Friday, September 10, 2010

Third party assessment in government

Here is my Mint op-ed that makes the case for using third party agencies to provide feedback on the quality of public service delivery and thereby improve the effectiveness of our supervisory bureaucracy.


sai prasad said...

Let us examine whether any such efforts have been made in the and with what effect. All governments of the day have a developemntal intelligence wing in the Intelligence department who obtain public perceptions on a refgular basis. In addition they closely examine the working of some office/scheme etc which they have been mandated to. They also 'infiltrate' into departments and obtain much more specific information on specific issues.

In addition previous governments have hired third party agencies to carry out the assignments that you mention.

At the end of the day, they draw conclusions on the scheme arriving at specific lacunae. The exercise would be useful when we accept the feedback, evaluate it in terms of expectations and goals and take corrective action.

You certainly would know the vigour with which such corrective action is taken in the public domain, given the blame throwing that is rampant. Worse, what if you already know that the policy is doomed for failure. What if the same is widely known ?

sai prasad said...

There is the issue of evaluation of a physical entity versus a process, a one time occurrence versus an ongoing activity. The differences are certainly going to need wide variations in the methodology and expertise required to carry out the task.

Jayan said...

TPQC is just one of the component of the service delivery mechanism. Primary goal of TPQC is to ensure the quality. It will be more effective when TPQC works for higher transparency.

You wrote
But, far from dismantling the regular government bureaucracy, external assessment would contribute to keeping them honest.

Provided the TPQC itself is committed to people than somebody else.

(A question. Do we have TPQC on roads and road-over-road bridges (so called mini-fly-overs) in Hyderabad? )

gulzar said...

thanks for the comments...

yes jayan, for all newer works, there are TPQC. i agree that the big challenge with such arrangements is getting the right people - agencies are in the business of selling integrity.

yes sir, there will be differences in evaluating works (road construction), processes (PDS delivery), and institutions (school/hospital/office). and i fully share concerns about the possibility that there will be no corrective action. though TPQC has never, as far as I know, been tried out on processes and institutions.

consider this... i would be willing to pay anything to have a continuous feedback on which doctors are regularly absconding/irregular in each of the seven area hospitals in hyderabad, which staff are harassing patients at operation theaters by demanding money, who are indiscriminately referring patients to tertiary hospitals etc. and the mere perception that the people indulging in such actions have been identified (this can be done by naming them in an open staff meeting or calling for their explanations etc) is by itself surely have some (and this can be substantial depending on the degree of follow-up) impact on the truant officials. in other words, successful TPQC reports act as a third eye (and Indians are wary of third eyes!) that increases the probability/likelihood of achieving the objectives.