Monday, July 22, 2019

Aguilar: Innovate

Against the current

ANY ordinary citizen that has acquired legal IDs (government and private) would surely notice the difference in attitude and behavior between a government employee and a private employee. Regardless of skills, rank and salary, government employees are relatively passive and on a relatively lower phasing.

Almost always, the excuse would be that the bureaucracy is too complex that even requesting for a simple pen would take weeks if not months, and would involve tons of paperwork that are probably more expensive than the requested pen itself. Thus, government employees always end up getting sucked up by the system, including the brightest of them.

So they would just go to the motion of showing up at work, doing what they can do for the day, and then go home. On one hand, it is not surprising to see an employee doing exactly the same thing over and over for a decade or two, and some even until they retire. On the other hand, an employee under a private company with relatively lower pay works way harder and produces more work in a day not counting overtime work just to get things done. Not only that, he or she would continue to make innovations to better improve his or her productivity.

And where do they differ? I am pretty sure their sense of purpose for working are relatively the same. The main difference perhaps is the sense of security. You see, a private employee always sees his or her worth from his last performance. And so the urgency to continue to improve has become a main part of his or her work. Promotions are based on performance, and so are rewards and punishments. But a government employee, once he or she has acquired regular status, is relatively safe until retirement. Although there are provisions for promotions and dismissal from tenure, it is almost always never implemented. Performance is equal to compliance. And so they comply with what is being asked, nothing more, nothing less.

Perhaps that would explain why even if we put the brightest and most intelligent citizen as president or governor or mayor, it would still be doubtful if genuine and authentic change would ever happen in one term or two, nay, even in one generation or two.

As a rule, the problem is so deeply rooted that no single man or woman could ever change it–not even our president now.

But wait, there are always exemptions to the rule–those that defy the rules and those that deliver more than what is expected.

Let me share with you the story of an exceptional government employee I met a couple of years ago who perfectly personifies my point. Ms. Rina Osorio. Ms. Rina is the personnel officer at a regional office of Department of Health (DOH) in Northern Mindanao, and she handles all deployed medical practitioners, i.e., nurses, midwives, and dentists.

Being at the regional office, her job was mainly to facilitate the assignment of these medical personnel to the different municipalities and cities in the whole region. But prior to working with the DOH, Ms. Rina was in the private sector, perhaps it’s the reason why she was able to bring her “unique” work ethics to the government. After assessing the strengths and opportunities that come with her scope of work, she decided to propose innovations that may seem minute but surely one I call radical and revolutionary.

First was that after seeing the alarming rate of communities getting sick due to the common practice of open defecation in the barrios, Ms. Rina implemented a program that equipped the deployed nurses to become champions of environmental sanitation, making them more effective as preventive health care practitioners.

Second was that after seeing the need to further assess and develop the health programs in barangays and municipalities, she required all deployed medical practitioners to conduct simple researches in their assigned locality so as to better identify the gaps and make appropriate interventions to improve their health services.

Both innovations were met with mixed reactions as with any kind of change. But my God, the outcome was more than commendable.

The likes of Ms. Rina are what we need in all government units. We need thinkers who are not afraid to introduce changes and innovations that would bring about changes and development and she was not even a department head. Interestingly, most of the innovations we actually need only involves very simple technologies and programs but the change it would bring may just be the one we have been waiting for.


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