The Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) held a webinar series on Public Workforce Futureproofing: Elevating Productivity in the New Normal on 28-29 June 2022. The series discussed the changing landscape of the public sector’s work environment and the strategies that can be applied to face the challenges.

Former CSI Executive Director, Mr. Arthur Florentin (upper right) and Mr. Edward Santiago of Lifekite (upper left) discussing the trends and challenges around future-proofing the public sector workforce.

The changing landscape of work in the the public sector

The series opened with the former executive director of the Civil Service Institute (CSI), Mr. Arthur Florentin, who provided an overview on the future of work and the new competencies that need to be developed in the public sector. He identified four characteristics that continue to be evident, despite modernization efforts in recent years:

  • Rigid practices
  • Attendance-driven without indicating the type of work
  • Manual processes for service delivery
  • Standardization of past success factors

To better prepare the public sector for future risks and opportunities, Mr. Florentin suggested applying more results-oriented performance measurement, flexible working arrangements, and a strategic and anticipatory mindset. He explained that these changes would help organizations continue their work regardless of the situation and build the digital skills of staff.

Asked by a participant if the work-from-home arrangement has ensured productivity, Mr. Florentin said that, from the recent studies, it has ensured continuity but its effectiveness still depends on how leaders guide their staff. He also told another participant that retooling and upskilling strategies should focus on flexibility, agility, and lifelong learning.

Resiliency and wellness in the new era of work

The second day of the webinar series featured an interactive session on mindfulness and resilience led by Mr. Edward Santiago of Lifekite, a transformational growth company.

At the beginning of his lecture, Mr. Santiago defined mindfulness as a therapeutic technique to achieve a “mental state that is focused and aware of the present moment with acknowledgment of one’s feelings and thoughts.” He explained that mindfulness can help improve social relationships, reduce stress, and enhance one’s resilience through positivity and gratefulness. Organizations also benefit from mindfulness because it helps individuals focus better, thus elevating productivity and performance.

Mr. Santiago outlined four steps in practicing mindfulness:

  1. Pause and look for a breather
  2. Identify things to be thankful for and to improve
  3. Take deep breaths to calm down
  4. Care for one’s self to be healthy

During the Q&A with the participants, Mr. Santiago promoted compassionate leadership, educating staff, facilitating communication among individuals, and creating a psychologically safe environment in offices.

In relation to reaching targets in the public sector, a participant asked, “how can our managers help staff mitigate the mental health risks of overwork?” Mr. Santiago responded by saying, “compassionate leadership is essential in that it thinks how its team can better accomplish the job, but are also being productive and efficient. Education, also, to teach people that there is a new way of doing it, and communication.” The second session ended with a question on what structure an office can observe to maintain psychological safety and productivity in the workplace. The speaker suggested for a team to meet at least one hour in a week where they’ll be able to have a space to discuss their thoughts and express support for each other.

Replay of this webinar series is accessible on Facebook and Youtube. Stay tuned for more upcoming webinar series in the coming months.

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 conducted the Workshop on Digital Transformation for the Public Sector from 13 to 15 July 2022.

Forty-three (43) participants and twelve (12) observers from Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Türkiye, and Vietnam listened to lectures on digital transformation strategies, issues, and advances. They also conducted discussions on people-centered digital transformation and planning for possible risks.

Current trends, issues

Class photo of the participants with the resource persons and DAP SVP Magdalena L. Mendoza.

DAP Senior Vice President for Programs Ms. Magdalena L. Mendoza kicked off the activity by encouraging the participants to maximize technological advancements to deliver citizen-centered services and address challenges.

Ms. Hyejeong Lim sharing the Republic of Korea’s best practices on digital governance.


Dr. Toshio Obi, Professor Emeritus at Waseda University’s Institute of Digital Government, and Ms. Hyejeong Lim, Principal Manager of the National Information Society Agency, discussed current trends and issues in digital transformation. Dr. Obi shared examples of how technological advances have helped Japan respond to challenges like an aging population and natural disasters, while Ms. Lim explained the Republic of Korea’s open data policies and initiatives, its journey towards a digital government, and the plans to build on this progress. 

Dr. Jelena Dzakula discussing the different disruptive technologies and their ethical and social challenges

Dr. Jelena Dzakula, Lecturer at the King’s College London’s Department of Digital Humanities, recounted Europe’s digital transformation journey, including evaluations and case studies that contributed to current innovations. Presenting another view on disruptive technologies, she said automation, AI, and blockchain have encouraged democratization and improved organizational efficiency while introducing ethical challenges like the amplification of certain racial prejudices and threats to privacy. 

Practical considerations

The lectures and activities also tackled more practical strategies for digital transformation in the public sector.

Dr. Toshio Obi discussing different frameworks regarding digital transformation. 

Dr. Obi argued that certain policies and structures either promote or hinder digital transformation’s conceptualization, integration, and implementation. The public sector does not yet have an enabling environment because public-private partnerships are few, and there is little political will around digitalization. He called for greater cooperation on the matter and capacity building for the public sector.

Dr. William Torres presenting the digital transformation journey of Asia Pacific countries. 

Dr. William Torres, Distinguished Professor at Mapúa University’s School of Information Technology, focused on the lessons learned from the Philippines’ digital transformation experience. He reasoned that the Philippines, a developing country at the beginning of its digitalization journey, needs the same investment in infrastructure and skills development as its neighbors to see progress.

The European Union also experiences similar problems in the digital divide, according to Dr. Dzakula. She also echoed the calls for more genuine citizen involvement through co-production and co-creation, including models to fully account for human behavior. 

Dr. Jasper Tallada presenting the group discussion output of the Philippines on AI as used by the International Rice Research Institute.

Mr. Muhammad Yousif Shaikh discussing the Business Continuity Plan with digital technology in Pakistan.

Small group discussions complemented the lectures and allowed participants to share their respective countries’ experiences. In the activities facilitated by Dr. Dzakula and Dr. Obi, the participants talked about the extent to which governments’ digital services and processes involved constituents and proposed business continuity plans for digital technology.

Mr. Armand Tristan Suratos, the APO Liaison Officer for the Philippines, closed the program by encouraging the participants to find opportunities to innovate and continuously learn about digital transformation.

The growing adoption of fast innovation in public services has become increasingly prevalent since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of 2020. This is indicative of a potential shift in the public service model from being reactive to being proactive. The following trends related to the public sector that can help decision-makers craft national strategies and navigate an uncertain future toward achieving global sustainable development goals.

Post-COVID Fiscal Rules: A Central Bank Perspective
Source: European Central Bank

This paper provides a simulation analysis for the euro area and individual countries to assess the short- and longer-term budgetary and macroeconomic implications of a move to a two-tier system with an expenditure growth rule as single operational indicator linked to a debt anchor. In particular, providing additional fiscal accommodation in a low inflation environment would enable monetary policy to operate more effectively, especially in the vicinity of the effective lower bound, thereby improving the synchronization of fiscal and monetary policies.

Read more 

Governments Need Agile Fiscal Policies as Food and Fuel Prices Spike
Source: International Monetary Fund

Just as increasing vaccinations offered hope, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted the global economic recovery. One of the most visible global effects has been the acceleration of energy and food prices, triggering concerns about episodes of food shortages and increasing the risks of malnutrition and social unrest. Economies worldwide have accumulated layer upon layer of legacies from past shocks since the global financial crisis. In response to the pandemic, extraordinary fiscal actions led to a surge in fiscal deficits and public debt in 2020.

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South Asia Sees Slower Growth as War in Ukraine Impedes Recovery, Worsens Existing Challenges
Source: World Bank

South Asia has faced multiple shocks in the past two years, including the scarring effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. High oil and food prices caused by the war in Ukraine will have a strong negative impact on peoples’ real incomes. Given these challenges, governments need to carefully plan monetary and fiscal policies to counter external shocks and protect the vulnerable while laying the foundation for green, resilient and inclusive growth.

Read more

6 Ways Indonesia Can Green Its Infrastructure Pipeline
Source: Southeast Asia Development Solutions

With 65% of Asia’s infrastructure projects not considered bankable and with the clock ticking to deliver on their net-zero goals, countries like Indonesia are under pressure to line up green projects that would attract investments from the private sector. A new report from Climate Bonds Initiative, an investor-focused not-for-profit that promotes large-scale investment in the low-carbon economy, said greening Indonesia’s infrastructure pipeline could be accelerated by key policy and institutional changes.

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Malaysia launched its Roadmap Towards Zero Single-use Plastics
Source: Asian Productivity Organization

The APO recognizes the diverse, unique strengths of its members and offers opportunities for mutual collective benefit through the Individual-country Observational Study Mission (IOSM) Program to tap each other’s strengths to inspire and guide the development of strategies, policies, and action plans for new initiatives and evolving ideas that are critical for development. Malaysia launched its Roadmap Towards Zero Single-use Plastics, 2018–2030, to create a cleaner, healthier environment by 2030. The government is seeking to address plastic pollution through a holistic approach in an environmentally sound manner, taking into account the public interest, readiness of the industry, and sustainability.

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Measuring Costs and Benefits of Citizen Science

Today, citizen science is on the rise with bigger projects that are more ambitious and better networked than ever before. And while collecting seawater samples and photographing wild birds are two well-known examples of citizen science, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to new data collection techniques enabled by the internet, smartphones, and social media, citizen science is evolving. Increased connectivity encourages a wide range of observations that can be easily recorded and shared. The reams of crowd-sourced data from members of the public are a boon for researchers working on large-scale and geographically diverse projects. Often it would be too difficult and expensive to obtain this data otherwise.

Read more 
AI in Education: Lessons for Schools in a New Era
Source: GovInsder

The UK government turned to AI to predict students’ grades during the pandemic when students couldn’t complete exams in person. But the algorithm was scrapped after it disproportionately marked down students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Creating strong regulations and ensuring teachers are on-board are two steps that schools can take to ensure classrooms in adopting AI smoothly. Addressing these concerns will help schools realize AI’s potential for personalizing learning. At the recent AI x GOV summit, public sector officials and education experts gathered to discuss the responsible and ethical adoption of AI in schools, and what this technology can bring to the learning environment.

Read more 

Solar-Powered Radios, Tablets, Wi-Fi Sets to Enable Distance Learning in Remote Schools in Philippines
Source: Asian Development Bank

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) turned over to the Philippines’ Department of Education (DepEd) the last batch of tablets, solar-powered transistor radios, and other information technology (IT) equipment as part of its $2.4 million in grant support for distance learning among secondary school students from poor and disadvantaged families in remote areas during and beyond the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The support is financed by technical assistance grants from ADB and the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific under the EdTech Solutions for Last Mile Schools in COVID-19 program.

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US-ASEAN Business Council, USAID, ASEAN launch SME Academy 2.0 to support ASEAN Economic Recovery
Source: Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Aiming to reach more micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and help accelerate their businesses recoveries, SME Academy 2.0 introduces many new features including courses available in local languages (Bahasa Indonesia, Thai, and Vietnamese), new attractive visual design features, and top-quality resources including specific modules for COVID-19 recovery. ASEAN SME Academy 2.0 also offers MSMEs self-certification opportunities, provides access to the SME Community and Academy Facilitators and integrates a seamless interface across both desktop and mobile platforms. The COVID-19 recovery tab focusing on contents specific to support MSMEs’ recovery from the pandemic will be launched in Q3 2022. Overall, the primary goal of the Academy is to provide a platform for ASEAN MSMEs to develop their digital skills.

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IMO’s Work to Cut GHG Emissions from Ships
Source: International Maritime Organization

IMO adopted the first set of international mandatory measures to improve ships’ energy efficiency on 15 July 2011. In the past decade, IMO has taken further action, including further regulatory measures and adopting the Initial IMO GHG strategy. To support their implementation IMO has been executing a comprehensive capacity building and technical assistance program, including a range of global projects. The Initial GHG Strategy includes a series of candidate short-, mid- and long-term measures, building on already-adopted mandatory energy-efficiency requirements for ships.

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Police Surveillance and Facial Recognition: Why Data Privacy is Imperative for Communities of Color
Source: The Brookings Institution

Governments and private companies have a long history of collecting data from civilians, often justifying the resulting loss of privacy in the name of national security, economic stability, or other societal benefits. But it is important to note that these trade-offs do not affect all individuals equally. Surveillance and data collection have disproportionately affected communities of color under past and current circumstances and political regimes. In this paper, we present the case for stronger federal privacy protections with proscriptive guardrails for the public and private sectors to mitigate the high risks associated with the development and procurement of surveillance technologies.

Read more

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. 

Learn more about this trend at

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. 

Learn more about this trend at

How VR, Data, and AI are Revolutionizing Higher Education

Source: GovInsider

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. 

Learn more about this trend at

A whole new world: Education meets the metaverse

Source: Brookings

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.

Learn more about this trend at

Digital Transformation: A New Roadmap for Success

Source: Harvard Business School

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. 

Learn more about this trend at

How design thinking can improve digital public services

Source: GovInsider

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. 

Learn more about this trend at

The COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably disrupted how employees traditionally worked. It forced organizations, both public and private, to adopt alternative work arrangements to sustain productivity and efficiency amid the ongoing crisis. For the public sector in particular, much is expected from the national and local government agencies to keep the unhampered delivery of key public services as the country grapples with the ramifications of the pandemic. It is against this backdrop that this case study attempts to situate the productivity of government agencies from the perspective of 2,756 civil servants as they adopted alternative work arrangements during the community quarantine period in May 2020.

Conducted through an online survey and focus group discussion, the findings showed that the alternative work arrangements adopted during the community quarantine period under study, regardless of what type, had positive effects on the perceived performance and productivity of government employees. The satisfactory level of self-perceived productivity of government employees reflected their agility in adjusting to non-traditional forms of work arrangements and resiliency in remaining productive and efficient amid an unprecedented external shock. The expected outputs from the respondents were still delivered, although the individual and organizational targets have unavoidably changed to suit the evolving new realities. From the agencies’ viewpoint, some savings were reportedly realized but there were also additional expenses incurred. There were adjustments pursued by the agencies which also signified the extra effort they exerted to ensure that their core services are delivered despite the disruptions while also safeguarding the health of their employees.

Unsurprisingly, the availability of ICT tools and equipment provided by the agencies and the availability of strong internet connectivity facilitated the employees’ accomplishment of their tasks while working under alternative work arrangements. Aside from these ICT-related factors, organizational culture—particularly high levels of trust and support from management, and an ethos of communication and collaboration within the organization—also plays a pivotal role in maintaining employee productivity.

However, alternative work arrangements, especially remote work, come with additional personal costs which can be a burden to many. A majority of the non-managerial employees were using their personal computer/laptop and internet connection to work on their assigned tasks while at home. The physical environment at home also affected their productivity performance. Those who work-from-home reportedly get easily distracted by personal matters such as household chores and childcare. However, having a conducive work environment at home is already within the control of the employees but might prove to be extra difficult given the pandemic situation.

Finally, while government employees reported satisfactory levels of productivity during the community quarantine period, providing them adequate support to help them remain productive while safeguarding their overall well-being during this uncertain time is of utmost importance. From the case study’s findings, the key recommendations include 1) maximizing the use of digital technologies and leveraging individual competencies in using these technologies; 2) establishing concrete performance standards for functions and tasks done remotely; and 3) recalibrating policies and guidelines in relation to human resource and performance management.

For a copy of the report, please email

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.