Working Towards a Citizen Centered Government – Keynote Presentation in New Zealand

November 13, 2012 by ahmed

Art Daniels has over 40 years’ experience in managing and developing institutions in the Canadian public service. He is widely recognized as a leader in implementing public sector change initiatives particularly in citizen focused reform initiatives. Art will be giving a keynote presentation at the World Business Capability Congress, 5-7 December 2012, Auckland, www.worldbusinesscapabilitycongress.com and assisting in the Pre-Congress 2-Day Workshop – Achieving Customer Centricity, 3-5 December 2012, Auckland, http://www.worldbusinesscapabilitycongress.com/achieving-customer-centricity

In preparation for the Congress, Art has answered the following questions:

Questions:

  1. As a recognised leader driving Canadian public sector change and customer focus reform initiatives, where do you think our public sector could improve?

In Canada, we established the Institute for Citizen Centred Services in1998. It is a pan Canadian institution where all levels of government share research on the needs and expectations of Canadians as customers of public services. By understanding their expectations, the government has been able to improve their services every year. What they learned is that services could be improved through easy access, timely responses and services bundled around the needs of the customer.

  1. How could improvements be made at a time of decreased (real) budgets and redundancies? Could ‘lean government’ be just an ineffective as ‘bloated government’ but with less public money?

The recent research in Canada shows an interesting dichotomy in citizen’s expectations of government. As more services are provided on-line or digitally, service results improve as they are more individualized and services are bundled around the needs of the citizen. Services in the past which were provided by a range of government agencies and departments left the customer frustrated. Now that governments are more collaborative and bundling services, the customer experience is more satisfactory. For example, “the lost wallet strategy” means that with one visit to one site, the customer can replace their driver’s license, health card, birth certificate, passport and other identification that had been lost together. This streamlining or bundling of services is part of lean government which is cost effective and reduces service time.

  1. Could any of the successes in Canada be transferred to NZ?

We are very pleased that the government of New Zealand has partnered with the Institute of Citizen-Centered Services in Canada to provide some of the same research tools used in Canada. In New Zealand, what we refer to as citizen centered research, is called Kiwis Count. They are also using our Common Measurement Tool which allows governments to benchmark their services with each other using common questionnaires.

  1. What are the benefits of your recommendations?

The benefits of these initiatives has resulted in government service ratings improving from a low of 48% satisfaction in 1998 to 72% satisfaction in 2012 with some services achieving over 90% satisfaction, such as fire services. The move to more digital services has allowed governments to not only improve its services but, also to effectively downsize the public services resulting in savings of labour costs. Routine clerical transactions that were provided over decades by clerks which often took weeks to complete have now been replaced by online services which can be provided instantaneously. For example, from my own experience, is the registration of a small business in Ontario. In 1998, it took 62 working days to complete this transaction; it is now completed online on the same day. In fact, the government guarantees that if they fail to complete the transaction in one day, the service is free.

  1. What culture change, within the public sector, is needed to enact change?

The culture change which is most required in public service is a shift from a bureaucratic set of processes designed to suit the organization’s needs to a customer service culture where the needs of the customer direct the service. The important shift to a customer centered culture is when organizations move from working independently to collaboration. This is referred to as “connected government” or “joined up government”.

  1. If there was one key message you wish to convey to policy makers and business leaders in New Zealand, what would that be?

For decades, both businesses and governments have worked in silos but, are now beginning to recognize the need for collaboration in government or strategic alliances with the private sector. Governments are also starting to recognize that partnerships with the private sector in the delivery of services can be more efficient and effective. The “holy grail” for public service reform is meeting the expectations of citizens that services can be co-ordinated around their needs rather than the needs of individual ministries, departments or branches.

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