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China sets yardsticks on gov't performance
Updated: 2004-08-02 15:55

What else besides GDP is able to examine local governments? An evaluation system on government performance emerged recently. Will there be rankings of local cities just like those on universities?

"We expect that, " said Sang Zhulai, director of the subject group for "Research on China's Government Performance Evaluation". Sources say, there will be 33 indexes in the set of evaluation system.

Originally initiated by the Ministry of Personnel, the subject involves the science institute under the ministry, scholars and local governments.

Is a busy government a good government?

As Sang said, a busy government is not necessarily a good government, because it may not be addressing the most urgent problems troubling the masses of the people.

Many governments complain that they are busying themselves in all kinds of documents, administrative measures, rules and regulations, and the staff are dedicated and hard-working. However, people do not appreciate that. Essentially a government is not to control but to provide service, and its performance should be evaluated through whether the public is satisfied.

In other words, the evaluation should depend on to what extent the work by the government meets the need of the society, enterprises and people.

The "principle of satisfaction", supposed to be the final system for governmental performance appraisal, includes: economic evaluation, which requires the government to establish awareness of cost, save expenditure, spend less on doing more; efficiency examination is the ratio of the government's input to the output; effectiveness evaluation is concerned about the quality of organization and the final effect on the society, and more importantly, effectiveness should be represented through people being satisfied and the social and economic development; equality focuses on whether the collectives and individuals receiving services are treated equally and whether the minority group are receiving more services.

Why 33 indexes?

Sang said that presently quite a few China's governments have drafted such indexes, which include annual economic indexes, performance of duty, clean governing and efficiency.

But experts see some defects in those items. First, many governments put on GDP and absorbing investment as priority, but, as the reform in administrative approval system is pushed, it is not appropriate to evaluate governmental performance with the indexes indicating economic growth.

Moreover, there are too many internal evaluations. For example, those required by the superior, abiding by the internal rules and regulations. Experts hold that these indexes belong to internal management, and are not open enough, so they are not conducive to public monitoring and evaluation by people.

The item of impact is to measure the effects, impact and contribution by government management on the entire society. The item of potential represents the level of internal management in the government.

Scholars also suggest establish citizen appraisal committee composed of municipal citizens.

Before evaluation, make it clear what the government should do.

Sang said that we should clarify what the government should do before the appraisal.

For quite a few local governments and governmental departments, the central work is not necessarily their duty. For example, many localities set forcibly promote some economic crops and set strict evaluation related to that, even one-vote veto. The result would be that all the governmental departments take promoting the economic crop as an important index.

Obviously such acts go beyond what a government's position, Sang said. It would distort the evaluation on government as well as hinder the functional transformation if the governments do evaluation in such a capacity.

Two extremes should be avoided: first, disconnection between performance evaluation from cadre employment, internal encouragement and distribution of resources; second, rashness in applying the evaluation results and promote one-vote veto regardless of the circumstance.

Experience of international public administration tells that resistant sentiment from the people concerned may be aroused, and false numbers may be exasperated if we take the result of the evaluation only for award and punishment or even put up rankings recklessly.

Government Performance Primary Indexes Secondary Indexes Tertiary Indexes
Effect Economy GDP per capita
Labor productivity
Ratio of external investment to GDP
Society Average life expectancy
Engel's Coefficient
Average education received
Population and Environment Environment and ecology
Proportion of non-rural population
Natural growth rate of population
Function Economic Adjustment GDP growth rate
Urban registered unemployment rate
Fiscal revenue and expenditure
Market Monitoring Perfection of laws
Law enforcing
EnterprisesĄ¯ satisfaction degree
Social Management Ratio of the poor to the aggregate population
Incidence rate of criminals
Death rate in production and traffic
Public service Infrastructure
Openness of information
Public satisfaction
State-asset Management Rate of value added and guaranteed in State-owned enterprises
Ratio of other State assets to GDP
Growth rate of profits realized by State-owned enterprises
Potential Human Resources Proportion of administrative staff members with bachelorĄ¯s degrees
Leadership team-building
Strategic planning on human resources
Clean Government Ratio of corruption cases to administrative staff
Working style of cadres
Appraisal by citizens
Administrative Efficiency Ratio of administrative fund to fiscal expenditure
Ratio of administrative staff to aggregate population
Level of information management

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