Of effectiveness and ineffectiveness of a state
Heido Vitsur 22.10.2010
It goes without saying that like in any other state also in our state one can find ineffectiveness. I would distinguish here two kind of ineffectiveness. Firstly a technical, organisational ineffectiveness and secondly ineffectiveness of essence, of principle. It is also true that the biggest originator of ineffectiveness is the boarders of administrative areas and action spheres.
But due to the problems and complicity of interdependence characteristic to state any country is more sophisticated organisation than any enterprise. Hence there are limits to use of some solutions which technically could be possible.
To argue that ineffectiveness is acceptable in Estonia would be wrong. In close future Estonia in cooperation with OECD should get ready the audit of our states activities; also a year ago on the conference of ‘Estonia after Euro’, which was organised by the Estonian Cooperation Assembly and Development Fund, Jüri Raidla called for conducting state audit of Estonia again for the benefit of effectiveness of the state. The team has started the work. Hence there are at least two sources outside Estonian administration preparing overview of the problems of our state and proposals for improvements and corrections.
It will not be easy. To connect or rearrange and to make more effective the net of institutions or services is never simple or cheap. Unfortunately we do not know well enough still how much one or another rearrangement of the past did cost us, the taxpayers. Let it be such simple things like moving Ministry of Education and Science to Tartu or uniting Estonian Radio and Estonian Television. And the expenses are the simple side. More important would be to know did the joining bring synergy, how much potential of development was created and what were the losses.
Such analysis and calculations are very sensitive, difficult and laborious and we have no tradition of doing or publicising them.
Hence this is one possible answer to the question why there seems to be present acceptance of situation at hand. Firstly the gut-feeling of experienced high executives says that nice reform proposals are in reality really as nice. Secondly the experience also proves that rearranging costs more than the most pessimistic prognoses were and take also more time as a rule.
Let’s take the digital prescription as an example. Today the talk of it has died down, system most probably is working, but how much problems did it create not so long ago. Regrettably we do not have deep analysis of the elaboration and application of this relatively restricted project. But it would be necessary for the benefit of the initiators and doers of new projects.
But at the same time it is probable that now it is more difficult to find someone from decision-makers who would want to take risk with more complicated reforms than that. Especially if the topic crosses the interdepartmental borders.
Nevertheless I am convinced that instituting technical improvements in the household of Estonian state has gone with dashing speed, so we have nothing to be ashamed of. I am sure that when the time is right the barriers between departments will be torn down.More difficult and more important is to increase the state effectiveness in fields which are not directly connected to large workloads in public sector, but to areas where problems do not have a clear ‘host’ or where the right timing in recognising the problem and finding a right solution to it could affect the speed of our development.