SPEECHES: Address of the Minister for the Public Service and Administration Adv. Ngoako Ramatlhodi, MP, at the 14th CPSI Public Sector Innovation Awards, Emperors Palace, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng

Date: 28 Oct 2016

Fellow Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Premier of Gauteng Province,

Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality

Members of Executive Councils and Mayors

Honourable members of the Portfolio Committee

Directors-General, HoDs, CEOs, Commissioners, and business captains

Executive Director of the CPSI and her staff

All our sponsors, Eskom, Capitec Bank, MTN Business, GEMS, CS Boshomane Accountants and iKasi Solutions

The Awards Adjudication Panel and the Finalists of the 14th Public Sector Innovation Awards

Senior management and officials representing the three spheres of government

Ladies and gentlemen

For the 14th year, we are gathered once again to share and celebrate innovative ideas by officials in the Public Sector. This is a demonstration that the Public Sector does have officials who come up with innovative ideas on improving service delivery and for their efforts, they deserve to be recognised.

Ladies and gentlemen:

Indeed, all of these innovative projects being recognize here tonight have one thing in common - they have positively impacted on the lives of ordinary citizens. There have been plenty of such projects over the years - in fact, we have now awarded more than 200 projects over the past 14 years. The mere fact that these outstanding projects originate primarily from the Public Sector rather than the private sector, is to me, as the Minister for the Public Service and Administration, even more special.

I have no doubt that all of us gathered here tonight are tired of the high levels of negativity and bad publicity that is often attributed to the Public Sector. Whilst we have to acknowledge the frustrations of citizens who feel they experience slow delivery of government services that are Constitutionally their right rather than privilege; and whilst we are not going to be dishonest by pretending that all is well out there, we are equally not going to be indifferent to the excellent and encouraging efforts coming from public officials themselves. These are indeed efforts driven by empathy with the frustrations of citizens and colleagues. We are extremely proud of the exceptional work of these champions of public sector innovation.

Ladies and gentlemen:

The vision of the Centre for Public Service Innovation of a solution-focused Public Sector through innovation, is at the heart of government’s commitment to build a development-oriented Public Sector. It critically supports government’s National Development Plan which makes a rallying call for all of us to jointly and creatively rethink our public sector that, according to the NDP, “in most countries, is linked to out-dated national models that do not allow it to deal with global challenges.” We all need to heed the call to overhaul our national and international public institutions by creatively redesigning these to meet our citizens’ needs and deliver on the national and global developmental agenda. As the NDP advocates, innovation should start to become pervasive across state, business and social sectors.

Many international scholars recognise that reinventing government through innovation, quality improvement and productivity is never an easy process. Experience has shown that governments embarking on this road face strong obstacles and opposition from those benefiting from the status quo. Innovations often fail when there is not strong support from political leaders, heads of government and officials, leading to innovators being punished and departments withholding sufficient resources to implement the changes effectively. For example, the Government of Chile started and discontinued, an Innovation Awards programme. With the assistance of the OECD, they are now looking at our very own programme’s key success factors, notably, that it is not an Awards programme for the sake of awards but that it is a year-long programme to identify, promote and support the replication of solutions that work.

Ladies and gentlemen:

The CPSI’s Innovation Programme, which culminates in this memorable Awards ceremony that we are attending tonight, bears testimony to the remarkable turnaround in the Public Sector in terms of embracing innovation for improved service delivery. Tonight we are witnessing excellent, highly innovative projects from public servants at the coalface of service delivery as they challenge outdated ways of delivering services to our citizens that are no longer meeting the needs of our connected, sophisticated and informed citizens.

We have to recognise that our citizens’ needs are diverse and admit that the Public Sector is gradually coming of age in terms of its ability to meet the diverse needs of our citizens. Our concerted efforts to innovatively reinvent the service delivery machinery into one that is capacitated for effective, sustained interventions is gradually paying off. Tonight we take off our hats to these public officials who, in the face of a challenge, refuse to rest until they come up with a mere idea, a concept and eventually a sustainable solution to eradicate the challenge.

Ladies and gentlemen:

While we are cognisant of the immensity of the service delivery challenges that still lie ahead, we fully recognise and celebrate each achievement that we realise knowing that it is but one hopeful step in a journey of a thousand miles.

Reinventing the way government works through innovation may be a long, complicated and contentious process, even a battle at times, but it is the only process that will allow us to realise our vision of creating a better life for all. This requires all of us to embrace innovation as a critical ingredient and vehicle that drives service delivery improvement. We therefore, once again, as the Ministry for the Public Service and Administration, call on all Public Sector institutions, teams and individuals, to continue to innovate for a productive public sector and properly serviced citizenry.

In conclusion:

Allow me to congratulate all officials who participated in the 14th Public Sector Innovation Awards. We are most heartened by the number of projects that are submitted for the Public Sector Innovation Awards annually. This is evidence that Public Sector officials are increasingly, boldly pushing boundaries to move beyond ordinariness to find new, extra-ordinary ways of delivering services.

Congratulations to the 2016 finalists and winners – may you continue to demonstrate that as a Public Sector, We Belong (to our people), We Care (about them), We Serve (them).

I thank you.

*Having trouble viewing this site? Please make sure you are using Internet Explorer version 7 or later or Firefox version 3 or later.