Episode 514: Politicians should Show Us "Productivity Improvement" Practically!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Work-life balance of politicians and bureaucrats

As in other developed countries, Japan is also facing the limits of existing "welfare state line".

In other words, every political parties agree on the basic policy of "streamlining the administration" (simple and efficient government). Cannot go against the flow of the times.

* Through the chain of bankruptcies that occurred in the 1930s (the Great Depression), human beings denied "laissez-faireism" and affirmed "social security" by a big government. After the economic stagnation (Oil crisis) that occurred in the 1970s, human beings to be aware of "inefficiency of welfare state" and accepted a recurrence to a "competitive society" in a smaller government. Securing of tax revenue became difficult for corporate activities since the 1990s cross country border. While maintenance of infrastructure and medical expenses increase, and as a result, the existing "welfare state line" would not go on.

However, "Discussions on administrative efficiency improvement in the National Assembly" does not mesh at all.

The direction of reforms to be discussed is diverse, for example, 1) to stop "Hanko administration", 2) to promote the "privatization of special purpose entities", and 3) to unify the collection of health insurance, pensions and income taxes". However in any direction it seems that it is not easy to form an agreement on "how to make it smaller" or "the procedure to shrink" the government that has grown big.

As a result, the Diet members repeat similar questions and the Cabinet repeats the same answers.

"Questions" are submitted at midnight, "Responses" are created in the middle of the night, "briefing to Minister " is held early in the morning. The National Assembly itself is promoting 'enlargement of administration'. "Productivity improvement" they say is already a nonsense.

How to make question by Diet members

In the first place, the work of Diet members is not "performing in the galleries" to be looking good on TV. To the private sector, the committee deliberations seem merely 'long-term meeting' which detains people who are paid high hourly wages like the Minister from 9 o'clock in the morning to late evening. What do the investors think if the "Board of Directors" was held from morning till evening, and ended up with some of the directors "appealing to leave away"?

If they feel that there are matters to correct about the Cabinet submission bill and national politics in general, they should use more "written question" than "verbal question". And, they should refer to past questions (FAQ) (not like a private FAQ site), when asking questions. If they dare to ask the same question, they can ask "Is there any change in the answer contents of FAQ-20161213-01?" Then the Cabinet will simply click "No".

There is no qualification for talking about "national interest" for a member who only claims "deliberation time is short". (Rather, the number of questions should be his or her KPI.)

[Cabinet answer creation]

Automation of Cabinet answer

This year, the Japanese bureaucracy began a demonstration experiment to make Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create an "Answer in the Diet Draft".

It is an attempt to automate a part of the Step in the Business Process, and the media generally take it affirmative. In regard of the current situation that many similar questions are asked, "productivity" will certainly be improved. However, in the aspect of "Business Process Improvement", I would say "That is fine. But aren't there more points to be improved?" That is, you have to reconsider the current situation such as "question submission is until 22 o'clock" or "Minister briefing from 7 o'clock in the morning".

Show yourself as a model of "Productivity improvement"

It is similar to the story which said "writing preparation for the answer should be done at home after returning". I am very fond of that to set the banner of overtime reduction / telework promotion, and put it into practice. But yet, we need to discuss "That is fine. But aren't there more points to be improved?" That is because, changing "workers" or "workplace" alone will not lead to drastic productivity gains.

If I dare to suggest the "reforming policy", the policy would be "committee time is up to 2 hours in the morning / 2 hours in the afternoon at the most in a day".

And by designing the Business Processes based on that policy, we aim at labor saving and "productivity improvement". Politicians and bureaucrats who are good at studying could realize "9 to 5" (9: 00 - 17: 00) and show a model of productivity improvement to the people.

It is too late when someone concerning in the National Diet has committed "overwork-induced suicide"!

[Cabinet answer creation:"1. Accepting questions and forwarding to the Cabinet" screen]

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