Address of Hon A.S. Jeewah, Minister of Civil Service Affairs and Administrative Reforms on the occasion of the official launching of Mauritius Public Sector Quality Association on Wednesday 19 January, 2005 at 14 00 hrs at Le Sirius, Labourdonais Hotel, Caudan, Port Louis
Mr. Ponnusamy Senior Chief Executive
Mr. Mudhoo Permanent Secretary
Mr. Gopee President of the Mauritius Public Sector Quality Association
Members of the Association
Heads of Ministries and Departments
Representatives of ISO certified Public and Private Organisations,
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am very pleased to be in your midst this afternoon for the Official Launching of the Mauritius Public Sector Quality Association along with the presentation of its Souvenir Magazine.
Let me first of all make a flash-back on how this Association took birth. I first floated the idea of grouping all the Mauritian ISO Certified Public Organisations into an Association at a working session, I had with Mr. Alan Bryden, Secretary General of ISO, during his visit in January 2004. He wholeheartedly supported the idea and I am pleased to note that this initiative has materialised. I would like to place on record the remarkable work achieved so far by the Members of the Association in such a short span of time and I have no doubt that the Association will contribute significantly to the promotion of a quality culture in the Public Service and in the society at large.
Twelve Public Sector Organisations have already been ISO certified and twelve additional Ministries and Departments are presently implementing ISO principles. I hope that the latter would soon be ISO certified, thus enabling them to join the Association. Undoubtedly the increasing number of ISO certified Public Organisations will motivate others to join the bandwagon of quality and excel in their processes and objectives.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The process of modernization in the Civil Service has undoubtedly been crystallized throughout the preceding years as tangible results have been obtained. The Ministry of Civil Service Affairs and Administrative Reforms has renewed its strategic role as a tone setter and a driver and is continuously spearheading administrative reforms so as to enable the delivery of timely and quality services to the public.
Several breakthrough initiatives have been introduced in the Public Service in order to introduce the quality concept, namely Total Quality Management Framework, ISO standards and Gemba Kaizen principles. These initiatives, coupled with the improvement of counter services, have contributed to re-engineer the systems and procedures as well as shifting the mindset of public officers to adopt a more customer-oriented approach in their day to day functions.
My Ministry, in collaboration with the National Productivity and Competitiveness Council which initiated a Public Service Muda Free programme, continued with the implementation of Kaizen principles, focusing on a blend of continuous improvement and breakthrough strategies.
My Ministry has also developed a close partnership with the Mauritian Quality Institute in promoting the culture of excellence in the Public Service through the organisation of the Excellent Customer Service Award and Outstanding Achievement Award.
As you may be aware, the Excellent Customer Service Award aims at recognizing the achievement of Ministries/Departments in providing effective customer service and promoting a quality culture and a customer-oriented approach in the Public Service. Thirty-two Ministries and Departments have participated in the 2004 Award and this explains the increasing commitment to change and excel from top to lower levels of the organisation.
The Outstanding Achievement Award is a long-term strategy but its primary aim is the recognition of public officers for their outstanding performance and contribution at their workplace in the creation of an environment conducive to excellence in customer service.
At the 2004 National Quality Award, the Training Unit of my Ministry was proclaimed winner of the Level Two-Quality Achievement (Public Sector). My Ministry also won the first prize in the Government Website Competition 2004 organised by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications in the context of INFOTECH 2004. These wins recognise the achievements of my Ministry which has demonstrated, through its commitment and application of continuous improvement principles, significant progress in building sound processes and achieving tangible results.
My Ministry's reform efforts have been extended to Rodrigues as well. A Task Force on Reforms has been set up under the Chairmanship of the Island Chief Executive and workshops are regularly organised in Rodrigues to sensitise Heads of Departments on Administrative Reforms Initiatives. I am also pleased to learn that one public sector organisation in Rodrigues has shown a keen interest in ISO principles and let us hope that very soon, Rodrigues will celebrate its first ISO certified organisation.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Quality is a global issue where operations in our organisations, both in the private and public sector, must become international in their outlook and scope. A much wider concept of quality is needed with the interaction of networks of public, private and voluntary organisations providing public services and solving collective problems. Our planet is going through challenging times and through globally relevant and useful international standards, for instance the ISO, we should be able to make change happen rather than merely to adapt to change.
A variety of initiatives have been implemented to improve customer satisfaction in order to respond to the growing demand of knowledgeable customers and citizens seeking for timely, cost-effective and a seamless service. The ultimate purpose is to renew citizen trust not only in public services but also in all sectors of socio-economic life. Our initiatives include the upgrading of the physical environment as well as training in Customer Care and Quality Counter Services and the formulation of Customers and Citizens' Charters, as written commitment to provide excellent services and preserve customers' rights.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Training and staff development is also high on my Ministry's agenda to enhance the skills, competencies and aptitudes of serving and newly recruited public officers in the different cadres. Quality management is inextricably linked to effective human resource management and development as it may have more to do with people and motivation, involving a cultural change and a new mindset.
The Government has renewed its commitment to the importance of training and staff development both as a means of career development and productivity improvement so as to enable the public service to meet current and future challenges in the rapidly evolving global environment.
As you may be aware, the Indian Authorities have provided us for one year with the services of four ITEC Experts to assist in the elaboration of a Training Needs Assessment (TNA) for the whole civil service. The Experts are in Mauritius since July 2004. They are attached to my Ministry and their assignment is in full swing. They are presently collaborating in conducting Training of Trainers Programme. They will also help in the formulation of a training policy and the preparation of a plan laying down the training strategy in the Civil Service. You may rest assured that training in Total Quality Management will be one of the thrust areas to be included in the proposals.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There is no doubt that the concept of quality in the Public Sector is gathering momentum and will become a leading force in the ever-evolving environment. If quality is continuously taking more effort and commitment at all levels, it is a secret to no one that successful quality initiatives will inevitably lead to improved productivity, greater efficiency, sense of ownership and above all delighted public.
Before ending I would like to quote Mr William Foster, the prolific writer who had this to say:
(Quote) "Quality is never an accident, it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives" (unquote)
With these words, Ladies and Gentlemen, I now have the pleasure to officially launch the Mauritius Public Sector Quality Association. Thank you for your attention.