Editorial: Enhancing Diet oversight of administrative efficacy

July 14 , 2015

In order for government to operate as productively as possible, it must be able to review and assess the efficacy of its programs. On July 8, a resolution seeking that government ministries evaluate their program performance and disclose the results of their findings was unanimously adopted during the plenary session of the House of Councillors.

This was the third resolution to further the development of a performance-enhancing system put forth by the Japanese chamber—the first occurring in 2003 and the second in 2005—and a measure of progress has been achieved to date. The latest resolution adds even greater impetus for actionable results.

Komeito believes that the system should also incorporate new objectives, including the revitalization of outlying communities. This would accord with the United Nations Evaluation Group initiative declaring 2015 as the International Year of Evaluation, which was adopted as a UN General Assembly resolution in December 2014 with the aim of improving the evaluation capacities of countries on a national level.

The Upper House resolution directs the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIAC) to strengthen the evaluation capacity of ministerial performance on a comprehensive and integrated basis. This is because the ministry has transversal authority to review and assess performance of other ministries and agencies. In fiscal 2013, MIAC directed its bureaucratic peers to focus on such issues as work/life balance, consumer transactions and dietary education. The ministry will be expanding its agenda and drawing on input from outside think tanks to strengthen performance evaluation processes.

As our party sees it, MIAC—being familiar with the areas of expertise of other ministries—will prove useful in assessing the performance of various government agencies in the national effort to revitalize smaller communities outside the major cities. Such oversight, we believe, will help push revitalization initiatives further forward across a broad front.

Before the evaluation system was first launched in 2001, the Japanese bureaucracy was known for placing greater emphasis on policy formulation than efficacy. The system has paid off over the years. In fiscal 2013, for example, 2,559 programs were evaluated and 360 billion yen pared from the national budget in the following fiscal year.  

In order to make the evaluation system even more productive, Komeito has called for Diet oversight of its findings, particularly through a special Upper House committee with oversight authority.