The Manitoba government plans to purchase two unmanned aerial vehicles to measure the success of reforestation work.
It will create a web-based portal to speed communication with clients on social assistance. And, it will install video conferencing technology in boardrooms throughout government to decrease travel costs incurred in face-to-face meetings.
These are some of the initiatives the Progressive Conservative government trumpeted as it released the initial results of an appeal to civil servants a month ago for ideas to make program delivery more innovative and efficient.
Premier Brian Pallister said he was “really, really pleased” with the results so far.
“I am proud to report to you today that the response has been tremendous,” he said Monday.
Public servants from all departments submitted proposals, with 56 projects approved for funding. The initial round of projects will cost $21.2 million — close to half the $50 million initially set aside.
The government predicts the investment will deliver a 900 per cent return on investment, generating an estimated net savings of $191 million, over the next 10 years.
Finance Minister Cameron Friesen thanked civil servants for embracing the government’s new initiative “with enthusiasm and responding in such a quick and impressive way.” He said some of the proposals the government received didn’t involve any new spending and will be implemented immediately.
The government is so impressed with the response it plans to continue to seek civil servant ideas — and fund them — indefinitely.
“This is now part of our DNA as a government,” Friesen said.
“These are, simply put, investments that we can’t afford not to make.”
All the initial projects that were announced Monday will be funded this year, Friesen said. None of the projects involves the loss of public-service jobs, he said. Pallister said there’s been “a culture of caution” within the civil service that gets in the way of innovation. He said his government wants to change that.
The province’s chief bureaucrat, Fred Meier, said the Transformation Capital Fund is one of several initiatives the government is taking to build a modern civil service.
“We know we have tremendous talent throughout the public service. This is one of the ways we are doing things differently to tap into that expertise and provide public servants with the opportunity to have their voices heard.”