Government Accelerator in the Philippines: Valenzuela City & New Zealand Government Innovative Social Welfare Programme

Working with the City of Valenzuela to build an innovative social welfare programme, over a 16-week govtech accelerator.

Creative HQ and the Valenzuela government team posing at the government showcase
Who we worked with

Valenzuela City

What we did together

16-week accelerator

Key skills

Innovation methodologies and tools, human-centred design, team collaboration and online collaboration

Since 2018, Creative HQ has run a globally unique programme: the GovTech Accelerator. Running across 12 to 18 weeks, the programme works with public servants to demonstrate how innovation at the policy level can enable systemic change and improve outcomes for citizens.

The programme focuses on developing innovation capability within government agencies and provides a space for learning both innovation methodologies and the value of cross-agency collaboration. The GovTech Accelerator works to de-risk the public sector innovation projects and drive outcomes to better meet citizens’ needs.

Building on a Memorandum of Arrangement signed between the New Zealand Embassy and the City Government of Valenzuela in Dec 2021, Creative HQ launched a 16-week accelerator programme with the Valenzuela City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO). The programme was designed to support capability building of government employees, empowering them to create “citizen-centered” solutions.

A four-person team of social workers from Valenzuela CSWDO participated in the accelerator programme. During the programme, they learned to apply human-centric innovation tools and processes to create better support systems to constituents who sought Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS). The accelerator programme was facilitated remotely by a New Zealand-based team from Creative HQ.

“Innovation has an important role in how nations navigate challenges and prepare for the future and it has always been key to Aotearoa New Zealand’s economic development. I am pleased that this has also played a prominent role in the relationship between the Philippines and New Zealand. I am pleased to see Valenzuela City and ARTA steer this course for the Philippines and I look forward to seeing other government agencies join us in our journey towards a culture of innovation.

Ambassador Peter Kell

New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines

How we did it

The team from the Valenzuela CSWDO identified  two key challenges to tackle: how could they improve the experience of the citizens visiting their office, and how could they promote continuous learning for their already time-poor social workers?

Improving the clients’ experience 

Every year, approximately 30,000 people go to the main office and 5 satellite offices of the Valenzuela CSWDO seeking social service assistance. Many clients would wait for a long time to be seen by staff at the CSWDO, only to be turned away as they did not bring all the required documents with them.  

During the accelerator programme, the CSWDO project team discovered that almost 42% of  the clients who went into the CSWDO seeking AICS financial assistance were turned away for this reason. This caused an upsetting and frustrating experience for the clients as this also meant additional expenses for their transportation and sacrificing their day at work. 

The team also found that, while social workers were passionate about serving their citizens,  they did not have much time to do formal learning about changes to policies or guidelines. This sometimes led to inconsistencies in the provision of advice and services.

Through research, stakeholder engagement, process mapping and ideation, the Valenzuela CSWDO project team developed several prototypes for potential solutions. Among these, the team developed an information chatbot that helped the clients better prepare for the AICS application process, by providing comprehensive information on the requirements.

Promoting continuous learning 

In terms of the challenge of helping staff keep up to date with new policies and guidelines, studies show that small, frequent chunks of learning are more memorable than reading a whole book or policy document.

As a result, the project team developed a prototype e-learning module for CSWDO staff. The e-learning modules provided the information in short, fun and digestible formats.

The result

By the end of the programme the CSWDO achieved the two main goals we set out to meet:

  • Streamlined the process and improved the clients’ experience: feedback during the prototype testing phase showed that clients found the chatbot to be very helpful, accessible, time-saving, and informative for both the new and old clients. As a result, the CSWDO is planning to integrate the chatbot with the Valenzuela City website.
  • Improved staff knowledge and learning experience: feedback from fellow social workers in the department showed that the e-learning modules made a positive difference: “what you are doing is working. We have less staff asking questions about AICS because now they know”.   

The programme concluded with the Valenzuela CSWD team’s presentation on their journey through the accelerator programme at the Philippines-New Zealand Government Innovation Exchange Showcase event on 13 September 2022 at the ALERT Center Multipurpose Center, Valenzuela City. Attendees of the showcase event included representatives from the Valenzuela City and barangays, the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), the New Zealand Government and Creative HQ.

“I am proud to see Valenzuela City embracing human-centered innovation as we progress our goals on behalf of all our citizens. Excellent quality services are a norm at the City Hall, but we have long been wanting to have them delivered to our constituents in a timely and a more convenient way for them. With this programme, we hope to eliminate whatever perception they have that availing our services is taxing and difficult.

Mayor Wes Gatchalian

Mayor of Valenzuela City, Philippines

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