Data-based management on the horizon

by NDO30 January 2023 Last updated at 18:00 PM - To boost administrative reforms and make it more favourable in socio-economic management of the country, the government will soon promulgate its first-of-the-type indicator framework currently under discussion.

The government will gradually shift from its existing traditional management to data-based management of socioeconomic development activities

Ngo Hai Phan, director of the Administrative Procedures Control Department under the Government office, stressed that management and administration based on real-time data has become an inevitable trend now.

“Vietnam cannot stay out of this trend to help leaders at all levels in direction and administration,” Phan said at a recent consultation workshop in Hanoi on development of an indicator framework to support the guidance and management by government agencies.

In Resolution No.01/NQ-CP dated January 6, 2023 on the key tasks and solutions for the implementation of socioeconomic development plan and state budget estimates, as well as measures to improve the business environment and enhance the national competitiveness, the government underlined the urgent need to boost administrative reforms in favour of businesses and investors, and state management bodies as well – including the establishment of an indicator framework in service of the direction and administration of government agencies.

At present, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) is collecting and analysing all feedback, ideas, and comment from all relevant stakeholders, including the government, ministries, agencies, and localities, for a draft of such an indicator framework.

The hundreds of indicators, which now remains under discussion, involves GDP; major balances of the economy such as accumulation, consumption, balance of international payments, state budget, import and export of goods; labour productivity, total factor productivity; investment, construction; enterprises, cooperatives; agriculture, forestry and fisheries; industry and construction; trade and services; and price index. The main social indicators of the whole country include population, labour; education; science and technology; health; population living standards.

“The formulation of the indicator framework would need big brainstorming and efforts of the MPI, and the coordination of ministries, sectors, and localities. Such indicators are of great importance as they are the foundation for the government and the prime minister to manage the economy, sectors, and localities,” said Le Tuan Anh, deputy director of the Department of General Affairs under the MPI’s General Statistics Office (GSO) which is in charge of formulating the framework whose type can be found in many nations, especially advanced ones.

A big need

At present, there are no unified and comprehensive set of indicators and assessments for government agencies and the prime minister to study and decide on goals for the 5-year and annual socioeconomic plans of the whole country, key economic regions, and localities.

“This has caused great difficulties for leaders, managers, and policymakers in follow, supervise, assess, manage, and monitor socioeconomic development situations,” Anh said. “Besides that, many qualitative goals need to be studied and quantified with specific norms in order to make it more favourable to follow, supervise, and assess results of the implementation of resolutions and plans on annual and 5-year development.”

“The selection of statistics norms to ensure effective comparison between periods of time and among localities nationwide, and the unified use of data and information sources are needed more than ever. It has become quite imperative now and needs to be solved as soon as possible,” Anh stressed.

Aware of the fact that designing such an indicator framework is quite a new and complicated, the MPI has submitted a detailed document on the indicators with many types of contents needed to be clarified.

Specifically in addition to the content on the necessity and reasons for the formulation of the indicator framework, other contents have also been mentioned, such as principles for making the framework, appendices, and its outline, as well as the number of norms used for the national statistics norm system, and the same systems for ministries, sectors, and localities.

At present, the number of indicators needed remain unfixed.

According to the MPI, in order to ensure the comprehensiveness of the assessment framework, the MPI has relied on goals and norms carved in many important documents such as the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress (covering 22 norms for the 2021-2025 period); the resolutions of provincial Party Congress for the 2020-2025 period (consisting 20-25 norms on average); the nation’s Socioeconomic Development Plan for the 2021-2025 period (embracing 23 norms); the country’s annual socioeconomic development plans which would depend on each year (covering 15 norms), and the government’s Resolution No.99/NQ-CP dated August 2021 promulgating the government’s action programme for the 2021-2026 tenure to implement the National Assembly’s Resolution on the 2021-2025 5-year Socioeconomic Development Plan. Resolution 99 embraces 65 norms for two appendices.

At present, ministries and sectors have also been building many sets of their own indicators to evaluate performance results or some areas of content that they are interested in.

For example, some are using the Administrative Reform Index (PAR-Index), which evaluates the annual performance of PAR in ministries and provinces.

Meanwhile, the Satisfaction Index on Public Administrative Services (SIPAS) measures the satisfaction of people and organisations with the services offered by state administrative agencies in order to assess the quality of public administrative service provision of state administrative agencies.

In addition, the Digital Transformation Index (DTI) tracks the annual digital transformation results of ministries and provinces.

The Business Regulatory Reform Effort Assessment Index aims to assess, classify, and rank business regulation reform efforts and promote business regulation reform activities of ministries and agencies.

Except for the indicator framework to evaluate the efforts to reform business regulations, which are being implemented online, the rest of the other sets of indicators are by nature aimed to assess the annual performance of ministries, agencies, and localities, not the indicators for direction and operation.

“Therefore, this is a chasm that needs more investigation, discussion, and analysis,” said Anh of the GSO.

Lam Dinh Thang, director of Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Information and Communications, said that the city has been applying high technology to assessing the city’s socioeconomic performance.

“By late 2022, the city has begun to operate an online governance platform for its People’s Committee. The platform which serves the committee’s management and direction is now in its first phase,” Thang said. “This phase includes four systems used for following socioeconomic norms; supervising the settlement of public complaints and proposals; overseeing the settlement of administrative procedures and the provision of public services for people; and supervising the implementation of the directions of the People’s Committee.”

For example, the system of overseeing the settlement of administrative procedures and the provision of public services for people will connect all data resulting from the processing process in handling administrative procedures, providing public services from departments and localities throughout the city. It will automatically collect information and make accurate evaluations to help leaders of the city, districts, and sectors in the city to monitor the overall situation of solving and providing public services for people and businesses.

“At the same time, this system also helps to monitor the satisfaction of the people, so that authorised agencies can timely direct, adjust, and overcome the shortcomings, thereby improving the service quality for the people,” Thang said.


Underlining the imperative need for a unified indicator framework for government agencies and the prime minister to monitor socioeconomic development, Professor Nguyen Quang Thai, chairman of the Vietnam Economic Association, also commented that the agencies and leaders must gradually shift from traditional direction such as phone calls or sending paper-based dispatches – which is time-consuming - to data-based direction and management which is timely and more effective.

“Having accurate, timely, and reliable information from reality is fundamental to ensuring the appropriateness, effectiveness, and efficiency of the policies,” Thai said. “A bottom-up tracking, monitoring and reporting system that is automatically linked through the IT system will increase accountability of individuals and operating agencies, avoiding the tendency to take reasons for avoiding responsibility. Traditional methods of direction and management currently do not respond promptly to reality, and it would need faster and more sensitive and accurate information.”

He suggested that a unified indicator framework and an operating information system must be built up to serve the direction and administration of state agencies and leaders.

“This is an unprecedented product, so it is necessary to develop a new system. The active and proactive participation of all the stakeholders and parties is a decisive factor in the usefulness and feasibility of the governing information framework,” Thai noted. “This framework needs to be periodic, with the frequency of data and information collection based on a less-than-one-month, monthly, quarterly, six-month, and annual basis.”

He also noted that the shared operating indicators for ministries and localities can only be developed when a “common denominator” is found in this work among ministries.

“Because the ministries all have their own functions and tasks with specific characteristics of sector management, it is not easy to determine this common denominators,” Thai said. “In that case, only a general framework for ministerial-level governance indicators can be developed, which clearly outlines the overall principles, processes, and methodology for selecting, collecting, reporting, and using reports on indicators. Depending on the specific functions and tasks, each ministry will select its own indicators.”


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