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Tuesday, 25 July 2017 10:14
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Modernizing state administration toward a socialist law-ruled State

(LLCT) - The traditional model of state administration is presented in a number of countries, however this model has many faults, including bureaucracy, rigidity, cumbersomeness, and low efficiency. To overcome these limitations in the current political climate, the state has perfected their administrative theories, practices, and objectives.

1. Characteristics of modern state administration(1)

The first, successful government activities are transparent and accountable.Regarding state administration, accountability refers to holding civil servants responsible for their actions. Accountability consists of two elements - answerability and responsibility for consequences. Civil servants are periodically required to answer questions about how they have used their authority and resources, and what results they have gained. Authorities must predict what consequences will follow their activities and take responsibility for those consequences.

The second is the societal participation.Citizens’ participation is
a fundamental element in monitoring governmental activities. Participation must be expanded across all levels of local and central authority. Organizations and citizens must be able to participate, directly or indirectly, in governmental activities.

The third is the predictability of state administration.Predictability is encouraged by a system of laws that are clear, specific, and public, and which are followed uniformly and effectively. Predictability requires governments to design clear legal stipulations for the public and private services provided. This should guide its production, marketing, and investment decisions.

The fourth is equality.State administration must ensure equal service to all citizens, regardless of class, religion, lifestyle, or ethnicity. State administration must consider the needs of minority groups, the poor, and the socially disadvantaged to ensure sustainable governance and avoid social controversy.

The fifth is developmental adaptability.Political change can be caused by the government or by external factors. Governments must be able to manage development. As the situation requires, they must adapt their private sector market mechanisms and modern management methods such as competition, bidding, cost and benefit comparison, treatment of citizens, and performance-based management. This makes state administration dynamic and able to satisfy citizens’ increasingly high demands.

The sixth are effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness refers to proper, fruitful performance that meets targets and fulfils tasks. Efficiency refers to results gained after spending resources. Current citizens pay close attention to how the government is spending their tax contributions. Therefore, the government must regulate their spending and achieve reasonable distribution and allocation of financial resources.

The relationship between the modernization of state administration and constructivist government:

Constructivist government plays an important role in the sustainable development of nations. Developed economies tend to combine “the invisible hand” of self-evolution that rises naturally from a market economy, and “the visible hand” of government intervention. Developmental government must achieve a balance between these hands. Governments must use their economic and policy tools along with their “advantages” to organize markets in a way that encourages all individuals and organizations to participate in socio-economic development.

The ultimate goal of modern state administration is to fully satisfy people’s needs. This requires the state administration to shift from “ruling” to “serving,” providing effective, efficient, and dynamic services. Civil servants must preserve a strong sense of service and equality. Many countries have designed client charters, introduced service standards, and established mechanisms for receiving and responding to citizen feedback. This will allow them to suggest solutions
to reforming state administration. Therefore, it is in a modernizing state administration’s best interests to build a constructivist government for the sake of the country and people.

2. The actual situation of and measures for modernizing the Vietnamese state administration

The Government and various ministries have recently organized a number of online meetings with provinces. Administrative bodies have conducted numerous online dialogues with businesses, creating a two-way flow of information, producing timely responses, increasing the efficiency of state administration, saving costs and time, and increasing operational effectiveness and efficiency. The Government’s electronic information system has taken shape. This system consists of ministerial and provincial data integration centers, Local Area Networks (LANs), and expanded networks connecting information systems. The electronic information system has begun to provide basic services such as email and software, which integrate information technology into state management.

The Government has also supervised the development of the Government Portal (the government’s website), allowing people and businesses to keep up with instructional, managerial, and executive governmental information. The Government has also invested in upgrading offices and ensuring that commune-level administrative bodies have the facilities and work spaces that they need to function.

Despite these developments, the modernization of state administration, particularly the implementation of the Program for the Computerization of the Management of State Administration, or Program 112, is still facing the following limitations:

Those with the responsibility and authority to apply information technology at their institutions at national level (also known as CIOs), are unqualified and lack knowledge and experience regarding administrative procedures and technological peculiarities.

Information technology infrastructure is poor and inconsistent. Connectivity is missing or rough, limiting the application of software and databases. A number of institutions have paid attention only to hardware and servers rather than connectivity. Government technology solutions remain limited. There is a lack of healthy competition and transparency when it comes to product acceptance.

By the third quarter of 2016, only a few ministries, industries and institutions had completed any of the tasks based on the Government’s Resolution 30a/NQ-CP on E-Government. The Government Office completed three out of six of their tasks, the Ministry of Planning and Investment completed two of four, the Ministry of Education and Training completed one of three, Vietnam Social Security completed one of five, and the Ministry of Information and Communication one out of six. Other ministries, industries, and institutions have not fulfilled any of their tasks yet(2).

To overcome limitations and take advantage of modernization, it is necessary to adopt the following solutions in the coming years:

First, prioritize advanced administrative technology. Presently, the ISO 9000 quality control system is suitable for all kinds of organizations, including administrative organizations. This system ensures that an organization’s products or services meet customers’ needs and its own legitimate demands; it also forms a basis for evaluating the organization’s ability to maintain and improve itself. ISO 9000 offers administrative services and number of benefits through its “prevention” and “constant innovation” methods based on a system of regulation, responsibility, and communication. It creates a scientific working method and is a form of management technology.

A prequisite to applying ISO 9000 to public administrative services is shifting from an administration that “rules” to one that “serves.”

In recent years in Vietnam, a number of cities and provinces have experimented with using ISO 9000 for quality control in their administrative bodies. They include Ho Chi Minh City, Ba Ria - Vung Tau, Lam Dong and Long An provinces. The Prime Minister issued Decision 144-TTg and then Decision 181-TTg, allowing the application of ISO 9000 across all administrative bodies. Applying ISO 9000 to state administrative bodies aims to provide advanced “administrative technology”. This will computerize administration, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of authority at various levels. Governmental offices will provide step by step service to the masses. This will create favorable conditions for production and business, save time and costs, and build an e-government that meets the need for international economic integration.

Second, the thought surrounding about the administration should change radically. The Government should consider citizens as clients and provide them with sufficient, high-quality public services. Citizens must be able to access administrative bodies. Administrative bodies must be clearly aware of their responsibility and provide citizens with favorable conditions when they seek administrative work. All organizations and citizens must be treated equally. The Government should encourage citizens and social organizations to challenge the state administration’s decisions. They should be offered diverse opportunities and given greater responsibility for analyzing the quality of public services and the provision of these services. State administrative bodies should receive and respond to this information. Citizens must be allowed to help develop criteria for evaluating the state bodies’ performance. Ordinary people should take on a greater role in the formation of policies, particularly those that address corruption and bribery prevention and sanctions.

Socialist democracy and citizens’ indirect democracy should be promoted through representative organizations such as the National Assembly and People’s Councils. This can be made possible by establishing an election system that is closely linked to a dismissal one. Elected delegates should switch from doing multiple jobs simultaneously to specializing in one so they can ultimately become professional delegates. Direct democracy should be expanded by establishing mechanisms that encourage ordinary people to participate in state management. Social organizations and non-governmental organizations should work even harder to participate in satisfying ordinary people’s needs. Referendums should promote decision-making so that the entire population can participate in the country’s critical issues. Citizen’s participation can help create more realistic decisions, increasing the State’s effectiveness and efficiency.

Third, the State must continue to develop and perfect its system of administrative institutions, including legal texts, administrative procedures, and organizational institutions used to regulate citizens, particularly civil servants. The shift to a market economy has made it necessary to establish economic institutions that are compatible with market laws that facilitate all economic entities. Public affairs and the state budget should be modified. State administrative bodies should reform their organization and operation to make them easier to understand. Reduce observance costs.

The Government should improve its policy-making, establish institutions, and strengthen its ability to enforce laws, ensure macroeconomic stability, and create a favorable socio-economic atmosphere. Further perfect the organization of ministries so that each can manage a range of industries. Ministries need to streamline their internal structures, and local authorities should be organized in a reasonable manner. Accelerate the delegation of power and give greater autonomy to local authorities. Clearly define authorities’ authority and responsibilities. Identify which tasks should be assigned to the State and which should be delegated to non-states entities.

There must be mechanisms recruiting talented people to work in the public sector. Give greater autonomy to administrative bodies regarding recruitment, dismissal, training, evaluation, promotion, and the transfer of civil servants. Promote efficiency and motivate civil servants by paying them according to their positions and performance. Design clear criteria to measure performance.

Fourth, uphold accountability and tighten control over state administration. This can be done through the law and through organizations themselves. Competent organizations must hold state bodies accountable their enforcement of laws and their observance of the regulations enforced by higher level organizations. Administrative bodies should ensure that they follow decision-making procedures. They should answer to the legislative body for their performance and answer to the society by publicly responding to complaints and answering the media’s questions about topics that concern the public. Internal accountability involves the accountability of an organization’s affiliate units and of each civil servant. Internal accountability is realized by inspecting the performance of public affairs, ensuring that decision-making procedures are followed, monitoring the use of budgets, carrying out internal audits, developing procedures for publicizing information, and observing such procedures. Regarding civil servants, accountability should be based on legal stipulations as well as position requirements. For example, civil servants must perform their positions’ tasks, abide by administrative regulations and procedures, use assigned public resources in a reasonable manner, and treat their colleagues and citizens properly and respectfully. State administration is subject to a higher level of public inspection and other control mechanisms to ensure law and discipline. Citizens must be guaranteed the right to criticize or denounce illegal acts committed by state bodies and competent organizations. Organizations and individuals who break the law are to be strictly punished. The state must protect the rights and interests of all citizens.

The State must also establish suitable ways to manage public finance and property. It is especially important to emphasize financial transparency and accountability. Prevent and punish corruption and wasteful use of state budget, public funds, and public assets.

Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hoa


Academy of Journalism and Communication

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