Measuring and rewarding excellence in public service
No government can deliver on the required public goods to ensure a better life for all without the votes of citizens and the paying of taxes.
These key imperatives are the inspiration behind the Public Sector Excellence initiative, now in its second year. And while important, voting and paying taxes are not enough anymore. Citizens must be more active in making their needs heard, understood and delivered to the government.
They need to provide feedback on service delivery, the direction it is taking and their experience of it. After all, it is the citizens who are the customers. Unfortunately, many people leave it too late to make their voices heard. Often, this dissatisfaction is aired through taking part in strikes and withholding taxes. But these steps only succeed in compromising the quality of lives, especially when government is unable to deliver essential services.
Naturally, the success of the country is of mutual interest to government and its citizens. Therefore, both government and citizens have a responsibility to ensure that the relationship succeeds. The Public Sector Excellence Awards are a citizen-centred recognition and celebration of excellence in the public sector based on the Public Sector Excellence Reputation Index results.
The awards raise the profile of the work and achievements of winning teams, agencies and organisations not only among colleagues and peers but, most importantly, as a validation by citizens of their efforts. The Public Sector Excellence initiative has one goal: to give government and citizens an independent channel to help each other create a better South Africa. It deliberately chooses to focus on excellence.
The awards are a ‘name and shine’ rather than a ‘name and shame’ initiative. We believe that if all citizens recognise and reward excellence, it will be a catalyst for inspiring others to go from good to great. It does the country harm to highlight what is wrong without celebrating the achievement of what is right.
As the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, said at the Public Sector Excellence 2011 Awards ceremony, there is a lot to celebrate in our teenage democracy. And while it is not influenced in any way by government, the Public Sector initiative wants to provide an independent and objective input to government.
Furthermore, it wants to support a government which Collins Ohm Chabane, minister of performance monitoring and evaluation, said is “striving to build a performance-orientated state which turns promises into actions to impact directly on what our people are experiencing on a daily basis when they come into contact with government.”
It is therefore fitting that the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement for Distinguished Public Service are no less than the selfless doyennes of public service and heroes of the struggle to create a free and equitable South Africa, Dr. Brigalia Bam and Dr. Sam Motsuenyane. Their excellence is the legacy that is being carried through by the members of the Public Sector Excellence Advisory Council—Riah Phiyega, Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, Tasneem Carrim, Neil Higgs, Gugu Msibi, Prof. Mandla Mchunu and Shaka Sisulu.
These members give of their time and intellect to ensure the awards process is robust, representative and fair. They are aided by the globally reputed TNS South Africa.
Our future as a nation is in great hands if we continue to have examples of excellence such as SARS and the Department of Health setting the pace for the change we want to see in our world.
This article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian newspaper as an advertorial supplement