Speech by UNDP Country Director, Ms. Louise Chamberlain at PAPI workshop in Ho Chi Minh Academy of Politics and Public Administration in HCM City

30 Nov 2012

Speaker:  UNDP Country Director, Ms. Louise Chamberlain
Date:        30 November 2012     
Event:      PAPI workshop in Ho Chi Minh Academy of Politics and Public Administration in HCM City

Mrs. Nguyễn Thị Quyết Tâm, Vice Chairwoman of HCMC Party Committee and Chairwoman of HCMC People’s Council

Dr. Hà Công Long, Vice Chairman of the Commission on People’s Petitions (CPP), National Assembly Standing Committee, on behalf of PAPI’s Advisory Board

Prof. Dr. Lê Quốc Lý, Vice President of Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration (HCMA)

Distinguished Party Officials, Representatives of Provincial Authorities, and Faculty members;

I would like to start by thanking the Ho Chi Minh Academy Southern branch for hosting the event today and its interest to collaborate in measuring citizens’ perceptions of governance and public administration performance. It is not the first time that UNDP and the HCMA work together, but we appreciate that this is a new area of collaboration, and a very critical one for Viet Nam’s development as a Middle-Income Country.

UNDP has a long history of supporting Viet Nam’s development dating back to 1977. Globally, UNDP works in 166 countries around the world to build national capacities for development. This includes countries with similar socio-economic and socio-political characteristics to Viet Nam. In those and other countries where UNDP works, our programmes are aligned to support national development priorities to help ensure that growth and development benefit everyone, including the poor and disadvantaged. To achieve that, UNDP helps countries define their own solutions to development challenges and connects them to global knowledge, experience and resources.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
As Viet Nam’s economy grows and develops, with the increasing localization of governance and the economy, new challenges emerge for the public administration. Those who aim to reform the public service cannot rely on anecdotal information, because it is often misleading and incomplete.  Policy-makers need to be informed and able to use data from different sources, so that policy can be based on objective and rigorous evidence.

Given its mandate to train provincial leaders and equip them with modern policy making tools, the Ho Chi Minh Academy is a key institution for increasing the skills of Government leaders in evidence-based policy making; as well as developing knowledge and good practices in this area.

UNDP has cooperated with the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies and the Viet Nam Fatherland Front at provincial level to conduct the Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (or PAPI), which surveys citizens’ experiences with local government, since 2009. Recently, the Commission on People’s Petition of the National Assembly has joined the effort. I also want to acknowledge the critical support of the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency as a funding partner for this initiative and acknowledge the presence here today of Mr. Pascal Raess, Deputy Country Director for SDC.

PAPI and, the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) in the business sector, have generated widespread attention because they allow government officials, citizens, and business leaders to identify specific areas where local governments have made improvements, as well as areas of weak performance.

By examining perceptions of interaction with the Government, these surveys provide a great deal of information about the government’s aggregate performance. Of course, this information is complementary to internal assessments that are already informing Public Administration Reform initiatives. But the index can also bring out new areas that may not have been given sufficient attention.

I would like to tell you about three exciting initiatives that have been taken by provincial leadership in response to the particular research-findings from the PAPI:

  • In the Kon Tum province, an action plan to improve performance in targeted areas has been elaborated by the Party office and is now under implementation by the People’s Committee under the leadership of the Department of Home Affairs.
  • In Da Nang, the province has created its own Citizens Satisfaction Index that collects citizens’ feedback on service delivery so local government can identify areas of further reform. This index is based on PAPI’s methodology and findings.
  • In Binh Dinh, the authorities are preparing for a comprehensive diagnostic assessment of the province’s performance, to propose solutions for improving the delivery of public administrative services.

These efforts will serve to improve the transparency of the public service and improve the quality of its outputs, and thereby improve results for the people and the country.

Distinguished Participants, Madame Chair,

PAPI can be an important tool for recognizing areas where the Government services are functioning well. Yet, every province has some challenges in public administration that need to be addressed – the question is, whether the Government and the Party at provincial level have sufficient knowledge of the extent of those challenge, and what the priority areas to be addressed are. Performance surveys alone will not help to solve problems, but they can go a long way in identifying areas of inefficiency, corruption or mismanagement, and low capacity. These tools can also identify areas where the Government could increase income and reduce costs.Together with complementary analysis within the Government, it makes for a stronger evidence base for further improving performance.

I hope that today’s discussion will give us a clearer understanding of the challenges faced by different southern provinces regarding the performance of public administrative services. I very much look forward to our discussion, and I thank you for listening.