THE Prime Minister is urging top public servants to embrace technology to improve people's lives, the public service, and the economy. He was addressing a Public Sector Leadership for Digital Transformation workshop at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain, on Monday.
"I want to challenge every leader in this room to dream and envision what we can offer to our fellow citizens, to make their lives easier and your lives easier too," said Dr Rowley.
The event was hosted by the Ministry of Public Administration and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in collaboration with the Ministry of Digital Transformation.
He said the country had embraced technology to cope during the ongoing pandemic, with digitisation of the public and private sectors advised by the government's Road Map to Recovery exercise.
"During the period of lockdown we were able to ensure continuity of government services, with the support of the managers in this room, although it was extremely challenging given the paper-based nature of our processes.
"Many of us seized the opportunity that covid19 presented to begin adopting new ways of working, new ways of collaborating and new ways of delivering services. How many of us here adjusted seamlessly to virtual meetings?
"As a Cabinet, we have conducted the vast majority of our meetings for the last two years online."
Rowley hailed the Ministry of Public Administration, working with the Office of the Prime Minister, for introducing an e-Cabinet application in September 2019, just before the pandemic reached TT.
"Court sessions were held online, the TT Travel Pass was developed and launched, and the online application process for birth certificates was made available.
"Indeed, we have seen some other benefits of harnessing technology in our ministries and in our ability to serve the public. While much remains to be done, we have clearly demonstrated in many arms of the State that we can in fact do it."
Rowley said his vision was for a transformed TT where citizens were pleased with the scope, quality, and delivery of public services which were delivered in a timely manner at people's point of need. He envisioned digital technology being fully utilised in the public and private sector to improve the ease of doing business.
The PM hoped people would view the opportunity to serve the country as "a respected career of choice, honour and privilege."
He called for "one public service" and a whole-of-government approach, rather than departments operating in silos.
"Until we see ourselves as one service, we will not be able to fully realise the power of collective action to achieve our destiny as a people.
"Digitalisation makes it all possible."
He envisaged a new, transformed public service with an integrated system to manage data to allow for data-driven policymaking in the country.
A digitised public service must offer "a unique identifier" for every citizen to have equitable access to public benefits and services, he said. It must also offer government services quickly and cost-efficiently, to minimise waste and duplication, and in an environmentally-responsible manner.
The PM said a transformed public service would allow "an assault on white-colour criminal conduct, which currently flourishes with impunity, but which will wither if access is digitally controlled and recorded and information in the form of evidence identifies who did what, where, when, how and under what authority."
He hoped the public service itself would be constantly learning, with leaders who are "decisive, goal-oriented and future focussed." It should allow personal growth in its members to whom it should be a source of pride. The PM hoped public service leaders would be "drivers of change" to bring a new vision to citizens, colleagues and stakeholders.
Rowley advised all to stay agile in the rapidly-changing digital environment by embracing learning, new knowledge and critical-thinking skills.
He saw the workshop as a chance to reshape the future of the public service, vowing to partner in helping digitisation so as to achieve TT's national development goals.