HCMC to increase interaction with citizens via online tools

In order to smoothly enter the ‘new normal’ phase during the Covid-19 pandemic, state agencies in Ho Chi Minh City are gradually implementing IT in their operation. On-site meetings are reduced while online connections are more encouraged, especially those to serve citizens.

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District 3 is establishing a scientific work-solving process to reduce unnecessary meetings while still maintaining the quality. (Photo: SGGP)

Chairman of District 7 People’s Committee Hoang Minh Tuan Anh shared that since the beginning of 2021, 30 percent of state meetings in his district have been switched to online mode. The organization has also installed hardware to establish and maintain connections to its upper and lower levels even during the lockdown time.

In addition, the district has reduced the quantity of low-priority meetings by 20 percent. Instead, it has introduced the app ‘Online State Official’, considered a mobile working station, to update the latest essential policies and received documents, the status of document handling the assignment of tasks, the feedbacks from citizens and businesses.

More importantly, District 7 has built its Operation Center for Covid-19 Control, Economic Recovery, and Public Administrative Service Provision. This center is responsible for collecting data and updating the current Covid-19 infection as well as socio-economic status within the district. It helps the district to precisely assign tasks to its officials and monitor task performance.

Simultaneously, the district is using a quality management system and a scientific work-solving process in order to improve efficiency and provide favorable conditions for its officials to timely handle their tasks. This, to some extent, has aided in reducing unnecessary meetings in the district.

Similarly, in District 11, a system for online working and meeting has been set up before the time of the fourth Covid-19 outbreak. It has helped to maintain the link between the district office and the counterparts in all 16 wards to promptly deliver clear instructions for smoother work flow and meeting quantity reduction. Therefore, more administrative documents of residents here were processed.

There is also a software piece to provide internal links among state units and offices in the district to monitor administrative document handling status so that managers can adjust work accordingly.

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The HCMC Immigration Office under the HCMC Public Security Department spend most of their time to process passport registration papers. (Photo: SGGP)

Deputy Head of the HCMC Immigration Office (PA08) Nguyen Duc Nghiem shared that his unit only organizes on-site meeting when necessary, and the number of participants is limited to no more than 30 people. Most procedures are carried out online. For instance, the passport registration process has 6 steps, many of which can be done online. Citizens just come to the office for picture capturing and document completion, which takes around 10 minutes. Results are delivered to door via the post.

In minimize direct meetings, Director of the HCMC Social Insurance Phan Van Men stated that tasks are classified and then assigned with clear instruction to specific officials. Particularly, his organization has effectively implemented IT for distant working. This has resulted in about 2 million documents being processed successfully each year. The work quality is not too much affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sadly, in certain districts like District 5 and Binh Thanh District, the number of state meetings is still quite high, considering that the workload at the end of the year is heavy.

According to Dr. Phan Hai Ho from HCMC Cadre Academy, to reduce unnecessary meetings and to focus more on serving citizens, state officials and organizations need to change their thinking and upgrade their working methods. They should take advantage of the time working from home to handle tasks that has no need for direct contact with citizens.

Organizations should strongly apply IT in work, especially public service provision. Administrative reform should focus more on digital transformation so that unsuitable procedures are changed.

Lastly, at present, working hours might become more flexible since outcomes are one key factor for performance evaluation of state officials.

Deputy Head of the Legal Office Le Minh Duc (in HCMC People’s Council) agreed that the pandemic has greatly affected the way people carry out their normal tasks. Therefore, state officials need to be flexible in their work to finish their missions. IT should be implemented to handle citizens’ documents online.

Unluckily, there are still certain civil servants who have an attitude of blaming the pandemic for their inability to complete the assigned tasks on time or for stop working temporarily.

What is more, the number of meetings is still rather high since many districts merely switch from offline to online meetings, but not purposely reduce any unnecessary ones. To increase service quality, it is essential to increase the power to state officials and accelerate administrative reform as well as IT application.

Meanwhile, all civil servants should be more proactive and innovative in their own work. Otherwise, even with more authority, these people are still afraid of responsibility and not enthusiastic enough to work, and thus negatively affecting work progress.