The quality of service delivery and the commitment of the public service officials to deliver services that meet expectations of stakeholders and the general public is critical to the success of government. The public/civil service is central to the effective and efficient planning and implementation of Government policies and programmes.
It goes without saying that the primary purpose of any Government is to improve the quality of life of its citizenry, and this is mostly achieved through the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which are established to perform specific functions for the government. However, overtime, the performance of many of the MDAs has been called to question and this has led to loss of confidence by citizens in the ability of government to provide essential services that could impact positively on their lives.
As the engine room of Government’s developmental programmes, it is imperative that the public service is constantly positioned, empowered and adequately monitored to efficiently deliver expected service of the right standards that satisfy the yearnings of the citizenry. The mandate and functions of the MDAs ought to be regularly reviewed and aligned so as to meet citizens’ needs.
A keen observer of governance in Nigeria would have noticed that so much emphasis is laid on new projects and programmes by governments at different levels. If roads are not being constructed, traffic lights are being mounted in major streets and roads. While all these initiatives are noble in itself, it is much more important to give attention to innovations in governance structures and processes which will enable a sustained improvement in service delivery.
Moreover, studies have also shown that projects and programmes have limited reach most times due to paucity of funds but innovations in governance usually have a wider reach and thereby make governments’ legacies last longer. As a matter of fact, the stories of change for government lies not so much in projects and programmes but in innovations about how public service is being effectively delivered.
Although, governments sometimes attempt to be innovative in governance processes and procedures by establishing structures outside of the civil/public service due to the perceived inefficiency of the bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the improvised structures are always confronted with sustainability problems after the tenure of the initiator as they always fail to institutionalize successful ideas. Hence, most of the reforms do not go beyond the tenure of the initiating government.
Thus, for sustainability of governance reforms and modernization of the civil/public service for optimal performance, deliberate efforts must be taken by States’ chief executives to make the public/civil service customer-centric. The public service needs to constantly focus on satisfying citizens’ lawful desires. Citizens’ satisfaction should be at the heart of their work.
However, to derive optimal performance from the public/civil service, a deliberate attention must be paid to reformation of governance processes, structures and attitude of public workers by political and technocratic leadership.
In the light of this, DAWN Commission has been championing institutionalization of reforms through the establishment of reform coordinating agency as we have in Lagos State Office of Transformation, Creativity and Innovations (OTCI). The Commission, with technical support from DFID/PERL, supported Ogun State to develop institutional framework for the establishment of Public Service Transformation Office (PSTO) and Ekiti State was also supported to review and restructure its Office of Transformation, Strategy and Service Delivery (OTSD). These agencies are saddled with facilitation of structures and processes reform in the civil/public service for effective and efficiently delivery of governments’ programmes and projects to citizens’ satisfaction.
Moreover, the agency also has the onerous responsibility of generating innovative ideas for the State by learning from other States within and outside the Region. To enable a seamless process for learning and adaptation for the agencies, DAWN Commission, with technical support from DFID/PERL, has also developed a Learning and Adaptation Guide that is meant to aid smooth collection of reforms information for contextual adaptation.