• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

SERVICOM: Re-engineering public service delivery in Nigeria

In 2004, Nigeria initiated SERVICOM (Service Compact with All Nigerians), an initiative aimed at transforming the public sector by enhancing service delivery, fostering accountability, and prioritising citizen satisfaction. The primary goal was to establish a more efficient, effective, and citizen-centric public service. However, two decades on, the promises of SERVICOM seem distant, overshadowed by systemic failures and bureaucratic hurdles.

Navigating Nigeria’s public services often feels like traversing a labyrinth of inefficiency and frustration. From endless queues to convoluted processes, citizens encounter myriad obstacles that undermine their confidence in government institutions. The absence of critical services that are digitised or poorly digitised compounds these challenges, leaving citizens stranded in a bureaucratic quagmire.

For instance, the experience of attempting to use a government institution’s online portal resulted in a myriad of technical glitches and usability issues. Frustrated by the lack of recourse, a citizen reaches out to SERVICOM for assistance, only to be met with a bureaucratic runaround. Despite repeated attempts to seek help, SERVICOM’s one-time-only response was in no way a reflection of an agency responsible for improving service delivery; in fact, the response simply demonstrated a glaring lack of sense of purpose and responsibility and an inability to address even the simplest of citizen concerns.

At the barest minimum, on this occasion, a simple copying or forwarding of the email to someone in the IT office responsible for the service portal would have helped a step in the right direction. The status quo is untenable anymore. Nigeria’s public service delivery system is in dire need of a radical overhaul, and SERVICOM must live up to its purpose if it wants to continue to “live.”

The solution lies in harnessing the transformative power of digital technology, process optimisation, data-driven performance and user experience improvement, adequate staff training and hiring of the people skilled in this area to transform public service delivery from the ground up, and the willingness for meaningful change.

Digital technology and process optimisation:

Digital technology holds the key to unlocking a more efficient and citizen-centric public service delivery system. By digitising critical services, streamlining processes, and enhancing online service channels (portals), SERVICOM can easily help government institutions eliminate bureaucratic bottlenecks and empower citizens to access government services. Furthermore, investing in process optimisation initiatives will ensure that government agencies operate more efficiently, delivering services in a timely and cost-effective manner.

User experience improvement:

User experience (UX) is paramount in shaping citizens’ perceptions of government services. SERVICOM must prioritise UX improvement initiatives, ensuring that online portals and service channels are intuitive, user-friendly, and accessible to all citizens, including those with disabilities or limited digital literacy. By placing the needs of citizens at the forefront, SERVICOM can foster trust and confidence in government institutions.

Data-driven performance improvement:

Data is a powerful tool for driving continuous improvement in public service delivery. SERVICOM should leverage data tracking mechanisms to monitor performance metrics across government agencies to identify areas for improvement and benchmark performance. By developing benchmarks and roadmaps for service performance for each agency, SERVICOM can hold government agencies accountable for delivering high-quality services that meet the needs of citizens. These service delivery data need to be captured and projected on a dashboard accessible to SERVICOM HQ, especially the CEO and the presidency.

For this transformation to work, SERVICOM will need to have and maintain a separate reporting structure independent of the institution where they are domiciled. Each SERVICOM office should be reporting to the SERVICOM HQ while partnering and collaborating with the heads and staff of the institutions they are helping to improve service delivery, while the SERVICOM’s CEO continues to report to the presidency (the President or President’s trusted designee) directly.

Adequate and right staffing

None of these initiatives can succeed without adequately trained staff who possess the skills and knowledge needed to leverage digital technology, optimise processes, and prioritise user experience and data-driven improvement. SERVICOM will need to invest in comprehensive training programmes to equip its staff with the tools needed to succeed in the digital age.

Above all, it is imperative to have the will to want change. The time for complacency is over. Nigeria’s public service delivery system is in urgent need of transformation, and SERVICOM must rise to the occasion. By embracing digital technology, process optimisation, data-driven performance improvement, and user experience improvement, SERVICOM can help impact and revolutionise public service delivery, restoring citizens’ faith in government institutions and paving the way for a brighter future for all Nigerians.

The path ahead might be challenging, but the rewards of a more efficient, transparent, and citizen-centric public service delivery system are immeasurable.

David Afolabi is a Solution Architecture/Engineering Programme Manager.

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