May 27, 2024

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Commonwealth Public Service Heads Call for Greater Investment in Smart Technologies to Enhance Public Service Delivery

The 3rd Biennial Pan-Commonwealth Meeting for Heads of Public Service concluded with a resounding call for increased investment in smart technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), to enhance planning and decision-making for more efficient and effective public service delivery and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the Commonwealth.

The three-day meeting featured a key note address by the Hon Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan, and opening remarks by the Commonwealth Secretary-General the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC. It was held at the Commonwealth headquarters in London from the 22 to 24 April.

Convened under the theme, ‘Institutionalisation of smart government to enhance public service delivery‘, the Commonwealth Heads of Public Service expanded on the ongoing dialogue around the urgent need to modernise and enhance the efficiency of government.

Delegates had the opportunity to exchange views on government performance management and were presented with relevant country studies from Rwanda, Kenya, India, and Namibia. This emphasises that the forum remains an important platform for sharing knowledge, experiences, and deepening collaboration.

Delegates also reaffirmed the mandate set out in the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), held in Rwanda in 2022, that seeks to eliminate the digital divide.

After careful deliberation, the delegates agreed on an outcome statement with clear endorsements. One key action to be taken is the establishment of a community of practice for Commonwealth Heads of Public Service. The platform will allow them to continue sharing knowledge and experiences as well as promote ongoing dialogue on good governance.

Additionally, delegates agreed to develop a roadmap for implementing the actions that were determined at the meeting, including forming a Smart Governance Working Group at the Commonwealth Secretariat to spearhead this work until the next biennial meeting in 2026.

During the meeting, the Commonwealth Heads of Public Service welcomed the work of the Commonwealth Artificial Intelligence Consortium (CAIC), which facilitates collaboration and capacity building among member countries to promote the responsible development and application of AI technology.

At the conclusion of the summit, the Commonwealth Secretary-General told the Heads of Public Service:

“I am delighted that you have been able to agree on critical action points, which if fully implemented, have the ability to move the Commonwealth Public Service to a higher level of performance and productivity.”

She continued:

“An important outcome of this meeting is the agreement to establish a Community of Practice for Heads of Public Service aimed at sharing ideas, knowledge, and experiences in public service management. This community of practice will certainly be useful in ensuring that we sustain the conversation on public service improvement and modernisation.”

The meeting reaffirmed its endorsement of the Generally Accepted Performance Principles (GAPP) framework which was unanimously approved by the Second Biennial Pan-Commonwealth Heads of Public Service Meeting in 2022.

The GAPP framework provides a global standard for measuring the performance of governments across Commonwealth member states. By implementing these 16 principles, Commonwealth governments can provide a clear criterion for evaluation and assessment. Additionally, the GAPP framework will enable member states to identify areas for improvement and encourage more efficient and effective allocation of resources within public services.

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