Sunday, 21 March 2010

Quietly, step-by-step six key govt agencies meeting their reform goals

Working to get a US$500-million anti-corruption grant from Millennium Challenge Corporation
By Rene Q. Bas, Editor in Chief
Manila Times

How the Arroyo administration has been failing in its efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (there is a 2015 deadline) is what media have been focusing on. Their facts are accurate. These negative reports also include praise for the administration where it has been on track.

But there is sensational, good news about how six key government agencies have been silently reforming themselves, improving the way they have been doing their assigned tasks, and thereby contributing to meeting the MDG.

Unfortunately good news very seldom makes the front pages and prime time news.

The great news is that the reforms in these six important government agencies have been going on and will surely continue even after President Gloria Arroyo’s term, Whoever becomes the next president as a result of the May 10 election will have no choice but to encourage these six government offices to go ahead with their present reform and improved governance programs.

This is because the president who moves against these reforms, who will undermine them—perhaps in a bizarre fit of corrupt self-indulgence—would be embarrassed. He or she would be condemned by the business, labor, and academic sectors, as well as by non-government and civil-society organizations, that are the partners of these six government agencies in setting up their “Performance Governance System” goals, road maps, detailed plans and timetables.

And not just the local stakeholders will be this hypothetical bad president’s enemies. The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the US State Department, the USA’s Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), and scores of other international institutions—supporters of this reform effort in these six government agencies—will use their clout against a fiendishly corrupt president.

Performance Governance System and Balanced Scorecard

The six government agencies are the Department of Education (DepEd), the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). They are all undertaking the Performance Governance System (PGS), a local adaptation of the Balanced Scorecard applied to the public sector, to track their performance against a set of goals.

They will make their performance commitments public on March 25, 2010 at the Public Governance Forum jointly convened by the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA), the National Competitiveness Council and the Development Academy of the Philippines.

Apolitical government people in the administration and the civil service in these six government agencies are silently working on urgent governance reforms that could no longer wait for the next Filipino president to be sworn into office.

The key government man acting as some kind of coach to these six agencies is Antonio D. Kalaw Jr., who proudly refers to himself as a CESO I (meaning he’s a serious civil service officer) serving as president of the Development Academy of the Philippines and the National Productivity Organization.

Depending on the success of these agencies’ respective anti-corruption programs, the Philippine government as a whole could finally seal the deal on a US$500 million, five-year grant from the MCC.

The MCC is an independent US foreign aid agency created by the US Congress with strong bipartisan support to help in the global fight against poverty.

The latest news about the Philippines qualifying for an MCC “compact” grant was that the MCC board passed a resolution to qualify the Philippines.

MCC said it is “changing the conversation on how best to deliver smart US foreign assistance by focusing on good policies, country ownership, and results.”

More compelling than politics

“We believe this is a more compelling story than the elections. Here are government agencies, backed by private sector partners, saying that governance reforms cannot take a backseat even during an election season. And these will not be mere rhetoric. They’re making public their performance commitments for 2010 and telling everyone to judge their performance by these parameters. This is serious,” said Dr. Jesus Estanislao, ISA’s founding chairman and former Finance secretary during the Aquino administration.

The Public Governance Forum will highlight the national government’s commitment to pursue the PGS as part of its good governance (and anti-corruption) program.

The six agencies will post on their websites their governance scorecards and commit to make quarterly reports.

Posting these performance indicators on websites is a sign that these agencies have become as transparent as good governance standards require.

ISA is a civil society, not-for profit association, focused on raising the standards of public governance practice in the Philippines.

Inspired by the worldwide success of the balanced scorecard model developed in Harvard and applied to the corporate sector, ISA pioneered the adoption of the PGS, a strategic management tool that enables entire communities to channel their energies, abilities and knowledge to pursuing one path toward long-term development.

To date, ISA has a working relationship with about 30 cities, one of which (the City of Iloilo) has already achieved Global Hall of Fame status for implementing the balanced scorecard.

In part through the PGS, the six government agencies have been introduced to the Millennium Challenge Corp. and gained for the country nearly $20.7 million in the “threshold program” to help reduce opportunities for corruption and improve revenue administration by strengthening the monitoring and investigative functions of the Ombudsman and Department of Finance.

The national government is in the process of finalizing an agreement with the MCC expected to be completed by the end of March 2010.

Dr. Estanislao said six more agencies are slated to undertake the PGS process before June 2010. These are: the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Civil Service Commission, Development Academy of the Philippines, the Office of the President and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The agencies’ anti-corruption programs are being led by senior career undersecretaries so that the governance reforms will be pursued even with a change in leadership, Dr. Estanislao said.

Roadmap and plan

The roadmap and plan of each of these government agencies were drafted by the executives together with most of, if not all, the stakeholders affected by the work of the agency.

The plan and road map include strict adherence to ISA’s core values of patriotism, subsidiarity, service to the common good, commitment, competence, transparency, integrity and hostility to corruption.

The agencies’ successes, or failures, in achieving their reforms and goals, within the timeframe stated in the plan, are then recorded and graded in a “Balanced Scorecard.”

The ISA’s Balanced Scorecard measures not only statistically measurable improvements, such as increases in collection by areas and regions in the case of the BIR but also adherence to correct norms of behavior, such as respect for the dignity of persons, in the case of the PNP.

The PNP, for instance, has included in its guidelines the participation of the Commission on Human Rights in police operations.

ISA’s Performance Governance System and Balanced Scorecard were developed for Philippine use from the Harvard Business School by Dr. Estanislao, a Harvard summa cum laude graduate.

The Harvard Business School’s system and scorecard are corporate management tools that have now, through ISA’s efforts, become instruments for governmental management and goal achievement.

First applied on cities

The PGS and Balanced Scorecard were first applied by ISA on local governments, mostly cities, whose mayors, councils, business sectors and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) agreed to work together to compose a roadmap and plan, to accept the ISA core values as imperative, and to commit themselves to the goals they had set for themselves.

The effectiveness of ISA’s PGS in some 30 cities moved the national government to start applying the system to key Cabinet departments and the PNP.

Reforms and successes in cities and agencies that have persevered in the PGS are quantifiable. These cities will also report on their progress at the Public Governance Forum.

For example, Iloilo City enjoyed a 45-percent increase in its gross income, after carrying out PGS in 2006 from P825.3 million to P1.25 billion in 2008. It increased by 319 percent the total capitalization of manufacturing—from P946.85 million to P3.97 billion. There was a 322-percent increase—from 23 to 74—in private-public partnerships in city hall committees dealing with all kinds of problems and work to be done for Iloilo.

Another achiever city, which has been recognized internationally as a global model, is San Fernando City in Pampanga. Among its achievements is to shorten the processing time of business permits from two weeks in 2005, before it adopted the PGS and Balanced Scorecard, to two hours in 2008.

PNP reforms impressive

In the PNP, reforms and achievements are unremarked while headlines about kotong (extortion) cops and other miscreant policemen grab newspaper space and broadcast time.

Among the PNP reforms is the existence today of more than 100 model police stations all over the country. These are run according to the best international standards, a judgment seen by the community who are partners of the PNP officers in meeting the challenges of the Performance Governance System and Balanced Scorecard.

A housing program for the policemen is now in place in the Metro Manila area. This has markedly reduced to 9 percent, from the pre-PGS 40 percent, the number of policemen who have no proper dwellings and are even squatters.

In the absence of adequate funding from the national government for medical care and hospitalization for policemen and their families, the PNP command entered into an agreement with 17 hospitals—not necessarily the most expensive ones—to provide healthcare. Under the PGS-driven requirement for the PNP to be closer to the community, similar arrangements are being sealed pertaining to education, insurance and other concerns, with the private sector undertaking the expense.

The result is much improved police morale.

This does not mean that there will be no more incidents of bad cops shaming the good members of their corps, said Police Senior Supt. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, the chief of staff of the PNP-Program Management Office. But the important thing is the pride of policemen in their institution and their determination to be excellent law enforcers.

Also, the PNP officers are mostly now noticeably better-groomed and athletic-looking.

BIR improvements

The BIR also has concrete results to show for its adherence to Estanislao’s good-governance campaign.

These and other “miracles”—which Estanislao simply calls “breakthroughs” in improved governance—will be reported in detail in the Public Governance Forum on March 25 at Ballroom B of the Dusit Thani in Makati City.

ISA holds two annual forums. The one on March 25 will have, besides Philippine government agencies and cities, case study reports from Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

ISA’s “Institutional Partners” include the US-based Center for International Private Enterprise and the National Endowment for Democracy and Philippines organizations like the Asian Institute of Management, the League of Cities, the University of Asia and the Pacific, the Ortigas Foundations, UnionBank and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

1 comment:

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