A for Accountability...
In continuity of our discussion in the last issue, when we talked about project management in nation building, we collected some data from the website of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. According to this body (which is tasked with tracking large projects in the central sector) 227 projects above Rs 150 crore in value, are delayed by a (simple, not weighted!) average of 31 months each. The interest cost of this delay alone, is a staggering Rs 1 lakh crore already, not to talk about the opportunity cost of such delayed projects - this could be even larger. If we were to add the impact of projects delayed in State and private sectors, the loss will easily top 5 lakh crore of Rupees, and one can well imagine how much value we can add to the GDP of our nation if we were to just do our projects right.
And, what are the reasons for the delay of these government projects? According to this website, the reasons are:
During the recent event, an eminent colleague on the dais pointed out that, when it comes to fixing responsibility at lower levels, we immediately suspend or transfer or even sack people, while we start talking about enquiries and process improvements when the muck hits the higher echelons. Nothing can be more tellingly closer to the reality. We must bring back the culture of ownership and accountability, and for this to happen, we must be objective in determining the "real" root causes of delays, and take corrective actions. This can only happen over time, and with collective efforts of the project management fraternity across government and private sectors alike.
Bottom line is, there has to be a project owner for every project, and s/he has to be fully accountable for delivering the project - the buck must stop with her/him. This owner has to be empowered to do her job well, principally by two means; firstly, by giving her the appropriate authority of decision making, and secondly, by giving her the knowledge to do her job well. Hope we contribute to this, in some small measure, through this column.
- Sumit Banerjee