Earlier this month, the brass in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had an unusual visitor to discuss an unusual subject — the management style and strategies that can be adopted to deliver outcomes with the scale and speed envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The visitor in question was a former Malaysia Airlines CEO, now a cabinet minister in the Malaysian PMO D’atosri Idris Jala, who held a two-hour discourse for top PMO officials on managing multiple complex issues and ensuring effective and timely implementation.
Jala suggested the Modi PMO to create a new Nation Management Office (NaMO) to monitor the implementation and delivery of its major goals, using the Pemandu model adopted for Malaysia’s National Transformation Programme launched in 2009. Pemandu refers to a new Performance Management and Delivery Unit set up in the Malaysian PMO to monitor and implement big-ticket projects and programmes.
“From his days as the Gujarat chief minister, the PM has been familiar with and keenly interested in the Malaysian approach that has boosted its growth and development indicators dramatically in the past five years, and was keen that PMO officials imbibe from it,” said a person aware of the development.
At the meeting, Modi enquired about the suitability of their approach in a federal structure where state governments play a key role and if it would be better for the system to be implemented in the states first. Jala is learnt to have replied that the Pemandu model would work effectively if it is implemented right from the top, so the central government had to take the lead.
Principal secretary to the PM Nripendra Misra, at the end of a formal presentation to a dozen-odd PMO officials on how India could adopt the management approach, asked how it could help in building a highway. Jala explained that the Pemandu system has tools to get all stakeholders together that is vital for large projects or programmes that often create friction and strong opinions.
While a formal proposal for assisting India to implement the Pemandu model is expected to be sent by the Malaysian prime minister in coming weeks, the Malaysian government is already implementing the Pemandu model in India in partnership with the Delivering Change Foundation for developing a consensus-based approach to resolving water sector issues in Maharashtra.
Jala was accompanied by the foundation’s chairman Abhijit Pawar in his meetings with Modi and PMO officials.
In his presentation, Jala has proposed the creation of a new Nation Management Office division within the Prime Minister’s Office to work with ministries, monitor outcomes and solve problem areas that arise. While the ministries could keep the PMO updated on their efforts, the NaMO would provide its own reports to the PMO as well.
The proposed office could work with multiple stakeholders to evolve a consensus on difficult issues across sectors and include a delivery management division to translate the agreed plan into action. The system would allow the PM to monitor the status of major projects in real time and include a performance rating system for ministers, with the scope for one-on-one interventions by the PM with ministers.
“The proposed office will allow for the PMO to access real time tangible outcomes from on-going programmes at national, state and sector levels,” said an official aware of the presentation.
The Malaysian Pemandu is housed in the PMO and is implementing an economic and government transformation program that has delivered great results for the South East Asian economy since 2009.
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