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Wednesday, 13 December 2017 09:48
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Improving the effectiveness of public policies implemented by the executive branch

(LLCT) - The execution of a policy is an important step of the public policy cycle. The quality and effectiveness of the execution of public policies depend on many factors with the participation of many agencies, among which the most important ones are the executive offices. Despite many efforts in the execution of the policies, the system of executive offices still has several drawbacks which lead to the ineffectiveness and incompletion of the goals of public policies. 

1. Executive branch and the implementation of policies

In the political system, executive branch is one of the three branches of power of the State. According to Article 94 of the 2013 Constitution, “The Government is the highest state administrative body of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, shall exercise executive power, and is the executive body of the National Assembly. The Government is responsible to the National Assembly and shall report on its work to the National Assembly, the Standing Committee of the National Assembly and the President”. Along with the Government, public administrative offices bear main responsibilities in the execution of public policies. Besides, representative bodies (People’s Council) of different levels are also considered executive offices and take part in the execution of public policies.    

The execution of public policies is the process of putting the public policies into the reality through the enforcement of the documents, programmes and projects to implement the public policies and carry them out in order to actualize the goals of public policies(1).

The execution of public policies is an important step because it helps actualize the goals of public policies. A lot of research has been carried out to clarify what can happen during the execution of the public policies. For example, good policies and good implementation lead to success; good policies but poor implementation lead to failure; poor policies but good implementation leads to success; poor policies and poor implementation lead to double failure(2)

The process of executing public policies is divided into three basic stages: construct and promulgate the guiding documents; organize the implementation and summarize the implementation. These stages are then divided into seven steps: make a plan; popularize the regulations and the policies; assign tasks to execute the policies; maintain the policies; adjust the policies; monitor, check and speed up the implementation; and summarize and evaluate.   

During the execution of the policies, the Government and the public administrative offices (executive offices) play the most essential role. Article 96, Item 1 of the 2013 Constitution defines the first mission of the Government is “To organize the implementation of the Constitution, laws and resolutions of the National Assembly, ordinances and resolutions of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, and orders and decisions of the President”. Article 7 of the Law on the Organization of the Government clearly prescribes the function and the power of the Government as “decide the strategies, schemes, plans, policies and other programmes and projects under their authority.”

The Government and the public administrative offices directly execute the public policies through different methods. These offices are able to timely grasp the arising problems in the society and propose the solutions to the senior authorities and then directly submit the proposal for the policies. After the approval of the National Assembly, the Government and public admistrative offices execute these policies under their function and authority.

2. Reality of public policies implemented by the executive branch

For the past time, awareness and political thinking of the policy enforcers in Vietnam have positively changed. The thinking “serving government” of President Ho Chi Minh is promoted during the implementation of the policies. The Government respects, listens, learns from the people and understands the wishes of the people. The civil servants who implement the policies are making efforts in cultivating and improving the people’s strength and are acting as the organizers. The breakthroughs in reforming institution and cutting down the administrative formalities positively affect the execution of the policies...

The execution of public policies has met some basic requirements such as being timely, uniform, active, flexible, creative and suitable with the local natural, socio-economic conditions, intellectural standards of the people and particular traits of the beneficiaries. Take banking and finance as an example: “In 2016, the banking service carried out active and flexible currency policy in order to check inflation contributing to stabilization of macroscopic economy and promotion of long-term economic development”(3). In Hanoi, implementing Item 1, Article 21 of the Capital Law on “The capital can mobilize the domestic investment capital through bonds of the local governments, voluntary contributions of the organizations and individuals and other legal forms”, Hanoi has mobilized the capital of the credit agencies in the area up to over 1,300 billion VND (by July 2015), 9.8% higher than that of December 2014. The total loan in the area is over 1,100 billion VND, 12.5% higher than that of December of the previous year(4).

The policy to attract high quality human resources is executed in many provinces with remarkable results. For example, Da Nang has promulgated and executed the decision number 1901/QD-UBND on March 15, 2012 of Da Nang People’s Committee about the policy to attract high quality human resources in the public sector(5).

The role of executive branch in the execution of the policies is reflected through the results of the execution of policies in specific areas.

In terms of economy, some newly enforced and executed policies meet the basic demand of developing and perfecting market economy institution. For example, the execution of the stimulus policy of the Ministry of Planning and Investment in December 2009 has created positive psychological effects, consolidated the trust of businesses, banks and investors domestically an internationally in the responsibility of the State in supporting businesses in need, in the prospect of market and investment environment in Vietnam. Some other policies such as the policies of changing the basic salaries, of tax exemption and tax reduction in using farmland, of lowering interest rates for loans... are considered successful in dealing with the influence of the global economic crisis.   

In terms of society, the execution of the policies is aiming at ensuring social equality. In reality, any policy affects three groups: the ones who benefit, the ones who lose, the ones who are not affected. In terms of politics, no policy can ensure the equality for all groups in the society. Therefore, the policy planners and executors have to make sure that the ones who lose most in one policy have to benefit most in another. The execution of public policies in Vietnam is aiming at social equality by implementing this principle. One example is the comprehensive execution of social policies in culture, education, healthcare... in all areas of the country.     

For the execution of public policies to be effective and consistent, executive branch has made effort in timely building decrees, decisions and circulars to support the offices and organizations in executing the policies. For example, in order to instruct the execution of the Law on Biological Diversity in 2008, 20 subordinate documents such as the Decision 45/QD-TTg on January 8, 2015 of the Government approving the general scheme of preserving biological diversity all over the country until 2030 and the Decision 1250/QD-TTg on July 31, 2013 approving the national strategy of biological diversity until 2020, vision to 2030 are enforced. In order to execute the policy of eliminating hunger and reducing poverty between 2012 and 2015, the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Welfare has promulgated many instructive documents such as the circular 21/2012/TT-BLDTBXH giving instructions about the process of investigating and checking the poor, sub-poor households annually, the Decision 587/QD-LDTBXH enforcing criteria for the especially difficult communes in the coastal areas and islands between 2012 and 2015 and Decision 1489/QD-TTg approving the National Programme of sustainably reducing poverty between 2012 and 2015...  

In general, the execution of public policies in Vietnam has gained some positive results contributing to the achievements of the country during the past 30 years of renovation. However, there still exist several limitations:

First, the communication, publication and education of the content and the requirements of the policies at some time, in some places are not sufficient, clear and timely. For example, the Law for the Elderly was promulgated in 2009 but a lot of elderly people, especially the ones in the rural and mountainous areas are not aware of the regulations in the law and many executive officers in some localities are not fully aware of this law. The policy for the revolution meritorious people shows some shortcomings during the execution being reflected in the survey “Total examination of the execution of the policy for the meritorious people between 2014 and 2015” when 86.601 revolution meritorious people were not appropriately benefited and 1.872 people were not benefited under the right policy.  

Secondly, the instructional documents to execute the policies are still overlapped, unclear and ununiform. The situation that promulgated laws and ordinaces have to wait for instructional decrees and circulars is popular, which delays the execution. In 2013, the National Assembly intended to approve 32 bills and 4 ordinance proposals but just in the first six months of 2013, 8 out of 13 newly-approved laws lack instructional decrees and circulars. One example is Law on Advertisements.  

In many cases, the Governments and related branches are slow in changing and supplementing instructional documents despite the proposals from constituents such as the Decree No. 193 which detailedly instructs the execution of some items in the Law on Co-operatives and the instructional decrees for the Law on Social Insurance.  

Thirdly, some policies are not related to the reality, which causes difficulties for the execution and leads to ineffectiveness. This popular situation means that the newly enforced policies are altered, supplemented or become null and void. In 2014, the Bureau of legal documents supervision (Ministry of Justice) checked 3.887 documents promulgated locally and found out that 634 documents were groundlessly and informally promulgated(6) and some of them were unfeasible such as fining 5 million VND when answering or making phone calls at gas stations, regulating the vendors to own health certificates or giving priority for Vietnamese heroic mothers when taking the entrance exams to university... The cause for this situation is that the policy planners have not estimated the limitations and inadequacies when applying policies into reality. Some practical policies are not properly executed so people do not obey and they are soon forgotten.     

Fourthly, the sources for executing the policies are not considered while planning the execution of the policies. Some policies for minor ethnicities have been executed and proved effective such as Programme 135, the accommodation and farmland support policy for minor ethnicities and the loan support policy for especially disadvantaged households of ethnic minorities. However, the common limitation while executing these policies is insufficient and untimely resources so the set goals cannot be achieved as planned.    

The allocation of tasks and the cooperation during the execution is unreasonable because responsibility and the cooperation between related offices are not appreciated. In reality, most of the executive agencies are trying to maximize their advantages and do not pay attention to the common benefits or the inadequacies still exist in the allocation of tasks and cooperation between the related agencies. For example, Programme 135, whose subjects are communes is allocated to the State Committee for Ethnic Minorities and Mountainous Areas but Programme 30a, whose subjects are districts (with 90% of the communes are subjects of Programme 135) in the same region, is allocated to the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs, which leads to the overlap during the managing and executing process.     

Moreover, the ability of a part of civil servants is weak and some are not objective, which leads to misunderstanding and distorting the policies.     

3. Some proposals to improve the role of executive branch in the execution of public policies

Firstly, promote the communication and popularization of the policies to people ensuring the principle of “people know, people discuss, people do and people check”. The communication and popularization must be suitable with each subject and the forms must be diversified. Special attention must be paid to propagandizing and explaining the policies to the people being directly affected by these policies and getting feedback.

Secondly, resolutely solve the problem of laws waiting for decrees, decrees waiting for instructional circulars or the situation that decrees is no longer valid but instructional circulars still exist. One of the solutions to this problem is that the Government needs to propose respective decrees and instructional circulars when handing bills to the National Assembly. The National Assembly also needs to limit the specific time to enforce the decrees, circular and instructions for each law; prosecute specific officers if violating the deadlines of enforcing decrees, circulars and instructions; regularly and periodically check whether the policies, decrees and circulars are about to expire and make immediate announcements when these policies, decrees and circulars officially invalid.   

Thirdly, understand the desires of the people while making and executing the policies. The unpractical policies are the results of the lack of understanding the desires and legitimate needs of the people. When executing the policies, it is necessary to predict different possibilities and assess the effects of the policies. If the policy sets a small group at a disadvantage but greatly benefits the community, a strong sanction should be used to apply this policy in the reality.

Fourthly, promote training and retraining the executive civil servants. Pay attention to educate these officers on moral values. Assign responsibility to officers taking part in the execution process. Regulary check, supervise and get people’s feedback about the execution of the public policies in each area. Timely reward the ones who do the job well and punish the ones violate during the execution. Ensure the allocation of tasks equal and suitable with the ability of each officer. Encourage the participation and cooperation of the people and businesses.

Fifthly, prepare the resources, including human and material ones well before the execution. Encourage the attraction of the resources from the people and businesses in order to reduce the weight on the national budget. The use of the resources must be clear to avoid wastes. In case the resources are limited while the fee for execution is over the budget, it is necessary to priotize the urgent goals and plan to attract the resources for long-term goals.

Executive branch plays an essential role in ensuring the success of the execution of public policies. However, in order to meet the demand of professional and modern administration, the Government has to carry out comprehensive measures to promote the achievements and overcome the limitations in the execution of public policies.

l Endnotes:


(1) Dr. Le Nhu Thanh, Dr. Le Van Hoa: Planning and executing public policies, National Politics Publishing House, Hanoi, 2016.

(2) Wayne Hayes, The public policy web, 2001, p.1.

(3) Le Minh Hung: “Governor of Vietnam State Bank in an interview”, dantri.com.vn. 

(4) Hanoi Statistics Bureau, 2015.

(5) Dr. Ngo Sy Trung: Attracting high quality resources in the public sector of Da Nang, Labour and Social Affairs Publishing House, Hanoi, 2015.

(6) http://vietnamnet.vn.

MA. Le Thi Thu

University of Internal Affairs

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