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India! I dare you to be rich

The role of Prajapati Trivedi in modernising India’s governance

I’m pleased that Prajapati Trivedi will continue to head the performance management system of India till August 2013. To understand his approach better, I looked through slides he prepared during his tenure in the World bank, and also read a newsletter on his website.

  • What Gets Measured Gets Done
  • If you Don’t Measure Results,You Can’t Tell Success from Failure
  • If You Can’t See Success, You Can’t Reward It
  • If You Can’t Reward Success, You are Probably Rewarding Failure
  • If You Can’t See Success, You Can’t Learn From It
  • If You Can’t Recognize Failure, You Can’t Correct It
  • If You Can Demonstrate Results, You Can Win Public Support

I'm in touch with him regarding the govrank concept. He has asked good questions. I hope to tap his brain on this potential lever to improve India's governance.

Govrank is a performance benchmarking system (like freedom or corruption rankings) which can then flow into performance management systems.

I believe it is crucial for government to establish strong measurement systems for performance.

In Victoria, performance agreements are signed between the Chief Minister and Secretaries. I haven't seen these agreements personally, but presumably these are sufficiently detailed. The Government thus "purchases" the specified "services" from the bureaucracy, and Secretaries are held to account for delivery.

India doesn't have such a relationship primarily because there are no contractual arrangements between bureaucrats and the government. That needs to change. (I have written about it extensively in BFN and briefly in Times of India).

Here's what Prajapati has been up to: ( extracts from an interview he gave):

What is the aim and purpose behind the functioning of the Performance Management Division in the Cabinet Secretariat?

Through the Performance Management Division (PMD), the Government has sought to evaluate the performance of various departments and ministries in a transparent and objective manner based on measurable and verifiable results and outcomes.

So, on what basis is the performance of different ministries and departments being evaluated?
The Results-Framework Document (RFD) is the main instrument for implementing ‘performance monitoring and evaluation system (PMES).’ It is essentially an understanding between the Minister and the concerned secretary of the department regarding the key objectives for the year, action required to achieve these objectives, inter-se priorities, success indicators to measure progress in implementing actions, and targets for the year.

How has the system worked?
We got the green light from the Prime Minister to implement RFDs in September 2009. First RFDs covered a period from 1st January – 31st March 2010, and were in the nature of a pilot.

Since then, we have made huge progress in implementing RFDs in both quantitative as well as qualitative terms.

This has not been an easy journey: we have had to train and educate officials in different departments on how to formulate RFD, strategy, with the focus being on the end stakeholder consultation. We have trained some 2500 officials in the past 24 months. I am impressed how seriously most Secretaries are taking this exercise.

What about motivation to deliver?
A score of 100% implies that the department has achieved all its targets. I agree that it is important to have performance-related incentives. You will be happy to know Government has recently decided to implement the recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission and introduce Performance Related Incentives in Government departments. To be eligible to receive monetary incentives, the departmental performance will have to be above 70 % against their RFD targets and they will be paid out of cost savings made during the year.

Addendum

 

Books by Prajapati Trivedi
 
Articles in Economic and Political Weekly
Performance Agreements in US Government  Vol – XXXVIII No. 46, November 15, 2003 
What is India s Privatisation Policy, Vol – XXVIII No. 22, May 29, 1993 
Lack of Understanding on Memorandum of Underdtandung, Vol – XXV No. 47, November 24, 1990 
 Public Enterprise Performance Information System-A Proposal, Vol – XXIII No. 48, November 26, 1988 
Public Enterprises in India-If Not for Profit Then for What, Vol – XXI No. 48, November 29, 1986 

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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