From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The federal government has warned civil servants against sabotaging Service Innovation in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
They have been advised to prevent the suppression of innovative ideas and generally encourage innovation to thrive in the system, adding that periodic checks on activities in order to ensure proper alignment and the success of midwifing of the collective vision.
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, gave the warning on Monday in Abuja at the opening of a sensitization workshop for staff of the newly established Service Innovation Department and Divisions in the federal civil service.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties Office (OHCSF), Mrs Ibiene Roberts, she said the establishment of a new Service Innovation Department and Divisions is to boost innovations and business ideas in the federal civil service.
The Head of Service represented by the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties Office (OHCSF), Mrs Ibiene Roberts, said the workshop is designed to sensitize and build capacity are the officers who will effectively deliver on the mandate of the new departments and divisions with the basic skills and capacity to handle the enormous tasks ahead of them, among other objectives.
‘In this regard, I wish to reemphasize the importance and the cardinal role of the innovation department and divisions, which is to act as a catalyst in our new vision and drive towards a new civil service. In our ongoing stewardship, we have been working closely with key partners and stakeholders towards making the service function better,’ she said.
‘Of course, this is the shoulder of ensuring the sustainable socio economic development of Nigeria and a much brighter public service of our dreams. Hence, we continue to rise up to our expected responsibility of providing effective leadership and policies to create value in the system.
‘Hence, in contributing effectively towards this direction, you are expected to prevent the suppression of innovative ideas and generally encourage innovation to thrive in the system. The service innovation department service innovation divisions are to provide the platform for promoting and harnessing high impact transformative innovation.
‘High Impact transformative innovative solutions for the benefit of the service. This forms the core of your mandate, and we will be coming out periodic checks on your activities. With the game of ensuring proper alignment and ensure the success and ensure the successful midwifing of the collective vision. It is also recommended that you will continue to leverage the knowledge and the experiences of your counterpart divisions. And as the need arises, engage in peer review, of course, MDS and keep constantly abreast of international best practices and trends because no one person knows it all.’
She said that the department is being headed by a Director, and Service Innovation Divisions domiciled in Reform Coordination and Service Improvement Departments in all MDAs headed by Deputy Directors.
According to Yemi-Esan, innovation is a subject matter that for long has gained global interest and popularity as an effective tool for problem-solving, improving businesses, corporate governance and scaling up service quality and delivery.
‘Likewise, there has been a significant paradigm shift within the field of public administration with regard to the strategic role innovation plays in fast-tracking service delivery and national development.
‘So, it is not surprising that the trend has compelled bureaucracies around the world to recognize and embrace the use of innovation to provide customer-focused, cost-effective, and up-to-date methods of improving public services,’ Yemi-Esan said.
She said that driven by the determination to bring about rapid transformation in the system, the Federal Government, through the OHCSF has taken a number of conscious steps to put in place mechanisms to support and sustain innovation in the Nigerian Public Service.
‘For instance, to kick-start, our journey to a public service driven by innovation, ideas and technology, the office organised the maiden edition of the Federal Civil Service Innovation Challenge which was held in June and August 2020. The competition is aimed at showcasing and rewarding ingenuity and excellence in service as well as boosting the morale of officers to enable them to aspire to greater heights.
‘The competition which was facilitated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), enabled 109 civil servants to participate in the competition out of the 168 who applied via the dedicated website. They were able to pitch their ideas and work in teams from which three winning ideas emerged at the finals.’
The HoS said that the star prize of N3 million was awarded to the first placed winners while runners up and consolation prizes ranging from N1,750,000 to N200,000 were presented to other competitors.
‘It is worth noting that the competition was a precursor to the establishment of Service Innovation Department and Service Innovation Divisions. We realised the crucial need to have in place an organized and dedicated structure to drive and sustain the culture of innovation in the public service with a major focus on reducing waste, cutting the cost of governance and enhancing revenue generation,’ Yemi-Esan said.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the government has said as part of the effort to drive the transformation of Nigerian Public Service as well as ensure that national development goals are achieved, it has begun the development of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).
The exercise, which commenced today, Monday 15th March, was contained in a circular signed by the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties Office (SDO), in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Roberts.
She explained that the development of SOP across MDAs is in line with efforts towards the establishment of Enterprise Content Management (ECM), which is one of the eight (8), priority areas of the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan (FCSSIP 2017 – 2020).
According to the circular, officers from the OHCSF would visit various MDAs to teach their staff how to develop SOP. A virtual presentation would also be made at the commencement of the exercise.