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Innovative Civil Service Will Pave The Way for A Smart Bangladesh

Date: 3 February, 2024

Writer : Mohammad Salahuddin & Miz. Nilufa Yesmin
Source : Bangladesh Post

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

3 February, 2024
Writer : Mohammad Salahuddin & Miz. Nilufa Yesmin
Source : Bangladesh Post
· Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Innovative Civil Service Will Pave The Way for A Smart Bangladesh

Innovative Civil Service Will Pave The Way for A Smart Bangladesh

As a local agricultural officer in Mymen­singh, Abdul Malek was troubled by the persistent crop losses and yield deficits faced by farmers. Despite his desire to find a simple, low-cost, and sustainable solution, he struggled to break free from conventional methods. In 2014, he attended an empathy training program, discovering the potential of technology in addressing emerging problems. This training provided him with the breakthrough he needed to finally implement his long-held ideas. And he developed the app “Krishoker Janala” (Farmers’ Window), offering comprehensive agricultural solutions. It enables instant identification of crop diseases through images, benefiting farmers and officials. Supported by Aspire to Innovate (a2i) and the Department of Agricultural Extension, the app now efficiently addresses diverse issues for millions of farmers nationwide.

A proactive public servant implemented a highly effective and modern solution without waiting for higher authorities. Did you ever think, what it would be like If government services become more people-friendly and innovative through civil service efficiency. One can undoubtedly anticipate positive outcomes for the country and its citizens.

Initiatives for a smart government by 2041 are underway, with the aim of achieving paperless, user-friendly services by 2025, fully paperless and personalized by 2031. By 2041, these services will be powered by cutting-edge technology, functioning with a citizen-centric approach, understanding the language of the people.

The e-governance system will drive the smart government, featuring a tracker to monitor the status of government services, activities, and target achievements. Ministries will have easy access to their positions, enabling the setting of new, realistic targets.

Efficient operation of a government reliant on frontier technology will need a proficient civil service with an innovative mindset. The incumbent government has already taken steps towards achieving this objective.

Before the national elections in December 2008, the incumbent government announced the vision for a ‘Digital Bangladesh’ and its first visible plan further streamlined the path of innovation and development. In 2013, the Cabinet Division issued a notification mandating the establishment of innovation teams in all government offices, providing it with institutional structure. Benefits of these innovative initiatives are becoming increasingly evident. A recent a2i study on TCB reveals that the average savings in time, cost, and visits for service recipients nationwide are approximately 82%, 78%, and 85%, respectively. These significant improvements result from the simplification or digitization of services through innovative ideas.

In the bid to develop a Smart Bangladesh, all civil servants will be trained to embrace new ideas and innovations. Their plans, decisions, and actions will reflect a people-friendly and forward-thinking vision. They will be aware that everything changes in time which means citizens’ needs will change according to it. In a nutshell, civil servants will embody the qualities of a ‘Govprenuer’ (government entrepreneur) and a digital leader.

We have already heard the story of agricultural officer Abdul Malek. There are several advantages to encourage civil servants to become Govprenuers. First, it enhances government operations. Second, it helps improve the quality of life of citizens. Third, it helps to increase public trust in the government. The government is implementing various innovative projects that will create opportunities as well as encourage government officials to become Govprenuers.

For example, the Ministry of Land has implemented initiatives such as ‘e-Naamjari’ (Mutation), ‘Digital Record Room’, and ‘Cashless Payment’. In addition, the Ministry of Health is implementing pilot projects such as ‘Health Stack’, ‘BCC Hospital Automation’, and ‘Shared Health Record’ of the Directorate of Health.

To tailor government services in line with the individual needs of citizens, futuristic technologies like big data-driven machine learning and AI will be employed. However, technological advancement alone is insufficient. Service providers must have the ability to effectively utilize these technologies.

In addition to government entrepreneurship, the objective of ‘Civil Service 2041’ is to instill digital leadership qualities in government officials. This aims to equip the civil service for the future, enhancing its efficiency in addressing the evolving needs of the people.

One of the three foundations of digital leadership is sustainable e-governance, which aims for fully paper-less services to enhance transparency and accountability. The second is, data leadership, recognizing the power of data in problem identification and policy development. The third foundation involves staying updated of emerging digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things, ensuring every government employee remains updated on these innovations.

A question may arise: How the civil service will transform into a government entrepreneur and digital leadership-oriented entity? The ‘Civil Service 2041’ aims to instill five essential qualities and skills in government officials: effective insights, forward-thinking analysis skills, proficiency in data usage, digital skills, and the ability to foster cooperative networks.

This initiative will be implemented in three phases. In the initial phase, civil servants will enhance their knowledge, garner colleagues’ respect, and acquire proficiency in using digital technology. This phase will also enhance their independent problem-solving skills. In the second phase, they will get specialized training to further develop their skills. Alongside acquiring knowledge on digital leadership, e-government, government service delivery, and emerging technologies, they will actively implement their own initiatives. The third phase involves training exemplary officers as coaches for digital leadership through coaching skills sessions and Training of Trainers (TOT). This includes establishing a pool of master trainers and mentors by incorporating new coaches and fostering cooperative relationships with international digital leadership experts. Diverse teaching methods, such as online simulations, games, case studies, peer teaching, and mentorship, will be employed.

To implement Civil Service 2041, emphasizing government entrepreneurship and digital leadership, the government is actively revising courses at diverse government training centers. This effort aims to facilitate simultaneous training for a large number of government officials. Simultaneously, initiatives are underway to integrate knowledge acquisition and training at the university level. A2i is collaborating with selected students from various universities for this purpose. Additionally, ongoing coordination with politicians on this matter is part of the process. A civil service equipped with government entrepreneurship and digital leadership qualities will be a cornerstone in building a Smart Bangladesh by 2041. They will bring services directly to the people, enhancing the quality of life, and optimizing government operations for efficiency. Their efforts will contribute to establishing a citizen-friendly, technologically advanced Bangladesh.

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