Speech by UNDP Country Director, Ms. Louise Chamberlain at the PAR Index launch workshop at Ministry of Home Affairs

17 Nov 2012

Speaker: UNDP Country Director, Ms. Louise Chamberlain
Date:       17 November 2012
Event:      PAR Index Launch workshop at Ministry of Home Affairs

Excellencies
Mr. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Deputy Prime Minister
Mr. Nguyen Thai Binh, Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs
Mr. Nguyen Tien Dinh, Vice Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs
Mr Son, Vice Minister of Justice
Mr. Dinh Duy Hoa, Director General,

Distinguished Officials and Representatives of Provincial Authorities;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

I would like to commend the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) for its leadership in developing the Public Administration Reform Index which is being launched today. This is an unprecedented approach to measure public administration performance in Viet Nam.

The United Nations Development Programme has a long history of cooperation with the Government of Viet Nam in support of building a modern and efficient public administration that provides better quality public services to its citizens. The launch of the Public Administration Reform Index today is one of the fruits borne from this partnership. I am proud and honored to be able to address you on this occasion, representing the good collaboration between UNDP and the Government of Viet Nam in this area for more than two decades. I want to thank the Minister for inviting us to share this important moment with you.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
As Viet Nam’s economy grows and develops further, the public sector faces new challenges, and those who aim to reform the public service cannot rely on self assessments and anecdotal information. Policy-makers need to be well informed and able to use reliable data from different sources.

This PAR Index is a breakthrough tool because it moves away from traditional government internal evaluations on service delivery. It includes a voice from citizens on quality and satisfaction with public services. This makes an important shift towards results-based monitoring and evaluation of government’s performance in Public Administration. It also clearly signals the Government’s interest to analyze and understand the factors that drive improved performance.

The newly developed PAR Index 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. The PAR Index provides a baseline and opens opportunities for policy makers and implementers to discuss areas that need further improvement. We hope that such dialogue will be fostered and encouraged at technical level and among the leadership.

Excellency Deputy Prime Minister,
As the PAR index is being rolled out, I would like to highlight three challenges that lie ahead for your Government.

The first challenge consists in making sure that the information provided by line ministries and localities is accurate and valid. It is always challenging to ensure, with a survey format, that respondents reply accurately and truthfully. It will be important to provide capacity strengthening opportunities for those who will be involved in collecting, analysing and processing the data, to ensure that the process meets methodological quality standards.

The second challenge concerns the allocation of sufficient human and financial resources for the implementation of the PAR index in all Ministries and localities, to ensure that the Index is implemented with necessary management and oversight capacity. Budgetary constraints can otherwise hamper its successful implementation. I look forward to hearing about the Government’s resource allocation plans to allow for the smooth and high quality implementation of the PAR Index in all ministry level agencies and localities.

The third challenge lies in communicating effectively to respondents on the outcome and findings, to ensure meaning of their effort and thereby sustainability of the Index over time.

Together with the PAR Index, we have other independent tools to complement the Government’s efforts in measuring governance and public sector performance. One of those tools is the Viet Nam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI), which is a joint initiative of UNDP and the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES) in collaboration with the Vietnam Fatherland Front and the Commission on People’s Petitions under the National Assembly Steering Committee.

PAPI is a nationwide monitoring tool that captures citizen’s experiences. Findings from PAPI have evidenced significant progress of provincial public administration reform efforts, evidenced by an increasing level of citizens’ satisfaction with public administrative services such as the one stop shop mechanism.

An interesting aspect of these indices is that it enables each of the country’s 63 provinces to recognize and compare its relative performance to that of others as well as benchmarking its own performance over time. This in itself can generate interest in innovation and provides good incentive for strengthened provincial leadership and more accountable government.

Indeed, it also facilitates for the central Government to strengthen and reinforce support to the local level where needed, and therefore potentially contributes to higher efficiency in Government administrative reform, including efforts to curb corruption.

We look forward to the rolling out of the PAR Index, which will allow policy makers to make better and more informed policies and the development of a more transparent and accountable public administration.

I wish you all good health and happiness, and the very best success in the implementation of the PAR Index in the near future.

Thank you.