If speed is the essence in doing business, then systems and procedures, particularly those that ensure accuracy, reliability, consistency and simplicity will have to be put in place. The public service will be implementing ISO 9000 very soon. Malaysia will be the first country that will adopt ISO 9000 in its entire public service. Gearing ourselves to world class means that we will gear ourselves to implementing ISO 9000. Training of public servants should emphasise the sharpening of core competencies covering the three broad areas of conceptual, technical and interpersonal skills. However, the emphasis will vary depending on whether the officer is in the upper, middle or lower levels of management. The conceptual skills are skills related to `higher order activity' more relevant to the upper level management where the need is to see issues, recognise problems, strategise, and think systems.
On the other hand, the technical skills are the operational skills, the hands-on type of skills which are needed at the lower rung of management. The middle level management needs a balance of both the conceptual and the technical skills as they act as the interface between the top level management and the lower level of management. However, across all levels of management is the requirement for interpersonal skills. No one works alone in any organization; people will have to network and build relationships at all levels of management vertically as well as horizontally. World class also means the ability to command resources and operate beyond borders. In this regard, our public service should have the ability to support our private sector to effectively operate beyond our shores. There are many ways in which this can be done. Firstly, in business, the question of integrity and image are very critical elements.
In this connection, besides facilitating the business sector through enhancing the administrative processes, the public service must see itself as the custodian of Malaysia's good image overseas, and assist in the conduct of business with good ethics, to see that our businessmen conduct dealings with reputable partners overseas; secondly, the public service has to focus on establishing connections and networking; examine investment opportunities and facilitate the entry of Malaysian products and services to new markets. The country should never be allowed to suffer from a deep crisis of faith in the public service; the people must not criticise us as a faceless bureaucracy that is unable to accurately meet personalized services; the people must not be allowed to spend their precious time finding answers to their questions, after being bounced from department to department.
The new information technology appears to be the key enabler of public service transformation. The notion of an electronic civil service seem to spark interest. During the 9th Malaysia Plan period, the thrust of IT development will be to further develop IT infrastructure in order to create a strong foundation for building a knowledge-based industrial economy. We are on the threshold of an electronic civil service, an internetworked civil service, linking with the tax payers, suppliers, business customers etc; some institutions in the society such as schools, laboratories, mass media, hospitals and other nations around the world. To a certain extent, the public service has used the electronic system to deliver better quality services and products to the public more quickly, cost effectively, and conveniently. In other words, gearing towards world class must mean designing delivery of services around the needs of our clients, rather than just the old structures or the convenience of civil servants.