“Joint effort towards best results” Result oriented management and stakeholders engagement as an example of modern and effective public administration represented by Opolskie Revenue Administration.
This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)
In light of the merger of three fiscal agencies into one, the Opolskie Revenue Administration developed a management model aimed at achieving the best results which is tailored to the needs and expectations of employees and the surrounding society. The new management model obtained a better understanding of the tax administration's mission by the local community by focusing on: user-centricity; stakeholder involvement in tax office to show transparency and public involvement; and listening campaigns.
Management is only effective if it covers all the key aspects of the institution's work. After consolidation, which took place in 2017, three main administrations of tax, custom and fiscal control were combined into one large organization. Consolidation, which united the forces of many differently operated and managed offices, required the adoption of new, innovative management methods. This was one of the main reasons for introducing a new management model in the Opolskie Revenue Administration, which on one hand combines elements related to a high standard of services provided by focusing on achieving the best results and on the other hand takes into account the human aspects.
As a part of the project, cooperation was started with many organizations, institutions, associations of taxpayers and their advisors, representatives of science and education, the Police, services and public institutions, etc.
The goal was to fully involve all possible parties in tax processes as well as to cooperate in the implementation of tasks. Using synergy, the forces of many services and people were combined. That not only resulted in reduced operating costs but also facilitated the achievement of strategic goals; high quality of services; increased level of voluntary tax compliance; and the positive image of Opolskie Revenue Administration in the eyes of the society. What was impossible at the beginning was achieved - better results were obtained with the involvement of fewer resources and limited financial outlays.
We assumed that both combining the auxiliary processes of many offices and cooperation in the performance of basic activities require uniform procedures for systematizing rules of conduct and effective internal and external communication process. The special attention has been paid to the improvement of the professional qualifications of employees and management, creating the opportunity to participate in undergraduate and postgraduate studies, workshops, etc. Joint training and meetings are held to improve the professional qualifications of employees and to exchange good practices. An important issue was also the improvement of communication. Innovative methods of internal communication based on electronic communication channels have been introduced, including changes in the way of meetings of both leaders as well as meetings with employees using online video conferencing. As a result, the management of revenue administration distributed in the whole Opolskie region is more efficient, with quick reactions to problem engagement and decision-making, and also significantly reduced operating costs.
Particular emphasis was placed on creating a system of external communication with taxpayers, their advisers, organizations, institutions and the academic environment by engaging the external environment in undertaking joint activities. Listening to the voice of the local community, priorities and levels of action were set. The widest range of interests covered the academic environment focusing on training and innovative technological solutions needed by the Revenue Administration. The best example of this is cooperation with the University of Technology. It covers many aspects of the business, including the development of an IT program in the field of IT systems consolidation and risk management support, an organization of free studies for officials and internships for students, organization of joint conferences and information campaigns. It is tailored to the needs and expectations of all parties and ensures the exchange of knowledge and new technological solutions. Cooperation in a similar scope was undertaken with schools.
Another example is cooperation with the prison service in the area of unpaid work of prisoners in the repairs of the buildings of the entire region. It allows for the reduction of operating costs and provision of ongoing assistance in real estate administration.
An example of cooperation aimed mainly at streamlining work are agreements with the police, border guards and other public administration institutions in the area of joint actions aimed at tax and customs frauds and crimes reduction. A joint effort of various services allows us to improve work efficiency.
However, in order for the activities that are undertaken by the Opolskie Revenue Administration to be correctly perceived by the local community, cooperation was initiated with local media, the Business Center Club, etc. Additionally employees participate in local and regional events, conferences and meetings, providing information about taxes and helping taxpayers fulfill their tax obligations.
This is a win-win situation. All involved and cooperating parties benefit. Employees are better prepared for work and better trained, local society is satisfied with the possibility of co-deciding on important matters, and taxpayers have a sense of tax justice and are satisfied with the high standard of services provided.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The innovation of the Opolskie Revenue Administration consists of the development of a comprehensive management model that contains elements characteristic of business management aimed at achieving the best results and also is based on engagement of all participants of tax and customs processes in the implementation of actions aimed at achieving the goal. The key elements of these processes are to match the services provided to the expectations of the society and the potential inside the institution as well as the potential of the society.
The new, innovative management method is identical to cooperation based on understanding and mutual cooperation. It involves running joint projects, using and cooperating in the acquisition of modern technologies to improve communication and management, and a joint pursuit in achieving goals. As a result, such management leads to the achievement of results and implementation of the public mission.
What is the current status of your innovation?
Activities are undertaken on many levels. Within the organization, we focus on the development of uniform and common procedures, rules of conduct, remuneration, etc. Joint activities, training, exchange of good practices, joint inspections and other activities, including education are carried out. An external activities aimed at the society is the involvement of the local community in the implementation of joint activities, such as education campaigns, presence at local events, the implementation of agreements regarding cooperation with:
The University of Technology in Opole( developing an innovative IT program, including system consolidation and management support),
Schools (knowledge transfer, joint conferences, studies for office employees),
Prison service (prisoners' work on renovations in the offices),
Business Center Club(creative dialogue with recipients of tax and customs services),
Police, Border Guard( conducting joint activities in the field of counteracting crime), etc.
Collaborations & Partnerships
Cooperation and unification of forces are the key elements of our management process. In addition to leaders and employees joint effort we cooperate with University of Technology( innovative computer program), schools (exchange of knowledge, work for students, free studies for officials), Prison service (free repairs of office buildings), Police, Border guards, other institutions (joint actions, effective fight against fraud), BCC (dialogue matching services to taxpayer`s needs), etc.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Employees and leaders as partners working out common principles, exchange of experience.
Taxpayers, social organizations as recipients of services and consultants, defining the needs of local community.
Schools, universities as partners in the exchange of knowledge, acquiring employees and new technologies.
Police, prison service, other institutions as partners in conducting joint activities, improving work.
Local media as an intermediary in providing information and creating a positive image.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The project has a long-term nature and is currently under development. It is difficult to measure all the results of its operation at this time. However, some results are evident already in the initial phase of its implementation, which can include:
Unification of the way of managing the offices distributed in the whole region.
Improvement of relations between revenue administration and taxpayers.
Improvement of internal communication.
Reduction of operation costs.
Quick reactions to problem engagement and decision-making.
Increased in the competence of employees.
Ensuring a high standard of services provided.
A better understanding of tax procedures.
Increased transparency of proceedings.
It should be pointed that our key goal is not only to be positively evaluated but also to be fully approved by the public. In addition, we strive to achieve a high level of voluntary tax compliance by taxpayers, which will lead to a reduction in operating costs and ensures high budget revenues.
Challenges and Failures
Each new reform brings with it many challenges. Not everything is always successful. Over the last year, we had many reasons to be proud, but also a few difficult moments. We managed to overcome problems, and this strengthened and united us even more. One of the most serious challenges that arose was the change in employee awareness and the overcoming of resistance associated with the uncertainty related to new structures. In addition, the consolidation of the three different administrations was related to the need to transfer employees between offices or the need to change the type of work performed. Convincing employees not only about the need for change but mainly about the fairness of it as well as changing their attitude and manner of working was not an easy task. Initially, our activities were not fully approved by all employees and even met with some resistance, while at the moment this is no longer a problem. Employees integrated well and willingly cooperate with each other.
Conditions for Success
We learnt a lot throughout the last year. While there is still a lot to do, now we know that you can do what seems impossible at first. Strong will and diligent work make things possible. The recipe for success is simple. Efficient management focused on results achievement and full commitment of all employees and other stakeholders is the most important.
However, also relevant is optimism and cooperation, joint problem solving and listening to the voices of society and its citizens. You can never forget that it is the society and its citizens that the public administration works for. Only joint action and the pursuit of common goals deliver the expected results. Engagement of all available stakeholders; joined forces and synergy, and building relationships based on transparency and mutual respect are the key to success.
One could write a lot about the project and its implementation. The most important point is that the idea of the project is universal and could be implemented by every public administration. Everywhere in the world, public administrations face similar problems. It`s common knowledge that many of their management strategies should be refreshed or redefined. What we propose is a modern way to combine all sides’ expectations. It`s a real challenge to unify management needs with its employee's needs, as well as stakeholders needs. Cooperation and mutual understanding are what Public Administrations should aim for these days. We are confident that our project can be successfully presented on the world forum. We are positive that our projects’ implementation in other countries could bring positive changes and improve the effectiveness of the public administration.
Expanding on what has been noted before, the project also assumes to improve the image of Revenue Administration in the eyes of society, and as a result, increase the level of voluntary fulfilment of tax obligations by taxpayers and thus increase government’s revenue. Increasing the level of voluntary tax compliance will designate its available resources for conduction of prevention actions. This will increase the feeling of fair taxation. On the other hand, it means that our resources could be better allocated and we will be able to designate them as available resources for the training of employees as well as training and education for entrepreneurs as an important part of our compliance strategy. Finally, such actions will improve the taxpayer’s satisfaction with the services provided by the tax office and increase the number of taxpayers properly fulfilling their tax obligations. At the same time, the staff will be better trained, more self-confident and satisfied with their work. Lessons learned from surveys conducted within the project and reports will improve the quality of long-term actions as well. On the other side, one should be patient. Results aren’t always coming fast. And you should act in cooperation with other stakeholders. Working together gives better results. Only joint effort and mutual cooperation could bring the best results. In the end, one should listen to people, hear voices inside the organisation and try to understand outside environment. One should be good to others and show respect for their needs. That`s what I would like to share with all of you.
The Revenue Administration has not been very popular so far and the services it provided were not always correctly perceived by the local community. Our goal is not only to achieve the best results but also to shape the right image in the eyes of the public. Aspects such as exerting a positive influence on the way of thinking and awareness of the participants of tax processes, which as a result determine the way employees and taxpayers behave, are also important. As a result, joint effort leads to an improvement in the quality of services provided and creates the positive image of the Revenue Administration in the eyes of the society.