The CEO Notes

HSRC clinches award for best reputation in field

The recent service delivery protests clearly show that citizens are no longer indifferent receivers of government services - or lack of services - but are brazenly demanding service delivery and getting rid of officials who they suspect of corruption.

This holds a lesson for all of us who are involved in the public service in one way or another. It was therefore encouraging to receive the news that the HSRC had won the 2009 Gold Award for public sector excellence in the category for best reputation in the Training, Research and Development Sector, as voted by the citizens of South Africa (more information here).

Even more heartening is the fact that although the HSRC's motto, ‘science that makes a difference', is aimed at indirectly improving the lives of the people of this country through research targeted at policy development and best practice, among others, we are not involved in service delivery in the same way as government departments working directly with the public. It is therefore more difficult to make a brand like the HSRC stick in comparison with the SABC, SAA, the Post Office, Transnet, Eskom, and departments like social development, health and education.

For us the award meant that in the minds of the citizens of our country, our brand or public image is perceived as having the best reputation in research, training and development. An organisation's brand is the sum of our activities which we project to the outside world, and which is the product of our organisation's corporate strategy, mission, image, projects and events.

As Jeremy Sampson of the Interbrand Sampson Group states in a book that accompanied the awards, government departments and even countries should be rated as brands. ‘They represent something specific, they have a job to do; those brands that deliver excellence will be sought after and in demand. The pursuit of excellence is a common aim for both the public and private sectors of a country.'

Governments need to understand that their primary purpose is to serve the nation, and that is a challenge all of us working in the public sector need to constantly keep foremost in our minds.

We would therefore like to warmly congratulate those public entities that received the top honours in the Grand Prix Public Excellence Awards, as it is called, for best reputation, namely SARS (platinum award) and the Post Office (gold award) in the state-owned entity category; the departments of social development (platinum) and finance (gold) in the government department category; and the Free State (platinum) and Northern Cape (gold) in the provincial government category.

As Thebe Ikalafeng, founder of the Brand Leadership Academy, which established the Public Sector Excellence Awards, states, ‘there is plenty of excellence to be proud of in the public sector; rather than focus on the negative, this was an opportunity to start recognising, celebrating and inspiring excellence in the public sector as it engages with customers, the taxpaying citizens of South Africa.

Thank you and well done.