Base­line data

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

GOV­ER­NANCE and pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion can be quite tricky. It is not as sim­ple as how politi­cians prom­ise heaven dur­ing the elec­tions. It needs a cer­tain skillset from the lo­cal lead­ers to suc­cess­fully forge in gen­uine de­vel­op­ment and change.

You see, lo­cal lead­ers have well de­fined lim­its in re­sources and power. They can­not do any­thing and ev­ery­thing they want how­ever hon­est and sin­cere they can be. For in­stance, they are gov­erned by cer­tain lim­i­ta­tions such as bud­get which is al­most al­ways very scarce. With all the prob­lems in their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties from peace and or­der, un­em­ploy­ment, and the lack of fa­cil­i­ties that all need to be ad­dressed, the trick in gov­er­nance boils down to pri­or­i­tiz­ing. This is where you can sep­a­rate a vi­sion­ary from a delu­sional leader. Here as well we can see if the elected of­fi­cials are good man­agers of re­sources or sim­ply stupid.

Well for most part, we can’t re­ally blame the en­tire fault to them. Most of the elected of­fi­cials have not taken pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion in their col­lege course or in their post grad­u­ate course. Our only set re­quire­ment for run­ning and oc­cu­py­ing pub­lic of­fice is the abil­ity to read and write. And so they prom­ise all things dur­ing elec­tions to earn votes not know­ing they can­not re­ally ful­fill most of them on a three-year term.

Now that the elec­tion is over, what is the next thing to do? The first thing that lo­cal politi­cians would do is work on the ap­proval of their pet projects. They would build, build, and build. They will build class­rooms, drainage, roads, cov­ered courts, etc. And it may seem that they are do­ing the right thing, but ac­tu­ally they are prob­a­bly wast­ing mil­lions if not bil­lions of peo­ple’s money with­out them know­ing.

The first thing that lead­ers should do sup­pos­edly af­ter the elec­tions is to gather base­line data. Lead­ers should al­ways start with base­line data. One can­not re­ally help a sec­tor or a group if one doesn’t even know how many they are and how se­vere their prob­lems are. Base­line data gives one a point to start and strate­gize ones pro­grams, projects and ac­tiv­i­ties. It also gives the leader a bench­mark to know whether his ef­forts have suc­cess­fully ad­dressed the is­sues.

Base­line data are es­sen­tial in­for­ma­tion for sound de­ci­sions. A lot of poor judg­ments from politi­cians are some­times due to ab­sence of base­line data. With­out it, re­sources gets wasted and no sig­nif­i­cant re­sults are achieved. After­all, the great­ness of a leader is not re­ally mea­sured on how kind he is to his con­stituents but how many lives have been changed for the bet­ter be­cause of his ef­forts. If you can­not quan­tify the out­come then it’s a fail­ure. And a base­line data is al­ways needed to mea­sure such.

This brings me to the point that the na­tional govern­ment should make it manda­tory for all lo­cal gov­ern­ments to have an up­dated Com­mu­nity-based Mon­i­tor­ing Sys­tem (CBMS) so that who­ever sits as pub­lic of­fi­cial will have base­line data to work with in his term of of­fice.

For those who are not fa­mil­iar with CBMS, it is a data bank sys­tem that iden­ti­fies how many peo­ple are ac­tu­ally liv­ing in the area, what their jobs are, how poor they are, etc. It is a very im­por­tant tool to be used be­fore any project is con­cep­tu­al­ized. It can even help us iden­tify how many women and chil­dren are ex­posed when calamity strikes. Sad to say, our politi­cians are only in­ter­ested in how many vot­ers are reg­is­tered in such ar­eas and whether these vot­ers share their po­lit­i­cal color or not. In that case, be­lieve me, they have a very elab­o­rate sys­tem.

Only with a base­line data where one can iden­tify what in­fra­struc­ture should be pri­or­i­tized and where should it be built. With base­line data, in­fra­struc­tures can now be com­ple­mented with ca­pac­ity de­vel­op­ment needed by the peo­ple to max­i­mize the use of the in­fra­struc­ture built. Base­line data pro­vides for strate­gic use of scarce re­sources.*

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