It is alarming to note that despite the numerous measures undertaken to improve the public service delivery, a recent survey by the Malaysian Integrity Institute, indicates that the public’s impression of public service delivery is even lower than its perception on corruption. In this context, we believe there is a need for the profiling of the public service image. The public service must look at its role with a new pair of eyes and through a fresh lens to ensure it rises to the challenges put before Malaysia with unsullied solutions. By culture for excellence, we mean setting high standards of performance with tangible goals and realistic plans to achieve them. This would require a change from an input-oriented practice to outcome-based approaches. The outcome-based approach provides transparency, as such, the progress of projects and programmes are more easily monitored towards the prescribed goals. The public also has the opportunity to see its value for money. The implementation of this approach is anticipated to improve performance and public accountability. Demanding a high standard of performance by itself however, is inadequate if there is no follow-through and follow-up action. We are often praised for having the best plans, unfortunately often lacking in the drive and commitment in its implementation and completion.
Attaining seamless service delivery is still one of the major problems confronting the public service today. World class public service delivery can only be achieved through a high level of inter-agency collaboration. Poor coordination amongst public sector agencies has resulted in overlapping of roles and functions as well as wastages in terms of time and resources. The gap between the centre and frontline service delivery needs to be narrowed. The public service agencies must no longer see themselves in isolation but rather as an integrated part of ‘one government, many agencies, and one delivery’. In this context, leadership in the public service must be able to work across organisational boundaries and bring together the various agencies to attain synergy in public service delivery.
As the society gets more developed, more educated and more exposed, its citizens become more aware of their rights and privileges. Furthermore, the globalised ideas of openness and participation raised the expectations of ordinary citizens to be more involved in the decision making process that has an impact on them. Today, citizens expect to be consulted as part and parcel of the policy-making process. This is in line with the concept of good governance which espouses the need to understand and engage the public and stakeholders towards the common good of the society. Whilst this may be departure from the conventional ways, however, partnerships, mutual consultations and participation should be the mainstay and modus operandi of the new work culture. No matter how well the public service has performed in the past, we can never rest on our laurels and bask in the glory of our past successes. If we do, we are at risk of being overtaken by others in this world of intense competition. We must always be ‘one step ahead’ if we are to survive and thrive in this highly competitive global environment. Therefore, we must continuously strive for high standards of performance.