The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is the primary science and technology body in the country, charged with pursuing the state policy of supporting local efforts in science and technology (S&T) research and development (R&D).
It has 18 attached agencies, 16 regional offices and 80 provincial offices that produced more than 1,121 locally developed technologies. These information are now in most of our people’s consciousness.
As the library and communication arm of the DOST, the Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII) was hard pressed to get DOST out of the shadows and into the national consciousness. It did not help that we were among the smallest DOST agencies in terms of plantilla positions and budget.
Here are a few things DOST-STII did that set us on the road to success.
Revisited our mandate, vision and mission statements and established our core values
The institute discarded its global ambitions as unrealistic and crafted statements that can guide our strategies and execution.
In the most conspicuous places we exhibited these statements as daily reminders of our whys, whats and hows and to be a shot in the arm when we slow down or get discouraged. Our core values helped us make decisions we do not regret and everyone accepts.
Subscribed to research data and generated insights from them
DOST-STII did not have a measure of the national awareness level about science, technology and innovation (STI) information, so in 2017 we subscribed to a rider in the national survey of the Social Weather Stations to establish a benchmark to determine where we are and to craft the way forward in creating awareness.
The initial result of 6 percent was dismal but, undeterred, we doubled it in 2018 to 13 percent, building an upward trajectory that hit 47 percent by end 2022.
Enhanced communication capabilities and embraced social media
The SWS survey showed the media preferences of our audience so we strengthened our presence in television and embarked on our social media campaign.
In record time we relaunched our broadcast program DOSTv, initially via live streaming and eventually on PTV4, then GMA News and now CNN Philippines. This helped balloon our viewership from 80,000 to 162,000 average viewership per minute.
Today the eight pages that the DOST-STII maintains on Facebook have a reach of 30 million. Our official hashtags #ScienceForThePeople and #OneDOST4U have been used on FB by 94,000 and 24,000, respectively.
The institute continues to support the learning and development of our communicators in DOST, and 14 were able to graduate with MSc in Development Communication under a special off-campus program of the University of the Philippines Los Baños as scholars of DOST.
By the end of 2022 our annual media coverage was valued at P13 billion.
Strengthened the brand
To create a more predictable, reliable and identifiable brand, the DOST Corporate Identity manual has had two revisions.
The websites of all agencies were branded and ensured that they contained common features and were user-friendly.
We encouraged brand extensions through jingles, mascots, merchandising, etc. to make us more relatable and closer to the people.
Pivoted, performed and excelled during the pandemic
Unfazed by the closure of our library and offices during the pandemic lockdowns, DOSTv: Science For The People, the official broadcast program of the department, in seven days created a new online platform to disseminate weekly information about DOST.
Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña soon made “The Secretary’s Hour” the authoritative source of information about DOST updates for our employees, our media contacts and the public at large.
It continues to be a must-watched show for employees, the media and the public even in the new administration of Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr.
Public service delivery quickly shifted online, enabling us to serve and reach thousands instead of a few at a time.
Built strong partners and expanded our network
Today DOST-STII have more than 80 partner organizations, who support our projects with funds, equipment or services.
Under the National Economic and Development Authority’s National Priority Plan, where donors enjoy a tax deduction, we generated more than P13 million for STARBOOKS and P7.5 million for DOSTv.
At the same time, Hyundai donated two Starex vans to ease the mobility for media coverage of DOSTv.
It was important that the institute communicated our success and that our efforts are recognized by reputable organizations.
In 2017 in our initial foray into the awards world, we won for STARBOOKS a gold and silver Anvil from the Public Relations Society of the Philippines and were No. 3 among more than 400 entries for the Grand Anvil of the Year.
This was followed by an FOI Special Award in 2019 from the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Excellence in Government Communications Program Award in 2020 from the 18th Philippine Quill Awards, and 2022 CSC Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award as a Regional and National Winner for STARBOOKS, the highest recognition for a government program from the Civil Service Commission.
Meanwhile, in 2017, DOSTv won the Most Trusted Science TV program from Gawad Filipino, and an Anak TV Seal Award a year after for family friendly and child safe television.
In 2019, DOSTv was a nominee in the Best Magazine Show for Television in the Philippine Movie Press Club Star Awards, Finalist in the Government Best Practice Recognition of the Development Academy of the Philippines, and bagged two silver and one gold Anvil from the Public Relations Society of the Philippines.
DOSTv was also a Finalist for Best News Magazine (DOSTv: Science For The People-PTV4) and Best News Program (DOSTv sa Radyo – RP1) in the 2020 Catholic Mass Media Awards.
Proudly, DOSTv won the highest award in the 2020 and 2022 Gandingan Awards as the Gandingan ng Kaunlaran: Most Development-oriented Radio/TV/Online Platform and bagged three core awards in 2020 and four core awards in 2022.
Strengthened the institute
The institute’s budget has more than doubled. Our plantilla has increased 11 percent and has grown younger from an average age of 46 down to 35.
DOST-STII facilities have been upgraded and we continue to expand, and became ISO accredited.
We topped all DOST agencies in internal control systems for financial management as assessed by the Internal Audit Service and ranked No. 3 in gender mainstreaming.
We have attained Level 2 in the PRIME HRM program of the Civil Service Commission and among only 37 government agencies being groomed for Level 3.
Our financial performance metrics are outstanding and the Commission of Audit gave us an unqualified opinion for three years. We paid our employees the Performance-Based Bonus every year since the program started 13 years ago.
We now have a Science Communication Agenda and a Science Communication Framework to guide the way forward for ourselves and our cohorts.
DOST in everyone’s mind
The pandemic highlighted the role of S&T. The 2023 Q1 results of the Publicus Asia survey of all government agencies showed DOST inching up to No. 5 in both approval and trust ratings.
Congress, in the last few years, has evidenced strong support in terms of new legislation and budget allocation for S&T. Happily, in the very center of the new strategic map of DOST, we now find for the first time communication and linkages as our core processes.
In a world where S&T are making great headways in improving our lives and productivity, DOST deserves to be known and appreciated by all.
There must be a science for increasing awareness. But then again, there must as well be art and heart in this entire enterprise. Their confluence has produced results we could only dream of at the start. We believed, we worked hard and the results followed.
Now we are not afraid nor tentative. We at DOST-STII are confidently creative and have learned how to fly. And DOST is now in everybody’s mind.
Richard P. Burgos is the director of Science and Technology Information Institute of the Department of Science and Technology.
Image credits: DOST-STII