Phan Xuân Xiểm, former member of the Party Central Inspection Committee, speaks to the newspaper Khoa học & Đời sống (Science and Life) about the need for high-quality reports reflecting reality, not rosy reports.
How do you respond to the complaint that the real growth rates of many sectors in HCM City are lower than the reported figures?
At a meeting to review the socio-economic situation in the city in the first eight months of 2017, HCM City’s Chairman of People’s Committee Nguyễn Thành Phong criticised some departments and sectors for falsifying reports on the growth rate in their sectors. For example, he said, the industrial growth rate in the period under review was just 7.19 per cent, but they reported that the rate was 7.5 per cent. Phong said agriculture grew 6.5 per cent, but the report cited a wrong figure. “It was unbelievable," Phong lamented.
I have to say that making the reports look nice has become a disease in Việt Nam over the years. In some sectors, the writers have even dared to copy and paste from the previous year’s reports and then make a few changes. There are different reasons why they have done so. May bethey don’t have the capacity to write the reports or other reasons.
In my own opinion, many offices/sectors think good reports reflect well on their agencies, and will provide their bosses with promotions.
It is understandable for agencies to want to display achievements, don’t you agree?
I can’t agree more. It is closely linked to the bosses’ benefits and interest. They will be promoted. That’s why in many of their reports, offices/agencies list many notable achievements. But their actual performance is usually not as good. That’s why we need to make site visits to see with our own eyes what is going on and then make our own judgement.
Many Government officials complain that they spend 25 per cent of their time writing reports. But many of their reports are of poor quality. How do you respond to their laments?
I don’t understand why writing reports takes so much time. I don’t think any job description of a government officer includes spending a quarter of the on report writing. Furthermore, many reports are just copy-pastes, so why does it take so much time?
As I mentioned before, many officials’ work performance is poor. One of the reasons is that they have to attend so many meetings. As a result, the time they focus on their actual work is limited so that it is impossible to say their work performance is high.
If the report is rated poor what kind of penalty should we give to the writer?
It is already covered in our rules and regulations. But, in reality it depends on the boss. I’m pretty sure all bosses want to have good and high quality reports from their subordinates. Furthermore, leaders consider reports as a source of information or a tool to evaluate the performance of an individual/organisation.
But poor and low quality reports may result in the poor performance or development of a sector or a locality, don’t you agree?
In a normal report, the writer has to reflect both the good and bad points. The report serves as background for the sector/agency to adjust policy and planning.
So if the quality of the report is poor and some of the information is even wrong, should the writer be punished?
Well, when we talk about giving punishment, we have to think about it carefully. In reality, when a subordinate writes a report and the boss approves it, both people have to take responsibility for the document. — VNS