World Bank-supported surveys provide information for improving service delivery, lay the groundwork for further research
DANANG, August 27, 2015 – Opinion surveys supported by the World Bank in four provinces of Vietnam provided a trove of new information to help the government agencies devise policies to improve service delivery, and also created a foundation for similar research in the future, according to a new report.
The surveys collected detailed user feedback of public service users at the agency level to help identify actionable reforms and capacity development needs. Previous government surveys involving service delivery lacked available data at the agency level.
“We need to know how users of public services want them to be, and surveys like this can shine a light on what works and what needs attention,” said Soren Davidsen, Senior Governance Specialist for the World Bank in Vietnam. “This approach has been applied across many different and diverse countries such as the Philippines, India, the United States and the Scandinavian countries.”
Conducted in Binh Dinh, Thanh Hoa, Phu Tho and Vinh Phuc provinces in 2014 and 2015, the surveys assessed four aspects of service delivery: accessibility, responsiveness, cost of services and feedback mechanisms.
Sectors surveyed included the issuance of land use right certificates and land use right transfer, issuance of business and construction permits, and health services. The surveys were not intended to provide aggregate findings for overall satisfaction in each province but only at the survey agency level. This was done to help the specific agencies to confirm good performance and take action where needed.
Survey findings detailed in the report, “Gauging User Feedback for Better Service Delivery in Vietnam,” showed the precision needed in evaluating information measures. For example, almost 100 percent of respondents in all four provinces said restrooms were available at hospitals, but only half expressed satisfaction with them. In contrast, less than half of the patients said drinking water was available, but 70 percent were satisfied with the situation. In Vinh Phuc and Binh Dinh, about 30 percent of patients had to share beds, but most patients in the surveys expressed satisfaction with their treatment and the hospital facilities.
The survey findings provided actionable recommendations for agencies and provinces to bring better services to users. For example, hospitals should consider extending clinic times out of working hours and improve maintenance of restrooms, drinking water and fans or air conditioners at public service delivery points. The surveys included an action matrix for steps needed to address identified shortcomings.
“This is the first time that we undertook user feedback survey at the service delivery point level, and we found the findings to be very helpful,” said Chu Ngoc Anh, Chairman of Phu Tho Provincial People’s Committee. “Based on those findings, we can take specific actions to improve our public services.”
The four participating provinces were actively involved in the decision-making and administration of the surveys. Provincial and agency staffs also were trained and developed in undertaking user surveys so that they can conduct similar research in the future. The surveys were, however, undertaken by independent interviewers. All four provinces have incorporated funding for future surveys into their annual budget, ensuring that the research process will continue.