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Submitted by Sanjeev Ahluwalia on
The proposed solution of restricting PS interventions to small pilots as opposed to whole of government reform projects has the danger of degenerating into a series of interventions which may achieve results but could be doing so by simply free riding on the backs of winners. In every Government there are "winner" departments and Ministries which demonstrate better than average performance and have a more pronounced change orientation. Restricting PS interventions to only those departments and ministries which are either conducive to change or which are already in the process of change due to internal dynamics risks making the Bank intervention redundant. More seriously the approach risks making Bank interventions focused so narrowly that they miss altogether departments and ministries which are not winners but where change is perhaps more sorely needed though difficult to achieve. Secondly "whole of government" reform cannot be ignored in nascent governments which have not yet matured and are still in the process of being established. Training, institutional development and capacity enhancement are key in such environments. It is in mature governments where the framework exists but performance enhancement is the key problem that focused, narrow, demonstration projects could be useful though as stated earlier with appropriate safeguards against "free riding" on preexisting positive trends in an attempt to show "quick" results. Thirdly,"investments" are not the culprit and so "non lending projects" cannot be the answer. It is rather our inability to focus programs on results which is key to the "floating" and somewhat disjointed and random reform steps which PS reforms undertake. Tightening the results framework should have a positive impact on wasteful investment. However PS projects are not unique in this problem and a practical orientation is required while allowing or disallowing the odd car and computer.