Prime Minister David Thompson

There must be a major change in the way in which public service institutions function, if Barbados is to cope with the many and varied challenges emerging from the current global environment.

This assertion was made recently by Prime Minister David Thompson as he delivered the feature address at the recently held 67th Annual Delegates’ Conference of the Barbados Workers’ Union at “Solidarity House”.

Acknowledging that such institutions had given and continue to provide “very good service to their clients”, Mr. Thompson noted that in order to move beyond excellence, a higher premium must be placed on a strategy that modernises public service systems and practices to ensure that they could continue to effectively meet the needs of citizens.

“More specifically, we need to ensure that such a strategy delivers improvements, responds to shifting and complex societal needs and supports business in gaining competitive advantages, thereby contributing to the sustained economic success for Barbados.

“The strategy of achieving public service excellence is diverse and complex. Public service organisations will need to interact more with each other and with stakeholders at the national and international levels, and across these levels,” he opined.

The Prime Minister further stated that effectiveness in the public service could be maximised if it was an integrated system, with revised accountability structures and ways of working.

“Rather than seek to have new structures created, the integrated system is one where individuals tend to work together across existing structures to allow greater connectivity between different sectors, agencies, Ministries and so on. 

“We must move towards a performance focus, which means that instead of focusing mainly on inputs and processes, more information will need to be gathered on outputs and outcomes and what has actually been achieved,” he suggested.

Mr. Thompson recommended the use of e-government to deliver integrated and citizen-focused services. He observed that while a number of initiatives had improved the quality and the way in which services were delivered, government’s focus must be from the perspective of the citizen and helping them to find solutions to their problems.  

 He also said that increased flexibility and mobility for workers must be considered, as limited mobility created challenges in sharing skills and competencies across the public service, and in reallocating resources to those areas most in need.

The Prime Minister pointed out that once there was a commitment and will to change, it would propel public service institutions to perform at a higher level of excellence.

He stressed, however, that “our recipe cannot be complete” without attention being paid to a number of issues which require national attention. He listed these as the continuous building of social capital; the strengthening of tripartism and social dialogue; continued promotion of our Decent Work Agenda and adherence to core labour standards.

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