measures they carried out in the intervention, which include intensive remote teaching, the organization of a mentoring hub for parents, learners, and teachers, capacity building for teachers, a conference for the parents on their role in their children’s education, and the development of learning packages.

Gubalane proudly shared that through Count on US, ANITA, about 45 percent of the third-grade non-readers increased their reading level from non-reading to instructional level, while 56 percent increased in numeracy level. Another feat that she brought up was the replication of the literacy and numeracy project in other districts in Antique such as San Jose and Hamtic North.


Digitization of government services is now becoming the new normal. Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) was one of the many government offices that recently started to offer online services to make transactions easier, safer, and contactless.

The Day 3 webinar topic, entitled Digitalization of Government Services in the New Normal: Overseas Filipinos CFO Online Registration (OF-CORS), was facilitated by Paul Vincent Avecilla, senior emigrant services officer at the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO).

Avecilla shared how this innovation in CFO has revolutionized their service quality for their clients. With online systems and quality management systems in place now, transactions have become way more efficient compared to before wherein they entail tedious, time-consuming steps and many documentary requirements.

Salient features of OF-CORS include online registration, online verification, online payment, online PDOS, online feedback, and a digital certificate system.

Click here to read more about OF-CORS.

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May 11, 2018 marks the end of the 2-week Development of Public Sector Productivity Specialists course. Twenty-six aspiring productivity specialists from different Philippine public sector agencies learned about the different productivity concepts, tools & techniques, and best practices in improving public sector productivity.

The participants of the DPSPS Local Run 2017.
The participants coming from 8 agencies – Food and Drug Administration PhilippinesLand Transportation OfficeDOST Regional Office No. IXDepartment of EducationLand Bank of the PhilippinesLGU Davao City, Business Permits Licensing Office Paranaque City, Department of Social Welfare and Development – are expected to implement their Innovation and Productivity Improvement Projects in their respective organizations in the succeeding months.