Head of Special Monitoring Unit, Chief Minister’s Office, Punjab, Pakistan
I have spent the last year setting up the Speecial Monitoring Unit (SMU) in Punjab, Pakistan. The main objective was to create a central coordinating and problem solving body to ensure the government of Punjab achieves its goals for the citizens.
Today, SMU is working as a government delivery unit for the chief minister, where the use of Sir Michael Barber’s delivery approach is central to bringing change. We monitor and assure delivery of the chief minister’s top priorities by providing technical assistance and any external help needed by the departments. In the process, the unit acts as a central repository and engine room of data which drives analysis, performance monitoring and visualisation of all roadmaps and implementation plans.
We use stocktakes with the chief minister to drive delivery and with the current leadership in place it has proved to be a highly effective way to achieve fast results. In just over a year, we have started to see tangible results in primary and secondary health care, for example. Three more roadmaps on water, sanitation and tax reforms are about to be launched and we are making great progress on introducing public private partnerships in health and education. To make this progress, developing an organisational ethos of leadership, professional development and mentoring has been essential. With this culture in place we have now started to attract top foreign and local graduates to contribute to Government of Punjab.
The delivery unit in Punjab is now a reality and is well accepted by top officials as a unit which brings to the table thought leadership, pragmatism and a culture of success. Building the right relationships in the government has been extremely important and achieving tangible results has further strengthened these ties. This top down approach to bringing change works but now I am even more focused on ensuring that the changes we are introducing are irreversible. For this, instilling this culture of delivery into the line management is extremely important.
To do this I have engaged officials for a capacity building exercise where we will go through major principles of “deliverology” and as we build implementation plans, capacity constraints and required skills will be identified. To bridge these gaps, on-job trainings on delivery and short courses on building core skills will be introduced for officials who would be part of the capacity building program. This new kind of “guiding coalition” will potentially give birth to delivery officials and leaders who shall continue to drive change for years to come, so that people of Punjab can benefit.
Deputy Assistant Director for Management, Office of Management and Budget, USA
For me, government delivery comes down to finding a way to develop a performance framework which helps incentivise leaders to spend time focusing on results or implementation amidst the challenges that come up during the course of their daily activities. Ensuring that leaders have some time to focus on implementation at the leadership level – regardless of issues like the latest media story or legislative crisis – has been one of the most important aspects that we have tried to build into our system.
This framework needs to be helpful to leaders but also helpful to the organisation they oversee. It should create a clear alignment from the top all the way down to frontline delivery on what we are trying to achieve, and unblocking the barriers that prevent us from making a difference to people’s lives.
When ministers have less time to focus on delivery, it underlines the importance of getting these systems built up and entrenched into the organisation, making sure that they are useful, and genuinely helping staff to work through delivery challenges systematically – wherever they may be. There is never going to be a simple rule or answer that is going to solve this, but if the organisational culture is such that you can talk about problems or what’s not going well openly and transparently then delivery will move forward. Similarly, it’s also important to search for successes that help identify what is working – the best organisations do this very well. It’s our job at the Office of Management and Budget to help more organisations adopt this approach.
A good example is the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They had a very clear focus on achieving measurable goals which would make a real difference to the lives of those people, like homeless veterans and others, who need housing assistance. They built partnerships with other agencies that were critical in actually bringing about frontline delivery.