Governments have to use innovative means to deliver public services

Governments have to use innovative means to deliver public services

The 2013 edition of the UN Public Service Awards, Day and Forum took place from 24 to 27 June in Manama (Kingdom of Bahrain) and focused on how e-government policies and strategies could contribute to promote a more effective administration.

The United Nations Public Service Awards, Day and Forum was established in order to promote global attention and discussion on the importance of governance and public administration for the implementation of Millennium Development Goals. The ultimate goal is to build the capacity of governments to anticipate and respond to the many challenges of our times. The 2013 edition focused on how e-government policies and strategies could contribute to promote a more effective, transparent, accountable, participatory and citizen-centric public administration with a view to fostering greater social and economic development. The Forum included two Ministerial roundtables, plenary sessions, expert meetings, seven workshops, an art exhibition and an exhibition on innovation in public service. More than 700 participants from across the globe attended the event.

600 nominations from 80 Member States

In acknowledgement of the United Nations Public Service Day, 47 public institutions from 28 countries received international recognition for excellence in public service. A total of 600 nominations from more than 80 United Nations Member States were received in 2013. The winners are as follows: 1st place winners – Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, India, Italy, Moldova, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and United Arab Emirates; 2nd place winners – Bahrain, Botswana, Brazil, Ethiopia, Georgia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, United Arab Emirates, and United States.

The opening ceremony featured statements by H.H. Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, H.E. Djoomart Otorbayev, First Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, H.E. Mr. Muktar Kedir, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, H.E. Mr. Maged Abdelfatah Abdelaziz, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, and H.E. Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). They underlined that the Forum came at a critical time, when governments around the globe needed to improve the participation of citizens in governance in order to achieve sustainable development. The Forum would be a unique opportunity to share best practices and raise awareness on important issues related to public services. The ultimate goal of the event was to enhance international cooperation and to respond to the challenges of our time: financial crisis, environmental matters and persisting poverty.

A culture of innovation from the leadership

High-level dignitaries who participated in the Ministerial Roundtable on “How to Promote Innovation in Public Governance to Create a Better Future for All” encouraged governments around the world to promote e-government and to use online public services in order to reduce corruption and increase transparency, and to make governments more cost-effective, efficient and participatory. Expectations of citizens around the world were increasingly high and in order to meet these expectations, governments had to listen to people better and to use innovative means to deliver public services, including through ICTs. A culture of innovation from the leadership was essential in cultivating e-government, transparency and participation, and transforming these into practical programmes that would result in sustainable development and a better future for all. It was agreed that sharing best practices was an effective method of promoting innovation in governance around the world.

In the course of the second Ministerial Roundtable it was agreed that building the capacities of civil servants was crucial to improve the quality, efficiency and transparency of public service delivery. Indicators had to be developed to measure the quality and efficiency of public services. Women had to ask for more transparency and equal opportunities in order to participate in decision-making processes. Private-public partnerships could play an important role. Governments had to take steps in order to strenghten the private sector and to ensure the provision of basic services to citizens. E-government was a tool and not the solution.

The crisis has renewed the focus on innovation

Two plenary sessions were held on the following topics: “Transformative e-Government and Innovation: Empowering People for Inclusive Economic Growth and Environmental Protection” and “The Critical Role of Innovation and ICT in Public Governance for the Promotion of Social Inclusive Development”. During the discussions, it was noted that e-government helped building capacities of civil servants and that human resources were crucial in transforming public administrations. The crisis had renewed the focus on innovation, because public budgets were falling as well as trust in government. In this context, public administrations had to become more competitive employers and do better with less. In addition, it was agreed that ICT improved the quality of public service delivery and increased efficiency and transparency.

Seven workshops discussed issues related to: promoting a collaborative e-governance through innovation and ICT; transfer of innovations for improved public service delivery in least developed countries; fostering participation in the context of the post-2015 development agenda; transforming public service delivery to advance gender equality; creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and economic development through innovation and e-government; leadership for transformational government; and GCC initiatives towards e-governance and sustainable public services.

In the course of the first workshop, “Promoting Collaborative e-Governance through Innovation and ICTs”, high-level officials discussed trends and challenges in e-government and how governments could provide better public services to their citizens through collaborative systems, in an open and participatory manner.

The second workshop’s topic was related to the transfer of innovations to least developed countries. Participants underlined the need to establish strong relationships between all stakeholders in order to ensure that least developed countries were aware of innovative solutions in the provision of public services. Participants agreed that innovative e-government solutions could participate in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. A global partnership between governments, private sector and civil society was needed.

Participants of the third workshop, “Fostering Participation in the Context of the Post-2015 Development Agenda”, underlined that mutual understanding between governments and their citizens would enable all stakeholders to effectively participate in the development of their country. The involvement of citizens in the development was crucial to meet the challenges of the post-2015 development agenda. In this regard, strategies and tools for governments to conduct a self-assessment with regard to the involvement of citizens in the development were needed. Experiences and lessons learned on participatory governance and citizen involvement were exchanged during the workshop.

The fourth workshop focused on the advancement of gender equality. Participants highlighted that the improvement of public services delivery could promote the empowerment of women. The integration of a gender approach in the public administration was a decisive issue for all countries. Gender equality was needed to ensure democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights.

The fifth workshop provided innovative entrepreneurs from 18 countries with the opportunity to exchange experiences on how the private sector could contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Participants discussed how to stimulate domestic and foreign investment in “green economy”.
The discussions held during the sixth workshop, “Leadership for Transformational Government”, focused on the role of the political leadership in transforming public administrations. It was noted that capacity building at the community level participated in the empowerment of citizens, thus contributing to the effective implementation of development strategies.

Finally, the last workshop highlighted best practices from the Gulf region in the field of e-government. Participants discussed models of joint ventures between the GCC countries in the areas of information technology and e-services.

The beginning of a global transformation of public administrations

At the closing ceremony, H.E. Mr. Hongbu Wu, United Nations Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that expectations of citizens around the world were high and that governments had to use innovative means to deliver public services. A culture of innovation, supported by leadership at all level, was essential. Transparency and participation were two key concepts in order to attain sustainable development and a better future for all. Sharing and disseminating good practices were effective methods to promote innovation in governance. He recalled that the post-2015 sustainable development agenda currently was debated by the United Nations State Members. In this regard, a common vision was needed to meet the needs of the world population. Mr. Wu hoped that this event would be the beginning of a global transformation of public administrations.

Alongside the United Nations Public Service Forum, the Exhibition on Innovation in Public Service provided an opportunity for companies, non-governmental organizations and governments to display their activities and services to increase knowledge sharing and learning. The exhibition encompassed stands for the 2013 winners of the United Nations Public Service Awards to showcase their winning project. The Award is the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service. It rewards the creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions to a more effective and responsive public administration in five categories: preventing and combatting corruption in the public service; improving the delivery of public services; fostering the participation in public policy-making decisions through innovative mechanisms; promoting whole-of-government approaches in the information age; and promoting gender-responsive delivery of public services. The winners of the 2013 Awards displayed the latest technology in public service delivery. Some of the winning projects this year involve integrating a gender approach in public services and local government in Morocco, increasing transparency in the decision-making process in Moldova, providing children in Peru with ID cards and creating a Government Contact Centre in the United Arab Emirates. The exhibition floor also included stands for Bahraini non-governmental organizations and for the main sponsors of the United Nations Public Service Forum, where they will be able to showcase their achievements, accomplishments and benefits towards the citizens of Bahrain.

Finally, an art exhibition, “Spotlight on Chinese Ink”, was organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the China International Cultural Communication Center (CICCC). The exhibition encompassed works from more than 30 influential calligraphers and painters of China. At the opening ceremony, Mr. John-Mary Kauzya, Chief of Governance and Public Administration Branch, UNDESA, said that culture was one of the fundamental pillars of innovation and that art enhanced mutual understanding among cultures and nation. He mentioned that the Economic and Social Council decided that its Annual Ministerial Review would focus this year on “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals”.

For more information on the UN Public Service Awards, Day and Forum:

Pictures gallery of the event can be visited here:

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