United Nations Public Service Awards

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The United Nations (UN) Public Service Award is the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service. It rewards the creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions that lead to a more effective and responsive public administration in countries worldwide. Through an annual competition, the UN Public Service Awards promotes the role, professionalism and visibility of public service.

Establishment of the UNPSA[edit]

In 2003, the UN General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/57/277, designated June 23 as the UN Public Service Day to “celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community”. The UN Economic and Social Council established that the United Nations Public Service Awards be bestowed on Public Service Day for contributions made to the cause of enhancing the role, prestige and visibility of public service.

The United Nations Millennium Declaration emphasized the role of democratic and participatory governance in assuring the rights of men and women to “live their lives and raise their children in dignity, free from hunger and from the fear of violence, oppression, or injustice”. It also noted that good governance within each country is a prerequisite to “making development a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire human race from want”.

Experience demonstrates that without good governance, nationally or internationally, and an efficient, competent, professional, responsive and highly dedicated public service, sustainable development and livelihood are jeopardized. The former UN Secretary-General, in his speech at the World Youth Forum in 1998, stressed the importance of public service by encouraging the world’s youth to enter into this field. He said, “In this changing world of new challenges, we need, more than ever before, dedicated and talented individuals to enter public service. More than ever before, we need people like you sitting here today, to make the choice of service to humankind.”

Purpose of the Awards[edit]

The overall purpose of the United Nations Public Service Awards is to recognize the institutional contribution made by public servants to enhance the role, professionalism, image and visibility of the public service (Economic and Social Council decision 2000/231). It can be translated into the following more specific objectives:

(a) To reward service to citizens and motivate public servants worldwide to sustain the momentum of innovation and the improvement of the delivery of public services;
(b) To collect and disseminate successful practices and experiences in public administration in order to support efforts for improvements in country level public service delivery;
(c) Through success stories, to counterbalance any negative image of public administration, raise the image and prestige of public servants and revitalize public administration as a noble discipline on which development greatly depends;
(d) To promote, encourage and facilitate networking among institutions and organizations relevant to public administration and strengthen the networks of the United Nations programme on public administration and development; and
(e) To enhance professionalism in the public service in rewarding the successful experiences in innovations and excellence in the public service.

Who is eligible[edit]

All Public organizations/agencies at national and sub-national levels, as well as public/private partnerships and organizations performing outsourced public service functions, are eligible for nomination. The United Nations Public Service Awards take into consideration a geographical distribution of five regions. In order to level the playing field for nominations received from countries with varying levels of development and income, the following five regions have been established:

(a) Africa
(b) Asia and the Pacific
(c) Europe and North America
(d) Latin America and the Caribbean
(e) Western Asia

Nominations have to be made by another entity than the institution being nominated, i.e. self nominations will not be accepted. Eligible nominators include: Government departments and agencies; universities, non-governmental organizations, professional associations, etc. Purely scientific innovations, e.g. in medical or environmental science, do not qualify for the United Nations Public Service Awards.

UNPSA categories and criteria[edit]

In 2011, the United Nations Public Service Awards will be given in the following four categories:

Category 1: Preventing and combating corruption in the Public Service.
Category 2: Improving the delivery of services
Category 3: Fostering participation in policy-making decisions through innovative mechanisms.
Category 4: Advancing knowledge management in government

Category 5 : Promoting gender responsive delivery of public services

For a description of the categories and application criteria, see UPAN Public Service Awards 565

Application process[edit]

The application process consists of two steps.

Step 1
An application form has to be completed online. Nominations are allowed to enter the competition in one of the six official United Nations languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian or Spanish).
Step 2
Upon reception of the applications, the Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) pre-selects nominations. Pre-selected candidates are asked to submit additional information such as a cover letter, letters of reference, supporting documents (e.g., evaluation and audit reports, results of client surveys), etc. DPADM then shortlists candidates on the basis of the documents provided. The short-listed are subsequently considered by the United Nations Committee of Experts in Public Administration. After due consideration, the Committee advises the UN Secretary-General concerning the winners of the Awards.
What supporting documentation is required for the second round?
a)Cover letter
b)Two Letters of Reference
c)Two to five Supporting Documents
What is a Cover Letter?
A letter indicating your initiative and the supporting documentation you are enclosing is needed for verification purposes only if you send documentation by regular mail otherwise you can upload directly on-line the following documentation.
What are Reference Letters?
Two letters of reference: A letter of reference is a letter written by any organization, public or private, different from the institution being nominated, pointing out the valuable achievements resulting from the implementation of the initiative submitted, and underlining why this initiative and/or institution is worthy of being awarded.
What are Supporting Documents?
A minimum of two and up to five supporting documents: Supporting documents are any kind of material (evaluation and audit reports, results of client/citizen surveys, books, DVDs, videotapes, newspaper articles, CD-ROMs, etc.) you may wish to submit to validate and highlight your nomination.
How should the documentation be submitted to the UNPSA Programme?
Pre-selected institutions are strongly encouraged to upload relevant documents in the on-line UNPSA System by using the user ID and password provided in the confirmation e-mail they received after submitting their nomination. Institutions wishing to send by regular mail or FedEx documentation that cannot be uploaded (e.g. books, DVDs, videos, CD-ROMs, etc) should bear in mind that such material has to be received before the deadline.

UN Public Service Awards Ceremony[edit]

UN Public Service Awards' winners are recognized during UN Public Service Day on 23 June of every year at a high-level event held in New York at UN Headquarters. UN Public Service Day intends to celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlight the contribution of public service in the development process; recognize the work of public servants, and encourage young people to pursue careers in the public sector. Since the first Awards Ceremony in 2003, the United Nations has received an increasing number of submissions from all around the world.

Past Award Winners[edit]

Year Category Region Country, Department / Project
2003[1] 1 Europe & North America Greece Ministry of Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization for "Call centre to apply for administrative documents"
Asia & the Pacific Singapore Infocom Development Authority of Singapore for "National Trust Council and TrustSg Programme"
Western Asia Oman Muscat Municipality for "Cleanliness of Muscat"
Latin America Bolivia Aduana Nacional de Bolivia "Un profundo proceso de reforma"
2 Europe & North America Spain Ayuntamiento de Alcobendas "ITACA Proyecto"
Africa Egypt Ministry of State for "Administrative Development Improvement of administrative machinery"
Asia & The Pacific Singapore Legal Policy Division, Ministry of Law "Polygon of Good Laws"
Latin America Mexico Victoria, Tamaulipas "Family system in Tamaulipas"
3 Europe & North America Italy Public Administration Department for Efficiency in the Administrations for "Coordination Centre for Innovations in Administrations"
Africa Zambia Patents and Companies Registration Office Commercialization
Asia & The Pacific Republic of Korea Public Procurement Service for "Reform of procurement operations"
Western Asia Lebanon Education Center for "Research and Development Research, training and continuous education"
Latin America Chile Servicio de Impuestos Internos (SII) for "El sitio web del servicio"
2004[2] 1 Africa Morocco, Secretariat d'Etat Charge de l'eau, Morocco
Europe & North America Canada, Network of Canada Business Service Centres
Latin America Brazil, General Board for Development of Public Services and Public
2 Europe & North America Austria, District Administrative Authority Zell am See Summary of the Project
Africa Cameroon, Ministere de la Fonction Publique et de la Reforme
Asia & The Pacific Australia, Australian Public Service Commission
Latin America Brazil, City Hall of Belo Horizonte Summary of the Project
3 Africa South Africa, South African Police Service
Asia & The Pacific Malaysia, National Productivity Corporation
Asia & The Pacific Philippines, City of Naga
2005[3] 1 Asia & The Pacific India, Bhagidari Cell, Office of the Chief Minister, Government of NCT of Delhi for "Citizen-Government Partnership: Bhagidari in New Delhi"
Europe & North America Canada, Vancouver Agreement for "Innovative Partnerships between Government Agencies, and with Community Groups and Business"
2 Africa Morocco, Etablissement Autonome de Contrôle et de Coordination des Exportations (EACCE) for "Decentralization and expansion of the quality monitoring process of fruits and vegetables for exportation".
Europe & North America Spain, Public Employment Service of Castile and León (Ecyl) for "Modernization Program 2004"
Latin America Mexico, Secretaria de Agua, Obra Publica e Infrastructura para el Desarrollo for "El Programa Hidraulico Integral del Estado de Mexico"
3 Asia & The Pacific Singapore, Ministry of Trade and Industry for Online Application System for Integrated Services (OASIS)
Europe & North America Canada, Industry Canada, Office of Consumer Affairs for "the Canadian Consumer Affairs Gateway (CCIG)"
Latin America Mexico, Secretaría de la Función Pública - Unidad de Gobierno Electrónico y Política de Tecnologías de la Información (UGEPTI) for "La Estrategia de Gobierno Digital"
2006[4] 1 Africa Rwanda, National Examinations Council for "Assessment and Evaluation for Reconciliation"
Asia & The Pacific Singapore, Ministry of Manpower, Work Pass Division for "Integrated Work Permit Online Services"
Europe & North America The Netherlands, District Water Board for "Rijnland Internet Election System"
2 Africa Zambia, District Health Management Board for "Masaiti"
Asia & The Pacific India, Government of Karnataka, Revenue Department for "Online delivery of land records"
Europe & North America Canada, the Provincial Court of Manitoba for "The Domestic Violence Front-End Project"
Latin America Brazil, Secretaria de Desenvolvimento Urbano do Estado da Bahia, Brazil for "Implementation of the Self-Sustainable Sanitation Systems Programme,"
3 Asia & The Pacific Australia, Australian Government Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources for "Business Entry Point"
Europe & North America Belgium, Crossroads Bank for Social Security for "e-Government Program of the Belgian Social Security"
Western Asia United Arab Emirates,Dubai Municipality for "e-Government Municipal Services"

Management of the UNPSA Programme[edit]

It is managed by the Division for Public Administration and Development Management of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ United Nations Public Services Award, Report of the First Awards Ceremony 2003 [1]
  2. ^ United Nations Public Services Award, Report of the Public Services Awards Ceremony 2004 [2]

External links[edit]