The APO Center of Excellence on Public Sector Productivity
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The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) trained 43 participants during the Designing Citizen-Centered Public Services workshops held from 25 to 29 July 2022. Participants came from the following ten agencies:
Department of Education (DepEd) – Quezon Province
DepEd – Calamba
DepEd – Mandaluyong City
Department of Science and Technology Region VI (DOST VI),
Cooperative Development Authority Region IV-A (CDA IV-A)
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA)
Lung Center of the Philippines
Southern Philippines Medical Center
West Visayas State University
Cagayan State University.
Ms. Beatrice Francesca A. Orante, Associate Project Officer from the DAP Center of Excellence on Public Sector Productivity, instructed the participants in the use of a structured and human-centered process for analyzing service issues and designing solutions. She also guided them through a series of workshops where they applied their learnings while developing service improvements.
At the end of the sessions, the ten agencies produced proposals and action plans that they will implement after the workshops. They will carry out these tests with additional coaching and project incubation activities from the DAP before presenting their progress in November.
Putting citizens at the center of innovation
The workshops and activities also introduced a more citizen-centered approach to service delivery and productivity. They drew from clients’ pain points and emotions to identify issues and opportunities. They also designed solutions and implementation strategies that considered desirability and overall alignment with stakeholders’ expectations, interests, and needs. Lastly, they ran tests with their target users to gather feedback they could use to improve their projects.
Lectures provided additional context as to the principles of citizen-centered service design and how they factor into the tools and activities and the innovation process as a whole. The discussions also featured exemplary services from the Philippines and other countries and the experiences of past participants.
The world is changing in dramatic ways and public servants are in a good position to take advantage of these changes. Here is the list of trends related to the public sector that can help decision-makers craft national strategy and navigate an uncertain future towards achieving global sustainable development goals.
Advance Long-Term Health Security Across Africa
Source: African Development Bank Group
To increase the production capacity of vaccines and reduce reliance on imports in the African continent, South Africa announced a partnership with Biovac, together with nine development and finance institutions in Cape Town, to support vaccine manufacturing expansion. This initiative will boost the country’s response to COVID-19 and advance long-term health security throughout the African continent.
Improving the quality of post-harvest processes in Ghana’s rice value chain
Source: United Nations Industrial Development Organization
Rice is an important crop in Ghana, with a steady increase in consumption over recent decades due to population growth, urbanization and changes in consumer habits. As a joint effort of the government of Ghana and Japan, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), this project will strengthen competencies along the value chain in order to make use of modern technologies, realize higher value creation, and comply with market requirements.
How VR, Data, and AI are Revolutionizing Higher Education
Technology is transforming the way students are learning in institutes of higher learning across the world. Students majoring in pharmaceutical engineering are faced with learning how to use complex equipment necessary for their field of study through virtual simulation. At the Applied Learning Conference 2022, speakers from Singapore institutions shared how tech such as virtual reality (VR) and games can help students learn better beyond the classroom.
As technology advances to bring us new immersive and imaginary worlds, how we can educate children and prepare teachers must also advance to meet these new opportunities. Today, as the metaverse infrastructure is still under construction, researchers, educators, policymakers, and digital designers have a chance to lead the way.
Organizational change is never easy, but achieving digital maturity can be a difficult journey, even for digital-first companies. A roundtable discussion with 175 senior executives around the globe and more than 1,500 executives from 90 countries helped form a picture of today’s digital transformation.
How design thinking can improve digital public services
As citizens become used to personalized platforms like TikTok, they expect the same from government public services as well. Governments can fulfil citizen needs even during a crisis by designing flexible systems that can quickly respond to new challenges, citizens rely on governments to share reliable and updated information during public crises.
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.
In Makati City, the Makatizen application and card served as lifelines for residents who needed government support and emergency services. TheMakatizen 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.
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.
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