Modernising government HR, co-created policies, and personalised services: public servants share their 2022 reform priorities

By on 18/01/2022 | Updated on 02/02/2022

The start of a new year is an opportunity for civil servants to work towards core department and cross-government goals with renewed vigour. With that in mind, Global Government Forum asked leaders from six countries – Australia, Estonia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, and the UK – to outline their key reform priorities for the year ahead.

Covering the delivery of personalised services, policymaking modernisation, digital progress, data integration, and wholesale HR reform, here are their responses.

Integrating data in the UK

2022 is going to be another big year for the UK’s statistical system and my top priority will be to ensure teams at ONS and across government have the best tools, infrastructure, and data to meet the ever-increasing need for more rapid but robust stats and evidence. We’ve made a great start, with ONS continually sourcing new types of data for faster and more detailed insights, but we need to go further. That’s why the new Integrated Data Service (IDS) will be my biggest priority project in 2022. 

Using a secure, multi-cloud environment, the IDS will make a huge variety of ready-to-use data from across government and beyond accessible to approved analysts. The service will allow more detailed analysis to be delivered at pace and provide policymakers with the best possible evidence to make vital decisions for the good of the citizen, whilst continuing to protect their personal information.

Alison Pritchard, deputy national statistician and director general for data capability at the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Modernising policymaking in Estonia

We are looking at several major reforms over the next couple of years, but perhaps most importantly we are trying to transform and modernise the foundation of policymaking. We are moving towards co-creational policymaking that is facilitated on the expertise of the civil service, the knowledge of academia, and the insight of stakeholders. While the shift is not a single year process, in 2022 we will launch a digital platform that easily allows different institutions and partners to participate in the proposing, drafting and implementing of policies. As we have kept user experience in mind, the platform itself is designed to be as intuitive as possible. However, we must review and update the necessary skillsets of the wider list of participants in the policy cycle. This also means that many protocols must be revised to maximise the benefits of the new approach.

Taimar Peterkop, secretary of state, Estonia

Personalising services in Singapore

I think the important next step is the personalisation of government digital services. We started with getting as many people to use online services as possible, and on a single interface as far as possible. And the next step is something we’ve begun to do with our LifeSG app. The app consolidates more than 70 government services, including registering the birth of a child, buying a property, and applying for financial assistance, providing a suite of services to support citizens’ needs at key junctures of their lives. What we’re doing through the app is to personalise the interaction with the citizen because everyone’s needs are slightly different. How do we ensure that the right kind of services are available to you whenever you come into contact with the government, and not overwhelm you with the many other services that don’t matter to you? This is an interesting challenge, because personalisation requires data, and we have to balance how far we want the personalisation to go with how much we impose on the privacy of citizens. We need to treat citizens like customers, and as customers they deserve world-class digital services.

Chan Cheow Hoe, government chief digital technology officer and deputy chief executive, GovTech, Singapore

Responding to the digital world in New Zealand

We’ll continue to build on what’s been amplified through the COVID-19 response, using it as a lever to progress a unified and digitally enabled public service. To do this we will look to increase the digital knowledge and skills of public service leaders; champion a joined-up understanding of the public and their need for simpler transaction across government; strengthen the Māori-Crown relationship; and increase trust and maintain social license for digital technologies. It’s become clear that COVID is here to stay, and we suspect we’ll be facing some similar challenges in the year ahead. Connecting people with the digital world is more important than ever, and I’m really looking forward to how we’ll enable New Zealand to flourish and prosper in a digital world.

The Department of Internal Affairs is a diverse agency with multiple portfolios, we have some other important reforms ahead as well, like the Three Waters Reform Programme. This is a major, intergenerational project which aims to ensure that New Zealand’s three waters – our drinking water, wastewater and storm water – infrastructure and services are planned, maintained and delivered so they are fit for purpose. Working with local government, the government is establishing four new publicly-owned entities that benefit from scale and operational efficiencies and reflect neighbouring catchments and communities of interest. The government is taking a long-term view, building a system that will deliver better health and wellbeing outcomes for all communities and one that protects our environment for generations to come.

Paul James, secretary for internal affairs, government chief digital officer, and secretary for local government, New Zealand

Honing HR in the Philippines

As part of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, the Civil Service Commission is working on a strategy to develop smart and resilient public organisations and future-ready public servants with a focus on providing responsive, people-centred, technology-enabled and green governance.

One aspect is the Philippine Talent Management Strategy (PTMS), which seeks to strengthen the civil service to address future needs and challenges which may occur at the global, national and regional level.

Measures outlined in the PTMS include building agency capability to deliver public services through the application of strategic human resource management and organisation development principles; streamlining and fast-tracking human resource management processes by adopting technological solutions using data analytics, automation and digitalisation; developing the required competencies, capabilities and capacities of agency human resource management practitioners to enable them to more effectively support their agency leaders and workforce; and strengthening the application of public sector values in the agencies.

The PTMS is linked to the programme to institutionalise merit and excellence in human resource management, a mechanism that improves government agencies by developing their human resource management systems, practices and competencies, and leads to excellent public service delivery. It aims to transition human resource management from a traditional to a more strategic approach in four core areas: recruitment, selection and placement; learning and development; performance management; and rewards and recognitions.

The CSC is also working on the adoption of an integrated human resources information system. The system will simplify and streamline transactional HR processes in order to provide HR officers with more time and opportunity to focus on strategic HR. In addition, it will make HR data readily accessible for analytics that can support informed decision-making and evidence-based planning.

Aside from HR and talent management, digital transformation will continue to be a focus to ensure easy access to and delivery of services. And finally, with the world of work changing quickly, the Philippine Civil Service must change with it to continue to support the realisation of national development goals.

Alicia dela Rosa Bala, chairperson, Civil Service Commission, Philippines 

An ambitious programme of reform in Australia

The Australian government has embarked on an ambitious programme of reform that puts people at the heart of what we do, to deliver the best outcomes for Australians. In 2022, Australia’s public service reform agenda will focus on five reform priorities:

  • Delivering for Australians: We will strengthen the foundational governance structures, systems and incentives that enable and support the Australian Public Service to proactively problem solve and responsively deliver on Cabinet priorities.
  • Digital and ICT: We will meet the needs of the Australian public through a single enterprise approach to effective investment, development and use of digital and ICT capabilities.
  • People: We will build a workforce that is high performing, capable, responsive and delivers effectively and efficiently for the government and the Australian community.
  • Better Services: We will design and deliver simple, reliable, responsive and inclusive services that are designed and delivered around the needs of people and businesses.
  • Business Engagement: We will build and enhance relationships between business and the Australian Public Service to achieve positive outcomes for businesses, citizens and the government.”

Stephanie Foster, deputy secretary governance, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australia

We’d like to hear from you

What are your department’s reform priorities for the coming year? If you’d like to share, please leave a comment below or email us at [email protected]

This is part of the Leaders’ Roundup series.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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