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Public Service Development Agency of the Ministry of Justice Launches the First Public Sector Innovative Service Lab in Georgia

By Mariam Tabatadze
Thursday, November 27
Government structures are often accused of being inflexible and resistant to change, however, the Public Service Development Agency of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia (PSDA) proves it is the opposite of that; with the help of the United Nations Development Programme, the PSDA research and development team spearheaded the creation of the first public sector innovation lab in Georgia.

In a dynamic, fast-paced and globalized world, citizens’ needs are constantly changing and keeping a finger on the pulse of migratory, technological and economic trends is the basis for providing the right services for the right persons. Innovative Service Lab will give PSDA employees an opportunity to use their creativity and contribute to the infinite challenge of reducing inefficiencies and developing agile public services to the satisfaction of every customer.

The concept is simple – the Innovative Service Lab is a playfully decorated, colorful area in the House of Justice, where Public Service Development Agency employees can drop in to offer their ideas. They can also submit the fruits of their creativity in a virtual “idea box”, which will be used to gather proposals to changes to existing services, as well as, create new and innovative ones.

Submissions will be possible using names or if one is so inclined, in an anonymous nature. This creates an open environment for constructive criticism and therefore, there is an opportunity for productive change. Suggestions from the “idea box” will be collected and placed on a virtual platform, where other users will be able to rate them on a five-star scale and use the comment function to fine-tune the proposals collectively as a community of innovators.

Firstly, this approach has a clear managerial value. Published by the Harvard Business School, authors of Innovation to the Core: A Blueprint For The Way Your Company Innovates, explain how involving as many minds as possible in the process of idea generation is the most fruitful approach to innovation. Instead of designating a group of employees (for example, the research and development or the marketing team) as the “creative group” within an organization, it is much more productive to encourage all employees to think of themselves as innovators and tap into their creative potential. In the end, innovation is a numbers game, where the most successful project is difficult to predict; however, a relatively larger pool of ideas creates a fertile ground for finding the most viable approach to propel an organization to progress. By encouraging all employees of the PSDA to submit ideas, the Innovative Service Lab is using a business-savvy technique tested in the private sector and applying to public services.

Secondly, the Innovative Services Lab adds value to the Georgian economy by aiming to reduce inefficiency, eliminate superfluous bureaucratic processes and meet the demand for the specific services that Georgian citizens, as well as, foreign nationals have. Mariana Mazzucato, a grantee of the Institute for New Economic Thinking in New York, explains the concept of an “Entrepreneurial State” and asserts, that the State can become a key player in technological, institutional, organizational and cultural progress by implementing innovation-friendly policies, such as, funding research and development projects; a category which fits the newly-created PSDA Innovative Services Lab in Georgia.

The Public Service Development Agency was founded in 2012 as a legal public entity of law (LEPL) based on a previous, Agency of Civil Registry LEPL. Today, the PSDA provides various services such as, issuing identification documents, visas and residence permits, birth and death registrations, marriage registrations, school diplomas and others. While many of them are related to domestic citizens, some are related to foreign nationals. Providing quality service to potential investors and business owners in Georgia creates a positive image for the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, as well as, the country itself. Georgia is positioned as one of the top countries on World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” ranking and providing quality, efficient services such as, registering a business and obtaining a residence permit, is a significant portion of the reason that Georgia is attractive to businesses.

The Innovative Services Lab promises to increase the efficiency of public services, not only in the Public Services Development Agency, but also in other sectors of the government by harnessing the creative brainpower of PSDA employees. Thereby it is creating an inclusive work environment and hopefully, tangible, productive change for domestic and foreign nationals residing in Georgia.