Honoured for great public service

Deb Lipscombe receives National Heintzman Leadership Award

Deb Lipscombe with her award.

Former Quesnel resident Deborah Lipscombe was awarded the prestigious National Heintzman Leadership Award for her innovative work with Service BC.

The Institute of Citizen-Centred Services (ICCS), which bestows the Heintzman Leadership Award, was established to measure and monitor the progress of the public sector in improving citizen satisfaction with public-sector service delivery and develop the means to recognize excellence in citizen-centred service. Nominations are submitted from across Canada.

Her nomination for this award included recommendations from a variety of partners Lipscombe has developed over the years. With a focus on partners across various jurisdictions, Lipscombe’s nomination papers included testimonials her staff, from the Provincial Governments Chief Information officer, Bette-Jo Hughes in Victoria, a Director for Service Canada and a Regional Manager for ICBC Driver Services.

Although the nomination was not a surprise to Lipscombe (she was advised in March 2014 she was in consideration for this award) when she received the news in January of this year she was thrilled.

“I have difficulty blowing my own horn,” she said with a laugh.

“People who have won this award in the past have all been involved with bringing service to the citizens across Canada and I was amazed to be chosen.”

But, upon reflection, Lipscombe admitted her success is based on her commitment to building relationships and finding common ground for all parties.

What began as a one-day hire in 1986 with the Ministry of Forests in Quesnel, has evolved to problem-solving on a provincial level.

Lipscombe moved up in the Ministry of Forests to operations manager.

Without much confidence, she applied for the Regional Manager for the Interior Northeast and Government Agent position in Quesnel and was again surprised when she secured the job in 2001.

A transfer to Kamloops in 2003 saw Lipscombe take over Government Agent for Kamloops and the Regional Manager position evolved into Regional Director, responsible for up to 14 Service BC offices between Merritt and Fort Nelson.

“When I interviewed for the government agent’s position in Quesnel, I really felt I had found my niche,” she said.

“I’m drawn to problem solving.”

One of the creed’s this citizen-centred public servant believes is people chose to live in places for a variety of reasons but they should be able to access services wherever they live.

“One-stop shopping for government programs and citizen-centred service will always be my passion.” To that end, Lipscombe took an 11 month temporary assignment as a Project Director, Implementation for the first Front Counter BC office, established in Kamloops, to provide that single point of contact for citizens seeking natural resource permits and licences.

Through her skillful guidance, Service BC offices offer an amazing array of services including federal services through outreach programs, thanks to the partnerships Lipscombe has established.

“What we’re doing is where government offices are closing, we are taking over delivery of their services and are the face of government across the province.”

This also includes guiding citizens to access what they need through online services and telephone services wherever possible, but never sacrificing the face-to-face the public demands.

Lipscombe is about to step up another level in Service BC. Thanks to her ongoing commitment and innovative management, along with many partnerships, Service BC has decided to create one Director for the entire province who will work with senior managers and 62 Service BC offices across British Columbia and that will be Lipscombe.

“The whole structure is changing to better streamline processes,” she said.

“I’m looking for consistency in how our offices increase accessibility to government services and information and that’s one of the reasons for the changing structure.

“You can walk into any office in the province and receive the same level of service.

“I’m one of many who really believe in what we’re doing, I really care about outcomes.”

However, Lipscombe credits much of her success to the many mentors and much guidance throughout her 30 years with government.

“I hope I have provided that same level of support and mentorship to the people I work with as well,” she said.