ACCSM Chair Ajman Meludin shares ASEAN’s goals and plans for the civil service sector, following the increased demand for online public services as a result of the pandemic. He discusses the challenges of improving the digital infrastructure and building the capacity of civil servants to deliver digital services efficiently.
What are the goals of the ACCSm for the civil service sector, and how would you assess the progress in achieving these goals?
ACCSM was established to provide a platform for knowledge-sharing for civil servants, innovations, and best practices in ASEAN public service management and development to build and sustain a high-performing, dynamic, and citizen-centric civil service for the people of ASEAN.
Now, more than ever, it is crucial to rethink the mechanisms for enhancing the abilities and thinking of the civil service community in order to keep up with these transformative changes. The community must take on new innovative approaches in to be more robust, flexible, and suited to address more complexities in the future. In this context, the theme for Brunei Darussalam’s ACCSM Chairmanship, ‘’Strengthening ASEAN Public Sector: Fit for the Future”, is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the majority of ASEAN and global citizens. As we try to regain normalcy in our lives, we need to bolster the resilience of an ASEAN Public Sector that is future-ready, capable of mitigating future threats and responding to them appropriately and speedily.
The ACCSM has provided means for gauging the progress of the ASEAN Member State-initiated projects in the ACCSM Work Plan. All the projects are discussed and decided through the Senior Officials and Heads of Civil Service Meetings prior to their inclusion in the ACCSM Work Plan. Furthermore, a monitoring and evaluation strategy, which includes baseline data, targets, and indicators is also embedded in the ACCSM Work Plan to track the progress of the ASEAN Member States’ respective projects. The ACCSM continues to foster effective cooperation and mutual assistance among ASEAN Member States in various key areas, including capacity building that contributes to the narrowing of the development gap.
One of the priorities in the civil service sector is the effective, conducive and efficient delivery of public service through digitalisation. How do ongoing digital trends and developments factor into the sector’s work plan?
Brunei Darussalam has developed the Digital Economy Masterplan Brunei 2025 that outlines strategies for Brunei to achieve a digital economy and to become a smart nation with a digital and future-ready society, a vibrant and sustainable economy, as well as a conducive efficient public service delivery digital ecosystem.
Supporting digital transformation requires a whole-of-nation approach, with government leadership, to strategically execute the developments of the digital economy master plan.
In order to accomplish Brunei’s vision and mission for this digital transformation, the Government of Brunei has identified six focus areas that must be taken into consideration and various initiatives that can be used to address them:
- Service innovation
- Collaboration and integration
- Capability and mindset
- Enterprise information management
In which services are digital transformation most needed?
The foundation for transforming Brunei Darussalam digitally through the Digital Economy Masterplan Brunei 2025 involves three key flagship projects to support seamless service delivery among government agencies, businesses, and citizens:
- The National Information Hub (NIH): vital to secure sharing of data within the government. The storage capacity and functionality of this hub will be further improved with the current implementation of the National Centralized Database (NCDB) infrastructure.
- Digital Payments: will make it possible for the integration between multiple payments systems, thus, enabling consumers to make instant payments.
- Digital Identity: to facilitate an individual’s access to different government services, including mobile applications and government apps. The use of blockchain technology as the infrastructure for digital identity and the backbone for future public services.
During the CoVId-19 pandemic, there was a surge in demand for digital or online public services. Can you cite examples from Brunei darussalam of public agencies creating new systems or processes for accessing government services online? How will ACCSm help the member States sustain the momentum for digital services to benefit ordinary citizens and the business sector?
- BruHealth mobileapp: provides citizens and residents updates on COVID-19 developments and related policy measures, monitors health conditions of residents of Brunei through the selfassessment feature, and tracks risk exposure of residents in Brunei, using Bluetooth and GPS tracking features. It also links to patients’ medical data (BruHims).
- TransportBN: online application for renewal of driving license; and vehicle license.
- Sistem Kebajikan Negara (SKN): online platform to facilitate the public to apply for welfare assistance online provided by a number of agencies.
- eZakat: the Syariah-compliant eZakat digital platform systems or processes for accessing government service online.
There will be continuous sharing of best practices across ASEAN Member States through training, workshops, conferences, and research/studies, which can be used by the Member States as a guide based on their specific abilities and resources. This will provide the Member States with a sense of confidence in delivering services to the public while tackling the challenges of digital change.
What challenges or barriers must be addressed to assist the region’s post-pandemic recovery?
These are the challenges and barriers that need to be addressed to assist the region’s post-pandemic recovery:
- Changing mindsets: the public sector’s culture needs to achieve e-readiness and support the government’s agenda on digital transformation.
- Improving Infrastructure: the government’s digital transformation agenda must be supported by a capable and sustainable infrastructure recovery.
- Remedy the lack of government policies that are in line with government initiatives, which impacts the effectiveness of government digitalisation.
- Aligning the government’s digital transformation strategy with diverse customer/ stakeholder requirements and expectations to realise the government’s digital transformation objectives.
How is ACCSM addressing the challenges of improving digital infrastructure and building the capacity of civil servants to accelerate the digital delivery of services?
Enhancing the competencies and standards of the public sector’s employees is one of ACCSM’s priority areas. A competent workforce is required to provide efficient public services for the greatest benefit of the ASEAN people. ACCSM acknowledges that our workforce’s infrastructure and building competencies must be bolstered for all Member States to adapt to impending changes. Enhancing the mindset, skill sets, and capacity of civil servants is fundamental to the performance of public service in the context of rapid expansion. In addition, it is imperative that each public sector adopts best practices and attempts to standardise its processes. This would help the public sector more effectively provide reliable services to the ASEAN people.
One of the main areas is transformative leadership, which involves selecting and developing leaders to accelerate the delivery of digital services. ACCSM offers a variety of leadership themes that encourage the each country’s public sector leaders to cooperate and learn.
Another priority area of ACCSM is the strengthening of ASEAN Resource Centres (ARCs). This is another avenue of opportunities that can be used to address the challenges of improving digital infrastructure and building the capacity of civil servants to accelerate the digital delivery of services. Each ASEAN Member States has one area of expertise, which they contribute to the ARCs for all Member States to utilise.
- Brunei Darussalam: Managing Civil Service Competencies.
- Cambodia: Public Service Delivery.
- Indonesia: ASEAN Pool of Experts on Civil Service (A-EXPECS).
- The Lao PDR: Civil Service Performance Appraisal.
- Malaysia: Innovation in the Civil Service through Strategic Collaboration.
- Myanmar: Public Service Motivation.
- The Philippines: Assessment and Organization Development (OD).
- Singapore: Leaders in Strategic Human Resource Programme – Building a Future-Ready Public Service.
- Thailand: Human Resource Innovation.
- Viet Nam: Centre for Personnel Management.
Another priority area is enhancing the workforce competencies and standards in the public sector by leveraging on the projects/ programmes/initiatives of Member States, with a common goal of enhancing the public sector’s capacity and capability. Just to name a few projects/programmes/initiatives in the current work plan that supports building the capacity of civil servants to accelerate the digital delivery of services such as:
- Digitalisation in Public Service Delivery and Workshop on Effective e-Training Methodology by the Lao PDR.
- Digital Government Competency and Capability Readiness by Malaysia.
- Service Delivery Benchmarking Study, ACCSM Leaders in Strategic HR Innovations to Build a Future Ready Public Service by Singapore.