The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) held a webinar on Public Sector Productivity Concepts and Tools last 22-24 March 2022 as the first installment of this year’s of Public Sector Productivity (PSP) Webisodes, a year-long initiative to raise awareness on productivity and innovation topics in the public sector through the virtual space. Speakers for the three-day webinar were Director Samuel Rosal of DAP’s Technology Management Office, Director Mary Ann Vilchez of the Internal Audit Service of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Niña Marie Estudillo, an Asian Productivity Organization (APO) productivity practitioner, technical expert, and trainer.
Understanding the concept of productivity in the public sector
The webinar started with an overview of productivity, as Dir. Rosal aimed to provide the participants with a foundation of the concept. He defined productivity as a “formula between the quantity of output versus the quantity of input in the production process,” and it is seen as “a ratio between the goods and services produced versus the resources such as labor, materials, machinery, and energy.”
He then expanded the discussion from productivity to effectiveness, which looks at the ratio of outcomes to inputs, instead of looking at just the ratio of outputs and inputs (i.e., productivity). Crucially, he notes that outcomes are different from outputs in the sense that the dimension of outcomes is more significant.
Dir. Rosal also framed productivity in the public sector as the capacity of an organization to fulfill the desired societal outcomes as mandated in the most efficient, effective, and economical management of public goods and services provided. He pointed out that public servants work hard to achieve goals and desired outcomes to purposefully benefit their clients—the citizens—especially since the resources that make the public sector run actually come from them.
Productivity Improvement Project (PIP) as a tool for improving public sector productivity
On the second day of the webinar, Dir. Vilchez focused on the importance of a productivity improvement project (PIP) as a tool for improving public sector productivity. She introduced the PIP as the final output of trainees from the Developing Public Sector Productivity Specialist (DPSPS) course by the APO which focuses on drawing out from the trainees “practical and effective ways of utilizing the knowledge gained from the course.” She further explained that “a Productivity Improvement Project is an organized, comprehensive, and long term intervention that involves the use of innovation to enhance and sustain high productivity levels and performance of organizations or target systems.” The PIP can even be considered an innovative tool because it is something that has not yet been done, or at the very least, an improvement of what is already being done.
Competencies of a productivity specialist
To conclude the webinar series, Ms. Estudillo shared the competencies of a productivity specialist, which she defines as a highly skilled individual whose work concentrates primarily on applications of productivity-related solutions and activities in consultancy, training, promotion, and research assignments. Given this definition, a productivity specialist’s roles in productivity improvement initiatives are as a promoter, a consultant, a trainer, and a researcher.
A participant asked, “How is a PSP specialist placed in an organization—is it under HR, internal audit, or a separate team? What specifically is his or her role in an organization?” The speaker did not specify any level in the relative hierarchy or structure of an organization, but she did mention that while there is no widely accepted job description for one yet, a PSP specialist’s role is to encourage change to achieve a more effective and efficient system.