Outcome Based Planning
Sudhir Ahluwalia Ex Indian Forest Service officer who in the past has been head of Government Consulting in TCS and is now a freelance business expansion consultant
Amartya Sen has singled out Kerala as one of the States in India which has Human Development Indicators comparable to those prevailing in middle income developed countries. Of course we have our West Bengal, Bihar, UP, Rajasthan and many others that are vying with sub Saharan Africa for the bottom rank on HDIs.
Kerala was also one of the first states in India that sought to bring about outcome based planning and monitoring in India. In most states and in India overall, planning and monitoring is output linked. Outputs are quantifiable physical achievements against money spent. For example Rs x crores is allocated to build y number of low cost houses for the weaker sections of society. Outcomes ask the question on usage, if the house is occupied, what the occupant feels about the quality of construction and infrastructure created etc.
Result Linked Outcome based Planning and Monitoring:
The social sector allocation and planning was restructured and a planning and monitoring system was created to quantitatively improve quality of governance in Kerala. Restructuring entailed dividing Government functions into themes, sub themes, initiatives for action and results.
One of the key government function identified was access to quality services. Access to quality services were divided into sub themes:
1. Minimum needs program
2. Local self government
The Minimum needs program was divided into a number of sub themes. For illustration sake some of the sub themes identified was:
1. Standardizing health services
2. Selected initiatives in Education
3. Community level interventions
4. Integration of Water and Sanitation into water resources
Initiatives for action in each of the subtheme like community level interventions in Health would include among other things:
a) Greater financial autonomy for health institutions
b) Community led health audit
c) Training of health professionals as institutional managers
d) Strengthening of health extension interface with Self Help Groups
Against every initiative for action a plan is prepared collectively by all stakeholders. In the plan effort is made to clearly define, as far as possible, quantitatively answers to the following questions:
– Who will benefit
– What are the benefit /outcome they will receive?
– How can the outcome be verified?
– What are the outputs required to deliver this outcome?
Monitoring of these outcomes is done with the help of an IT program and performance monitoring system that is implemented down up to village Panchayat level.
The movement to outcome based planning was part of the Modernising Government Program approved by the Government of Kerala in November 2002. The Asian Development Bank funded the program in the initial stages. Outcome based plans were prepared in eight departments – Revenue, Food and Civil Supplies, home, health, Local Self Government, Education, Social Welfare and registration. These plans formed the basis for the grass root service delivery framework that was implemented by Village Panchayats. This led to the creation of a truly grass root planning and delivery program. The Rs1195 crores World Bank funded local self government project started in 2011 is the successor to this project. This is one the successful initiatives in India and is a contributory factor to qualitatively better grass root governance in Kerala and the continued highest Human Development Indicators in the country.
Many States have tried to emulate the Kerala example to move to outcome based planning but most have not been able to bring about structural changes critical to implementation of such a program.
Out of the total annual Central Sector Plan outlay of Rs651509 crores nearly 40% of this amount is spent on social sector programs. These impact the poorest segments of society and leakages in each of the programs are well researched and commented upon. Outcome based planning and monitoring forces implementation agencies to look at results. This change leads to improved governance, better program targeting and improved HDIs.
The IT in support of governance is a critical element of governance reforms. The current National E Government Program of the Govt of India aims to provide the implementation framework to implement major IT initiatives in government. NeGP is focused more on service delivery programs than intra government reform.
Maybe this is because deploying IT to improve intra government functioning would entail substantial restructuring of the budgeting, planning, implementation, supervision and measurement processes. The latter is tough to do and tougher to sustain. Teaming up of the Department of Administrative Reform and Public Grievances (DARPG), the department charged with helping in bring in administrative reform, the Department of IT in the Ministry of Telecom and IT and the Planning Commission is required to usher in this fundamental change in governance.