Making People’s Lives Better

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THE NEW PUBLIC SECTOR INDUSTRY CONSORTIUM IS AIMED AT MAKING PEOPLE’S LIFE EASIER AND THE WORK OF GOVERNMENTAL INSTITUTIONS MORE EFFICIENT. THE FOUNDER OF THE ORGANIZATION, AFAQ AHMADOVA, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH AZERI OBSERVER EXPLAINS WHAT TOOLS AND INITIATIVES WILL HELP MEET THIS GOAL.

By Elena Kosolapova

Azeri Observer STAFF WRITER

Question: Tell us about your organization. What is the Public Sector Industry Consortium?

Answer: This is an agency that combines a scientific center, contemporary educational programs and projects that the society and the state will benefit from, and most importantly, provide innovative strategies for the state development. In other words, we are a consultant and assistant to the state and the society.

Q.: What brought you to the idea of such an organization?

A.: First of all, there is a need for an independent consulting organization that can help make the voice of the society heard and meet its needs with projects, by bringing civil society and the government closer together.

Secondly, there is a need for a seamless introduction of new trends in public administration.

Thirdly, our country has a limited number of subspecialists, focusing on specific issues in different industries. The Public Sector Industry Consortium is aimed at solving all these problems.

Q.: How are you going to fill these gaps and address these needs?

A.: For solving the first problem, we offer a Policy Design Lab, which will provide consultations, policy papers, actions plan proposals and other solutions, i.e., innovations with fast and orderly decisions for the efficient improvements in the Public Administration.

For solving the second problem, we offer an online platform, the so-called City-C, or a city of citizens. Citizens can register and offer their ideas, initiatives and solutions there at the local, regional and state levels. We, in turn, will evolve people’s needs and ideas and transform them into a working document appropriate for submitting to the government for implementation.

For the third problem, the Consortium prepares subspecialists and offers a System of Political Advisors. We will train those specialists from different areas to work with civil servants and to understand the specifics of the public sector work, very well. In the future, they can join different working groups and committees as specialist consultants.

Our missionis to help the public sector to work efficiently, and make the entire system of Public Administration coordinated and coherent.

The main aim is to create a synthesis of quality with innovation.  by transformation of science into policy.

​​We intend to work with the heart, bringing the well-being of the society in mind. To meet this goal, one should have a sound reason and a sober approach to reality and to partners. That is how we define our values.

Q.: Tell us, how did the story of your organization start?

A.: The roots of the Public Sector Industry Consortium originated from the International Peace Research and Development Institute, which I founded in 2009 and have headed since then. The Institute was intended to focus on peace research, analysis and organization of training, conferences, seminars and round table discussions. However, at some point in time we realized that its activities go beyond these frames – we started working on projects in Policy Design and Evaluation, cooperating with policy makers – the spheres not related to peace development. Therefore, we decided to expand from the International Peace Research Institute to the Public Sector Industries Consortium. However, activities of the Peace Institute are still in progress.

Q.: What spheres and projects will the Public Sector Industry Consortium cover?

A.: Al the working process can be divided into three levels: micro-level of public initiatives; domestic policy analysis and foresight, where all government departments and institutions and their IT solutions and management processes will be consolidated; and macro-level aimed at international political strategies, security, macroeconomics and nation branding.

In my opinion, every individual can play a feasible role in society regardless of any challenging situation. Moreover, when a person is involved in social work, he becomes more powerful since he is able to influence the world and change the destiny of the people around him.

As an example, at the first level, we will help citizens to implement useful ideas. Let us imagine, there is a school next to a highway in some district. A group of parents register their need on the online platform with a request of bridge construction, so their children will not have to cross the road. If we see that the idea is worthy and gets many followers on the City-C platform, we make a plan and propose it to a responsible body, which could be local authorities, municipality or some institution. However, even if the plan is approved, the government cannot implement it immediately, since the state budget is planned in advance. At this point, we go to businesses that can invest in the construction and then operate the bridge for some years until returning their investment and making some profit. After that, they return it to the balance of the government.  In other words, it will operate as a Public-Private-People Partnership Project, and there are many prototypes of such cooperation in other countries. It is only a small example, that covers municipal level, however the spectrum of projects can be broader and it can cover anything that makes people’s lives more comfortable.

At the domestic policy level, we will create a concept of coordinated work within the government. The state bodies should work as a single organism with one circulatory system. Now it is not the case in our country – every ministry has its own electronic system, their documents are in different IT languages, which are not matching. Sometimes they duplicate each other’s activities. The introduction of state-of-the-art IT technologies and processes regulations will allow us to meet this goal.

Finally, the third level covers scientific research for the benefit of the state. The issue is that one cannot advance without a coherent evidence-based plan, both for the long term and for the short term. Data should be in the center of every decision. The heads of some ministries or institutions may change, but they all should have a single concept to follow, and we will help the government to develop such concepts.

Q.: What tools and mechanisms will you use in your work?

A.: First of all, we will widely use IT solutions. It will have all the characteristics and elements of a real city, with the only difference being that it will exist in a virtual reality. The system will allow people to launch and follow some initiatives online, and that is the platform where we can receive people’s ideas. The meta City-C will also allow businesses to promote their brands in augmented reality.

In the future, we are considering the creation of a Fund, which will attract philanthropic donations and direct them to the promotion of science and scientific projects.

As a summary, our Consortium will be a think tank- analytical lab for developing conceptual solutions, making predictions and testing hypotheses based on data analysis.

Q.: How are you going to fight the lack of proficiency and competence?

A.: We are building a Political Advisor System, i.e. cooperate with specialists from different fields, be it a professional in IT, international law, climate issues, etc., whose experience and knowledge can help politicians to develop strategies. This day and age the world is changing so fast, that even the best manager cannot know the ropes in every sphere. Therefore, he or she will need good Advisers who will help them to make the right decisions. Advisers are our product to offer to the public, private institutions and NGO sector.

Q.: Are there similar organizations abroad? Do you have a prototype?

A.: Most of the major states in the world have brain centers that develop strategies based on forecasts and analyses. Regardless of the political line in a given period, any government has clear goals based on facts and requires this kind of support. Our Consortium doesn’t have identical twins in the world. However, for example, Russia has The Agency for Strategic Initiatives, which collects the ideas of civil society, and is similar to the City-C, which I mentioned before. As for the second area of our activity, which is the Policy Design Lab, a similar institute exists at the Hertie School of Public Administration in Berlin. They analyze statistics, make forecasts and prepare solutions for strategic issues in the long term, basing on the outcomes. Finally, it is worth mentioning the world-famous RAND Corporation, which has been the brain of the US for decades and, since relatively recently, has influenced the world economic and political system.

Q.: What are the strengths of the Public Sector Industry Consortium?

A.: We are the first in the Azerbaijani market and we have no competitors in the country yet.

Q.: Do you face any difficulties in your work at the current stage of activity?

A.: Building and strengthening a strong and trusting cooperation is our original goal. Undoubtedly, I mean the trust in us from both the state and the population.

Q.: You mentioned an innovative platform of an e-city. What IT solutions will be applied there?

A.: The citizens will be offered meta-IDs to register in the meta-city called City-C, where they can propose their initiatives and receive followers of their ideas. Regarding the Policy Design Lab, we use programs for data analysis, estimations, and foresight. Such foresight then will lay a basis for road maps in various sectors of Public Administration and socio-economic issues.

Q.: Who is your main client?

A.: Our main clients are the state and the population of the country, as well as specialists willing to work for government agencies and be hired as political advisers. Our slogan is “Better Together!”

Q.: What is the expected impact of your activity?

A.: Along with improving the state mechanism, we strengthen civil society by involving citizens in public processes. In addition, we support the academic community, which will undoubtedly lead to the promotion and development of science in the country, which will entail investments in scientific research projects.

Q.: What would you like to say to finalize the interview?

A.: I feel that I was born for this work and fate has prepared me in life for this activity. I hope I will be able to implement all these plans.