Speech at Public Administration Reform Partnership Forum

15 Nov 2012

Speaker:  Ms. Louise Chamberlain, UNDP Country Director
Date:       15 November 2012
Event:      Public Administration Reform Partnership Forum: “Enhanced Monitoring and Evaluation of Public Administration Reform in Viet Nam”

Mr. Nguyen Tien Dinh, Vice Minister of Home Affairs;
Representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Industry and Trade, Natural Resources and Environment;
Representatives from provincial authorities;
International development partners;
Ladies and gentlemen;

We are here today because we all believe in the importance of creating an efficient, responsive and transparent public administration in Viet Nam. As Viet Nam continues on its socio-economic development path, it is important to improve quality public and administrative services to support continued economic growth, universal access and poverty reduction across the entire country. Indeed, the quality public services are seen as an instrument of accelerating human development, especially in under-served areas.

One year ago, Resolution 30c on the ratification of the Public Administration Reform Master Programme for the period 2011-2020 was introduced. This signaled the strong commitment of the Government to continue transforming public administration and building a modern and efficient system. The Resolution sets out clearer objectives and aims to clarify roles and responsibilities of different state agencies. Most importantly, the new PAR Master Programme supports a shift towards prioritizing improved public service delivery. The underlying development concept is clear: a more efficient, responsive, transparent and accountable public administration produces better quality services to citizens. A better serviced population will be able to achieve higher levels of development – hence the reform of public administration is an important means towards equitable growth and better living standards. 
 
UNDP’s new four-year public administration programme is firmly anchored in the priorities of the new PAR Master Programme 2011-2020. Among those essential priorities are: enhanced quality of public services, and human resources reform. Support will be provided to Da Nang, Ha Tinh, Bac Giang and Can Tho for implementing innovative approaches to improving administrative service delivery and human resources procedure. The Ministry of Home Affairs will host a separate project component at the central level to coordinate knowledge-sharing amongst the four provinces, and to facilitate policy dialogue to replicate good practices country-wide.

Since the last Partnership Forum, the Ministry of Home Affairs has also developed a monitoring and evaluation system to monitor public administration reform performance within line ministries and provincial governments. This is a breakthrough tool because it moves away from traditional government internal evaluations on service delivery. It provides for a voice from citizens, as ultimate users, on the quality of services they get and their overall satisfaction with administrative agencies. This represents an important shift towards results-based monitoring and evaluation of government’s performance in public administration.

The newly developed criteria and indicators will not only help the Government to monitor the implementation of the PAR Master Programme, but also to identify the strengths and weaknesses of ministries and provinces in specific areas, so that further improvements can be made. As we all know, what does not get measured might not improve. So in a sense, the M&E system provides a baseline and opens opportunities for policy makers and implementers to determine what areas need further improvement.

In middle-income countries, quantitative assessments are common tools that provide data to policy makers and civil servants to steer and deepen the reform programme. They provide a starting point to address weaknesses in quality and access to public services. Given the wide access to public services in Viet Nam, the emphasis should be on improving the quality of services in areas identified as poor performers.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to highlight four important elements of the new PAR Index.

Firstly, throughout the process there have been inputs from and participation of a wide range of stakeholders into the development of the indicators, including government agencies, elected Deputies, other leaders at central and local levels, political and social organizations, citizens and enterprises. The Index includes performance assessments from the providers of public services, as well as the views and experiences of users and other relevant stakeholders, including citizens and businesses. This is an important innovation for Viet Nam because, for the first time, the end users’ perspectives will be taken into account to measure government’s performance. This enhances accountability of the government towards citizens.

Secondly, a pilot of the new monitoring and evaluation system was tested in six provinces and three ministries. This provides valuable feedback which is key to further fine-tuning the Index and making it more relevant and robust for subsequent implementation.

Thirdly, we should recognize the very strong commitment of the Ministry of Home Affairs to move the process forwards and assure the quality of the final product, soon to be rolled out to all ministries and localities across the country. The Ministry’s continued stewardship is vital to the success of this important initiative.

Finally, while it is important to have an M&E system owned and developed by the government, it is equally important to use other tools for monitoring of performance as this allows us to capture a diversity of views and opinions of users. The use of objective and independent measurement tools enables the design of targeted policy responses to address weaknesses in performance. This is particularly relevant for supporting the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups and expanding universal access and quality of public services.

In Viet Nam there are two already existing tools which are well positioned to complement and enhance the PAR Index. One of these is the Provincial Competitiveness Index, which includes the views of businesses and the private sector, developed by the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industries (VCCI). The other is the Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) which captures the experiences of citizens when interacting with public officials. PAPI is a joint initiative of UNDP and the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES).

These tools use different methodologies to provide independent and complementary information for government agencies to consider when adjusting the planning and implementation of policies. We encourage the government to make use of these tools since they provide additional objective evidence that represents the views and experiences of citizens.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we have seen over the past year, the Government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs, is identifying innovative ways to move beyond mainly internal reporting mechanisms on PAR to strengthen performance assessment with external, client-driven data collection. With the PAR Index, we see the emergence of relevant tools, data and information on progress of public administration performance and implementation.

Today’s discussion is part of this shift in policy and signals an important move in the direction of discussing and using more objective data to understand public sector performance and driving future policy interventions.

Let me end by expressing my appreciation to the Ministry of Home Affairs for its leadership towards more inclusive public sector performance measurement. As I already highlighted, the inclusion of the voice of users will make a strong contribution to setting an objective baseline and improving public service delivery.

I would also like to thank all development partners including donor community for their continuous support in this reform effort, and look forward to today’s discussions on how we can jointly move this agenda forward.

I wish you all good health and happiness, and a very successful PAR Partnership Forum.

Thank you.