Thursday, 6 September 2012



RFD may be helpful in:-

a)    Promoting result oriented approach in planning and execution of policies by the government and

b)    Encouraging performance based assessment in government.
Therefore, RFD is a good beginning, but it has a long way to go. Looking forward, following are the five points, which may be considered for future changes to the RFD :-  

A.   RFD outlines a way to assess the extent to which the targets set by the departments are met during a financial year. Probably, it would be helpful  to take into account following aspects, while carrying out performance evaluation of government departments:-
1.    Quality of Decision Making

2.    Quality of Project Design, Project Management and Project Outcomes

B.   RFD presents an excellent mechanism (Vision -> Mission -> Objective -> Functions -> Actions ->Target -> Success Indicators) to streamline the efforts at grass-root level to work towards success of objectives (of the department), which may eventually result in success of mission and in fulfillment of vision. Further, this mechanism may be more effective in the long run, if the following points are taken into consideration, before mechanism is designed and put-up as a measure for performance:-
1.    Initial scenario analysis to benchmark current state of affairs for the department (something like business scenario analysis exercise done by corporations).

2.    Assessment of dynamics of state of affairs during the financial year and next few years. 

3.    Deduction of key variables which control the dynamics of state of affairs.

4.    Assessment of availability of resources and means with the government.

5.    Formulation of strategy for best possible utilization of resources (with reasonable assumptions).
Cabinet Secretariat (Performance Management), Government of India, has elaborated on formulation of strategy for departments in a separate section (Performance Strategy) in its web site. It may be a good idea to synchronize strategy of the departments with the RFD to give a composite picture on the direction, progress and performance.   

C.   Adhoc Task Force (ATF) would work as advisory body to assist the Cabinet Secretariat for review of RFD of the departments and for performance evaluation conducted during mid-year and during end-of-year. ATF would have prominent persons from different sections of society as its members.
But, a team of intellectuals and eminent persons, coming from (no matter) how so ever diverse background and with what so ever experiences, may not necessarily be representative of voice of citizens at large. Probably, additionally involving representatives from different groups of beneficiaries to have a say on how they may be able to help themselves with the policies/initiatives of the government may be useful.

In the information age, facilities of many channels of communications are available even at remote locations and communities are more vocal and open for considerate discussions; therefore to design a systematic way to involve representatives of different segments of beneficiaries (and stakeholders) to have their say in RFD may not be very difficult.     

D.   In the end of year evaluation of RFD (with respect to achievements), introducing a mechanism of feedback from the key beneficiaries and key stakeholders on different aspects of performance of a department may help in evolution of an environment, where departments may continuously improve themselves through sensible actions on the (received) feedback from different quarters. In this regards, gathering internal feedback from employees of the department and recording lessons learnt from execution experiences may also be helpful.     

E.   In any democratic set-up, which has a politically mature citizens, performance of government is in the middle of (the key issues in) the political spectrum. A sensible assessment of functioning of government in the prevailing environment may (for sure) get due attention in public.

But, citizens may be more comfortable to identify the government as a single entity (‘Integrated View of the Government’ or ‘One View of the Government’) and performance of all the departments may not sum up as the performance of the Government. In other words, it may not always be reasonable to make all the departments equally important in contributing to performance of the government. Let us take an example – In India, yearly performance of Agriculture Department will have far greater impact in the lives of citizens than yearly performance of (say) Sports Department. Thus, it may be more effective to have a weighting system for the departments by the top-most leadership of the government from the perspective of the performance of government in general. This may need a single RFD-like document (say Base RFD) to be drafted at the top-most level of government.  RFD of departments may be based on the Base RFD. Therefore, RFD for the departments may be prepared in such a way that objectives of each department converge to its role defined in Base RFD.

Further, Base RFD and RFDs of the departments could (in some way) be formally linked with the political mandate (mentioned in pre-election manifesto of the ruling party) given by the citizens to the government (for its term in office) and may be approved by the top most leadership in the government.      



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