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Harnessing knowledge management in the public sector to improve service


A story is told about an employee who resigned from an organization after serving for decades, taking with him essential skills and knowledge acquired during his career. After he left, several key work processes came to a standstill.

Management has spent a fortune training and equipping replacement staff to stabilize operations. It is cases like these that shed light on the importance of knowledge management (KM) in an organization and this is the example I relate asked to explain my work as a practitioner in this field.

KM involves the collection, maintenance and sharing of organizational knowledge. The public sector in particular has lost a great deal of knowledge to employee attrition, primarily due to inadequate succession structures, lack of knowledge management practices, and outright inability to appreciate its benefits.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a circular in 2009 raising the mandatory retirement age to cushion the loss of employees with critical skills, particularly those in technical areas and in which the government had invested heavily in capacity building.

Ministries, departments and agencies were therefore required to provide succession management mechanisms.

A wealth of knowledge circulates daily in the public sector, but there is little or no accountability for its deployment to improve service delivery to citizens. More attention should be given to current and future knowledge needs, how key information should be captured, stored, managed, disseminated or reused.

Knowledge and skills within organizations are lost in a variety of ways, including retirement, resignation, transfers, lack of documentation of project reports, or weak learning and sharing mechanisms among colleagues.

It is wrongly assumed that senior or older staff members hold the most critical information. The possession and acquisition of knowledge has no boundaries, at least not in terms of the age of the individual.

It is therefore necessary to create systems where knowledge is used by all employees and disseminated throughout the organization.

The demand for efficient service delivery by the public sector has increased, driving the need for practices to create, organize, share and store knowledge, as they play a critical role in ensuring process continuity.

These interventions ensure efficiency and productivity, minimize duplication of effort and improve access to the resources needed to generate new knowledge, encourage the creation of innovative systems and, when adapted by the public sector, lead to a improved service delivery and accountability.

In the long term, there is a need to understand the context of knowledge management practices and systems so that officials are able to fully appreciate what might work best in their MDA.

At the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK), we have embraced and prioritized knowledge management to address the above concerns.

However, since KM is somewhat of an emerging discipline, institutions should expect to face some challenges when setting up the units, including lack of incentives for knowledge owners, poor alignment of KM practices with organizational priorities and technology gaps.

CAK has put in place systems that support knowledge storage and sharing, which has led to improved skills, the capture and storage of institutional memory, increased intellectual capital, and a easier access and retrieval of information.

In addition, we prioritized knowledge management activities in our strategic planning and leveraged ICT systems to facilitate knowledge storage and retrieval, ensuring long-term access to key data, across functions, even in the event of staff departure.

Public bodies are now embracing knowledge management in response to an increasingly globalized environment, shrinking training budgets, and the need for business continuity as a solution to deal with increasing pressure on government to improve performance. effectiveness of service delivery. Therefore, effective and inclusive knowledge management strategies and tools can provide an important impetus for change.

Knowledge management can also play an important role in ensuring that current working practices in the public sector move from secrecy to openness, ensure appropriate use of available infrastructure, adapt to reduced training costs and capacity building and facilitate innovation.

Recognizing this, it is imperative that the public sector proactively engages knowledge management-trained personnel and prioritizes them within institutions. In addition, there is a need to develop a curriculum in this area to ensure that professionals in this sector are suitably equipped to adapt to the changing working environment.

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