The central conference theme of Public Service Transformation: A New Conversation encompasses three sub-themes that were explored during the event:
Day 1. Shaping the Future Together – focused on the “people” aspect of transformation, highlighting the critical importance of active engagement with both citizens and the public service itself.
In every corner of the Commonwealth, public service leaders understand that prevailing public service models need to change in order to deliver savings and citizen-centred services. In many cases, this evolution is well underway. Trends are emerging in the ways employers are articulating their strategies in order to obtain employee cooperation and commitment. Public service organizations must often work with long-standing principles, practices and attitudes to manage and support the people who deliver services to the public. One thing is clear – employee involvement underpins buy-in, and what will ultimately define success is the willingness of the public service to engage their workforce throughout the transformation.
At the same time, the public service is challenged to bridge the gap between the complexity of government and the need for more accessible services to citizens. Increasingly, governments are reaching out and responding to citizen expectations of accessing services when and how they choose. The public service is exploring systematic and sometimes unconventional ways to strengthen communication and participation among stakeholder groups.
Day 2. Towards a Better Future – emphasized the “mechanisms” employed during transformation and details what processes, technologies, policies and/or other devices have been utilized.
As the need for change in the public service intensifies, it becomes clear that governments must not only alter what they already do but also look for options to cope with issues and opportunities as they arise. The change process is a journey. It starts with creating a vision for the future and it cuts across needs evaluation, the work culture, design issues, fiscal barriers and people management to name just a few challenges.
The public service must take advantage of new technologies, stay abreast of the latest best practices, and integrate a culture of continuous change in the work environment. Examples of practical change management approaches and successful transformation projects at all levels of government inspire public servants to think about innovative ways to broach their issues, replicate what works and avoid pitfalls.
Day 3. Building Global Resilience – provided insightful lessons and country-specific context that governments have experienced when building a public service that can nimbly react to shifting trends in the future.
The issues that countries face as they engage in public service transformation pose major challenges to their ability to meet economic pressures and citizen expectations. The public service must plan and implement transformative activities, but it must also develop capabilities to respond to ongoing demands and challenges once change is achieved. In this day and age, it is expected that a culture of change will be the new norm. Governments are being challenged to resolve the problems of today with an eye on how to build reliable systems to cope with decision-making, competing demands and very different priorities tomorrow. Resilience becomes central to good performance and leadership.