Its The Efficiency Stupid!

By D. Asghar

Our beloved Premier Gilani has issued an executive order to curtail the two day weekend to a one day weekend in the government offices. The move on the surface seems to be of well intentions and to increase and enhance productivity.

This is also due to the fact that electricity is not a major issue in winters and hence the business of the government can be conducted in a more conducive and viable environment. The underlying issue here in my opinion is not the weather or number of days. The bigger issue is lack of proper metrics to measure productivity.

In this day and age, where we are in the electronic age, very sadly a lot of public departments are still running on paper and antiquated filing system. If you were to go to the offices the lines of people in front of government offices speak volumes of our inefficiency. The vultures in the form of agents are trying to take advantage of the people, who are ill informed. The people are trying to cut the red tape to get on with their lives.

Skeptics call this process of inefficiency with an often heard and despised term, bureaucracy. No matter where you are, in whatever part of the world, you have to go through some of this to get your need fulfilled. However, in our part of the world we are still functioning on the post colonial paradigm, and in 63 years or so, there has been a minor shift.

The government for all intents and purposes is an enterprise. Collecting revenue and incurring expenses. With the old and outdated ways still not able to fulfill the needs of its ultimate customer, the public.

There is a lot of hue and cry every minute about the incessant and ever increasing corruption in every department of our beloved government. Very rarely, we focus on the facts that it is meager salaries in a lot of areas and excessive inefficiencies which give birth to this ugly monster of corruption.

In todays day and age, any service can be initiated electronically by opening a ticket. The customer gets notified that their request has been lodged in a proper queue. The queue has to be managed internally by the appropriate department of the government with proper checks and balances. It is transparent and curtails the possibility of misuse. When people will be terminated on the spot for any misuse, it will set the zero tolerance culture for corruption automatically.

Similarly the public should have information on every departmental website to determine what the requirements and steps are to complete their request. There should be no mystery surrounding the service being offered by the department.

We often look at other countries and wonder why those countries have moved ahead and we are still lagging. One of the reason is that we have failed miserably in managing people’s business as a business. The government still functions in the colonial mind set that it is bestowing a mercy on the public by fulfilling their genuine needs. In reality, it should be the other way around.

If proper measures are not in place and there are no metrics to measure efficiency and productivity, it would not matter even if the government functions 7 days a week. The end result will still be the usual frustration, disgust and anger which the nation very rightfully demonstrates at the mention of the word, “government.”

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