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Thursday, 09 February 2012 00:34
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Jairam plans a concurrent audit to ensure his ministry’s spend delivers the best bang for the buck

Getting line ministries to keep a check on their expenditure, to see if it delivers the biggest bang for the buck, has always been a challenge, and one which will come up again now that the Union Budget is barely a month away. One of the main reasons why the UIDAI project has faced the kind of opposition it has, for instance, has been due to the reluctance of line ministries to cede control.

So it comes as a breath of fresh air when the country’s second-largest spender, the ministry of rural development, not just says it is open to such evaluation, but actually proposes this on its own. Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh has written to the Prime Minister proposing such a concurrent evaluation of his ministry’s programmes. A proposal by Rohini Pande of Harvard and Abhijit Banerjee of MIT has been sent to the Prime Minister and the idea is to host this under an Independent Evaluation Office in the ministry. The evaluation will also include setting up of pilot projects to examine what works best, apart from monitoring of ongoing projects. One hopes the Prime Minister will approve the idea quickly and that the move will enthuse other line ministries to emulate the rural development ministry. Indeed, as a general rule, all expenditure programmes should include funds to evaluate just how well they are doing.



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