Public Sector Must Lead Knowledge Management

Joy-Ann Gill Top Stories

Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo (left), at this morning’s Certified Knowledge Management Training Workshop at Baobab Towers. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Knowledge management must be a national effort led by the public sector.

This is the view of Labour Minister, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo which was expressed to leaders in the public sector during today’s Certified Knowledge Management Training, at the Baobab Tower, Warrens St. Michael.

Calling on Deputy Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments to consider whether they could function effectively if their office was impacted by a hurricane or fire, she lamented that the public service relied too much on hard copy documents that require significant financial resources and physical space.

The Minister offered her solution. She suggested that there be a move away from “corridors of filing cabinets filled with dated files, where the search and retrieval of information is so cumbersome and time consuming that it not only wastes valuable resources, but it also creates hazardous safety and health conditions”.

The Labour Minister also noted that workers with knowledge management competencies must be developed in both the public and private sectors and then be placed in appropriate positions.

“That will assist in the transformation into learning organisations operating in a more digitized working environment, saving time and money, and resulting in greater efficiency, higher productivity and enhanced competitiveness.”

Suggesting another way to lead and facilitate the transformation, she said they could share working documents online in real time through a secure network and noted that this would ensure that a matter does not linger for weeks while a file physically goes to one agency and others for comment.

Senator Byer Suckoo contended that in the current environment where we must be fiscally prudent and strategic, increased coordination and collaboration were necessary to eradicate programme duplication and inefficiency which resulted from a lack of information-sharing between ministries, departments and agencies.

The Minister warned, however, that at the same time, the transfer of personnel across the public sector should not translate into the departure of knowledge.

She explained that: “Through knowledge management, ministries, departments and government agencies develop systems that maintain corporate history, experience and expertise so that as public servants come and go, their knowledge would be incorporated into the systems that supports their successors.”

It was also emphasised that while the private sector is encouraged to become more innovative and to seek to compete on the global market, the public sector must also become innovative to offer more customer-driven and efficient government services.

“The public sector must also improve its business processes to support domestic and foreign investment and create the enabling environment for research and development and game-changing entrepreneurship,” the Minister said.

The Ministry of Labour is developing the knowledge management system through technical assistance from the HRD Strategy’s main sponsor and partner, the European Union.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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