Public servants must cut bureaucracy

September 7, 2011
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – Civil servants have to change the way they do business if Kenya is to become a favourable investment destination and a regional hub, Assistant Minister in the Ministry of State for Public Service Aden Sugow has said.

Mr Sugow remained optimistic that the Public Service has the capacity to change Kenya’s ranking which today is viewed as an expensive business destination at position 98 in the World Bank Doing Business Index for 2011.

He expressed concern that the Public Service is plagued with lengthy procedures and processes in service delivery which leads to customer frustrations.

He called on public servants to ensure that bureaucracy is reduced to a minimum; the services are consolidated (as one stop shops); and the cost of the service to both the Government and the customer is drastically reduced.

This, he added, will enable saving of resources for other development initiatives and contribute to enhanced economic growth and global competitiveness.

“Kenya’s poor ranking in the world (98 out of 183 countries) is mainly due to these lengthy processes and procedures in service delivery,” Mr Sugow told participants in the ongoing Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) training at the Kenya Institute of Administration which the ultimate aim of doing away with those lengthy processes.

He told those being trained to use BPR to map out current processes, analyse them to see whether some of them add value or not, whether they are in fact the best processes and whether the rules and regulations in place facilitate efficient service delivery, or hamper it.

“We then must choose which processes to maintain, which ones to get rid of and which ones to re-engineer for efficient service delivery,” he said.

Mr Sugow expressed concern that institutions often lose momentum after achieving impressive results from the reform initiatives already undertaken.

“Our experiences so far have taught us that whereas some of these initiatives achieve good results, sometimes the results are not sustained especially when there are changes in leadership, when there are no rewards forthcoming,” Mr Sugow said.

He explained that with BPR, Public Service players would be able to provide high quality Just-In-Time (JIT) services to the citizens and customers at large.

“This will help us meet the expectations of the Vision 2030 and the New Constitution all of which aim at making Kenya a more attractive business destination,” Mr Sugow said.

The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Titus Ndambuki, said that after training the expected trainees to join the first team which was graduated last week in implementing what they have so far learnt as the rest are being trained.

“From what you have learnt, you have appreciated that BPR will help us do away with age-old processes that do not add value and build new systems that become the new way of doing things. In this way, we expect to have dramatic improvements in quality, cost and the time it takes to provide specific services,” Mr Ndambuki said.

The purpose of any training in the Public Service, which aims to have trained over 4000 officers both from the mainstream civil service and other government agencies in a span of one year, is not only to provide new knowledge but to also develop the requisite skills and competencies for improvement in service delivery.

“A major cause of this is our inability to build systems that can withstand challenges, sustain the results achieved and lead to more improvements. This is where BPR comes in,” said Mr Ndambuki.

Elijah Wachira, KIA’s Deputy Director, Learning and Development, described BPR as among several initiatives that the Government has undertaken towards ensuring efficient, timely and cost effective delivery of services to the citizens of this country.

According to him, it is, however, different from other reform initiatives in that it entails a fundamental re-thinking, systemic and radical re-design of organisational processes to achieve dramatic improvements of performance in cost, speed and quality of services.

“Whereas the other reform initiatives have a lot of benefits, these benefits are incremental; not dramatic. What we need are dramatic improvements,” observed Mr Wachira.

Mr Wachira announced that KIA has already partnered with the Kenya Institute of Education to develop a curriculum for BPR training which will be rolled out to lowers levels of government even after the lead BPR consultant Ooh Koon is long gone.

Mr Koon, who is based in Singapore, noted that Kenya cannot effectively compete with her neighbours and the world at large if it does not improve the way we do business.

“The world is a global village and investors will choose to invest their resources where it is most convenient for them, where there is no red tape, where there is no corruption and where the environment allows them to have a quick return on their investments,” he said.

It was evident after the opening session that the Public Service must contribute its share of effort in ensuring that Kenya joins the coveted club of preferred investment destinations.

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