SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT
By DR. JESUS P. ESTANISLAO
The second strategic priority under this perspective follows from the first, and it is to ensure the highest level of performance from national government agencies, especially those mandated to address the six basic needs of our people. A national good governance program should operationalize and monitor the implementation of the strategic priorities in each and every government agency in the bureaucracy.
This is easier said than done. We are fortunate, however, that over this past decade or so, we have introduced a good public governance program in select national government agencies and in local government units. While the record has been mixed, still there are enough success stories, which tell of genuine transformation, and which can be replicated — with appropriate adaptation to many more government enterprises — at both the local and national government levels. The challenges we face in this regard are two-fold: scaling up and sustainability.
What do we scale up? Based on successful cases of transformation in the public sector, many more national government agencies and local government units can be made to adapt to their appropriate situations and circumstances the best practices and key principles of good governance. Inevitably, they would need to face such basic and practical issues as integrity, meritocracy, transparency and accountability, public participation in governance, goals and vision attainment. I must mention that among a few other institutions, the Institute for Solidarity in Asia, a public governance advocacy, has proven to be an effective partner for those government enterprises ready and willing to adopt the performance governance system.
What do we sustain? The adoption of good governance practices cannot be a one-off affair. It has to be continued and sustained over a long period. This means that once the performance governance system has been adopted and made to deliver initial breakthrough results, the government enterprise has to be prepared to focus on three key areas of sustainability: (a) an outreach program to the wider area or region in which the enterprise operates so that along with many other groups from both the private and public sector, it proves that it can be a leading development agent for a wider area or even an entire region; (b) continuing support and encouragement to high performance teams within the enterprise such that these teams become the ultimate performance delivery units for good public governance; and (c) the promotion of an enterprise governance culture program, pitched down to the last individual working within the enterprise so that the individual, by living up to the demands of personal integrity, becomes its ultimate governance asset.
It is in this light that establishment of a Multi-Sector Governance Council (MSGC) in every government agency is of utmost importance. The presence of an MSGC in a government agency ensures that the principles and best practices of good governance are observed and sustained in the organization. It facilitates outreach to other enterprises for wider area or regional development. It also provides external, more objective assessment of the performance of the different working teams within the enterprise. Finally, it provides a good feedback mechanism on how well individuals in the enterprise — viewed from outside — are contributing to creating a strong brand for the enterprise by the integrity and effectiveness of their work and life.