Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Enhancing efficacy of government in new times

Recognizing the crucial role governments play in supporting the economy (especially during times of crisis) and providing foundations for private sector dynamism, McKinsey & Company has started the McKinsey Center for Government (MCG). Along with it came the first publication titled ‘Government Designed for New Times’, which contains discussion on the role of government in the coming days, ways to boost efficiency and induce effective execution of key decisions.

Below is a summary of some of the contributor’s views on the role of government and ways to enhance its efficacy. [The Nepali government can learn a lot from international best practices in making government productive and government services effective and efficient.]

Five lessons learnt by Tony Blair, former prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in leading government transformation:

  • Governance (particularly government effectiveness or capacity in government to get things done) should be at the heart of political debate.
  • Aim for systemic change, not incremental change to allow government to keep pace in a rapidly changing world (emerging new economic powers; new technologies in communications, energy and medicine; climate change; financial crisis).
  • Right conceptual analysis leads to best systemic change and delivery as the best policy comes from a clear, rigorous intellectual approach.
  • The people that enact policy and the ones that gets appointed to key posts matter. Management skills are better in private sector. It is better for public sector employees to spend some years in private sector and then come back to public sector.
  • Governments around the world can learn from each other.

Michael Fullan, special adviser to the premier and minister of education in Ontario, offers four directional advise to improve all systems in reasonably short period of time:

  • Accountability dilemma (building accountability within the system rather than relying on external control)
  • Policy-overload dilemma (don’t develop plans that are too complex, too vague, and contain too many priorities; be focused)
  • Capacity-building dilemma (development of individual and group efficacy, especially in skills, resources and motivation)
  • Sustainability dilemma (accountability, policy focus and capacity building might lead to sustainability)

Diana Farrell, co-founder of McKinsey Center for Government, discusses how governments can do more and better with less (in short, tap into the mission-driven mind-set of public sector employees).

  • Design and execute multiyear reforms that goes beyond mundane initiatives designed to improve management capability. Aim for big reforms and make big (not incremental) shifts in amount of time, energy and resources required. E.g. expenditure and revenue plans, employment plans, etc)
  • Invest in capabilities needed for success, especially employing best practices in technology and operations, organization and human resources, and budgeting and finance. E.g. vocational education, updated data, implement the latest proven project management techniques)