Published on January 2, 2008
Reforming Public Services in India: Drawing Lessons from Success: Reforming Public Services in India: Drawing Lessons from Success Vikram K. Chand The World Bank October 7, 2005 Objectives of the Report: Objectives of the Report The report documents 25 cases of success in improving public services across sectors/states. Cases were chosen on the basis of three criteria: (a) Substantial institutional reforms introduced, (b) Documented success in improving outcomes through user surveys, objective indicators, and external recognition, and (c) initiatives in existence for at least two years. The main objective was to draw lessons on how to improve public service delivery across sectors. Success in a Difficult Environment: Success in a Difficult Environment These reforms took hold, despite serious systemic obstacles to improving public delivery systems. These systemic obstacles include: Overstaffing. Frequent transfers of public servants. Weak anti-corruption enforcement mechanisms. The need for electoral financing reform. The Enabling Environment: The Enabling Environment The Role of Political Leadership: The Role of Political Leadership Vision Counts: The political leadership influenced the kinds of reforms pursued in several states, like AP, MP, and Karnataka. Bipartisan consensus across party lines facilitated reforms to improve program delivery in Tamil Nadu. Electoral incentives motivated political leaders to support change in Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh. An Empowered Civil Service: An Empowered Civil Service Stability of tenure crucial to empowering civil servants spearheading reform initiatives. Managerial autonomy for decision-making. Political support and signaling. Civil Servants when empowered by political leaders can be an effective instrument for innovation in service delivery. Activating Civic Pressures for Change: Activating Civic Pressures for Change The Importance of Institutional Design Access to information laws work best when appeals processes are simple and pressure from below encourage their use. BATF institutionalized citizen participation in urban governance. Public Interest Litigation NGO’s appeal to one part of the state (the judiciary) to hold another accountable (the executive). Creating Stakes for Participation: The Political Economy of Hospital Autonomy in MP Using the Media for Effect: Anti-corruption Institutions need to focus more on corruption in service delivery; the media can be an important ally when prosecution is difficult. BATF and the Surat Municipal Corporation use the media as an ally. INSTRUMENTS FOR REFORMING PUBLIC SERVICE DELIVERY: INSTRUMENTS FOR REFORMING PUBLIC SERVICE DELIVERY Promoting Competition: Cases and Lessons: Promoting Competition: Cases and Lessons Cases: Telecom Reform in India, 1980-2004. Opening up Rural Marketing in MP. Lessons: Conventional wisdom borne out: Competition benefited consumers in telecom and farmers in MP. Rent-seeking by vested interests curbed. Strong action at highest-levels needed to push reform PMO push reform in the Telecom case. MP government amend Mandi laws to allow for greater private participation. Simplifying Transactions: Cases: Simplifying Transactions: Cases Report examined several cases using e-governance to simplify transactions. One-stop-shops: E-Sewa and Friends Government Certificates: Bhoomi Rural Card in Andhra Pradesh Computerizing Inter-state Check-posts in Gujarat. Simplifying Transactions: Lessons: Simplifying Transactions: Lessons High-level political support key to overcoming resistance. Stability of tenure for administrative champions necessary. Importance of Public-Private Partnerships in E-Governance Low levels of citizen awareness in rural areas an obstacle to change. No jobs lost in any of these initiatives: Win-Win Reforms. Restructuring Agency Processes: Cases: Restructuring Agency Processes: Cases State-Wide Agencies Maharashtra’s Registration Department The Karnataka State and Road Transport Corporation. City-Wide Agencies Transforming City Agencies in Bangalore Reforms in the Surat Municipal Corporation Making the Hyderabad Water Supply and Sewerage Board more responsive. Restructuring Agency Processes: Key Lessons: Restructuring Agency Processes: Key Lessons Business process re-engineering needs to accompany computerization. Centralized monitoring systems can empower senior management in relation to front-line staff and junior management. Inter-agency coordination needed to break down silos. Restoring Performance Incentives in Agencies. More Effective Linkages with Civil Society Needed. Decentralization: Cases and Lessons: Decentralization: Cases and Lessons Cases: Surat After the Plague, 1994-2005. Decentralizing Teacher Management in MP. Lessons: Decentralization in Surat freed the municipal commissioner to focus on policy issues and empowered zonal commissioners, on the ground, to deal with a fast-changing situation. Decentralizing teacher control to PRIs in MP lowered teacher absenteeism and reinforced accountability. Use of para-teachers made it possible to extend a decentralized model of teacher management in MP that boosted school enrollment in a fiscally-constrained setting. Strengthening Provider Autonomy: Strengthening Provider Autonomy Case: Rogi Kalyan Samitis in MP. Hospitals set up as RKS societies with autonomy to charge user fees and deploy them for purchase of equipment and maintenance. RKS societies representative of local society. Results: Productivity of salary expenditures improved Doctor enthusiasm increased with better equipment Patient satisfaction ratings increased significantly. Building Political Support for Program Delivery: Building Political Support for Program Delivery Comparing HD Outcomes in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Both States possess similar human development outcomes in 1981; By 2001, Tamil Nadu had jumped to third place while Karnataka remained in seventh place, despite similar rates of economic growth. Gap is now narrowing, but the question remains why TN was a superior performer in the 1980’s and 1990’s on the whole. Key difference is the role of the Tamil Nadu government in fashioning a set of public policies and interventions to boost human development beyond what might have been expected by growth alone. Welfarism and Politics in Tamil Nadu: Welfarism and Politics in Tamil Nadu DMK and AIDMK share similar ideology rooted in the thought of ‘Periyar’ E.V. Ramaswamy. Food crisis in the late 1960’s led to the end of the Congress hegemony in Tamil Nadu: Both DMK and AIDMK learned early on the importance of social programs for electoral success. Both parties engage in one-upmanship to extend social programs, including the adoption of a universal PDS system, a midday meal scheme in 1982, effective family planning and nutritional interventions. Political Support Spurred Tamil Nadu’s Civil Service into Action: Political Support Spurred Tamil Nadu’s Civil Service into Action Programs effectively implemented by Tamil Nadu’s civil service. Collector in TN a senior officer unlike many states; TN also have no divisional commissioner system to dilute the collectors’ power; and Secretaries possess tradition of autonomy in implementation in the state. Karnataka lacked an entrenched welfarist ideology to push social programs: Mid-day meal scheme in the state, for example, not launched until 2002; northern Karnataka remains behind the rest of the state. Tamil Nadu’s PDS: Tamil Nadu’s PDS PDS in Tamil Nadu rated as best in the country in terms of usage, quality and access. Strong administrative monitoring; involvement of consumer cooperatives and SHG’s; access to information; extensive network of godowns; electronic weighing, and political support for universal access to cheap rice key reasons. Low diversion rate given extremely low prices for rice indicate efficiency of system But annual cost high Rs. 1,500 crore annually. Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms: Cases: Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms: Cases Reducing Frequent Transfers in Karnataka. Report Cards in Bangalore, 1994-2004. Right to Information: Rajasthan and Delhi. Strengthening Anti-Corruption Institutions The Central Vigilance Commission The Karnataka Lok Ayukta Public Interest Litigation and the Courts. Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms: Premature Transfers: Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms: Premature Transfers Karnataka reduced premature transfers through quantitative caps, computerized counseling in education, and public reporting of transfer numbers. New approaches might involve the creation of statutory civil services boards to restrict transfers, legal minimum tenures, and a stability index to track transfers. Aggregate Transfers, Karnataka, 2000-05: Aggregate Transfers, Karnataka, 2000-05 Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms: Report Cards: Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms: Report Cards Report cards prod agency heads into action, and mobilize public pressure for change. Karnataka’s Lok Ayukta: Focus on Service Delivery: Karnataka’s Lok Ayukta: Focus on Service Delivery Investigates corruption/maladministration; budget U.S.$1.6 million; five hundred officers; activist judge appointed in 2001 Investigations: Drug adulteration Public hospitals (absenteeism, exploitation) Transport and registration departments. Corruption in municipal government Volume of complaints triple in one year. Wide publicity may be the best way to check corruption when courts don’t work. Lok Ayukta In Action: Lok Ayukta In Action Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms: Other Lessons: Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms: Other Lessons Access to information laws work best when appeals processes are simple and pressure from below encourage their use. The role of the Courts in improving delivery has been positive Need to guard against risk of supplanting administrative initiatives to reform services. Tactics of Reform: Tactics of Reform Justifying reform by invoking past traditions Dealing with employees (e.g. accommodating potential spoilers, guaranteeing no job losses upfront, improving working conditions). Activating constituencies that gain from reform against opponents of the process Sequencing is critical for Success All reforms were incremental in nature; the big bang approach in the rare cases where it was tried did not deliver results. Vested interests were overcome in many cases. Sustaining Reforms: Sustaining Reforms Popular reforms usually survived political transitions. Bipartisan consensus helped sustainability. Grounding reforms in law made them harder to reverse. Sound revenue models facilitated sustainability. Transplanting Reforms: Transplanting Reforms Not a mechanical process; reforms are often highly context-bound. Competition between agencies, cities, and states help spread of ideas/innovations. NGO networks facilitate transmission of knowledge about good practices. GoI can play an important role in facilitating cross-state/agency interactions; establishing an overarching monitoring system; and structuring incentives for reform.