Questions & Answers on the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard

    ‘Citizen Service Certification Scheme’

     

    1. What Is The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard?

    The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard is a Citizen Service Certification Programme that will provide national certification to services of Ministries, Departments and Agencies within the Trinidad and Tobago Public Service that exemplifies excellence in delivering public services to citizens and other client groups. It is the National Standard for Excellence in Citizen Service in the Public Service of Trinidad and Tobago.

    2. Why Does The Public Service Need A Citizen Service Certification Programme?

    The Public Service of Trinidad and Tobago performs a significant role in the sustainable development of the country. It is responsible for developing and implementing Government’s policies and strategies, and providing a variety of public goods and services to citizens. The public service also has a critical role in facilitating domestic and international trade and putting mechanisms in place to make it easier to do business in Trinidad and Tobago.

    Despite its fifty year history of service, success and stability, the public service has recognised many areas for improvement that are based on the concerns of citizens. These include the quality of services delivered, customer focus, professionalism of staff, value for money, and ease of conducting transactions. The country’s rating on global indices relating to Competitiveness, Ease of Doing Business, and Innovation also reflects the need to engage in activities to improve the approach to the delivery of public services.

    The Citizen Service Certification programme was therefore identified as one of the key initiatives within a 10-year programme ‘Gold to Diamond’ journey that would result in citizen-centric organizations, more responsive to the needs of citizens and better suited to partner with all the other major institutions of Trinidad and Tobago to achieve sustainable development.

    3. What Are The Goals And Objectives Of The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard?

    This programme seeks to encourage, recognise and reward improvements in the quality of service delivery as the Trinidad and Tobago Public Service embarks on the ten year ‘Gold to Diamond’ journey from its Golden Anniversary in 2012 to its Diamond Jubilee in 2022.

    The core objectives of the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard (Citizen Service Certification Programme) are to:
    • Develop and promote a citizen-centric approach to the delivery of services across the public service.
    • Enable the development and adoption of clear standards of service delivery performance across the public service.
    • Recognise and reward excellence in citizen-centred service delivery.
    • Provide a mechanism for continuous improvement and innovation in the quality of services delivered by public service agencies.

    4. What Are The Benefits To Achieving The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard Certification?

    The programme promotes a citizen-centric approach to the delivery of our public services that helps agencies increase value to citizens and other stakeholders. Benefits include:

    For citizens:
    • Better service
    • Commitment to putting things right
    • Value for money
    • Integrity, honesty and genuine interest
    • Knowing how long do I have to wait

    For Public Officers:
    • Pride in job
    • Empowerment
    • Opportunities to inform change and improve service
    • Opportunities for self-development
    • Recognition
    • Meaningful work environment
    • Opportunity to work in teams
    • Access to training

    5. Why Should My Organisation Seek Certification?

    There are no disadvantages to becoming certified through the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard. The Standard is a diagnostic tool that could benefit both your staff and organisation by challenging you to look afresh at your service from the perspective of your customers, examining what you deliver and how it is delivered.

    Certification will enable public service agencies to demonstrate service delivery competence, identify key areas for improvement and celebrate successes. It will help citizens know which agencies easily facilitate business transactions. The successes of all certified agencies will be marketed and some initiatives by Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard holders will be documented as best practice for use by other organisations.

    6. What Criteria Will Be Used To Assess Whether Services Have Met The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard?
    Services seeking to earn the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria:
    1. Customer Involvement & Understanding
    2. Communications
    3. Promoting a Customer Service Culture
    4. Responsiveness and Service Standards
    5. Service Environment
    6. Innovation and Creativity
    7. Technology
    8. Partnerships

    Additional information on each criterion is available on the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard website at www.mpa.gov.tt/diamond/.

    7. Are These Criteria Relevant To The Trinidad and Tobago Context?

    The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard initiative was developed after a comprehensive review of similar programmes in the United Kingdom (the Charter Mark and Customer Service Excellence Standard) and Malaysia (the Star Rating). However, it has been specifically adapted for the needs of Trinidad and Tobago.

    The criteria were formulated to directly address the concerns and expectations of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago in relation to the delivery of public services, especially the issues that citizens have consistently identified as important to them. These included the demand for a customer service orientation from public services, improved attitudes of public officers, better facilities within public service offices, timely service, and easier service transactions.

    In addition, the criteria have been aligned to Government’s national policy position and priorities regarding people-centred, sustainable development within Trinidad and Tobago, good governance, innovation and the use of ICTs, national competitiveness, and the ease of doing business. The criteria represent a holistic approach to addressing the core issues impacting this country’s global competitiveness.

    8. When Will The ‘Trinidad And Tobago Diamond Standard’ Be Implemented?

    As a key public service transformation initiative, the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard was launched on the 24th June, 2013. The launch of this pilot programme took place one day after the universal commemoration of United Nations’ Public Service Day, which is observed on June 23 every year by public service institutions across the globe. This launch also commemorated the start of Public Service Week in Trinidad and Tobago, which is an annual event.

    The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard is being piloted during 2013/2014. Prior to completion of the pilot, an Independent Systems and Process Audit will be undertaken to ensure integrity and transparency in the programme’s design, implementation and management. Monitoring and Evaluation activities will also be undertaken to assess whether the initiative is on track for meeting its objectives and realizing short to medium term outcomes.

    9. What is The Difference between the Trinidad And Tobago Diamond Standard and the Citizen Service Certification Programme?

    There is no difference; these two names refer to the same initiative. The Citizen Service Certification Programme is now branded as the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard.
    In 2012, the Trinidad and Tobago Public Service celebrated its Golden Anniversary which represented fifty years of growth and development of an independent, national public service. In 2022 the public service will be celebrating its Diamond Jubilee. The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard will be a lever, which we anticipate will elevate the public service within the next ten years, during its ‘Gold to Diamond’ (G2D) journey to very high levels of performance, accountability and citizen satisfaction.

    10. Can Any Government Agency Within The Public Service Of Trinidad and Tobago Apply For Certification?

    YES, any Government Agency can apply for the programme. However, we strongly recommend that the particular agency conduct the “Readiness” test provided in the Pocket Guide and on the website.

    During the 2013/2014 pilot phase of the programme, a limited number of services within government ministries, agencies and departments were targeted for participation. Selection of these services was based on their likely impact on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI); priority sectors defined in the National Performance Management Framework; their direct involvement in the provision of service to the public; and the type of service improvement initiatives being undertaken in collaboration with MPA or otherwise.

    11. How Is This Initiative Going To Guarantee Trinidad & Tobago A Better Ranking In The Global Indices?

    The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard may not immediately guarantee higher rankings, but we expect it to contribute to eventual improvements in our global competitiveness ranking. Research shows that similar initiatives in other countries have proven to be successful and of great importance to improving their competitiveness. If public services improve their processes and make it easier for services to be accessed, this will decrease waiting times for services, improve the customer experience and encourage citizens and businesses, both local and abroad to engage more with government agencies.

    12. If This New Initiative Holds Such Potential For Public Service Transformation And Sustainable National Development, Why Isn’t It Mandatory For All Public Services?

    This initiative is certainly important for transforming how our public services are delivered, especially in relation to the needs and expectations of citizens and the realization of national development priorities. However, this first cycle is a pilot. The MPA is prepared to let the Trinidad & Tobago Diamond Standard initiative prove its worth in its pilot phase before presenting Cabinet with the option of making it a standard requirement for all government agencies. We believe citizens will demand that the agencies with which they interact achieve certification once they see the benefits they are receiving from participating agencies. The learnings from the pilot phase will also allow the MPA to fine tune the programme in its full phase.

    An independent evaluation will therefore be undertaken at the end of the pilot to assess the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and potential sustainability of the initiative. This will inform recommendations for future roll out of the programme.

    13. What Does The Certification Process Entail?

    In seeking the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard Certification, agencies must go through the following eight (8) stages:

    1. Registration of the service/s they hope to certify.
    2. Participation in MPA-sponsored Sensitization Sessions and Workshops.
    3. Conduct of Self-Assessments against the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard Criteria.
    4. Engagement in Service Improvement Activities including Re-Assessment against the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard Criteria.
    5. Submission of an Application to MPA for formal assessment for the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard by independent Assessors.
    6. Feedback on assessments from Assessors, followed by official notification of Certification status.
    7. Award of Certification to successful agencies prior to public recognition at an Award Function. The Award Function will be held during Trinidad and Tobago’s Public Service Week.
    8. Periodic monitoring and review of Certified Agencies to ensure continued maintenance of the Diamond Standard.

    If at any stage an agency realises it may be unprepared for formal assessment, the MPA will work closely with the agency, albeit on a separate schedule, to develop its service and get it to a state of readiness for the next cycle of certification.
    Additional information on each of these stages may be obtained from the Pocket Guide to Achieving the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard at http://www.mpa.gov.tt/diamond/sites/default/files/Pocket%20Guide%20to%20....

    14. What Information Does an Agency Need In Order To Register?

    The requirements for registration are simple. You just need to know which service/s you would like assessed, provide a brief description of the service, indicate who will be the principal point of contact, and provide contact details. Registration will also entail the assignment of a user name and password, which you will use for accessing information and resources on the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard. The Registration Form is available on the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard website at http://www.mpa.gov.tt/diamond/user/register.

    15. After Registration, How Does an Agency Actually Apply For Certification?

    Services that have gone through the first four (4) stages of the Certification process will be notified by the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard Unit of the opening of the Application Stage, which will be for one (1) month’s duration. To gain the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard, you need to provide evidence for most aspects of your service’s performance. Your agency is therefore encouraged to ensure that all documents relating to service improvement are submitted as evidence of changes made or plans to be implemented. The documents should be stored in such a manner that they can be easily retrieved.
    Applications along with supporting evidence will be received primarily through electronic means, but hard copy documents will also be accepted during this pilot phase. The Application Form will be available on the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard website at www.mpa.gov.tt/diamond/.

    16. Is There A Cost Attached To Attaining Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard Certification?

    Yes and no. The programme is administered without charge by the MPA. There is no cost for participation. However, agencies may choose to incur costs as part of their improvement plans. The costs will vary according to the specific needs of the various agencies. Funding for improvements will come from the participating agency’s budgets. It is recommended that Agencies make appropriate provision within their Annual Estimates of Expenditure to fund their service improvement plans as advised in the Minister of Finance’s Call Circular.

    17. How Long Will It Take To Achieve Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Certification?

    The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard programme is scheduled to cover a nine to twelve month period from Registration to award of Certification. The Service Improvement Stage accounts for the longest time period of six to nine months as it involves development of Service Charters and Service Improvement Plans; and the implementation, monitoring and adjustment of these Plans. The Pocket Guide to Achieving the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard provides further information on the certification process and associated timelines. [http://www.mpa.gov.tt/diamond/sites/default/files/Pocket%20Guide%20to%20...

    18. Is This The Only Way To Improve Public Services?

    The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard is one component in a suite of initiatives introduced by the MPA, all of which are geared towards improving the quality of services delivered to citizens by our public service.
    It falls under the rubric of the Ministry’s wider Service Excellence Programme which currently comprises the following:
    (i) Business Process Management (BPM)
    (ii) Shared Services
    (iii) Service Charters, and
    (iv) Service Improvement Plans

    This Citizen Service Certification programme has built on Trinidad and Tobago’s needs and experiences and has also incorporated learnings from other countries. It is an indigenous model suited to our context. The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard is customized and tailored for success in Trinidad and Tobago.

    Please visit MPA’s website at www.mpa.gov.tt/diamond/ for additional information on the Service Excellence Programme.

    19. I Have Completed My Online Self-Assessment; Can I Now Display The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard? (Logo or Brand?)

    Self-assessment is a key stage in the certification process as it will help agencies to assess their readiness for participating in the programme and also identify service gaps and areas which can be improved. However it is not the only requirement for certification. The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard logo will be registered and owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago through the MPA. It can only be used and displayed by agencies that successfully complete the entire certification process and are officially notified by the MPA of the award of certification.
    Additional information on the Self-Assessment stage may be obtained from the Pocket Guide to Achieving the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard at www.mpa.gov.tt/diamond/.

    20. How Long Will Certification Be Valid?

    The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard will be valid for a period of three (3) years, after which agencies will be required to re-apply for certification. Certified services will be subject to periodic monitoring to ensure that they continue to meet or exceed the Standard attained.

    21. Can An Agency’s Certification Be Withdrawn?

    While we hope that this never occurs, yes, certification can be withdrawn. This can happen if there is evidence that targets and criteria are not being met, or a review of complaints received from users and/or stakeholders reveals that standards have fallen below the levels required and agencies are not making concerted efforts to correct them.

    22. Can My Organization Maintain Several Service Certifications At The Same Time Or Will My Organization Be Required To Seek Only The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard Certification?

    Yes, your organisation can maintain as many independent service certifications as it desires. Your organisation can also hold multiple certifications at the same time. The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard does not override other existing certifications, though it will certainly augment them.
    Based on our research involving citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and other stakeholders, customers really want citizen-focused public services that are marked by efficiency, effectiveness, responsiveness and a drive towards continuous improvement. They require a public service that seeks to delight customers, makes it easy to do business with, is staffed by courteous and knowledgeable staff, is innovative, and contributes to improving national competitiveness. The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard is poised to make such aspirations a reality.

    23. How Can I Learn More About The Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard?

    Please visit the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard website at ttds@mpa.gov.tt or the MPA’s website at www.mpa.gov.tt to learn more about the Standard and to obtain resources and tools to assist with the process towards certification.
    Please also contact the Trinidad and Tobago Diamond Standard Unit, Ministry of Public Administration at ttds@mpa.gov.tt for additional information or clarification on the programme, or to request a presentation on the initiative. Requests may also be made through our Help Desk at 623-4724 Ext. 2222 / 2234 / 2220.

    We Look Forward to Partnering with You on our G2D Journey Towards a High Performing, Client-Centric and Flexible Public Service of Trinidad and Tobago.

     

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