25 September 2007

Civil servants must rise to the challenge

The STar

DEPUTY Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has called on the public service to improve its efficiency in the delivery of its services and to enhance its implementation capacity and capability to improve our competitive edge in the global arena.

In his address at the 12th Civil Service Conference, he stressed that it is imperative for the public service to understand the demands and challenges of the 21st Century public service.

“Like a good chess player who is able to read several moves ahead, the public service should be able to strategically forecast the future needs of the public and the government.

“This would require a rethinking of its roles and functions to adapt to the forces that demand a reshape to the public service delivery system,” he said.

“Undoubtedly, bureaucracy of the past cannot be retrofitted to meet the needs of the information age.

“Obsolete, century old systems must be replaced with new models better suited to the needs of the 21st century. This transformation will require new approaches to every aspect, from organisational structures and operating practices to personnel systems and service delivery models,” he said.

Najib told the civil servants to be focused on the customer.

“It is pertinent for the public service to reinvent the entire service delivery system – across all agencies and all levels of government. This is because from the user perspective, their needs typically cut across the organisational structures and hierarchies of government.

“Citizens would prefer to have a single online destination for government services instead of multiple destinations.

“Multiple transactions, involving a number of different government departments or agencies, can be incredibly difficult for them and business.

“Agencies thus need to be reorganised around citizen’s needs instead of bureaucratic processes.”

Najib reminded the participants that the government too has clients of different profiles and generation in terms of education, age, culture and social economic status.

“They want to interact with government in different ways.

“They do not want to queue up in a long line at the government offices to be served or wait for hours to access a service.

“In line with the pervasive use of ICT in offering multiple channels public services, such as online, telephone, over the counter, mail, mobile phone, kiosk and even podcasts is therefore unavoidable.”

In a study conducted in more than 100 countries, by the Global Information Technology, it was proven that there is an 89% correlation between the effective deployment of ICT usage and productivity improvement.

Najib noted that the Special Task Force to Facilitate Business or Pemudah, which is co-chaired by the Chief Secretary to the Government and the President of Federation of Malaysian Manufacturer, has made headways in improving the efficiency of the public service delivery system.

At the end of the day, Najib said, no meaningful results can be achieved in the public service if the implementers do not have the appropriate work values and ethics.

“To be competitive, the people in the organisation would need to change their values and ethics to suit the demands for change.

“This is no easy task. However, it is a necessity. Related to work values and ethics is the public sector accountability which remains crucial to becoming competitive.

“Transparency validates accountability and allows people to make judgments about effectiveness of the government,” he said.

He urged the top leadership in the public service to demonstrate full commitment in the implementation of this very important agenda of national competitiveness.

“You should constantly reexamine, rethink and readjust the ways of providing the public delivery services in the most competitive way to create new value propositions,” said Najib.

“In other words, nothing is sacrosanct that cannot be changed, reviewed or reinvented to achieve greater efficiency. By doing so, we will invariably contribute to sharpening our country’s global competitiveness and ensuring the attainment of long-term prosperity for our people and country.”

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