Speech at launch of the Viet Nam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) 2012

14 May 2013

Speaker: Ms. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative
Date:      Tuesday, 14 May 2012
Event:     Launch of the Viet Nam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) 2012
Venue:    Sofitel Plaza Hotel, Ha Noi

Dr. Ta Ngoc Tan, President, Ho Chi Minh Academy of Politics and Public Administration;
Dr. Thang Van Phuc, Former Vice Minister of Ministry of Home Affairs, Team Leader of the National PAPI Advisory Board and Distinguished Board Members,
Dr. Nguyen Quang Du, Director, Centre for Research and Training, on behalf of the Central Committee of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front;
Dr. Dang Ngoc Dinh, Director, Centre for Community Support and Development Studies;
Senior Government, Party and VFF Representatives from Binh Dinh, Quang Tri, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Nam Dinh, Thanh Hoa, Vinh Phuc provinces;
Senior Party, Natonal Assembly, Viet Nam Fatherland Front and Government officials; representatives from mass organizations, NGOs, research organizations and the media;
Ambassadors and development partners;
Distinguished guests, colleagues and friends;

I would like to start by acknowledging the Viet Nam Fatherland Front and its Centre for Research and Training, and the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES). They have collaborated with UNDP in a very labour-intensive but rewarding exercise to find out exactly what Vietnamese citizens think about the performance of provincial authorities in governance and public administration.

The Viet Nam Governance and Public Administration Performance Index, PAPI, is the largest ever policy monitoring tool of its kind in Viet Nam. In 2012 alone, nearly fourteen thousand citizens participated in the survey. And since 2010, more than thirty two thousand voices have been systematically collected and analysed to help inform policy makers. In itself, this is a major achievement for PAPI, providing us with an unparalleled wealth of data and information to inform and guide our policy work.

Globally the task of ‘measuring’ governance and public administration is inherently complex. But PAPI demonstrates that it is possible to gauge the quality of governance and public services. It does so by questioning citizens both as users and beneficiaries of public policy and services, then aggregates their views in a rigorous and statistically robust process.

The launch today of the PAPI 2012 Report is a major milestone that once again puts Viet Nam in the international spotlight as a strong example for other countries to follow. With less than 1,000 days before the deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations has been asking citizens all across the world to contribute to what the UN Secretary-General refers to as “The Future We Want” for the world after 2015. Viet Nam has been one of the most active participants of this truly global discourse. In parallel to dialogue at country-level, a worldwide survey is underway. As part of an online consultation process, more than half a million responses (and counting) have highlighted governance as one of the top three priorities around the world, along with good education, and better healthcare. In all countries across the world, men and women, young and old, have clearly indicated that they want "an honest and responsive government". With the concrete evidence from PAPI we know that the citizens of Viet Nam share the very same aspiration.

PAPI also reminds us that, as a middle-income country, Viet Nam is now starting to realize the potential and benefits of modern policy monitoring tools. Experiences from other countries that have made the transition to middle-income status, confirm a shift in the relationship between government and citizens, in terms of the way they interact with each other. Wealthier, better-educated citizens demand higher quality, more efficient administrative services from their government, less bureaucracy and in particular no corruption in the public sector. In its transition towards a more prosperous, democratic society and a thriving market economy, Viet Nam’s public administration system will need to play a key role in poverty reduction, a goal that cannot be fulfilled by economic growth alone.

PAPI is not just a development intervention. It is becoming a vital policy tool to monitor the performance of government institutions and the delivery of basic public services. Its continued development is a key element of the UN One Plan 2012-2016, which encompasses support by a number of UN organizations. We are already seeing a consistency in scores and stability of data over time, which suggests sound sampling of citizen’s views from year to year.

Ladies and gentlemen:

There are three strong messages coming out of the PAPI 2012 Report that will be presented in more depth this morning. The first positive message worth highlighting is that, on average, Vietnamese citizens are experiencing some improvements in the level of local governance and public services in 2012 compared to 2011. Positive changes in perceptions have been recorded in the key areas of control of corruption, transparency, public service delivery and vertical accountability.

Secondly, PAPI is already having an impact on policy making, policy implementation and policy monitoring. PAPI is providing national and provincial leaders with concrete evidence of the impact on citizens of their decisions in governance and administrative performance. Provinces are starting to regard PAPI as vital source of data for policy making. Notable examples of PAPI’s impact include action plans developed in Quang Ngai, Kon Tum and Dak Lak provinces. But other provinces are also turning to PAPI data to better understand their performance, and to devise innovative strategies to improve implementation of public policies.

And thirdly, PAPI is also catalyst for more cooperation among provinces. By identifying good performers, PAPI’s shows visually where there are good lessons to be learned from implementing particular policies, and shares those practices with provinces with lower performance levels. In doing so, PAPI helps identify and showcase successful practices that can concretely be documented, disseminated and shared to foster improvements elsewhere.

In the context of this collaborative effort, I would like to highlight the cooperation with the Ho Chi Minh Academy of Politics and Public Administration (HCMA). The Academy plays a crucial role role in educating and training public officials and leaders of Viet Nam to make them more effective in their functions, and more receptive to their constituents’ aspirations. We are very encouraged to see that the Academy is already using PAPI data, and together with provincial leaders is analysising ways to enhance citizens’ experiences on governance and public administration. In addition, we salute the Academy for its openness to include PAPI data into various courses to train officials, as well as promoting analysis and learning across provinces.

For the UN system in Viet Nam, governance is not just about institutions. It’s also about empowering Vietnamese citizens to engage with those institutions and to create space for policy discussion. Good Governance is founded on the principles of inclusion and participation, and PAPI focuses precisely on measuring citizens’ experiences in areas they need to “know, discuss, participate and verify”.

Thanks to the generous support of the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency (SDC), UNDP is committed to support PAPI until at least 2016 to be able to track change over time in the level of provincial performance. On the release of annual PAPI reports and findings, policy dialogues will be conducted with central and provincial governments to advocate for further policy improvements at both central and local levels. During the course of implementation, PAPI will be institutionalized in a way that will ensure its continued robustness, reliability and objectivity.

So in summing up, PAPI provides us with an innovative ‘bottom-up’ approach to collecting data and information that complements and supports existing state management monitoring tools. The richness of insights provided by PAPI allow policy makers, analysts and international development partners to access a wealth of concrete evidence on the quality of governance and public administration. 

We look forward to continuing to work with central and provincial policy makers to enhance the use of PAPI data for policy making. We sincerely hope that this information will become a catalyst for developing action plans that truly support the real aspirations of Vietnamese citizens.

Xin cám ơn!