Public Service and efficiency are a combination of words that usually elicit laughs from a disbelieving public locally. In fact, many consider the service in the phrase to be an oxymoron,a truly sad state of affairs.
However, newly appointed Minister of Public Administration (and Communications) the Honourable Maxie Cuffie, has said that the Government is committed to the delivery of better public services to the people of Trinidad and Tobago through a press release today.
Cuffie said the government needs to get a better return from the $10 billion spent annually on the 66, 000 persons employed in the public sector. “There is need to re-orient the public service to the present economic realities,” stated Minister Cuffie.
In underscoring the importance of the public sector to this process, he noted that “the extent of the corruption problem nationally represents inefficiencies in the public service delivery process.” As Minister of Public Administration and Communications, Minister Cuffie plans to lead the transformation of the public sector in a manner which reflects the aspirations of the country.
The Minister made these comments during a meeting with Heads from the now merged Ministries of Public Administration and Communications. The Minister believes there are synergies between the two portfolios: public administration and communications, and emphasised a ‘whole of government’ approach to service delivery in Trinidad and Tobago.
For this to happen, the citizens of the country must experience a difference in their daily interactions with public service employees. Customer Service delivery at the Public Sector must be viewed in an entirely new way.
Leading Customer Service Expert, Pamela Williams and Associates, stated that for government to make this change in operational efficiency three pillars that must be taken into consideration: people, processes and systems. “Service Excellence goes beyond a smiling, friendly service contact person; it must also be embedded in the Public Service culture and stems from how each employee values his/her contribution to customer satisfaction, regardless of where he/she is in the Sector. It is imperative that each employee commits to delivering consistent excellent service at each point of contact. This act of service applies to both the internal staff, as well as, the citizens of T&T that request their services on a daily basis. Enhancing the staff Customer Service skills set, will be a pillar of this transformation” Williams said. She added that.”Promoting a Service Culture must start at the top and the Minister is already endorsing this”
One can only hope that Minister Cuffie in his expanded role since the re-alignment of cabinet, can drive our country in this direction both from an economic standpoint as he indicated and the impact such a widespread change can have on the daily lives of all citizens.