Social Media in Public Service Innovation

A modern approach to catalyzing citizen-centric innovation in the public sector

Redress citizens’ grievances, break down hierarchical barriers in communication, and create a peer-support and mentorship network within civil service to nurture a culture of citizen-centric public service innovation. Show more

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Popularity of social media in Bangladesh

An overwhelming 80 percent of internet users in Bangladesh are on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. That is over 16 million people and counting – the rate of new Facebook users is outpacing the country’s birth rate as one new Bangladeshi Facebook account is opened every 20 seconds!  

Leveraging social media to catalyze public service innovation

This makes social media a great platform for government to reach out to citizens and stay up-to-date with current events and trends in society. a2i is thus supporting the civil service to harness the power of social media in 3 strategic ways:

  1. Discovering creative ways to attain effective citizen engagement in the process of improving public service delivery
  2. As a peer-support and mentorship platform to encourage the spread of ideas and interaction among experienced senior civil servants and junior officers with innovative ideas and ambition
  3. Institutionalizing and managing the practice of citizen-centric innovation by breaking down hierarchical barriers across all ministries, departments and agencies

Engaging citizens in improving public service delivery

Social media has traditionally been used for conducting public awareness campaigns (a very traditional, one-directional approach) and counting the number of ‘Likes’ and ‘re-Tweets’. a2i is working with government agencies to leverage this platform to enable citizens to voice their concerns and point out their needs in a way that is convenient for them. All 64 districts now have open DC Office Facebook pages, established and monitored by the Deputy Commissioners (DC).

DCs are the chief government appointed executives of districts and residents rely on them for everything from maintaining law and order, to improving the quality of education, healthcare, and even settling disputes and tackling natural disasters. These pages are being used to redress citizens’ grievances and contributing immensely to the provision of better, quicker and more affordable public services.

Creating a frugal yet effective mentorship and peer-support network for government innovators

Public Service Innovation Bangladesh – a Facebook group for civil servants – has brought about a revolution in Bangladesh Civil Service’s internal communications system. Together with Departmental Blogs, they have led to the breakdown of hierarchical barriers that have historically deterred quick organizational communications and enabled civil servants to demonstrate their potential by sharing ideas, learning from and supporting each other by talking about their challenges. To date, over 8,500 government officials have engaged in social media dialogues through 1,000+ government Facebook pages/groups.

Inspiring and incentivizing innovation

Top bureaucrats like the Cabinet Secretary and Principal Secretary are not only writing posts on topics like innovation but even encouraging their colleagues, particularly those at the field level who are closer to citizens, to challenge their propositions and have online debates through comments on Facebook to decide on the best course of action. Moreover, the fact that an idea posted as a status on Public Service Innovation Bangladesh by a field level officer can attract a comment or question from their ministry’s top secretary serves as tremendous inspiration and an effective incentive for them to continue to think, engage and act innovatively to further the cause of citizen-centric public service innovation in Bangladesh.

Cases and Stories


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Bringing Public Service to the doorsteps of Citizens through Facebook

Kuliya is a village at Ghatail union in Ghatail upazila. There is a pond in this village covering a large demesne measuring 508 acres. Nobody knows the history…

Bringing Public Service to the doorsteps of Citizens through Facebook

Kuliya is a village at Ghatail union in Ghatail upazila. There is a pond in this village covering a large demesne measuring 508 acres. Nobody knows the history of its excavation. The villagers have been using it for generations. The government has acquired the possession of this land.

However a person suddenly took control of the pond. In response, another person named Abdus Sattar Khan wrote a Facebook post about it mentioning no property should be encroached in such way – whether it is a government or a private property. This simple Facebook post has later changed the scenario.

Another person as part of his social responsibilities shared Mr. Khan’s Facebook post on ‘Public Service Innovation Group’ (https://www.facebook.com/groups/publicserviceinnovationblog/). Following the post, Tangail’s Deputy Commissioner instructed me to submit a detailed report on the encroached pond. After a detailed investigation, I found that the land was still under government ownership and it has been leased out to authentic local fishermen for a while.

Following the investigation, the administration took initiative to rescue the pond. Had it not been circulated via Facebook, the powerful grabber would easily have taken away all the catches of fish from that pond. Facebook, as a medium, has made it possible to create a new platform for the government to prevent such problems.

It should be noted therefore that at the local government level, Facebook is being regularly used by the government.

Facebook has now become a new medium for establishing accountability. Nowadays even the influential people are not spared anymore. The administration can now bravely work as well. Because of Facebook, the local administration can easily pass orders to subordinates via Facebook to take action. There is no more ambiguity at work. The results are also being visible to the public.

Not only that the entire process is paperless but also transparent. The key policymakers have also been involved to support the process. The principal secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office once wrote: “This urgent matter needs to be resolved.” The field administration will undoubtedly become more courageous at work if policymakers continues to back them.

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