Improving government efficiency and openness

  • Date: 2017-02-14

I. Background

Because government efficiency is an important factor in national competitiveness, immediately upon taking office the new administration identified government efficiency as one of its five major political reform plans. Following the core values of efficiency, quality and innovation, equitable sharing of resources, participation and cooperation, openness and transparency, the administration is actively working to simplify government oversight and evaluation procedures, streamline subsidy reimbursement procedures, promote online participation in policymaking processes, and make government data available for the creation of value-added applications. By leveraging information and communications technology the government hopes to foster participation and innovation, improve public services and efficiency, and create an open administrative culture that benefits the people.

 

II. Simplify government oversight and evaluation procedures

A. Reduce, combine and streamline

The work of overseeing and evaluating government programs and subordinate agencies currently requires time-consuming paperwork that often keeps government personnel from focusing on administrative quality. The government has thus proposed a simplification strategy to reduce unnecessary procedures, combine overlapping evaluation categories, and streamline all paperwork based on three principles: reinforcing self-management by subordinate agencies, setting priorities when conducting evaluations, and diversifying the evaluation methods.

B. Reform measures and results

The key to streamlining oversight and evaluation procedures is to review and reduce procedures at the source, including cutting back on evaluation frequency, decreasing the number of items assessed, and simplifying forms to be completed. Since the National Development Council (NDC) launched a series of simplification measures in August 2016, the government has seen significant reductions in paperwork: For tasks assigned by the president and premier, or visits they made, the number of cases under supervision has been halved, and the frequency of evaluations reduced from weekly to quarterly. For Executive Yuan programs, the number of programs under oversight has been trimmed from 63 to 50, the frequency of evaluations reduced from monthly to quarterly, the time required to complete forms cut by over 20 percent, and the number of assessment indicators slashed from 807 to 90.

 

III. Streamline subsidy reimbursement processes

A. Simplify procedures to focus on performance

The government’s overemphasis on preventing subsidy fraud resulted in stringent reimbursement regulations and complicated administrative procedures that sometimes discouraged private organizations and academic institutions from applying for government grants or participating in public affairs. The government is therefore working to reduce manpower and paperwork, and establish a cost-efficient reimbursement model that will free administrators to concentrate on core tasks and improving efficiency.

B. Replace oversight with service, improve communication with subsidy recipients

The government will apply three principles for improving reimbursement efficiency: make reimbursement regulations transparent, simplify the reimbursement process, and strengthen communication with subsidy recipients. Specific measures, to be carried out in two stages, include posting regulations on government websites, setting up a reimbursement query hotline, organizing seminars for local governments and subsidy recipients, and, if it is necessary to deny a claim, list all reasons for the denial in a single notification to the claimant to avoid confusion. During the first stage of reform, the government will simplify and address reimbursement issues for social welfare organizations and academic and research institutions, and in the second stage apply these measures to organizations in other fields.

As an example, the Ministry of Health and Welfare began streamlining reimbursement processes for social welfare subsidies in January 2017, an effort that is expected to cut reimbursement time by 40 percent, eliminate at least 100,000 claim documents a year, and save each private organization an average of NT$40,000 (US$1,260) in administrative costs annually.

 

IV. Promote online participation in policymaking processes

A. Draw on the wisdom of crowds

In a rapidly changing environment where people’s needs are becoming increasingly diverse, the government is using internet tools and open government concepts to build mechanisms that encourage public participation in policymaking processes. These online mechanisms allow citizens to contribute their ideas as the government drafts, implements and assesses policies and programs, pooling collective knowledge to improve policy implementation.

B. Promote an online public participation platform

To build a communication channel between citizens and the government, the NDC has established a public policy participation platform (http://join.gov.tw) with four sections: a policy discussion section for citizens to inquire about policies being formulated; an oversight section where the public can keep tabs on major government policies and programs; a proposal section that invites citizens to submit new policy ideas; and an email feedback section where the public can send emails directly to the heads of government agencies.

As a regular channel for citizen participation in public affairs, the platform links the virtual and physical worlds, as well as social media, to build a comprehensive public feedback mechanism. From its inception through January 13, 2017, the site had drawn over 3.95 million visits.

 

V. Provide public access to government data

A. Use data to improve governance, spur private sector growth

Making government data available to the public can catalyze industrial innovation and creativity. Aside from helping the government run public services, the data can be used by the private sector in innovative ways to add value or generate commercial activity, or it can be combined with modern technology and the digital economy to create new fields of business.

Examples include developing integrated information services for emergency rescue operations by combining the government’s disaster prevention data (disaster updates, flooding vulnerability maps, coastal levee information and electronic maps) with social statistics (regarding population figures, businesses, social affairs, education and medical care). Industries are also creating useful applications using the government’s economic data and data of public interest in the areas of public transportation, geospatial information, home mortgages and air quality.

In administrative uses, state-run enterprises are releasing data from smart water and electricity meters to develop big data applications (such as for high-voltage and low-voltage users) that help public utilities run more efficiently. Other types of big data can be used to identify export markets for Taiwan, and help local businesses in developing overseas markets, formulating overseas exhibition participation strategies, and conducting international marketing campaigns.

B. Open data efforts and results

As of January 8, 2017, the government had released 34,592 datasets, of which 25,073 were released through the government open data platform and 9,519 through local governments (including their own platforms). The datasets were viewed more than 21.5 million times and downloaded nearly 5 million times.

To understand and release the types of material the private sector needs, 10 public-private sector forums had been organized as of November 2016, each focusing on a different topic: store franchises, electronic toll collection, prescription drugs, international logistics, e-commerce, education and advanced learning, food risk management, disaster prevention geospatial information, environmental resources, and driver and vehicle administration.

The government also organized data application competitions for the private sector and provided guidance to help startups use government data. As a result of these activities, 38 companies developed new products and services that have been used 1.3 million times, generating NT$477 million (US$15.0 million) in investments and revenues.

 
VI. Conclusion

To serve the evolving needs of the public, the government will uphold the principles of efficiency, transparency and participation as it continues to streamline administrative procedures, make government more open, promote transparent governance, and improve public services. This series of reforms will foster an innovative administrative culture, strengthen communication with the public, and expand participation in public affairs, all of which will allow citizens to work with the government to build a bright and sustainable future for Taiwan.