In developing countries, administrative reforms became big problems and challenges for political leaders. Democratic forces criticized the tyranny of "the developing State". Furthermore, the international aid organizations asked the developing countries to modernize the administration of the country to use development aid effectively. An interesting fact is that the measures taken to implement the "good governance” imply the ideas of New Public Management such as "accountability" or "decentralization". These measures were adopted by the government and became less east in implementation, even for developed countries. One obvious fact is that the New Public Management, at a certain level, made the governance reforms in developed countries and developing more effective. However, it will be difficult, or sometimes becomes, meaningless in some countries to adopt the measures under New Public Management without taking into account the political environment. In Asian– Pacific countries, for better successful implementation of the New Public Management they should promote the exchange of management information through various channels.
2. The theoretical diversity of New Public Management
New Public Management is not a new established theory but seems to be one kind of "food" mixing ideas about government reforms. It can be divided into two different categories:
- The first approach is the desire to change the government structure from the centralized hierarchical, bureaucratic administrative model into small sized, compact, better decentralized and customer-oriented agencies. The reforms prescription include: market-testing, contracting-out, separating policy-making bodies from policy executive organizations, customer-based and citizen-based evaluation of executive agencies, etc... These tools are developed on the base of the theory of neo classical economic and "new institutional economics". These theorists believe that everyone can limit the waste of government apparatus by letting these agencies to participate into competition with the private sector, or almost involved in the market.
- The second approach involves changing the organization of the public sector. It challenges the capacity of the traditional public administration theory following Weber’s model. This approach stems from the enterprise management innovation emerged since 1980. Many of the best-selling books laid a strong impact on the public managers; they expected to apply the successful business experiences onto state organizations. The two famous works "Breaking through bureaucracy" by Barzelay (1992) and "Reinventing Government" by Osborne and Gaebler (1992) are those books vastly influencing both Federal and state administrative managers in the United States. Also the reform measures included Total Quality Management which splitting the organization, evaluation program, perfomance-based remuneration, goal-oriented management, etc...
To sum up, the new public management includes a plentiful of approaches ranging structural reforms to the improvemennt of budgetting and financing system innovation. Therefore, the new public management became a catchy word for many of the world political leaders. However, we should keep in mind that the new public management neither a first-aid kit nor a "magic sword" for government reform effectively. New Public Management covers a lot of different even conflicting values. When we attempt to adopt certain measures of new public managment, we should distinguish which is adoptable and valuable to our government and vice versa.
3. New Public Management in Japan
Japan has traditionally been a "strong state" from the Meiji period (19th century). Although Japan changed its political regime from an old-style into a democracy after World War II, but the bureaucratic apparatus remains strong and contribute to the national economic recovery. In the 1970s, the United States and European countries criticized that the Japanese marker to be unfair and close to the capitalists outside. In 1981, the Government established a Public Administration Reform Interim Committee (PACR) for "rebuilding the government finance without raising taxes" and making preparations for a period of "globalization". This Committee led by Mr. Toshio Doko, a renowned business leaders, as the Chairman. The Committee asked the government to evaluate and apply measures to promote the reform of the regulations, decentralization and privatization. In 1985, due to a rapid financial shortage, the national railway system in Japan has been privatized into seven independent companies despite strong opposition from Trade unions. The public opinion has supported the idea of transforming the government activities into the way in the entrpreneurial spirit. However, in the meantime, the close links between politicians, governmental officials and business groups were extremely strong, which was sufficiently to ignore the recommendations proposed by the Commission.
In the late 90s, a person with renovative thought - Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto established the Council of Administrative Reform and he himself acted as the Chairman of the Council. The Council adopted theories under new public management doctrines and gave out the following options:
- Creation of the Cabinet Office
- Reorganization of central ministries and agencies
- Transformation of national agencies to the independent administrative corporations
- Appointment of Deputy Ministers in each ministry
- Civil service reform.
- Creation of the Cabinet Office
The new Cabinet Office is organized to assist the Prime Minister. This Office coordinated governmental policies under the direction of the Prime Minister. Some agencies and independent organs (the Defense Agency, the Finance Agency, the National Safety Commission, etc.) were transferred to directly under the Cabinet Office. The law to establish the Cabinet Office passed the Diet in July 1999.
- Reorganization of the Ministries and Central agencies
Reorganization of the central body of the government was the highest priority of Hashimoto Administration. Under the direction of the Prime Minister, the Reform Council prepared a plan to reduce the number of central ministries and agencies by half. Reduction will be achieved mainly through the annexation of ministries and agencies. In addition, the government has set a date to privatize the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication by 2003. In May 1999, the Reorganization Act of the central government began to take effect.
- Appointment of Deputy Minister:
To strengthen political leadership over the ministries, the government introduced deputy-ministers in each Cabinet ministry to assist the minister in place of the existing parliamentary vice-minister. A total of 22 deputy-ministers will be assigned to each Cabinet ministry. In addition, the government created 26 "parliamentary aides" who deal with specific policy-making and planning under the direction of the minister. It means that nearly 50 political appointees plus 14 ministers (the Ministers of the State) will come into the administration apparatus.
- Independent administrative corporation
Government converted 80 governmental agencies into Independent Administrative Corporation - IAC. List of agencies embedded monetary printing agencies, printing agencies, hospitals, national museums and laboratories. In the structure of the Independent Administrative Corporation, a leading unit is responsible for preparing a medium-term work plan and managing the budget provided by the Government. The positions of the people who work in these institutions fall on one of the following two categories: public service employees (civil servants) and non-public. The first goal of the IAC is to "separate policy-making function from policy executive function, innovate the efficiency and quality in the service delivery to citizen by assinging the institutions more autonomy and accountability, ensuring transparency in operations”. Currently, the most controversial issue is the transfer of national universities into independent administrative institutions.
The government has transferred 80 government agencies tothe Independent Administrative Corporation (IAC). The list includes mint, printing, national hospitals, national museums, and labs. In the IAC, an agency head prepares a mid-term performance plan and manages the budget provided by the government. The status of the employees is divided into the two categories: public officials and non-public officials. The primary purpose of IAC is "to separate policy-making functions and policy-implementing functions and to improve the efficiency and quality of services for the people by granting more autonomy and responsibilities to corporations and also to ensure the transparency of the operation." The most controversial issue at present is a transfer of national universities to IAC.
Based on the recommendations of the Decentralization Promotion Committee, the governmentrevised related laws to decentralize national authority and to allow more local autonomy. First, the Agency Delegation Function System, which legitimized overall control of local governments by the central government, was abolished. It will transform center and local governments from a commander-obedience relationship to bemore equal in footing. Second, it established third-party organs to solve intergovernmental conflict. However, centralized intergovernmental fiscal relations have not changed and this issue awaits further discussion.
- Civil Service Reform
In March 1999, the Civil Service System Deliberation Council submitted a report to reform the national civil service system. The Council proposed reform agendas as follows: the revisionof the entrance examination system; introduction of merit pay principle; establishment of ethics; extension of retirement; promotion of personal exchanges between the public and private sectors, and so on. The items sound healthy; however, it is undeniable that the recommendations are implemented on a gradual and fundamental base.
Through the recent administrative reforms, obviously, Japanese leaders seem to be positive towards adopting NPM measures. However, it seems less evident that political leaders really understand the meaning of a "customer-driven" or "result- oriented" government. For instance, the creation of giant ministries seems to be distant fromthe idea of NPM that stresses to strengthen accountability of public organization by the decentralization. In the case of independent administrativecorporations, expecting results of service improvement are unquestioned, while the government emphasizes the downsizing of the central administrative machinery. We may say that it is in a transitional period from a traditional bureaucratic state to the customer-oriented governance; however, the future prospect of Japan's administrative reform would surely change.
4. Public Administrative reforms in some ASEAN countries
Since the decolonization in the 1950s, underdeveloped countries had moved towards the stronger governments to assist in the development of their nations. In Southeast Asia, political leaders tended to depend much on bureaucracies to tailor and enforce the national development plans. In the process of development, major industries were nationalized in these countries. However, productivity of nationalized industry tended to be secondary, where the political leaders utilized government corporations for employment of political supporters.
After the oil crises in the 1970s, foreign companies rushed to Asia seeking to lower production costs. As a result, Southeast Asian countries achieved a high economic growth. This has been called the "Asian miracle". However, the more the countries developed, the more people demanded democracy. As shown in the recent political changes in Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, the old-styledauthoritative regimes have allowed more democracy and local autonomy.
Further, the government reform imperatives come from the out side. Since the 1990s, international aid organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) request recipient countries to improve governance for the effective use of development assistance, providing fund and experts for civil service reform and improvement of public management.
In Southeast Asian countries, demand for government reform became more serious after the crash of financial markets in 1997. Agendas for government reform in the developing countries range from the establishment of fundamentals for governanceto modernization as in the developed countries. Reform strategies will include followings:
- Fairness: rule of law, standard procedures, merit system in the civil service.
-Accountability: program evaluation, accounting and audit system, decentralization.
- Credibility: responsible managers, information disclosure, citizen participation.
- Efficiency: performance pay, Citizens' Charter, privatization, contracting-out.
A serious problem is that they have to pursue conflicting values at the same time. To establish a credible government, for example, it is necessary for leaders to disclose government information to the public. However, governments tend to hide information that might be advantageous to opposing forces. In pursuing value in efficiency through privatizing state corporations, political leaders tend to prefer them to remain inefficient due to fears of mass unemployment. As for the problems of an efficient government, many countries take measures for anti-corruption, total quality management, and the civil service reform. However, governing parties are often less supportive of civil service reform especially whenthey utilize political appointment to control bureaucracies. In particular, decentralization and citizen participation seem difficult where local ethnic groups demand local autonomy. For leaders such reforms appear to reduce the centripetal force of the central government over the periphery.
Finally, we can say that it will be difficult and even risky to adopt the New Public Management to the administrative reform in developing countries, unless taking steps for establishing fundamentals of modern governance. It is common for political leaders to rush tothe catchy copies of reform tools. Rather, they should invest more in the "capacity-building" of the state through the establishment of a fair political system and solid legal foundations, and through the human resource development.
5. Transnational cooperation for governance reform
As mentioned above, NPM is not a magic sword. Rather, it will be effective when it is customized for each political environment. Prior to the customization, we should establish a new operating system for governance based on the principle of fairness, accountability, credibility, and efficiency. For that purpose, it is rational to promote information exchange on governance reform among the developed and developing states. For instance, Japan's experience of privatizing public corporations would be a lesson for the states that propose deficit-ridden state corporations. Further, positive use of transnational bodies seems very effective. Not only the International Institute of Administrative Sciences, but also the utilization of regional organizations for the study of public management, would be effective. In addition, personnel exchanges of management experts among the countries will contribute to the development of public management. In Japan, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) conducts a variety of training programs for public officials from the developing countries. Yokohama National University launched a new "Legal Studies and Development Scholarship Program" for the students from those countries in the process of economic transition. The objective of the scholarship program is "to train individuals who will be in a position to assist in the smooth implementation of solid legal foundations appropriate to market economies." We believe such transnational cooperation will contribute to the progress of public management in this region.
New Public Management has left a strong impression in organizational and operational reforms of the administrative system in many countries around the world, including Japan and some ASEAN countries. The process of applying new public management in the experienced country is valuable lessons for Vietnam when having direction to apply new public management into our public administration.
Firstly, countries applying new public management need identify the factors appropriate to the characteristics of the administrative system and socio-economic and cultural environment. New Public Management refers to many aspects of public sector renovating activities. However, in fact there is almost no countries adopting the entire contents of the new public management, instead central points are identified during implementation process. This stems from the characteristics of each administration. Inappropriate application of NPM factors may cause opposition, thus affecting the efficiency of the application process. On the other hand, the nature of problems and unforeseen difficulties that may occur during the application of the new public management should be carefully taken into consideration before uses.
Secondly, the administrative agencies should conduct analysis and thorough discussions of the issues and solutions for reforms. The NPM scholars supposed that without careful analysis and extensive discussions of the issues and solutions to be solved, and if consensus are failed to be reached over the issue of reform, the discussion process is likely to return to the starting point at any time.
Thirdly, adoption of new public management requires ongoing supports from implementers and citizens. The support of civil servants, the implementing team is essential conditions to secure efficiency in NPM application. Besides, the support of the public is notably issue. Without the strong supports of the public, the reform will be difficult. On the other hand, the interests and concerns of the people easily move from one topic to another; therefore, it is important to attract the attention and supports of them.
And fourthly, the application of new public management requires determination and strong leadership on the reform of the leaders especially the head of government. This will contribute to the joint efforts of the administrative system, overcome anti-change attitude and oppose to the reform process.
(Adapted from Osamu Koike’s study).
MA. Le Anh Tuan
Institute for State Organizational Sciences,
Ministry of Home Affairs
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