Monitoring has proven to be the most effective tool of modern management. In performance reviews past events are discussed, real time corrective action is not possible with the help of Information Technology (IT), Management Information Systems (MIS) have been upgraded to radically improve the performance of organisations. A new discipline of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has also emerged to streamline the flow of data on Electronic Highways that have turned the world in to a small well-connected village.

Performance reviews do provide in-depth analysis and may result in corrective action but prevention of mistakes is beyond its ambit. A few years back I had the chance of meeting the Chairman WAPDA which at one time was the largest employer of the country. The view from the top floor of the WAPDA house is spectacular. The office of the Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) McLeod Road can also be seen from there. I inquired from the staff if they knew what was going on there. The answer was we can find out, I asked them how long will it take for that, about a week, was there reply. My estimate was about four weeks as the Sub-Division was not geared for the information, they would first have to gather it, then dress it up and forward. WAPDA was finally unbundled into three major segments: Dams, Distribution and Transmission. Chairman is now focused on building dams only while new entities have been created out for the other functions. Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) is now responsible for distribution and thermal power generation. National Transmission Dispatch Company (NTDC) now looks after transmission of power produced either thermally or through dams. The overall system remains inefficient due to lack of real time monitoring. Only the Sub-divisions are where direct public contact takes place for which monitoring is required.

Big “M” or McDonald’s has food outlets in over 100 countries of the world. The entire network is monitored through a control room in Chicago. Performance indicators are displayed for each country through which each outlet can be reviewed for lack of performance. Remedial action is initiated in days not in months and years focus is on profits while cutting down the losses.

PETRONAS (Petroleum National Bernhard) is the Malaysian Oil giant while Pakistan State Oil (PSO) performs a similar function in Pakistan. I have had the chance of visiting the headquarters of these state held entities. PETRONAS has revenue of $ 46.06 billion with 51000 employees. It has several overseas projects as well which were being managed by a Chemical Engineer who hailed from Pakistan. Every morning he received a project update sheet on the basis of which he could intervene to ensure timely completion of each project.

Recently the Prime Minister (PM) has completed 100 days performance review of his ministers Certainly this is a good beginning which should now be made more effective. Now there should be weekly updates, monthly reports and quarterly review but the real breakthrough would come from real time online monitoring of key performance indicators like public complaints, unfilled vacancies and employee turnover etc. the PM is also very keen on austerity measures. Official transport remains a big expense which has to be managed and controlled.

Most civilian institutions are non-functional and out of date which calls for a major overall. Accountability is non-existent. Khakis have their own system of checks which are very effective. Till the seventies, senior “Baboos” provided relief to the public by addressing their grievances which has now been discontinued a complaint only raises the bar of corruption, officers do not intervene on behalf of the aggrieved party. On the spot administrative accountability is needed to reduce executive abuse which is rampant.

Without transparency, accountability is almost impossible, relevant information has to be collected, displayed and disseminated for meaningful results. The PM Secretariat should have a ‘Control Room” where real time data of each ministry should be displayed enabling the Chief Executive to intervene as and when required. Course correction is only possible if timely information is available otherwise it becomes a news item and embarrassment for the government in power.

Delegation of authority is often confused with abdication. People of Pakistan have reposed confidence in the leadership of their Kaptaan, now it is up to him to pick his team and set the future course. The buck stops in his office. Through real-time monitoring he can ensure good governance that can provide relief to the masses. The centuries old colonial set-up can be reformed through transparency based on real data and ground information. All is not well in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I am sure the PM is equally concerned about a course correction and then maintaining it through effective real-time monitoring. It can and should be done in the best interests of the country and its suffering population.


The Writer is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation.