The Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI) held the 15th Annual Public Sector Awards Ceremony at Birchwood Hotel in Ekurhuleni on Friday, 27 October 2017.
In her keynote address, Minister for Public Service and Administration, Ms Faith Muthambi urged public servants to move out of their comfort zones and come up with innovations that would lead to an improved public sector.
Ms Muthambi was conferring awards to public servants whose innovative projects were nominated as winners in different categories during this glitzy Ceremony.
The Annual Public Sector Innovation Awards Programme is a platform that unearths, recognises and rewards innovative solutions within the public sector and facilitates their replication where need arises to prevent reinvention of the wheel and subsequent wastage of state resources. The Awards Programme targets all three spheres of Government as well as partners from the private sector and academia. They promote and encourage best practice in public sector innovation and service delivery as well as celebrate the successes of individuals and teams at all spheres of government in their quest to innovatively improve service delivery.
Minister Muthambi encouraged public servants to work hard at dispelling the notion that there is no creativity and innovation in the public sector. “These awards are indeed a proof that public servants are creative and innovative and through this CPSI programme we are encouraging them to continue to think creatively in order to improve the manner in which our government delivers services,” said Minister.
Ms Muthambi also said the CPSI’s mandate directly supports the National Development Plan in building an effective, efficient and development oriented public sector and an empowered and inclusive citizenry.
“The Awards ceremony is a clear indication of how our public officials, moved by the plight of their fellow citizens, have decided to embrace innovation as a key enabler and a game-changer in exploring better and more improved ways of delivering services to citizens. Our public officials are increasingly, boldly pushing boundaries to move beyond familiarity to find new, extra-ordinary ways of delivering services,” said Muthambi.
There were altogether four main categories into which finalist projects had to compete:
Category A: Innovative Solutions Reducing the Cost of Delivering Services to citizens
- This category focuses on initiatives aimed at reducing the cost of delivering services through innovation. The category winner was The Emergency Medical Dispatch System from the Department of Health in Mpumalanga Simple but effective, the system is able to dispatch ambulances and also provides a “birds eye view” of where any ambulance is at any given time. The system has improved the response time tremendously, saving lives in the process.
Category B: Innovative use of ICTs for effective service delivery
- Dealing with the innovative application of ICTs to achieve effective service delivery, the category winner in this case was Modernisation of Company Registration Regime. This innovation led to a situation where, now at a click of a button, a company can be registered at any day and time without much effort. Turnaround time for company registration has been reduced from 20-30 days in 2011 to just a few minutes today.
Category C: Innovative Service Delivery Institutions
- In this category that hails public sector institutions which are uniquely innovative in character, the overall winner was the Oncology Services, a project by the Klerksdorp/Tshepo Hospital Complex, North West Department of HealthThe central focus in this project is a short treatment machine which was introduced by the newly established oncology unit. This innovative contraption has immensely reduced the waiting time of cancer patients, some of whom were travelling to Johannesburg for treatment.
Category D: Innovative Enhancements of Internal Systems of Government
- This category looks at innovative initiatives to bolster and improve internal government operations. The winner was Online Admissions Application, an initiative by the Gauteng Department of Education. The online system allows parents to apply for admission of entry grades and grade 8 from the comfort of their homes. It successfully registered more than 454 902 applicants in 2016.
Public Sector Innovator of the Year
- Of all these winners, The coveted Public Sector Innovator of the Year Award went to the Emergency Medical Dispatch System, Department of Health, Mpumalanga with a R60 000 prize
GEMS Health Sector Innovation Award
- Another additional prize, the GEMS Health Sector Innovation Award, which was sponsored by GEMS Medical Fund was conferred to Oncology Services, Klerksdorp/Tshepo Hospital Complex, North West Department of Health. The award came with the prize to the value of R50 000
This year, a new addition to the Awards was the Public Sector Innovation Trailblazer. The award was specifically introduced to pay homage to Public Sector Innovation Trailblazers who are game changers with agile minds that are driven by a passion to turn around the public sector and dispel the myth that the “wheels of government are slow to turn”. The nominees were all recognised for their contributions in providing ICT-based solutions to solve service delivery challenges. They are: Xolani Phakathi: Department of Health, Kwa-Zulu/ Natal, Cosmos Dube – Department of Health, Mpumalanga and Elijah Mziyako- Department of Health, Mpumalanga.
The final celebrants for the night were the receipiants of the Special Ministerial Awards. Under the spotlight in this regard are usually individuals or teams/departments who have demonstrated exceptional service to citizens through their innovations and who reflect the spirit and ethos of solution-focused public sector.
This year, the following two special projects were awarded:
MIA Sanitary Towels
- Promise Machimane got the sad news of retrenchment in 2007, after eleven years of loyal service to her ex-employers. After conducting thorough research Machimane concluded that her intended niche market of disposable sanitary products, mainly pads and diapers, had huge potential and credible competitors were few and far between, if any. This has proved to be MIAST’s stable foundation. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Optical Laboratory, Department of Health, Mpumalanga
- There is a high demand for spectacles especially in low income areas of Mpumalanga with elderly pensioners and school going children who experience vision challenges.With a limited budget, the Optical Lab officially launched its full services – the only ‘known’ optical lab in the public sector. It currently services the entire population of Mpumalanga Province with one staff who is the Optical Dispenser, Ms Thandeka Lekhuleni, who acquired the skill to solely operate the optical lab where she manufactures spectacles by designing, fitting and dispensing corrective lenses for the correction of a person’s vision.Working from the prescriptions written by optometrists and ophthalmologists, Ms. Lekhuleni also determines the specifications of various ophthalmic appliances that will give the necessary correction to a person’s eyesight. She also advises on various spectacle frames and she also provides lenses colouring services. Through this, the department is able to offer these services to citizens free of charge and also save costs by using the strategy of insourcing.
Minister Muthambi was impressed by the number of youth who were part of the finalist projects. She said thatthe public sector was becoming a conducive place of work for the youth, with their enquiring minds and their insatiable curiosity and passion to try new and better ideas. She expressed a hope that through this programme, more and more public servants will come forward with innovations, which will lead to an improvement in the manner in which the public service delivers to the citizens.