Between 2005 and 2008 Atos Consulting successfully implemented a major programme for DFID and the Presidency of Nigeria to start rebuilding the country’s core services.
The Nigerian President established SERVICOM to help Nigerians get good service. The Atos team worked with SERVICOM to introduce concepts of customer service and accountability across the country, as well as the skills and structures to sustain these. They collaborated with over 5,000 public servants to deliver projects which have shown what is possible in this large and complex country. The initiatives are sustainable and are being replicated throughout Nigeria with little or no additional resources.
SERVICOM’s strategy was to strengthen the responsiveness of government services to the legitimate demands of Nigerians, especially the poor.
Making any impact in this vast and varied country is an enormous task:
- Nigeria is a federal republic, comprising thirty-six states and one Federal Capital Territory all with diverse cultures. There are 31 core ministries and over 700 government agencies and parastatal organisations.
- Employment by public institutions depended to some extent on patronage and welfare, with bribery used to supplement inadequate salaries. Many public servants were demoralised, facing members of the public who were angry or frustrated with public services.
- Public service culture was distorted under the military, with a command-and-control structure which undermined autonomy.
- After years of neglect, working conditions were poor and chaotic. There was a lack of resources within states. An expectation pervaded Nigeria that poor service was inevitable.
In December 2005 DFID awarded Atos Consulting a contract to deliver:
- An operational service delivery unit, called SERVICOM, to drive service improvements across government
- Quantifiable commitments by ministries and public agencies to improve standards, with processes implemented to achieve improvements
- Pilot projects to implement tangible improvements which could be replicated in other ministries and regions.
Atos Consulting assembled a team of 26 UK and Nigerian consultants and 50 local staff with experience in areas as wide-ranging as economics, justice, health and social care and public utilities. The international consultants brought examples of good practice which were new to Nigeria. The Nigerian consultants were particularly effective at maintaining momentum, building relationships and adapting best practice to local contexts.
Atos Consulting worked at federal and state level to identify and deliver the following pilot projects.
- Hospital outpatients departments: reducing patient waiting times and improving quality of care.
- Police communications: enhancing police responsiveness and improving the physical environment of police stations.
- Road safety: bringing together a coalition of agencies to assist bereaved and injured victims of road crashes.
- Passport Office: implementing a new service delivery model to issue passports more quickly and securely and eliminate opportunities for corruption.
- Cross River State: supporting the State Ministries of Health and Agriculture to become models for service delivery.
Throughout, Atos Consulting supported the evolution of SERVICOM – the operational unit within the Presidency running the programme. They helped establish new structures and processes, and worked with ministries to develop service charters, targets and complaints procedures.
As a result of the programme, Nigeria has rebuilt essential services for its people:
- Service charters, targets and complaints procedures for over 500 ministries and agencies are now operating. Compliance is regularly evaluated by SERVICOM staff trained by Atos Consulting.
- A network of SERVICOM officials are on hand at hundreds of public institutions all over Nigeria, helping thousands of ordinary Nigerians to get fair treatment. In places such as airports, museums, abattoirs, schools, hospitals, petroleum depots, radio stations and registry offices, citizens are experiencing a new level of respect for their rights.
- The SERVICOM Institute has trained over 5,000 public servants, all of whom have produced service improvement plans for their own institution.
Key to success is that solutions are replicated through ongoing investment by the Nigerian government.
Example outcomes include:
- Process improvements in hospitals and use of triage nurses which have dramatically improved the quality of care, potentially saving many lives
- Average waiting times reduced from three hours to 15 minutes benefiting approximately 30,000-40,000 patients a year in each hospital
- 90-150 minutes of doctors’ time freed up daily – equal to an extra half-a-doctor to each hospital.
- Confidentiality arrangements introduced in 30 police stations for witnesses or victims to give evidence in privacy and free from intimidation
- A new police radio communications system in the Nigerian Federal Capital Territory to improve response time to incidents
- Nigeria’s first compensation scheme for victims of uninsured road crashes, the country’s third biggest killer
- A reduction from 92% to 40% in numbers of drivers without insurance
- Emergency hospital treatment for road accident casualties in the Federal Capital Territory where previously they would have been refused
- A new secure service across passport offices. This was so successful that the Immigration Service quickly decided to replicate it in all 36 states.