Pham Duy Nghia, Nguyen Xuan Thanh, Huynh The Du, Do Thien Anh Tuan, Ben Wilkinson, Vu Thanh Tu Anh, Dwight Perkins, and David Dapice, August 2013
This paper was prepared for the fourth annual Vietnam Executive Leadership Program (VELP), held at the Harvard Kennedy School from August 26 to 30, 2013. The paper aimed to provide participants, including Vietnamese government officials, scholars, and corporate executives, with a concise assessment of some of the key public policy challenges confronting Vietnam today. This paper is by no means comprehensive; it is not possible to offer an exhaustive analysis of every policy area in a brief study. In selecting which issues to address, the authors were guided by the priorities articulated by the Vietnamese government in policy statements promulgated over the past year. By design, the paper was delivered as a work in progress, which the authors encouraged the participants to challenge and strengthen through rigorous debate over the five days of VELP. It is hoped that the paper also will serve as a catalyst for informed discussion and debate among the larger policy community in Vietnam.
Myanmar is a very poor country with some promising political developments but up to now limited economic reform. The historically low growth and high poverty rates have fed social tensions, most evident in the current Buddhist-Muslim violence. The continuing military pressure on ethnic states that do not effectively surrender to the Myanmar Army represents an old extractive almost feudal approach that forgoes real political negotiation in favor of occupation and exploitation of resource-rich areas. However, there are tentative signs of changes by the government. This paper proposes a set of policies to transform the current situation by combining greater tax revenues from mineral resources with better governance to create political unity and market-based economic progress.
Very few people in the world of transparency and accountability would claim that there is an automatic, one-to-one connection between the provision of information on one hand and the production of good things like governmental accountability, better public services, or less corruption, on the other...
How can providing information lead to more accountable and effective governance? In a previous post we discussed two possibilities: the confrontational approach, in which information empowers citizens and communities to prevent public officials from misbehaving; and the collaborative approach, in which information allows communities and officials to work together, solving problems to make government and its services work better.
Gigi Georges, Tim Glynn-Burke, and Andrea McGrath, June 2013
This paper is the second in a miniseries that explores emerging strategies to strengthen the civic, institutional, and political building blocks that are critical to developing novel solutions to public problems — what the authors call the “innovation landscape.” The miniseries builds on past research addressing social innovation and on The Power of Social Innovation (2010) by HKS Professor Stephen Goldsmith.
In this second paper, the authors introduce a framework for driving local innovation, which includes a set of strategies and practices developed from the Ash Center’s recent work on social innovation, new first-person accounts, in-depth interviews, practitioner surveys, and relevant literature. The authors explore the roots and composition of the core strategies within their framework and provide evidence of its relevance and utility.
Published in 2013, a new report from the Harvard Kennedy School Indonesia Program builds on findings of the 2010 report, From Reformasi to InstitutionalTransformation: A Strategic Assessment of Indonesia's Prospects for Growth, Equity, and Democratic Governance. View the virtual book tour from the HKS Library.
Exports of rice to China have exploded and are now over half of total exports. Because of high support prices for paddy and thus for rice in China, it is profitable to send rice and even paddy to China from Myanmar, where the imported rice can sometimes get higher local prices. This could draw rice away from “normal“ exports out of Yangon and even raise the price of paddy (and thus rice) in Myanmar to a level above the world price, causing imports to Myanmar. Imports to Myanmar would keep the price of rice lower than if the China price set Myanmar’s price. The major point for Myanmar is to use this as an opportunity for farmers to get higher prices and to produce more, but this will take different credit and input policies. This is a limited opportunity, for China may prefer to import rice officially by sea rather than informally through Yunnan. Indeed, border checks intensified in March 2013, reducing flows.
Sanjeev Khagram, Archon Fung, and Paolo Renzio, editors, Brookings Institution Press, 2013
Decisions about “who gets what, when, and how” are perhaps the most important that any government must make. So it should not be remarkable that around the world, public officials responsible for public budgeting are facing demands – from their own citizenry, other government officials, economic actors, and increasingly from international sources – to make their patterns of spending more transparent and their processes more participatory. Surprisingly, rigorous analysis of the causes and consequences of fiscal transparency is thin at best. Open Budgets seeks to fill this gap in existing knowledge.
As the second case in the two-part Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill case study, Case B builds upon Case A’s overview of the disaster and early response of the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in late April 2010, by focusing on the challenges the National Incident Command encountered as it sought to engage with state and local actors – an effort that would grow increasingly complicated as the crisis deepened throughout the spring and summer of 2010.
Using a New Federalism for Unity and Progress in Myanmar David Dapice and Thomas Vallely, March 2013
When in 2010, the President of the Union of Myanmar, the Speaker of the Lower House and several ministers decided to push for a rapid political opening, they engineered what could be called a critical juncture. This critical juncture now provides the country with an opportunity to move forward, not only with faster economic growth, but also with better quality growth and political change that will unify the nation and create broad progress. In exploring a possible approach toward unity and progress, this paper uses the framework developed in Why Nations Fail, a recent book on economic and political development and also refers to the idea of “illiberal democracy“ articulated by Fareed Zakaria. The basic idea is that a broad coalition of the incumbent party, the democratic opposition, ethnic groups and the military is needed to fundamentally change Myanmar’s past failed orientation. This broad coalition should work for a new federalism in which states (at a minimum) have fairly elected governors and meaningful revenue sources so they can run many of their own affairs. Recognizing that central to real progress is a transition from a repressive, extractive and exclusive political system with crony businesses to a broadly inclusive political system that spreads economic opportunity, the paper argues that broad political and economic change need to go hand in hand.
Following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in late April 2010, the Obama administration organized a massive response operation to contain the enormous amount of oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico. Attracting intense public attention and, eventually, widespread criticism, the response adhered to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, a federal law that the crisis would soon reveal was not well understood – or even accepted – by all relevant parties. This two-part case profiles the efforts of senior officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as they struggled to coordinate the actions of a myriad of actors, ranging from numerous federal partners (including key members of the Obama White House); the political leadership of the affected Gulf States and sub-state jurisdictions; and the private sector. Case A provides an overview of the disaster and early response; discusses the formation of the National Incident Command (NIC), which had responsibility for directing response activities; and explores the NIC’s efforts to coordinate the actions of various federal entities.
Mark H. Moore's now classic Creating Public Value offered advice to public managers about how to create public value. But that book left a key question unresolved: how could one recognize (in an accounting sense) when public value had been created? Here, Moore closes the gap by setting forth a philosophy of performance measurement that will help public managers name, observe, and sometimes count the value they produce, whether in education, public health, safety, crime prevention, housing, or other areas. Blending case studies with theory, he argues that private sector models built on customer satisfaction and the bottom line cannot be transferred to government agencies.
The adoption of new services and practices is widespread in public organizations as they respond to demands in the external environment and internal aspirations. In order to recognize these activities and disseminate good practices, awards programs have proliferated around the globe. Given the limited empirical analysis of the characteristics of innovation award winners, this article examines the 2010 Innovations in American Government Awards (IAGA) program.
When Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Judy Monroe learned of the emergence of H1N1 (commonly referred to as “Swine Flu”) in late April 2009, she had to quickly figure out how to coordinate an effective response within her state’s highly balkanized public health system, in which more than 90 local health departments wielded considerable autonomy. Over the next several months, she would come to rely heavily on relationships she had worked hard to establish with local health officials upon becoming commissioner – but she and her senior advisors would also have to scramble to find new ways to communicate and coordinate with their local partners, who represented jurisdictions that varied considerably in terms of size, population demographics, resources, and public health capacity.