Just couple months ago, I had the pleasure of listening in on presentations by the entrants in our Public sector Customer Service competition. The awards ceremony is still fresh in my memory. The unrelenting efforts of some of our public servants in exceeding clients’ expectations was personally inspiring –in many ways they were being creative and inventive in the face of tremendous challenge to satisfy the public, our customers.
The examples of exceptional service reminded us, and it’s easy to forget, the values of why we do what we do and what motivates us to change.
We are not just changing for the sake of changing. This government has been determined to transform public services but we have not always been very good at explaining why and what is the vision for the transformed public service.
We talk about the public sector contributing to economic development but very often, it doesn’t quite hit home for many of us how, as a public sector and as individual public servants we can make the life for every Jamaican better.
The core of Public Sector Transformation is this: to provide the services that our business and citizens need to fulfil their potential. To help our businesses compete and to offer the quality of public services our citizens can depend on.
Over the last fifteen years or so public sector organisations have made services accessible at times and in ways that are convenient to our clients.
When we talk about becoming a logistics centred economy-it is easy to think of that goal as too distant from us to even influence it. When we talk about attracting investment-we seem to think we are concerning ourselves with building a Jamaica for others to enjoy
No-we are building a Jamaica for us, Jamaicans to enjoy.
The Government must exist to make it easier for business and citizens to thrive.
We exist to facilitate and not frustrate our customers.
If the businessman in Panama wants to create employment for 4000 factory workers in Jamaica but has to go through a long tedious process to register and set up his business, he will take his business elsewhere.
If the poor young man in Westmoreland who has big dreams of starting a little business, has to make repeated trips from Westmoreland to Kingston and find money to pay a lawyer to help him understand the business registration process- we, the public sector, would have created unnecessary obstacles for him to fulfil his potential.
That is why the Companies Office of Jamaica has set up a One stop shop for business registration and by early next year, will offer online business registration so that investors all over and our very own people can earn more for themselves.
That is why we do what we do.
If the taxi driver who needs to make ten trips a day to support his family, has to take half day at the Vehicle Depot to get his fitness, we, the public sector, have robbed him, and his family..
If you decide to build a house or put up a business place and have to wait months before you can first get approvals from local authorities to start and then have to wait months before you get electricity installed- we in the public sector would have robbed you of productive earning hours and frustrated your dreams.
That is why we are making radical changes to the Development Approvals Process and modernising the electrical inspections process to shorten time so that people can ‘get on with living’
That is why we do what we do.
If an old woman needs cheaper healthcare and has to wait weeks and days to get her JADEP card, we make her life unnecessarily difficult.
And that is why the NHF has introduced the same day card service so that we can do what we can to make it just a little easier for that already frail woman
That is why we do what we do
If the self-employed business person who needs to get their passport renewed or pay taxes has to take the day off or wait weeks to get back documents – Do we understand how that ‘waste’ of time, steals precious hours from making us an efficient Jamaica?
And that is why we have reduced turnaround times in the Passport Office and even offer same day service and are working towards all tax payments being done online.
That is why we do what we do. Every public servant’s primary responsibility is to serve, and serve well.
There are enough examples of good public service that we all can each learn from.
There are clear examples of how transformation of government services are making the lives of Jamaicans better but we are far from where we need to be. These are just few of the ways the public sector is changing but we must move the entire public sector to the level of the best.
Too many of our services are not designed around the needs of the citizen -but are designed around what is convenient for us the providers.
Resources are thin yes but, that is no excuse why each government organisation cannot harness the talent and creativity of every employee in order to find ways to do more with less.
The scale of challenges still facing us and the need to hold our own in a competitive world mean that we have to, more than ever before, change the way the entire government works.