Administrative reforms have been a hot topic among the major countries across the world in modern history. Bureaucracy is an essential organ of the government which acts as a wise third wheel between the rulers/kings/ministers and the people.
- Being the jack of all trades, bureaucrats are powerful, witty and cunning
- Usually more qualified and knowledgeable than the politicians, they tend to con them with technicalities
So, it’s a no-brainer to guess how significant it is to assess the performance of these government servants, and their governance quality in a diligent and critical manner. With respect to change in the nature of polity, governance, and international equations, it has become difficult but essential to make reforms to the administration.
Important facets of administrative reforms across the world are discussed below:
It refers to the US federal government’s implementation of the concepts of reinventing government, patronage, the power to control appointments to office or the right to privileges.
- It was set up by President Clinton in 1993
- It was launched with a change in the orientation of Administration between the Congress and the president and among various other government agencies
- The second phase dealt with consultation privatization and termination programs and also addressed various concerns regarding the scope size and intrusiveness of federal operations
- However it has been criticized for being inclined towards output rather than the outcome
New Public Management (NPM)
It seeks to build an administration by implementing flexibility, transparency, minimum government, de-bureaucratisation, decentralization, the market orientation of public services, and privatization.
- The idea here is to propagate productive business practices and values
- Empowerment of entrepreneurs is the key to create a healthy and profitable privatized government
- In the context of India, many private players have competed successfully in the last few decades especially in the sector of telecom, banking, manufacturing and courier services
- With the advent of advanced technology and effective management principles like inventory management, some sectors have improved even without direct competition
- The NPM highlighted issues such as performance measurement, pay-for performance, participatory decision-making processes and flexible organizational culture
- It emphasizes market efficiency in the public sector
- However, it has not catered to the diverse and conflicting citizen needs. It also has not been affirmative to the idea of inclusivity and the development of the poor
Compulsory Competitive Tendering
It’s a reform that allows the government to let the private entities handle a lot of public tenders.
- It was introduced in the 1980s in the UK
- It dealt with the procurement of services through competitive bidding
- It was at first tested on a narrow sample size but later on it was implemented widely
- Criticism is that it failed to deliver genuine competition. The costs associated with monitoring contract compliance was higher because contracting parties’ relationships started turning into short term and low trust relationships
- It was often seen that the authorities would try to manipulate the process with bad faith which led to corruption
- After being tried again and again in various variants, it was finally withdrawn
Best Value Regime
This mechanism is about ensuring that there is good governance and effective management of resources, with a focus on improvement, to deliver the best possible outcomes for the public.
- It makes sure that the delivery of the services would be on the same page with that of the needs of the citizens, and not the convenience of the service providers
- It was designed to promote the involvement of users in various local services including social care, housing management and education
- This forced the government agencies and officials to interact with the public and invite them to become a part of the governance
- As a matter of fact, Britain’s local government Act 1999 requires the authorities to consult the service users and the taxpayers for significant policy formulation, thereby making the public, the stakeholders of the administration
- However, in reality, the consultation mechanism is more of a drama. The prejudiced government officials would talk to the public only for the sake of this policy without any genuine intention
- Another issue has been the consultation fatigue among the local people. But this can easily be addressed by proper mechanisms
Alternative Service Delivery (ASD)
It refers to the identification, development and adoption by public departments and agencies of means of delivering public services other than through traditional, hierarchical bureaucracy. It’s directed towards a stronger service dispatch system. It’s also meant to make the stakeholders more competitive.
- Incepted in Canada, it refers to the varied organisational form and delivery mechanisms the government uses to achieve their objectives
- It is a platform for developing relationships between the public, private and various other sectors
- It shows the reality that governance is an untidy business and hence, today’s public service must be consultative outcome-focused, cost-effective and proactive in supporting innovation in supporting innovation in a bottom-to-top approach
- Unbundling of bureaucracy through ASD is an innovative response to the public’s insistence on improved service and law resources pressures
- The idea here, is to provide the younger generation with a new zeal and a spirited platform so that there could be renewed emphasis on innovative means to deliver important and sensitive government services
Administrative reforms are essential in a sustainable and proactive democracy. It has been necessitated across the world so as to cater to:
- Change in the role of governance
- Altering environment
- Skyrocketing aspirations of the people
- Improving the efficiency of all the stakeholders.
It will always be an important tool for good governance.