During the past four years, a programme of constant renewal was implemented for the Public Service, aiming at a more efficient service which satisfies the needs of both clients and civil servants.
This was and is still being done with a single principle in mind – having a good quality Public Service. In the past, quality of service was not defined but remained open to interpretation, whereas now it has been given a definition and is based on four pillars – voice, design, delivery and accountablity.
Measures taken during 2017 to improve quality of service included the launch of the first 21 mobile apps for government services and the setting up of the website servizz.gov.mt where about 800 services, and the related forms, may be accessed online. The website publicservice.gov.mt was also launched to disseminate information and news about the Public Service.
2017 saw the launch of the first 12 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the Public Service. This is a new concept for the Public Service, with the intention of setting clear aims which need to be reached within a specific timeframe. The KPIs launched in 2017 follow the pilot project introduced in 2016 for the business sector, through which the time needed to set up a new business was reduced drastically.
A mystery shopper for government departments was also introduced, in order to identify shortcomings in service delivery and remedy the situation accordingly.
The first collective agreement of its kind for Public Service employees was signed in 2017 too. This is the fifth agreement for the Public Service but the first one covering an eight-year period. The aim is to ensure more stability while allowing the administration to continue implementing the necessary changes, investing in people and offering a good quality service.
All these measures towards constant renewal go hand in hand with others which have been put into effect since 2013. Among these, one must mention the opening of five servizz.gov community hubs – in Qormi, Birgu, Qawra, Paola and Birkirkara – enabling easier access to services for citizens.
The Public Service Management Code (PSMC) was simplified, shortened by 25% and tweaked of elements which are no longer applicable, certain technicalities, and the ambiguity of having one chapter contradicting another.
Several steps have also been taken to reduce bureaucracy within the Public Service while keeping accountability at the top of the agenda. To name but a few, several trading licences were abolished while inspections for small business were reduced drastically to save time and money.
Reforms were implemented in the fields of public procurement and simplification of financial regulations. The National Audit Office’s annual report on public accounts is no longer being ignored but several of its recommendations are being implmented every year. An annual publication listing simplification measures taken to reduce excessive bureaucracy within the Public Service is also being issued.
Meanwhile, human resources are being given the importance they deserve. Initiatives taken in this regard include the setting up of the People and Standards Division which replaced PAHRO; the creation of the Institute for Public Services; improved training methods for new civil servants; more efficient methods to assess public officers’ performance; as well as the initiative IDEA, whereby public officers can make suggestions directly to the Office of the Prime Minister.