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India’s govt performance guru delivers key speech

It is nine months since the Government of India announced a plan to overhaul the way it measures how well it is serving the public. The man behind that plan is Dr Prajapati Trivedi, a former economist at the World Bank and now the Indian government’s Chief Performance Officer, who will reveal how India is living up to its performance pledge in a speech at the FutureGov Forum India in New Delhi next month (April 7-8th 2010).

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The President of India, Pratibha Devisingh Patil, said in June last year that the Indian government would be “Establishing mechanisms for performance monitoring and performance evaluation in government on a regular basis,” and that a Performance Monitoring and Evaluation System for Government ministries and departments would be implemented in September 2009. Trivedi was chosen as the man to monitor the performance of all government departments, ending a 14-year stint at the World Bank in Washington DC where he was a Senior Economist.

The task ahead of him is as daunting as it is complex. Trivedi is responsible for improving the Indian government’s IT systems so that information on any given department can be delivered in a timely fashion and in a useable format. “Having information is not enough,” he said in a recent interview. “We must know how to use it to evaluate performance.”

Trivedi’s top priority is to improve the Indian government’s performance evaluation system. “Even if we have a good performance information system and performance evaluation system, we cannot hope to make a significant difference in government performance until we also strengthen performance incentive systems.” He added that the key to improving information flow is “to first know what you are looking for.”

A new performance measurement system, brought in at the end of last year after a study of performance management in governments elsewhere, will see each department prepare a results-framework document (RFD) containing its objectives and priorities for the financial year. At the end of the year, all departments will prepare a report listing their accomplishments against pre-set targets. The results will be posted on the respective web sites of departments and ministries.

The new performance measurement system replaces an older “flawed” version, Trivedi said. “In the past when we evaluated a department, it was more from financial point of view. Spending the budgeted amount was considered a good performance. And if a department achieved, say, 14 out of 17 targets, it was considered to have done well. But it was possible that the three targets that were not achieved were the important ones. Now these targets are weighted, and we are focusing on the outcomes and the quality of services.”

The Chief Performance Officer job marks Trivedi’s second stint in government. Between 1992 and 1994 he was Economic Advisor to the Government of India. Before then, the Harvard graduate with a a PhD from Boston University, was Chair Professor of Public Sector Management and Director of the Centre for Public Enterprise Management at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC) between 1987 and 1992.

Trivedi will join government officials from India and overseas at the FutureGov Forum in New Delhi in April. The conference will see public sector ICT leaders discuss the technology, systems and the processes that must be embraced for agencies to drive organisational efficiency, enhance customer engagement and improve accountability and transparency.

The speaker line-up includes:

  • R. Chandrashekhar (Secretary IT, Ministry of Communications and Technology, INDIA)
  • D. Purandeswari (Minister of State, HRD - Higher education. INDIA)
  • Hardik Bhatt (Chief Information Officer, City of Chicago, USA)
  • Tim Diaz de Rivera (Commissioner, Commission on ICT, THE PHILIPPINES)
  • Prof Dr Toshio Obi (Director – Institute, e-Government, Waseda University, JAPAN),
  • and many more

    Registration for the FutureGov Forum India is open to all public sector officials, and 50 VIP guest passes have been reserved for senior government officials. Those in the position of Secretary, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary, Director General or Head/Director of IT can apply for this ticket, which grants entry free of charge. Register here: FutureGov Forum India – event website

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