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Trinidad and Tobago

To Certify Public Agencies’ Service Quality (TT0001)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Not Attached

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Public Administration

Support Institution(s): 75 Public Services Agencies, Independent advisory panel with representatives from civil society

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Trinidad and Tobago End-of-Term Report 2014-2016

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

To ensure that 40 percent of Public Service Agencies have attained the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard Certification (TTDS) namely Health, Education, Transportation, National Security, Works and Infrastructure and Trade service agencies.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

1.1 To Certify Public Agencies’ Service Quality

Commitment Text: To ensure that 40 percent of Public Service Agencies have attained the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard Certification (TTDS) namely Health, Education, Transportation, National Security, Works and Infrastructure and Trade service agencies.

Milestones:

1. 75 service agencies signed up for the TTDS

2. Services charters are made public

3. Improvement plans adopted

4. Certification audits conducted

Responsible Institution: Ministry of Public Administration and Communications (MPAC)

Supporting Institution(s): 75 Public Service Agencies, independent advisory panel with representatives from civil society

Start Date: September 2014

End Date: June 2016

Commitment Aim

This commitment aims to improve the quality of public service delivery among government agencies by creating service standards that are monitored by citizens. This commitment is part of a pre-existing initiative, the Gold to Diamond Standard Certification, launched on 24 June 2013. The commitment seeks to certify 75 agencies using the following certification criteria:

1. Customer Involvement and Understanding;

2. Communications;

3. Promoting a Customer Service Culture;

4. Responsiveness and Service Standards;

5. Service Environment;

6. Innovation and Creativity;

7. Technology; and

 8. Partnerships.

The commitment and pre-existing programme intend to enhance public service delivery and performance by defining standards of performance, focusing on citizens as customers, having more professionally trained public officials, and using the “whole of government” approach.[Note 1: Australian Public Service Commission, Connecting Government: Whole of Government Responses to Australia's Priority Challenges, “1. The Whole of Government Challenge,” Australian Government, http://bit.ly/1QSf2jn. The Trinidad and Tobago government uses the whole of government approach as an integrated method to respond to citizen issues. While initiatives can be formal or informal, the focus is on improving government service delivery. ]

To be certified, public agencies must fulfil the Diamond Standard certification. According to the certification programme, public agencies need to have a customer-focused culture with the aim of delivering quality services to the public.[Note 2: Diamond Standard, Trinidad & Tobago Diamond Standard, http://www.mpac.gov.tt/diamond/content/about-ttds ] This culture should feature engagement between customers and staff, simple business processes, high-quality service delivery, openness and transparency, continuous feedback for improvement, and technology for innovation. 

Status

Midterm: Limited

According to public officials involved in the implementation of this commitment, 20 services applied for certification in the first cycle, and another 55 agencies signed up for Diamond Standard Certification in the second cycle.[Note 3: A cycle refers to a period of training or a cohort.] The government reported that 17 agencies published service charters, and 28 service improvement plans were adopted. These activities would represent substantial completion of the first two milestones, although the IRM researcher was unable to verify the level of implementation since public officials provided no list of certified agencies.

For more information, please see the 2014–2015 midterm IRM report.[Note 4: Open Government Partnership, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Trinidad and Tobago progress report 2014-2015, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/TrinidadTobago_14-15_Final_0.pdf. ]

End of term: Limited

At the time of the writing of this report, 66 agencies have signed up to participate in this initiative. Interviewed public officials of the MPAC reported this figure. Participation of 9 of the 66 service agencies was postponed, and 18 agencies had to withdraw from the process. In the midterm report, the IRM researcher reported that 28 service improvement plans were adopted, but no certification audits took place. Public officials informed the IRM researcher that certification audits are continuous and are usually conducted every six months. However, the number of audits conducted was not reported.

It should be noted that, as in the context of the midterm report, the IRM researcher attempted to independently corroborate the information provided—requesting more information from the government—but has not been able to confirm the information from public officials. Additionally, no information and updates on the number of agencies included in the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard (TTDS) could be found on the official website of the TTDS website.[Note 5: Ministry of Public Administration and Communications, Trinidad & Tobago Diamond Standard, http://www.mpac.gov.tt/diamond/content/trinidad-tobago-diamond-standard ]

Based on the research and interviews conducted, the IRM researcher concluded that the implementation of this commitment was limited, since 66 and not 75 agencies signed up. Additionally, signing up is the first of several steps to becoming certified.[Note 6: Ministry of Public Administration and Communications, A Pocket Guide to Achieving the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard, 5, http://mpa.gov.tt/diamond/sites/default/files/Pocket%20Guide%20to%20attaining%20Diamond%20Status_0.pdf. ] In addition, 17 service charters were published but no additional evidence of progress was provided by public officials.

Did it open government?

Public accountability: Marginal

This commitment aims to build the capacity of public agencies to deliver public services efficiently and to certify those agencies based on service quality standards. The certification process includes a feedback mechanism: citizen user panels that provide feedback on the quality of service delivery. This commitment led to a marginal change in government conduct, reflected in the low number of agencies that went beyond signing up to participate in the TTDS. Nevertheless, the existence of the commitment represents the government’s recognition of the problems with government engagement of citizens and with the use of feedback to continuously improve the quality of the services provided. 

Even though public officials reported on the agencies participating in this process, there was no information online about agencies that signed up or those in various stages of the process. The lack of data poses challenges for citizens who may want to find out more about the process, participate, or view results of agency audits. Review of the data could increase public accountability.  Unfortunately, civil society stakeholders who were interviewed did not express an opinion on this commitment. The IRM researcher requested from public officials a list of stakeholders involved in the TTDS process (for example, a list of persons on the citizen user panel and the private-sector expert panel). However, this information was not provided.

Carried forward?

The government has not started consultation to develop the next action plan but should enhance this commitment. While the commitment garners useful public feedback on the quality of service delivery in public agencies, a more defined commitment should feature an access to information and open data portal offering regularly published data related to citizen feedback. Citizens should also be able to access the names and level of completion of public agencies involved in the TTDS. This data sharing could also serve as a platform for civil society to advocate certification of high-demand public agencies.

For this commitment to be considered complete, public officials will first need to provide information to verify statements made in interviews. Additionally, it would be useful to gain feedback from stakeholders to determine the change that the introduction of this commitment had on improving public service delivery.


Commitments

  1. To Certify Public Agencies’ Service Quality

    TT0001, 2014, Capacity Building

  2. To Develop Human Resources Management Capacity in the Public Service

    TT0002, 2014, Capacity Building

  3. To Conduct a Pilot Project for the Development and Introduction of a “Easier Life for Citizens” Index

    TT0003, 2014, Public Service Delivery

  4. To Develop Interactive Media on Government Business Processes and Programs to Better Access Government Services

    TT0004, 2014, Public Service Delivery

  5. To Establish a Contact Centre to Address the Needs of National Scholars (Local and International) of Trinidad and Tobago

    TT0005, 2014, Education

  6. To Adopt a Policy on Data Standards and Classification Frameworks

    TT0006, 2014, Open Data

  7. To Increase the Number of Publicly Accessible Government Datasets in Open Formats

    TT0007, 2014, Open Data

  8. To Conduct a Diagnostic Review of Public Information Needs

    TT0008, 2014, Open Data

  9. To Create an Easily Accessible Open Government Portal , with a Platform/Repository for Open Data, as Well as an Interface to Allow for Feedback from the Public

    TT0009, 2014, Open Data

  10. To Create a Civil Society Board

    TT0010, 2014, Public Participation

  11. To Audit the Accounts of the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs to International Standards

    TT0011, 2014, Audits and Controls

  12. To Make Publicly Available the Cadastre of Licenses and Contracts for the Exploration and Production of Oil and Gas in Trinidad and Tobago

    TT0012, 2014, E-Government

  13. To Include the Mineral Sector (Starting with National Quarries Company Ltd) in the TTEITI Reporting Mechanism

    TT0013, 2014, E-Government