Service Nova Scotia Minister Jamie Muir on service transformation

HALIFAX – Public servants need to deliver services that keep up with the constantly changing needs of citizens, according to Service Nova Scotia Minister Jamie Muir.

Muir was addressing attendees to the Shifting Sands service transformation conference, being held this week at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax. The conference is hosted by Dalhousie University’s School of Public Administration and the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) Nova Scotia regional chapter.

“We all want to serve our citizens in the right way,” said Muir. “There must be a constant evolution in the way they access services. E-mail and the Internet are more the norm to inform.”

Muir added that Service Nova Scotia has been collaborating with partners to continuously streamline processes where required, noting that government has increasingly become client-focused. “Ten years ago there was no one place where citizens could get access to government services – now there is.”

Muir added that the province’s efforts towards better service delivery has been paying off, with its access centres receiving over 90 per cent satisfaction ratings.

Nova Scotia has also improved service delivery for business registration, and has enjoyed success with its Property Online, a Web-based initiative that provides access to information on land ownership and more than 545,000 properties in Nova Scotia, the minister said.

“We also recently partnered with the federal government on BizPal, it’s an online tool that will help people get fast, easy access to every level of government and is getting rave reviews from the business sector,” Muir added.

John Langford, a professor with the school of public administration at the University of Victoria, also addressed conference attendees on delivering service in a citizen-centric world.

“Students and public servants want to know how they can engage citizens in delivery services, and are intrigued by new flexible approaches to procurement and multiple channels for service delivery,” said Langford.

Langford said the notion of service improvement is not a new idea. However, the more contemporary notion of service transformation “turns our normal approach on its head, and looks at it from the perspective of citizens and business.”

Service transformation also opens up the possibility of integrating and aligning services and creating innovative partnerships in private sector channels, said Langford. “It also creates the possibility of recreating how government business is done.”

Service transformation is the “cool” thing to be doing now in the public sector, Langford said, and all levels of government have been embarking on successful service integration initiatives.

However, Langford stressed that implementation of service transformation is not without its problems and challenges.

“We need to look hard at the progress we’ve made and the steps we need to take,” he said.

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