Minister Muthambi urges public servants to be innovative

Sunday, October 29, 2017

By Pfarelo Maduguma

Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi has urged public servants to move out of their comfort zone, and come up with innovations that would lead to an improved public sector.

Minister Muthambi was handing over awards to public servants during the 15th Public Sector Innovation Awards which was hosted by the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), on Friday night at the Birchwood hotel in Boksburg.

The Annual Public Sector Innovation Awards programme is a platform that unearths, nurtures, rewards and facilitates the replication of innovation within the public sector.

The awards targets all three spheres of government, innovation practitioners, as well as partners from the private sector and academia. They promote and encourage best practice in public sector innovation and service delivery and celebrate the successes of individuals and teams at all spheres of government in their quest to innovatively improve service delivery.

The CPSI, which is an institution within the portfolio of the Ministry for Public Service and Administration, is tasked with the entrenchment of the culture and practice of innovation in the public service.

Minister Muthambi encouraged public servants to work hard in dispelling the notion that there is no creativity and innovation in the public sector.

“These awards are indeed proof that public servants are creative and innovative, and through this CPSI programme we are encouraging them to continue to think creatively in order to improve the manner in which our government deliver services,” she said.

Minister Muthambi says the CPSI’s mandate directly supports the National Development plan in building an effective, efficient and development oriented public sector and an empowered and inclusive citizenship.

“Tonight is a clear indication of how our public officials, moved by the plight of their fellow citizens, have decided to embrace innovation as a key enabler and a game-changer in exploring better and more improved ways of delivering services to citizens. Our public officials are increasingly, boldly pushing boundaries to move beyond ordinariness to find new, extra-ordinary ways of delivering services,” said Minister Muthambi.

Finalists battled it out in four categories:

Category A: Innovative solutions reducing the cost of delivering services was won by the Mpumalanga emergency medical dispatch system. Very simple but effective, the system is able to dispatch ambulances and also provides a “birds eye view” of where any ambulance is at any given time. The system has improved the response time tremendously, saving lives in the process.

Category B: Innovative use of ICTs for effective service delivery was scooped by CIPC’s modernisation of company registration regime. This innovation led to a situation where, now at a click of a button, a company can be registered at any day and time without much effort. Turnaround times for company registration has been reduced from 20 to 30 days in 2011 to just a few minutes today.

Category C: Innovative service delivery institutions award was won by the oncology service, Klerksdorp/Tshepong Hospital Complex, Department of Health, North West. The establishment of the oncology unit has improved the lives of cancer patients who used to travel to Johannesburg to receive treatment. The unit has created a short treatment machine which has improved the waiting time immensely.

Category D: Innovative enhancement of internal systems of government award was won by Gauteng Department of Education’s online admissions application system. The online system allows parents to apply for admission of entry grades and grade 8 from the comfort of their homes. It successfully registered more than 454 902 applicants in 2016.

Winners from the four categories went on to contest for the prestigious 2017 innovator of the year award. Mpumalanga emergency medical dispatch system emerged victorious in this category.

The special Ministerial awards went to MIA sanitary towel project, and to Mpumalanga Department of Health’s optical laboratory.

Three public servants were specially recognised as public sector innovation trailblazers. Xolani Phakathi (Department of Health, KwaZulu-Natal), Cosmos Dube (Department of Health, Mpumalanga), and Elijah Mziyako (Department of Health, Mpumalanga), were all recognised for their contributions in providing ICT-based solutions to solve service delivery challenges.

All the winning projects walked away with R20 000, which will be used to expand or advance their projects, with the exception of the innovator of the year project, which walked away with R60 000.

The oncology service, Klerksdorp/Tshepong Hospital Complex project by North West Department of Health also scooped the GEMS health award which came with the prize of R50 000.

Minister Muthambi was impressed by the number of youth who were part of the finalist projects. She said the public sector was becoming a conducive place of work for the youth, with their enquiring minds and their insatiable curiosity and passion to try new and better ideas.

The Minister said through this project, more and more public servants will come forward with innovations, which will lead to an improvement in the manner in which the public service delivers to the citizens. –

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