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Every year the United Nations (UN) invites us all to commemorate World Public Service Day on June 23. This year marks 20 years since the UN General Assembly designated June 23 as Public Service Day.

In bringing attention to Public Service Day, the UN has stated on its website:

“Without public administration modernization and transformation to adapt to today’s needs, realizing a better future for all will be impossible.”

CARICAD unequivocally endorses the UN’s perspective. We continue to live in challenging, uncertain and in some ways globally perilous times. Some public officers risk their lives simply by doing the jobs they signed up to do. In recent years in the Caribbean, public officers, like their counterparts around the world, have had to endure risk, privation, inconvenience and isolation and other forms of hardship. These are abnormal times. Many people now hunger for what we all knew as normalcy. That tells us not only do we need to say a big “thank you” to public officers but we all need to officially recognise their efforts as was done in Barbados recently.

The UN reminds us that as we look ahead, we must truly embrace Public Sector Transformation as an urgent national development priority. CARICAD has re-imagined Transformation and therefore we now promulgate Transformation as:

“A continuous process of leading and managing change for innovative adaptation; to enable delivery of services and results in a resilient and sustainable manner.”

We need to change the way we perceive and understand Transformation. But we must go much further than thinking differently. We must act differently. We need new Visions, Strategies, Structures, Systems, Skills, Legislation, Procedures and Practices. We also need new Governance, Standards, Accountability procedures, Competencies and a commitment to Openness and Transparency. I am convinced that there is an urgent need to change mindsets.

Those of us who are public sector managers and leaders need to be more innovative and creative. The changes will require, inter alia, courage and empathy. Let us think of our public sector workers more as human beings and less as human resources. Human beings have needs, wants, ambitions, hopes and expectations beyond the need for a job. They experience challenges, hardships, disappointments, and loss. In that regard let us as we go forward in the Caribbean re-define and re-imagine our public services across the board. Let us see the public sector as the engine of sustainable development and responsiveness to our people’s needs. Let us not see public services as they were for centuries, the bastions of bureaucratic efficiency. Let us see them as lead-institutions of Transformation.

In the drive towards such changes we need to chart an effective course to institutionalise Digital Government. In so doing we will make our services not only more efficient but much more effective and more timely. We will become more responsive and relevant while empowering our citizens, residents and visitors. We will also make our countries more globally competitive.

I am convinced that we need new thinking, new tools, new techniques and a new commitment to Transformational  Leadership  and Management in the Caribbean to make our public services the citizen-oriented services we need them to be. CARICAD has always been in the vanguard of advocacy for such changes and in providing technical assistance to implement transformational change. We remain committed to collaborating with all stakeholders to make the public services of this region exemplars for all Small Island and Coastal Developing States. In addition, we will need to look at regional successes and replicate them where possible and appropriate.

In concluding these remarks, I greet you on Public Service Day 2022 with the wish that we all resolve to achieve the changes we need not only for relevance but for the Transformation that is a sine qua non of future success. Let us be courageous, creative, innovative, competent, productive and professional. Let each and every public officer provide service at the required standard in a timely, ethical and respectful manner on Public Service Day and every day of every year.

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