Thursday, September 3, 2009

2009 Public Service Convention Opens

source: Republic of Botswana (23/8/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 23 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"

D1) 23/8/09: 2009 Public Service Convention Opens

* Survey show 83% satisfaction with overall public service delivery
* Namibia appreciates Botswana's experience and success as a reform benchmark

According to the latest Botswana Public Service Customer Satisfaction Survey, 83% of the public have expressed general satisfaction with the overall service delivery by civil servants.

The result was revealed by the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Honourable Dr. Margret Nasha, in her remarks officially opening the 2009 Public Service Convention on Sunday evening in Gaborone.

Minister Nasha, however, went on to emphasis that while the result showed significant improvement over the previous survey, there was still a need for further improvement.

She observed that while 56% of the public were reported to have described the service delivery they received as "good" only 27% rated it as either "very good" or "excellent", adding that: "in today's world, the category worth talking about is one of excellence."

The Minister commended the organisers of this year's convention for focusing on the theme of leadership as a key factor for organisational success noting that:

"It is now widely accepted that whatever the nature of the business - private enterprise, non-profit undertakings, political, religious and sports formations; and the public service; leadership is absolutely pivotal."

Observing that the reform initiatives undertaken within Government to improve customer satisfaction were in response to public calls for quality service, she further stressed the need for transformational leaders who live by, and aspire others to achieve, the core values of the public service charter, namely: "due regard for the public interest, neutrality, accountability, transparency, freedom from corruption and due diligence."

The Minister also noted that the ongoing global financial and economic crisis made it all the more imperative for the Convention to find ways of enhancing the level of productivity in the public service.

Also speaking at the official opening was the Head of the Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet in Namibia, Mr. Frans Kapofi, who delivered a keynote address on this year's Convention theme - "Transformational Leadership for Customer Focused Delivery - From Rhetoric to Consolidation and Effective Execution."

In his remarks, Mr. Kapofi stressed that, while it was only through transformation that there can be true growth in individuals or organisations, mobilising diverse groups for change was never easy, as it requires proactive agents.

Having noted the close bonds of history, geography and circumstance that unite Botswana and Namibia, Mr. Kapofi paid further tribute to what Botswana has achieved through a commitment to nurturing its human resources, noting that:

"It is an open secret that Botswana has been performing very well in all international competitive ratings to an extent that you are always in top positions. Surely the investments in human capital development you have made are now doing the country good."

He went on to further observe that: "It is for this reason that we in Namibia are using Botswana's vast years of experience and success as benchmarks in our attempt to addressing our reform programme."

In his welcoming remarks the evening's host, the Permanent Secretary to the President, Mr. Eric Molale, stated that the participation of Mr. Kapofi and others from outside Botswana in this and previous year's conventions was a reflection of a spirit of sharing of experiences within the SADC region, which contributed to the consolidation of regional efforts.

In recent years the PSP, himself, has thus been invited to share Botswana's reform experience in Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Tanzania.

The PSP affirmed that the Public Service Convention is an exercise that accords participants from across Government with a platform for sharing their experiences and challenges in order to improve quality service delivery.

While noting that, based on the findings of 2009 Customer Satisfaction Survey, the civil service had already come a long way, he nonetheless also stressed that, in the context of the global economic crisis and other challenges facing the nation, there was no room for complacency, adding:

"While a number of initiatives have been implemented across the Public Sector; some aimed at cost saving measures, while others were aimed at maximising terms of investment, I believe a lot more can be done to curb wastage, especially in the recurrent expenditure."

Mr. Molale further observed that innovation and creativity were instrumental to achieving the efficiency gains necessary for boosting the economy through greater productivity. The three day Convention will conclude on Tuesday evening with an awards ceremony that will honour outstanding achievements in the Public service (18:30 hours GICC).

The Convention is an annual opportunity for senior civil servants to come together in order to strategise on ways to better achieve their common vision to "provide a world class service that is efficient, effective, caring and responsive to local and global challenges."

The gathering is thus expected to examine current performance in the context of local best practice examples with further reference to the Public Service Standards and latest Customer Service Survey findings.

General topics areas to be work-shopped will include Process Reengineering, Management Strategies and Decentralisation.

Additional areas of focus will include bringing services closer to the people through E-Government and forging partnerships for improved service delivery.

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