The Astana Civil Service Hub (ACSH), taking place at the World Government Summit (WGS) being held in Dubai from 10-12 February, discussed ways to improve government services, increase public sector efficiency and promote exchange of expertise.
Speakers at the session were of the consensus that the government sector is lagging behind in future-readiness. “As governments, we are responsible for 7 billion people. We need to reinvent government in order to compete with the private sector,” said UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future and Chairman of the WGS Organisation Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi.
The private sector continuously reinvents itself and the services they provide as they know that if they don’t progress, they will regress, and they will be out of business. That’s why they strive to provide the best services to customers. The government and public sector have a tendency to think that customers will always need them. This poses a huge problem and has a big impact on the international community’s ability to finance failed governments. “It’s time for governments to reinvent their business model,” Al Gergawi said.
Al Gergawi shared the UAE Government’s experience of reinventing government work. “As a government, we are in the business of happiness; we decided to be happy and we wanted to do a good job to be happy and make people happier,” Al Gergawi added. In order to achieve this objective, governments need to be proactive and harness technologies such as artificial intelligence to make this happen. The UAE created a ministry dedicated to artificial intelligence to serve citizens and residents.
Governments need to be proactive, Gergawi said. Before citizens need anything, governments should be ready to serve them. They possess all the data required to provide services like renewing their passport or driving license.
Alikhan Baimenov, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the ACSH, said in today’s globalized world, the fast pace of technological advancements and digitalization of societies place immense demands on governance systems around the world. “Apparently, the expansion of technological innovation brings new opportunities, as well as new challenges,” Baimenov said.
Concurrently, more than ever before, citizens are informed about solutions in other countries. They compare and assess the performance of their governments against certain benchmarks. “All this inevitably increases citizens’ expectations and changes the very character of government-citizen relations, and eventually it can greatly impact the trust of citizens,” Baimenov noted.
In this regard, governments around the world are constantly searching for effective solutions to advance all aspects of public service. This is especially significant for the countries of our region. Over the last three decades, they have come a long way with social, economic and political reforms,” Baimenov added.
Each country in the region has followed its own unique path. “Although no “silver bullet” exists to enhance the governance system, exchanging ideas and sharing experiences can help governments find “best fit” solutions. Therefore, understanding their success and challenges, along with lessons learnt, is of great theoretical and practical importance,” Baimenov added.
Dr. Pan Suk Kim, Former Minister of Personnel Management of the Republic of Korea and Professor of Public Administration, College of Government and Business, Yonsei University, said that with the move towards normalization, HR systems are different in the public and private sectors. “Normalisation means a process where public employment procedures and conditions gradually become more like those existing in the private sector,” he said.
Dr. Kim said that there are two fundamental requirements for civil service reform - the basic legal foundation that includes a civil service law and related decrees, and the establishment of a central personnel authority, a separate ministry fully in charge of public personnel management.
In an interview with the Government of Dubai Media Office following the ACSH session, Alikhan Baimenov, Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Astana Civil Service Hub described the World Government Summit as a “leading knowledge and experience exchange platform.”
“The Summit provides an opportunity for us to learn from countries in the region about their innovative solutions towards civil service. This is why we consider there to be similarities between the missions of the ACSH and the World Government Summit,” he said.
“Centuries ago, countries in this region were leading in medicine, science, astronomy and mathematics. These kinds of innovation, as we see with modern-day technology, belong to the whole of humanity and should be shared with good leadership, political will and a high level of openness,” Baimenov added.
Established in 2013, ACSH is a joint initiative of the Government of Kazakhstan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It serves as a multilateral platform for professional dialogue, and the exchange of experience and knowledge in civil service development.