| Public Service Modernisation - Planning for |
Success in re-Organising and re-Engineering for Efficiency and Effectiveness
|Author: David L Evans Ph D, 15th March 2008|
|e-Governance R&D, ALERT::COMMUNICATIONS, St. David's, Grenada W. I.|
|Attributes & Personalities|
writer, George Bernard Shaw was famous for a variety of things
including his public statements - such as "Those who can DO, those who
can't TEACH". There is an underlying concept embodied in this statement
which contrasts personal dynamism with a more passive approach. Other
similar ideas are along the lines that the world is comprised of leaders
and followers. Yet another is that view that the world is populated by
creators and maintainers. From these views we may learn that there are
variety of personalities that one is likely to encounter in a large
organisation such as a Public Service or Corporation.
does Government sit in terms of attributes such as these ? Where does
the Public Service sit in relation to such attributes ?
all humans, and other beings there is an underlying biological need to
acquire food for sustenance. From this basic need springs
acquisitiveness in a number of guises - in its worst forms greed and
fundamental Law of Nature - termed by Physicists - the 3rd Law of
Thermodynamics is that entropy (the state of disorder in any system)
naturally increases and that the only way to decrease entropy is to do
work on the system. By way of a simple example - consider spilling a box
of matches. No matter how many times you do it never once will they
fall in such a way as to be orderly - all pointing in the same direction
- to get them to that state one has to do work - to line them up. If
one could design a special chute to spill them then the amount of work
to line them up might be much smaller - the spilling process is re-engineered to enable the process, of unloading the matches in an orderly manner, to be much more effective.
|A quick breakfast...|
and regulation are an out-growth of the process of civilization. Eating
one's neighbour for breakfast may be a quick and easy meal but the
reprisals may result in one being someone else's breakfast tomorrow -
not a happy state of affairs.
leads to organisation - the strong organise supporters to assist
themselves in achieving their goals. Enlightened dominance - that is
good leadership leads supporters to the achievement of worthwhile goals.
And achievement of dominance may be by fair competitive means or by
unfair disreputable means. In today's world we still see manifestations
of both types of dominance.
|Public Service Functions|
understand the need for a Public Service and the associated functions
that that implies it is necessary to have an understanding of Government
and the particular model of government tends to dictate the way in
which its administration is performed.
|Energy, Agriculture & Land|
simple terms, the world is powered by the sunshine which arrives every
day and by other energy sources which, in the case of fossil fuels, have
been stored for millennia ready for use. Nuclear energy is a further
form of stored energy which can be captured for beneficial use.
Agriculture is primarily powered by sunshine enabling plants to be
grown, some of which are consumed for food, others are consumed by
animals which are subsequently consumed in a number of food chains. The
usefulness of land for food production is a
fundamental need in the world with some countries being better at
utilising that resource than others.
a resource, such as land, has a value those societies which have a
monetary form of exchange develop systems of valuation of land,
described in monetary terms. Valid land valuation, in modern times,
relies on knowledge of the land area, the perceived value of the land
nearby and in other similar circumstances. Nearby residential land may
be quite different in value to neighbouring industrial land. Utility
value is also important. Land (of the same area) holding 12 apartments
will be of greater value than land for 4 apartments. Land producing 12
units of food will be worth more than that producing 4 units of food, of
the same area.
has developed a number of techniques for the organised development of
food crops - generally known as farming and horticulture. Intrinsic to
the development of such techniques has been the invention, deployment
and use of tools for more effective and efficient achievement of
cultivation techniques. Different environments have led to different
types of farming cultures. The farming culture suitable for growing and
harvesting grapes on a plain is quite different to that which is
suitable in a mountainous area. (Mechanical harvesters don't perform too
well on steeper slopes!)
came a time in the development of the world when the human race moved
ahead of other animals and came to be able to think abstractly. Whilst
domination is readily observable in the animal world the presence of
higher level communication - by way of language and writing is absent.
Abstract thought contains concepts such as comparison, mathematics,
opinions, right and wrong, kindness, thoughtfulness - a variety of
|Fairness & Competitiveness|
important product of human thought are systems of justice and the
consequences which flow from the concepts underlying justice - in
particular fairness. Stemming from the underlying need for biological
survival comes competitiveness. Stemming from abstract thought comes the
concept of fairness. And here is an important question - is it right
that a dominant male should dominate the herd, chasing off all other
males in order to perpetuate his genetic strain with off-spring from all
of the females in the herd. With the competitive feature highly
developed and no concept of justice whether it is right or not the
dominant male in the herd does not know any better so cannot be
criticised on any type of moral grounds. However when the dominant male
(or female) is a human being then the morality of this type of behaviour
is quite different and in civilized societies methods of regulation
have been established to restrain undue greed and misuse of power.
What is the Role of Government ?
world has reached the point where the concepts of competition and
justice are well developed even if they are not dealt with in exactly
the same way from country to country. On the other hand the utilisation
of these concepts is very uneven varying widely from country to country.
you might ask is this so ? The reality is that in those countries where
the climate is cold in the winter the need for planning to survive
through that less productive period each year coupled with contemplation
and reason has led to the development of societies where a higher value
has been placed on thought and, as a consequence, mechanical and other
innovation has developed much more rapidly than in the mild and hot
climatic regions of the world.
are also societies where monetary systems have existed for thousands of
years and others where money only arrived within the last 200 years.
Clearly cultural development, notions of justice in relation to assets
and technological development are at very different stages in different
cultures, different economies and countries.
|Models of Government|
- What is the Role of Government ? - There are many answers. There are
different models of government - the Westminster system, the
Presidential system and the Communist system are 3 that were prominent
in the 20th Century. An interesting question may be asked in relation to
the Communist system as analysis for its demise can be described in
terms of parameters which also cause aspects of both Public Service
systems and private business to fail.
|A Muslim Brewery ???|
I said to you that there was a western plan to build a brewery in a
Muslim state for local consumption and that only devoted Muslims were to
be employed then I could well expect you to indicate that such a
project was doomed to failure from the outset - it did not understand
the local culture and would never operate.
|Utopia & Human Psychology|
communist system was a utopian construct and as such was out of touch
with reality as it did not take into account human psychology - failing
to realise, amongst other things, that profit, gain and competitive
success is an intrinsic component of the human spirit and to repress
such rewards was to repress the human spirit. After 70 years of
development at a year-on-year rate of around 1% it could not help but be
noticeable that the resultant development was lagging far behind the 2%
year-on-year development in the "competing" western economies.
|Control & Suppression|
communist system was centrally planned and imposed from the top. Those
in control whilst not accumulating the wealth of a Czar were doing much
better than those at lower levels. The public service was all-powerful,
innovation was suppressed and development restricted.
|Failure of an Over-Controlled System|
may conclude that the role of government is therefore not to run the
country as a large pseudo-business. History has shown that that does not
|...of, for & by|
Government be "of the people", "for the people", "by the people" ? This
is the thesis of the western, democratic, Westminster and Presidential
forms of government and in terms of economic success appears to engender
the best results. (Japan is also a constitutional Monarchy similar to
Britain.) In these types of vibrant democracies there is always plenty
of public debate and despite the constant, healthy, internal criticism
economic success occurs in the environments of such administrations. As
someone once said - New Zealand - yes - a country with 4 million people
and 1 million Prime Ministers!
the communist scenario the same claims might be made - democratically
elected representatives to a Duma with 1 party (which is very similar to
no party), of the people, for the people and by the people. And what
might therefore asked - what was the difference. The difference lies in
the methodologies employed by those allowed to be elected. The party
controlled the selection of the candidates. Yes - in all other countries
the Parties select the candidates - and the method is different but much more importantly, in the communist system only one party is allowed!!
|First Need for Government|
look briefly at the justification for having any form of government.
From our earlier discussion it is evident that man has acquisitive
needs, ingenuity and power yet some are more civilised than others in
the exercise of those attributes. This leads to one major reason for
government and a degree of regulation of the public - a system of
Justice is needed to enable all to work and live in a fair environment.
|Second Need for Government|
second reason for Government is the need for infrastructure beyond the
means of individuals or private organisations - in particular this
relates to roading, education for all and higher level health care.
Today these are pre-requisites for a state to be able to compete
successfully in the modern world. Very few countries have sufficient
natural resources of each type to enable them to be entirely
self-sufficient - international trade has been with us a long time and
is going to continue.
the past century politicians sought, at times, to take unfair advantage
in a number of ways - seeking power by controlling media, wishing to
own railways and postal services. The economic results have generally
|A new Approach|
the 1980's there was a re-awakening - governments took stock and at
least one realised that it did not need to own hospitals to provide
health care - it could just be a supplier of money (and do it on a
rational basis). A strategy was formulated to purchase medical services
from hospitals that the government owned and from others which they did
not own, at a specified price for each procedure, and to stipulate
quality factors in the contract. (A system of bidding was used to
determine the prices.) The results were amazing. 5% year on year
increases in the quantity of high quality health care delivered for the
same dollar amount for the first 6 - 7 years of the new system. Part of
the strategy was for the government to transfer the higher levels of
management away from the hands of medical practitioners to generic
managers. Despite being an unpopular move the results, just described,
speak for themselves.
What was the real secret ?
If you looked over the fence and saw your neighbour growing twice as
many tomatoes as yourself on the same area of land you might realise
that he knew something that you did not.
is the term used to describe the change which began in the 1980's.
Governments moved to re-engineering their employee's systems of work
along the lines of their successful neighbours - private business.
Naturally there was some pain (but as some say - no pain - no gain). A
number of people who had gravitated to public service as they had
political views not in harmony with business left the public service
when it began to adopt a business model as its modus operandi.
|Levelling the Playing Field|
a government decides that it is not to be regarded as the holder of a
large bag of money but a responsible steward of the taxes it collects
then it starts to look for value for money in the areas of its
administration. It may go further and decide that all in business need
to be treated equally and to stop subsidising particular activities they
were persuaded by supporters to subsidise in the past. (Subsidies are
payments to under-performing sectors of business for which the
government gets zero value for the money spent but may gain voters to
its cause. On the other hand the politicians may lose potential support
from others who are jealous of those receiving the payments.)
|Straightening things out|
times governments 'take stock' and one of the questions a government
may ask itself is - which of the services it provides actually need
public servants to do the work. The result of this self-examination is
that governments have sold various businesses as they had absolutely
nothing to do with justice or the provision of services which required
the public purse for collective financing.
|The most trust-worthy!|
was a notion, at one time, that public servants were more honest than
others and were therefore the only people able to be trusted to deliver
English Television Series - "Yes Minister" was a delightful
illustration of - "Politicians are here today and gone tomorrow" - but
"The Public Service is here Forever".
take a brief look at a large successful corporation and a typical 'old
style' public service and examine the differences and similarities - or
places where there could be similarities.
business corporation generally has a principal goal of making a profit
on shareholders funds which is competitive with other companies and does
this by the sale of goods and services. There are internal pressures
within to obtain good value for money in the purchase of inputs in order
to be able to provide goods and services at an economic and competitive
price. Managers and employees who stray too far from the required
processes generally end up 'in trouble'. Successful businesses take care
in establishing sensible realistic, realisable plans or they are soon
out of business.
|Is the plan valid - can it be followed successfully ?|
is an important concept - developing sensible realistic, realisable
plans. Every architect knows that his plans need to have these same
characteristics. And members of the public may ask - are the plans such
that what they show can actually be built!! Discrepancies tend to show
up when services begin at one level and have to travel past a lower
level. Care needs to be taken!
land was identified as an area where it is important to have fair
dealing and it may be further stated that there is need to ensure that
there are good systems in place supervised by some type of authority
under the direct or indirect authority of Government, as the ultimate
- it may be contended that there is a valid role for a government
related organisation to have a role in terms of dealings with land. This
is not a new idea. However the models on which such systems are based
are varied and have, changed, come and gone over the years. No longer
are the dimensions of land measured using a chain of a standard length
and less and less with any form of tape-measure. Nowadays precise
measurement is with high-tech instruments which bounce infrared beams
from one instrument to a reflector and back and calculate the distance
based on the transmission time detected. The technology in the field has
changed. Equipment is available for the office also, for
record-keeping, data interrogation and analysis. Some systems are simple
and of limited use, others are also simple but of much greater use.
|Calibration and auditing|
of measuring instruments is an important supervisory role for a
suitable authority as auditing of the measurements recorded,
particularly in relation to land as correct value, for owners, and
taxation based on value is dependent on them.
|Flawed Project Designs|
studies of projects designed to utilise modern office equipment have
revealed that many such projects carried out for public services in a
range of countries have failed - like a building collapsing - and in the
poorer, less developed countries the success rate has been an abysmal
15%. There have been a number of reasons - and 99% of these can be
classed as manifestations of project designs which were unrealistic in
too many ways and thus fundamentally flawed in their design. (There are 7
important categories in which the amount of latitude for movement
should not be too large.) Scoring systems now exist in order that a
project designer may determine whether the new system will be
sufficiently robust to survive - similar in concept to the calculations
an engineer must carry out in order to design the strengths of
components - such as steel beams and glass - for safe construction of a
building in a specified environment. (Put simply the average carpenter
could be viewed as an amateur when it comes to designing buildings. In
the same way many computer programmers - IT people are at the same level
when it comes to designing robust office information, communications
and decision systems for government purposes - nowadays collectively
termed E-Governance.) In either circumstance, if the risks are not
mitigated in the design phase, collapse is a real possibility given
sufficient tensions at some time in the future. Need I tell you about
the roofing which came off in Grenada - of the person speaking to her
friend - commenting that she was watching roofing flying by - and when
it became very light inside realising that it was her own roof that had
been peeling off!
|Susceptibility to Weakness|
The 7 areas where E-Govt projects have found to be susceptible to poor perceptions of reality in project design are given below.x
|A Reality Gap|
What is meant by weakness in this context is a gap between the Current Reality within the area of service and the Design Proposal for the New Project
in that area. If the sum of the sizes of the gaps is too large then the
structure will fall apart - a simple idea when expressed in this manner
but apparently not readily seen as a danger. If the gaps were gaps
where walls were meant to connect or beams that were too small for the
intended load then steps to correct the situation might have been made.
|Gap too large|
At the outset there is Reality. On the Plan is the Design. If the Gap between Present Reality and the Proposed new Reality is too large then the Plan is UNREALISTIC and its implementation will be in trouble.
is not to say that imaginative plans should not be contemplated nor
embarked upon but like the plan for the impressive new building the 7
areas identified need to be properly addressed in the plan to ensure
that there are not gaps which make the planned structure inherently
|Examples of Gaps|
this discussion we are talking about things such as people being
expected to move from pen and paper to PC when they have no PC
experience. Such a situation would contribute to both a Technology gap
and to a Skills gap. If the project required particular technology and
there was not funding for it then there would be a large contribution to
a Technology gap.
gaps in these areas can be tolerated but they do need to be identified
as part of the plan and it should include steps to reduce them as part
of the project. For example a person skilled in using software would not
know exactly how to operate a new program so would have a knowledge
gap. Such a gap can be dealt with by appropriate education.
Re-engineered work processes can fall into this category. As long as
designed to utilise existing skills (but perhaps in a different manner
or sequence) then insurmountable gaps will not appear.
|Safety for Building Occupants|
supervision is an area of surveillance that governments have been
shouldering around the world to varying extents. It is well accepted
that governments play a role in ensuring the safety of citizens. As most
citizens, nowadays, spend at least 16 hours/day inside buildings it is
most reasonable that governments should take a significant interest in
ensuring that buildings are designed and constructed in an manner which
will ensure the safety of the occupants in the forseeable future. In the
mid 1980's a small resort style village was being established in a
mountainous area prone to very high winds and in a country prone to
strong earthquakes. The houses were required to be constructed with
hurricane straps and other strengthening features and were generally
timber framed. A few years later a force 7 earthquake centred in the
mountains about 50 miles away occurred. (This is very close). Trees near
the village were shaken so strongly that their tops were striking the
ground. People outside were terrified - others thought they were having
heart-attacks. In many parts of the world the houses would have been a
pile of rubble. Not one of the 50 odd houses in that village showed any
external damage. There was a very small amount of internal damage in 3
of them. The local authority had taken its responsibilities seriously,
knowledge available in the world at the time was utilised in
professional manner by the local authority insisting on the specialised
protective additions to the standard construction techniques employed.
|Slick Salesmen Taking Advantage|
scenario of "Casanovas" selling development systems to "virgins" has
been reported on in a number of cases where the systems were sold as
'the best thing since sliced bread" but were a dismal match to the
realities of what was actually needed - and this is still unfortunately
continuing. There is a need to be wary of the slick vendor when there
will be no day-to-day maintenance available. In the long term local
development, maintenance and enhancement will provide one of the strong
driving forces for project success.
|Lesson to Learn from Others|
So - getting back to the successful businesses - what lessons can be learned from them ?
We'll have to digress for another moment for some helpful background
In the world all countries have laws.
|Codes of Practice|
countries have Codes of (best) Practice which lay out in simple terms
how to do things in a manner which will keep the operator well within
are also what are termed "Standards". These lay down in detail how
certain processes are to be carried and are an adjunct to the law and
Codes of practice. Codes of practice may specify that particular
specified standards are to be adhered to.
have originated in a number of ways - frequently there has been an
engineering input. For example a standard may lay down the formulation
required for concrete of a specified strength.
|Standards for Organisation Itself|
are standards which relate to the performance of organisations - and
these are typically businesses but may be churches, NGO's - even Public
Services or parts thereof.
Perhaps something can be learned from the ISO standard 9001.
This standard sets a framework whereby an organisation of any type may set upon a course to optimise its technical performance and any other important parameter whose value it seeks to maximise. Without going into great details a methodology is established to
|Bids with Quality Specifications|
the government, referred to earlier, decided to purchase health
services from both private hospitals and its own public hospitals, at
specified prices, it also specified a quality for the procedures. When
hospitals needed to prove quality suddenly various departments
"discovered" that Standards Organisations existed and embarked on the
process of obtaining ISO 9001 : 2000 certification (or similar). (The
certification involves an examination (by an external agency) of the
manuals, processes and records kept to determine to what extent the
organisation is following its own plans and the standards it has declare
it will adopt and follow.)
|Efficiency & Effectiveness flowing from the ISO 9001 : 2000 Road|
it is not essential to obtain ISO 9001 : 2000 certification going down
the road towards it brings significant benefits to any organisation that
travels that road. The discipline by way of thought and its application
to the processes and sub-processes required to achieve the goals of the
organisation brings substantial increases in efficiency and
This brings us to a slightly different question ?
What important parameter, in addition to technical performance, should a government want to optimise ?
In business the answer is clear - business wants to optimise profits.
|... Government Surplus|
parallel item for government could be surplus income ? What's that
foreign word I hear you asking - a government surplus - does that exist
anywhere in the world - is it even possible ?
- it is possible. There are several aspects to achieving surpluses.
Elimination of loss-making enterprises is one avenue - by sale or by
modification. If a service has intrinsic value in remaining in
government ownership and is able to generate acceptable fees in
sufficient quantities then it can be a net generator of funding for
government. A careful budget with appropriate fees needs to be
established and the end product is a dividend to the owner. The
incentives to managers and directors need to be similar to the private
sector to ensure that they drive the enterprise in the successful manner
it is intended that it be driven. The operation of the service needs to
have a quality component specified as it would if it were an assembly
plant for an automobile manufacturer.
Not only must the product be good but as with Justice it must be seen to be done and done well.
Is there another single parameter which it would be worth seeking to optimise ?
communist system set itself different goals. It sought equality for all
with no-one being rewarded better than another (at least in theory).
Housing was owned by the state and assigned to people to live in - but
there was little incentive for personal maintenance. Overall the system
did not work well at the industrial and agricultural levels and in the
end change has occurred. Perhaps the natural way is the best way -
understand human psychology - harness its potential and achieve in a
manner which is successful - that of the private sector - that which has
to be so successful that it generates sufficient to pay for the Public
Service! Imagine if the Public Service could generate sufficient revenue
to entirely support itself ! It's an imaginative idea but at the moment
not a realistic target
Where does an IT & ICT Specialist fit into all of this you may well ask ?
|ICT & IT|
Communication Technology and Information Technology has to be seen as a
tool to achieve what are generally office-based tasks whose goal is to
enable office and external activities to proceed in a cost-effective and
both time and cost-efficient manner.
Let's turn to the Executive Agencies to be established and the Plans to do so.
|Identify Main Processes|
each of the EA's the first task relating to their operations - which is
small but important - is to determine the processes required (from
beginning to end) to achieve the present outputs required of the
existing sub-departments. Not every sub-process need have a detailed
description at the beginning but what is important (following the ISO
9002) methodology is to detail the main steps in each of the main
processes which are implied by the outputs required. It also important
to assess the need for other outputs as the present range is somewhat
limited. The means for producing the additional outputs also needed - at
the moment the outputs primarily serve government's needs whereas the
needs of the public are very poorly served. And the role of government
"for the people" is to serve them not to just serve its own needs.
the main processes are defined then the constituent sub-processes can
be elaborated along with the tools and personnel and other inputs needed
to enable them to function successfully.
times in life there are alternative ways in which to achieve the same
goal. Some will include method A whereas the other will include method
B. If method B is 100 times faster than method A (because it is a lot
smarter - and no more expensive) then it needs to be used in preference
to method A. But - if the project designer only knows about method A and
is unaware of method B then the project may miss out on a very
significant efficiency. At the moment the most widely read electronic
media other than email is material on the internet. Those who are
computer literate nowadays are certainly Internet literate - and at
times too Internet literate! Nevertheless, the production of outputs by
the Public Service needs to be internet compatible. Fortunately the
internet language of HTML does not lose features so the oldest of pages
are still viewable. On the other hand different generations of other
software do both gain and lose features from one generation to another
and cheaper 'cut-down' versions such as Microsoft Works files are not
compatible with Microsoft Office. Thus, it is highly desirable to use
office systems which create files which are compatible with what the
intended viewer is likely to have to be able to read them. In other
words it makes good sense to use systems for ICT that will keep things
easy for the intended recipients.
- today what is needed is either a small team conversant with the ways
of government - both politicians and public servants, conversant with
modern ICT, conversant with work design procedures and methods such as
ISO 9002 and the functions of Land Measurement, Land Valuation, Building
Codes & Standards, Conveyancing and Land Registration matters. The
team is likely to have both full and part-time members. The full-time
members need to be able to draw up the knowledge and cooperation of the
Public and Private Sector members involved. The ICT specialist should,
in the end, be the glue which will design and implement all of the
necessary electronic office systems for the new system - determining the
best ICT and IT solutions for each sub-process within each of the main
all aspects of the plan the following areas need to be addressed in
such a manner that the aspects of the plan which they relate to are
realistically achievable in a long-term sustainable manner.
|IT Specialist's Involvement|
summary, the IT specialist needs to be involved at all points of the
planning of the system. That person either needs to have all of the
types of knowledge alluded to above and the maturity to be able to draw
on the wisdom of those who know more where needed. Furthermore there
needs to be serious involvement of all of the players having a 'finger
in the pie' in order to give them a sense of ownership in the project.
The public servants who will really drive the ongoing work need to play
an integral part in the planning - contributing and understanding the
needs of others in order to ensure that the benefits of the re-designed
system with the re-engineered processes really do accrue to the public
and to the government in the future on a long term basis.
An analogy can be drawn with an architect.
The architect who designs building needs to have several characteristics
times builder's act as designer and the occasional one has the design
flair to create an impressive building - but this is rare.
time has come when architects rarely draw plans with a pencil. They are
nowadays drawn on computers with various software aids.
time has also come when the global citizen needs to be able to see his
plans, as they evolve, in the comfort of his office on the other side of
The ICT specialist needs to follow the same sort of disciplined path, in planning, as the building architect.
|The Ultimate Test!|
is different is that the ICT specialist has to devise a system which is
easily able to be used - so fool-proof that the lowliest of employees
can be safely let loose on it. The system has to be practical,
functional, user-friendly, bringing real benefits in terms of
effectiveness and efficiency both for the needs of the public and the
government which through its public service, serves them.
Government is for the people then is must be for the people!! In other
words information which is classified as public must be actually public
in an easily accessible manner - which these days means on any PC
connected to the internet anywhere in the world.
|Public Service of The Year Award|
today's competitive world there is a growing awareness of the value of
good quality, well presented information in modern societies. Not only
do local firms have to compete but countries have to compete as well. In
order for countries to compete it is necessary for their public
services to compete. I know you have probably never heard of public
services competing before but that is what is needed - compete at what
you might say - they're in different countries ! Where they have to
compete is at the level of efficiency and effectiveness. The winner is
the public service which is making the best job of serving the needs of
the citizens - enabling the information required by business and
individuals to be readily and speedily available. As the action arm of
Government the public service can make the difference between activities
in a country being bureaucratically slow or rapidly responsive. When
Grenada has a public service which others want to come and study then it
will know it is really up there. That has to be the goal. The
government needs a public service it is proud to be able to say that it
is very economical to run, highly effective and providing what is really
needed, speedily. When accolades along those lines are being reported
in the newspapers and around the world then there a serious competitor
for the Public Service of the Year Award close by.
Now that we've had the commercial break it's time to get down to business...
be able to report on Effectiveness it is necessary to be able to make
assessments or measurements of what is being performed. Counting tasks
started and tasks completed is a very good way of making simple
measurements. A worker who begins 10 similar tasks and finishes 2 of
them in the same time as another who begins 14 and finishes 13 is not
very effective nor very efficient. Should this situation occur there is a
clear need for examination of the situation in order that the work be
Methods which have valuable spin-offs accruing for next to nothing
rather than using alternative methods to get to the same point but with
no side-benefits is the smart way to be more effective. The valuable
spin-offs are valuable as they provide inputs to other processes which
would otherwise have to create the information themselves. Think smart
has to be the strategy. It's rather important to take this approach when
work-procedures are being re-engineered - think of the bigger picture
and re-engineer the procedure in such a way that it is not only of high
value to its parent process but also a significant contributor to other
accountability to be truly possible there are 3 components necessary in
a management system. There needs to be a measurement capability -
generally with measurements occurring on an on-going basis. Secondly
there needs to be a functioning monitoring system - monitoring the
measurements. Thirdly there needs to be.... When these 3 elements are
present then it is possible for a person (who is accountable) to have
the tools necessary to actually account in an honest, factual and
verifiable manner on the process for which they are responsible.
|The Intelligent Office|
office uses the know-how in people's heads coupled with smart software
in computers to achieve beneficial information outputs from the
information inputs. There's only one way know-how gets into people's
heads - by exposure to relevant information and study. Exposure may by
way of formal education processes, on-the-job training - both formal and
informal and by communication with people outside the office such as
clients, customers and other associates. Study and memorization is an
adjunct to the exposure and facilitates understanding and usefulness.
Smart software is the result of ideas. The Intelligent Business elicits
ideas from its personnel for ways of improvement on a continuing
improvement, including ideas for better computer methods.
are a range of small mathematical tasks which require a few inputs.
Small programs may be written which are activated from a desk-top icon
or others may utilise pre-set spread-sheets with appropriate formulae
embedded in them - again able to be activated from a desk-top icon. A
recently, Grenada-developed, enhanced activation system is to have the
calculators able to be activated from a browser such as Internet
Explorer, where there can be operator notes displayed along with the
|A Filing System|
man telephoned the Inland Revenue Department in another country - he
had sent them an enquiry nearly 3 weeks earlier but had no response. Oh -
said the receptionist - they probably haven't received that yet. But
mail delivery is guaranteed within 48 hours in this country was the
response. Well... yes... but (confidentially) they're so behind out the
back that all mail is being for 3 weeks, at the front, before being
passed through to them... I guess that's a type of filing system! And
yet another example... I've come to give you some additional information
- could you get my file and let me include it please... Come with me...
And in the room the papers were 2 ft high on every table and shelf.
You're welcome to include the information if you can find the file ...
In a situation where an Executive Agency is to be established combining activities from several departments with different filing systems - which are generally manual serious planning consideration needs to be given to a unified electronic indexing system applicable to all needs -
The software needs have particular technical and user characteristics in order that
|Interfaces and Boundaries|
a number of instances a Government process may traverse more than one
department. Collecting property taxes begins at the property end with a
valuation and ends at the cashier receiving the tax payment. The cashier
may well be in the Ministry of Finance whereas the valuation activity
may be in the Land Agency. The transfer of the data from the Provider to
the Customer will necessitate an interface. In the case where a process
crosses from one department to another there is both a boundary and an
interface - a boundary as to where the work ends in one and begins in
the next. The interface relates to the transmission process rather than
to the decision as to how the work is allocated between departments.
is a well known fact in the electrical engineering world that when the
electrical impedance is identical on both sides of an interface then the
behaviour of the system will be optimal. In the same way the interfaces
between the public service and those whom they serve also needs to have
a minimal impedance difference. When a client interfaces with the bank
manager and the standard of dress is the same then a significant social
is not present. Unless the scruffy client has a million dollar bank
account he will be making it difficult for himself...
Such interfaces will be to
Some interfaces will be free of charge. Others will need to incorporate
a payment. The interfaces will need to operate in a very simple manner
in order for the Grenada Public Service to enter the Public Service of
the Year Competition!
The technology is available and most of what is needed already resides
on the desks of the Public Service. It is the software, training and
re-engineering of tasks which will enable the technology to be the
really useful tool which it should be.
The role of an ICT & IT specialist in a Public Service Modernisation
project, where separated areas of responsibility are to be coalesced
into a single Executive Agency, is very much akin to that of a senior
architect designing not a building but an operational system for a
modern office with multiple functions, represented by a number of main
processes with a variety of information end and side products which need
to be able communicated to the population at large, politicians,
business, professionals and other bodies for a variety of purposes.
In order for the Project to implement individual sub-projects successfully it is necessary that their overall designs be sufficiently robust - that is it be a set of projects that are realistic in all of their aspects - within the range of the personnel and resources deployed given appropriate introduction, training and attention to a self-sustaining capability.
When it is understood from the beginning that a project must not only be technologically sound but also sociologically sound (that is able to find acceptance amongst the great variety of personalities with which it will interact) then it should be able to be constructed.
By setting goals at the beginning and using a recognized method of planning it will be possible for the new and re-vamped organisations to be both technically and financially successful, communicating ably to the world.
Heeks, R, Information Systems and Public Sector Accountability, Information Systems for Public Sector Management, 1998, 1-27
Heeks, R, Information Age Reform of the Public Sector: The Potential and Problems of IT for India, Information Systems for Public Sector Management, 1998, 1-21
Kahn, M & Swanborough, R, Information Management, IT and Government Transformation: Innovative approaches in the new South Africa, Information Systems for Public Sector Management, 1999, 1-20
Heeks, R, Government Data: Understanding the Barriers to Citizen Access and Use, Information Systems for Public Sector Management, 2000, 1-15
Heeks, R, Understanding e-Governance for Development, I-Government Working Paper Series, 2001, 1-25
Heeks, R, Building e-Governance for Development: A Framework for National and Donor Action, I-Government Working Paper Series, 2001, 1-31
Heeks, R, eGovernment in Africa: Promise and Practice, iGovernment Working Paper Series, 2002, 1-26
Heeks, R, Most eGovernment-for-Development Projects Fail: How Can Risks be Reduced, iGovernment Working Paper Series, 2003, 1-17