Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister Chana Pilane-Majake has urged public servants to seek new and innovative means of effectively providing services to the millions of South Africans.
Pilane-Majake made the remarks during her address at the 16th Public Service Innovation Awards at the Velmore Hotel in Pretoria on Friday evening. Several government officials were honoured at the ceremony for the innovative projects implemented in the various departments across the country.
Public sector innovations were recognised under the following categories:
· innovative solutions reducing the cost of delivering services;
· innovative use of ICTs for effective service delivery;
· innovative service delivery institutions; and
· innovative enhancements of internal systems of government.
"The public sector innovation awards provide us with an extraordinary and rare occasion in the public sector to celebrate with great excitement the immense capacity of public officials to be innovative," she said.
Traditionally, the public sector has been notorious for its rigidity, being extremely bureaucratic and large averse to innovation and change.
"Added to that is the longstanding view that public officials do not innovate and are not creative in their thinking. But today is one of those myths shattering moments when public officials themselves are demonstrating their ability to innovate and provide remarkable solutions," the Deputy Minister said.
This, she said, demonstrates the ability of public officials to embrace new thinking of doing things while recognising new opportunities to derive simpler solutions to common challenges.
"As the Ministry of Public Service and Administration, we are fully committed to our strategic responsibilities to lead the transformation and the reinvention of the public service for improved and optimal performance in embracing what the fourth industrial revolution has to offer. As part of its mandate, the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI) is tasked with embracing, entrenching and inculcating the culture and practice of innovation in the public sector to address challenges," she said.
The government, she said, has to be in a position to provide services in an effective manner.
"Our country like many others is going through a period of uncertainty because of the ongoing economic turbulence which will have far-reaching consequences on the livelihood of our people with the potential to offset the gains we made economically.
"It is against this background that this government is tested on whether the lives of our citizens, through the provision of quality services, as it is their right, not a privilege and that is why it becomes a duty to provide those service efficiently while putting forward batho pele principles," the deputy minister said.
The government has adopted innovation as a critical part of the transformation and reforming the public sector in an effort to find new cost-effective ways of adding value to existing systems and practices.
"It really feels good to be here. It always feels good to be on occasions where we give ourselves just a moment to celebrate the kind of achievements that we do. As South Africa, we at times find it difficult to acknowledge who we are, how strong we are. As a government we need to be taken to task, we need to be monitored, we need to be responsible, and we need to be responsive to the needs of the people. But at the same time, it is moments like these that say to us, it's good," said Pilane-Majake.
(With Inputs from South African Government Press Release)