The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), as the Asian Productivity Organization Center of Excellence on Public Sector Productivity, organized a free webinar series on knowledge management (KM) principles and processes in the public sector on August 11, 12, and 13. The series is part of the second season of Public Sector Productivity Webisodes, an initiative to raise awareness on relevant productivity and innovation topics and help mobilize public sector organizations.

Jon Del Rosario, supervising fellow and professor of Knowledge Management and Quality Management of DAP Graduate School of Public and Development Management, facilitated the first two installments, which provided a general overview of knowledge management and its application in the public sector. For the last episode of the series, Dr. Enrique Tayag, director of the Department of Health’s Knowledge Management and Information Technology Service, shared his office’s knowledge management experiences during the new normal.

Knowledge Management in the Public Sector

Del Rosario defined knowledge management as the management of the environment and the organizational and individual processes that assure that the application or use of knowledge produces the results that provide value for stakeholders. On the organizational aspect, this involves the acquisition or creation, storage, access and retention, transfer, application, and continual improvement of knowledge. Individual processes in KM, on the other hand, entail knowledge reflection and internalization, externalization and integration, and sharing and validation or revision.

The first day of the series, entitled Introduction to Knowledge Management in the Public Sector, mainly revolved around the basic concepts related to knowledge management. Del Rosario explained that the practice of knowledge management centers on ensuring that knowledge is used or applied, shared, and retained by those who work for and interact with the organization.

The speaker also stressed the importance of knowledge management in every organization. He noted that most, if not all, work in organizations is enabled by knowledge. Such knowledge when applied always leads to value creation to the organization, and it is through knowledge management that its retention becomes possible.

“The use  of [knowledge] is very fleeting if you don’t document it. It has to be captured with the use of [knowledge management]… When people leave the organization, they also bring their knowledge [with them],” Del Rosario added.

On Day 2 of the webinar, entitled The Practice of Knowledge Management in the Public Sector, the speaker delved into domains of practice of knowledge management. Del Rosario also shared his proposed model of integrated organizational-personal knowledge management process. In the model, he illustrated the process of knowledge management beginning at the identification of stakeholder needs and expectations, which determines knowledge and knowledge needs, and resulting in the satisfaction of such needs. In between these stages are the actual knowledge management processes, tools, learning, and interventions and performance and change in terms or decisions, actions, and practices. He also touched on an example of knowledge management in the DAP Public Sector Productivity Innovation Laboratory, which applies the co-creation innovation model in its innovation processes to ensure that key stakeholders are involved every step of the way.

DOH Knowledge Management in the New Normal

In his presentation, entitled The Pandemic Reboot of Knowledge Management in the Public Health Sector, Dr. Tayag presented the knowledge management framework of DOH, called KM4 Health, which involves four (4) components: knowledge acquisition, knowledge production, knowledge innovation, and knowledge utilization.

The transition to the new normal created by the COVID-19 pandemic posed new challenges on many processes and aspects of the department, including their knowledge management practices. Dr. Tayag shared a few of the knowledge management discrepancies that DOH has encountered in each of the KM4Health components, as well as the corresponding countermeasures that it has implemented to address them.

In the aspect of knowledge acquisition, the DOH created an e-Learning platform on their website to address training needs since in-person interactions have been restricted due to the pandemic. For the knowledge production component, the department has launched a COVID-19 Tracker on its website and DOH DataCollect App, which gathers data from hospitals on the availability of hospital beds, isolation rooms, ICU beds, mechanical ventilators, and other essential resources and supplies.

Disrupted medical services have also been a major problem with the surge of Covid-19 cases in the country. As a countermeasure, DOH implemented a telemedicine system for Covid-19 patients. The initiative falls under the knowledge innovation component.

Finally, as for the knowledge sharing component, DOH started a Knowledge Management and Information Technology Service (KMITS) Virtual Daily Huddle among the department members, where they talk about operational matters and pandemic response strategies. Aside from this, they also conduct various webinars to promote correct information on COVID-19 amid the spread of fake news especially online. Other knowledge management efforts of DOH include leading the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a conglomeration of various agencies and experts who view and analyze data and give recommendations for every activity on the management of emerging infectious disease, and the creation of technical working group on eHealthcare Services.

Dr. Tayag explained, “it is important that we change our strategy from knowledge exploitation to knowledge exploration. If we do things the way we [did] before to address our discrepancies, we will fail. We have to explore, or better, we [must] think collectively and change the way things are but not how we thought it to be.”

On November 2013, the Philippines was struck by Typhoon Haiyan, the deadliest and most destructive tropical cyclone in Philippine recorded history. The typhoon took 6,300 lives and affected 1.48 million families in addition to causing approximately $2 billion in damages. The resulting destruction in provinces such as Eastern Samar, Leyte, Quezon, Capiz, Iloilo, Aklan and Antique required evacuation operations care of local government units  and intensive relief and rehabilitation operations by the combined efforts of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Office Of Civil Defense (OCD), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), various non-government organizations and civilian aid. The NBI had been charged with handling natural disasters while the Philippine National Police (PNP) is charged with missing persons and human-induced disasters.

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Just two weeks after the incident, almost two thousand bodies had been recovered from affected areas, a number that would continue to increase as relief and recovery operations continued. Majority of the bodies died through drowning or were hit by falling objects from collapsed structures. Retrieval of bodies was conducted with the assistance of the PNP and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), while external examinations, standard data collection, and body identification were conducted by teams from DOH and NBI. Fifty percent of the bodies received in the collection center were examined by the DOH team, while the remainder was processed by the NBI. Only fourteen percent were identified through personal belongings while reports estimate thirty three to eighty nine percent of the bodies have remained unidentified prior to mass burial for sanitation purposes. Failure to identify a huge proportion of the recovered bodies was a massive disappointment to both the public and the families of the victims, which subsequently led to a decrease in public trust in the bureaucracy.

This failure was attributed to poor post-disaster management planning, along with the lack of a common database and a single identification algorithm across agencies. The lack of guidelines and procedures in the management of bodies made it extremely difficult to cross-reference information between autopsy details and missing persons reports. These events prompted the creation of a Unified Workflow for the NBI and other agencies involved in Disaster Victim Identification proposed by Dr. Arjay Jeresano, a medico legal officer of the NBI. The Workflow complements the National Policy on the Management of the Dead and the Missing Persons During Emergencies and Disasters. During a disaster, the MDM cluster is activated followed by the deployment of field commanders and post-mortem teams to the affected sites, sampling and collection, identification process, ante-mortem team deployment, matching of identities, and reconciliation of bodies with their respective families. The project earned the title of Most Collaborative Re-Entry Project from DAP.

(Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images)

The Unified Workflow of the NBI was applies SECI Model of Organizational Knowledge Creation (Nonaka and Takeuchi 1996) which involves four ways in which knowledge types can be combined and converted: 1) The sharing and creation of tacit knowledge through direct experience; 2) Learning and acquiring new tacit knowledge in practice; 3) Articulating tacit knowledge through dialogue and reflection; and 4) Systemizing and applying explicit knowledge and information. The model is based on two types of knowledge – explicit and tacit. Tacit knowledge is held by individuals and is not readily expressed or transferred such as things we can explain but have not externalized while explicit knowledge is knowledge that has been articulated and expressed, or knowledge that comes from inside and outside the organization that has been combined. The fundamental quality of the SECI Model is the transformation of the two types of knowledge into meaningful information for a specific purpose, best exemplified in this case by the system of post-mortem data collection and identification.  Through this new system, agencies will have a set of guidelines to follow to significantly decrease the number of unidentified bodies in future disasters.

The SECI model (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995).

Knowledge management, along with inter-agency coordination and planning, can save lives and maintain order in times of disasters. The establishment of systems, guidelines and procedures remain crucial in improving organizational productivity, maintaining the quality of service delivery and excellence in any organization.