Another NRI(Dr. Prajapati Trivedi ) working for great cause....

The Mission: Secretary, performance management. To set up a transparent and objective performance appraisal system for the various ministries.

The Difference He Makes: He comes with rich experience. His World Bank stint took him to places as diverse as Kenya, Riyadh and Gaza--he has worked with 26 governments across the world. That gives him the ability to tap into some of the best practices in different parts of the world.

Key Insight: “At the end of the entire exercise, we can name and shame, say the top 10 ministries and bottom 10 ministries, unleashing a competitive zeal inside the government. ”

After doing everything else, this was the ideal job. The job was so compelling. I got this opportunity to close the implementation gap in the government. With my World Bank experience and my global networks, I also had this ability to tap into some of the best practices in different parts of the world. It’s well established that the big difference between the developed country and developing ones is not so much about strategising and planning but implementation. I had been writing a lot to the Indian government, made proposals wanting to work here. I was helping other governments and I wanted to do it for India.

On January 2, 2009, I got a call from the cabinet secretary if I would like to join. A reluctant World Bank was advising me to wait for the elections to get over before taking the plunge. I told them I shouldn’t be thinking about election results if I was serious about what I wanted to do. I was coming here for the country, not for the government and that’s the reason why my post was made a bureaucratic assignment.

So who vets the performance against targets at the end of the year? Instead of government doing it, we have formed an independent, non-government task force of 15-20 people as knowledge partners. They are a set of IIM professors, ex-secretaries. The key to success was having a large competent and independent group of experts. They went through training.

What am I doing?

For the first time, the government department will have an elaborate procedure for setting priorities, defining performance and deliverables and then each of them will be judged according to how they perform by an independent committee comprising IIM professors and ex-bureaucrats. It has begun with the ministries but soon it will trickle down to cover bureaucrats as well.

The first stage of this system is to prepare a Results Framework document (RFD). The 12-page document provides a summary of the most important results that a department/ministry is expected to achieve during the financial year. This document has two main purposes: Move the focus of the department from process orientation to results orientation and provide an objective and fair basis to evaluate the department’s overall performance.

The document is prepared with internal consultations within specific ministries, aligned with government’s annual and five-yearly plans and is vetted and approved by a high power committee on government performance led by the cabinet secretary. Once it gets finalised [it] becomes a contract document against which each ministry and department’s performance will be judged at the end of the year.

The performance results [will be] put on the ministry Web site.

What’s the big deal? This is the first time priorities will be made clear with corresponding weightages. Everything has a timeline with rewards for timely submissions built into the system.

All of it will be done electronically so that the government has access to the progress report virtually on a daily basis. If it is not uploaded, we presume it’s not done. And at the end of the entire exercise, we can name and shame, say the top 10 ministries and bottom 10 ministries, unleashing a competitive zeal inside the government. Appraisal is a new system and will take a couple of years to stabilise. The biggest motivation will come from naming and shaming.

The Progress so far

The RFD for the three months, January-March 2010, has just been released. There will be new documents for the next financial year in April. We are doing all we can to help. We have already done 13 workshops for up to 500 bureaucrats to help them prepare RFD documents. Arun Maira will conduct a one-day work shop in early February to help senior bureaucrats learn how to set strategy. To let all of them know that the PM was dead serious about all this, the cabinet secretary had earlier called a meeting of all secretaries on the results framework documents and interacted with them in batches of 15.

Working here has been very exciting. I infused a bit of competitive zeal by ranking various ministries on the points they got in RFD submission and circulating it. Such was the competitive zeal that all 59 documents were submitted more or less on time. To my mind the debate between private and public efficiency is not so much about the ownership as much as about competition. You unleash the power of competition and see how it works.

I tried something similar with our software needs. We needed an e-office software that will allow government to keep all papers in electronic format. I reached out to TCS. But realising that it might create problems within, we went to NIC [National Information Centre] and told them “My heart is with you but we need this quickly. Will you be able to deliver on time else we will be forced to go to TCS.” They took on the competitive spirit and delivered within the deadline. Government has plenty of resources. Just that one should know how to tap it.

What Next?

In the past, the 4th, 5th, 6th Pay Commissions recommended adjusting salaries to market realities, but [they] also recommended performance-related incentives. But government was not able to implement.

Now on February 5, a committee of secretaries is meeting to discuss how to link up performance with pay. It is just a matter of working out the details. When done, up to 40 percent of the basic salary could be linked to performance. Then appraisal will not only have reputational implications but also financial.

Promotions, especially from joint secretary to the additional secretary level, will become more rigorous. We have been meeting some of the best companies and trying to understand how the private sector does it.

You will soon find a citizen’s charter for each government ministry. Basically it will outline what is it that a citizen walking into the department can expect. Clear targets and timelines will be spelt out so that the expectations are set. Each department will also have a world class complaint redressal system. They all should get ISO 15700, which is a certification for the government department. We are calling it Sarvottam.

How do I manage? You have to keep your ego aside. I literally went to all secretaries, met them, enquired what they did. It helped. People are waiting for someone to break the ice. They are willing to help, give me tips on what to do and how to do. My networks help a lot. At least four secretaries are my class fellows from St. Stephens days. Six were with me at the Boston University. Then some were my students.

I am excited........

Now History :

The depth of his C.V inspires awe and admiration. Since completing his B.A (Honors) in Economics from the respected St. Stephen's College in Delhi, Dr. Prajapati Trivedi, Senior Economist at the World Bank and Economic Advisor to the Ministry of Economy and Planning, Saudi Arabia, has gone from strength to strength and is today one of the most qualified and high-ranking Indian origin expat in the Kingdom.

After completing his B.A (Honors), Dr. Trivedi went on to the London School of Economics, where he completed his M.Sc. (Economics), specializing in the Theory of Investment and Planning, in 1974. He was soon back in Delhi, where in 1977 he got a PG Diploma in the Law of International Institutions, Indian Academy for International Law and Diplomacy, Delhi University. He later got another M.A, this time in Development Economics, from Boston University in 1983 and went on to do his PhD from the same institution in 1985, specializing in : Economics and Management of Public Enterprises, Public Finance, Economic Development. Dissertation Topic: Comparative Performance Evaluation and Explanation of Public and Private Enterprise Behavior (Issues, Methodology and the Case of the Indian Cement Industry).

Born on Aug. 9th, 1953, Dr. Trivedi is married, with two children.

Dr. Trivedi, a senior economist at the World Bank, is on secondment as an Economic Advisor to the Ministry of Economy and Planning in the Kingdom. He is responsible for public policy advice on a wide range of development issues and also for the development of the national long-term strategy of the Kingdom. He was the author of the key paper on public sector efficiency in the Vision Symposium organized jointly by the World Bank and the Ministry of Economy and Planning. He has led the work on public sector reform issues within the Ministry, too.

Asked about India's privatization program, Dr. Trivedi told, "If one looks at it objectively, one has to admit that it is moving at a disappointing rate. We have to simply look at the promises made during each budget exercise and the results obtained. Since the Department of Disinvestment was set up in 1999, promises to privatize Rs. 57200 crores have been made by the Government of India. Unfortunately, against this target, the total sale thus far has been only Rs. 13643 crores. This is a mere 24 percent of the target. In the private sector managers would be fired for such poor performance."

He further noted, "It is ironic that the government's performance on this front was in fact better before the Department of Disinvestment was created in 1999. Since the new economic policy was announced by Dr. Manmohan Singh in 1991 (and went on till 1999), promises worth Rs. 34300 crores were made by the government. It sold stakes worth Rs. 11858 crores over the same time period. This makes an achievement level of 35 percent of the target. Not a record to be proud of, but a great deal better than that of the current officials."

Asked about the biggest concerns for our nation in the 21st century, Dr. Trivedi (like most Indians) reserved his ire for the politicians: "I am worried that ordinary citizens are fed up with politicians. They have tried all political parties and found them wanting. Unless things shape up, I foresee a movement for the change of our system. We will always be a democracy but the form will probably change. A poor country like India can not afford the luxury of frequent changes in government. The only goal of these governments is to stay in power by hook or by crook. Can you imagine a jumbo cabinet of 98 extremely unqualified ministers hoisted on the people of UP so that an unstable political coalition can stay in power? How long can people tolerate this?" he wondered.

He added that to him, the political instability appeared to be at the root of all evils in India. "One can find this is linked to corruption, mismanagement of the economy, and divisive politics by extremist elements in our society," he said.

When Yahind asked him about his view on the President's call for India to become a developed nation by 2020, Dr. Tridedi noted, "Before I answer this question, let me say that I wish he was an executive president and not a ceremonial president. I have extremely high regards for him. I have read his book called Vision 2020 and I am also familiar with his ideas. I salute him for inspiring the nation to meet this challenge. But, unfortunately, our politicians have made a mockery of this by jumping on the bandwagon and repeating it frequently as a slogan. I am afraid they are making it fall to the same category as the Garibi Hatao slogan by Mrs. Gandhi. In spite of the slogan, the poverty in India has increased since Mrs. Gandhi's time."

He added, "My constructive suggestion would be to take the key policy makers on a study tour of Malaysia. Because Malaysia is the only developing country that I know that declared that it wants to be a developed country by 2020 and is on track to becoming one. Dr. Mahathir can teach our politicians a lesson or two. Fortunately, I have studied the case of Malaysia very closely and thus I can speak with some degree of confidence. The ability to implement policies successfully was the key to Malaysia's success. The Malaysian premier realized that good ideas do not implement themselves. They need an efficient administrative machinery to do so. He created a results-oriented civil service through bold civil service reforms. Then he promoted public-partnership in an unprecedented manner. Malaysia realized that for an effective public-private partnership, it is important for the two partners to be equally strong. A strong private sector and a weak public sector can only have an unstable partnership at best. It is like having a chair with one leg larger than the other." Any politician or bureaucrat listening?


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