In 2008 Malaysia’s voters expressed deep discontent with government services by handing the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, its worst election performance since independence in 1957. Poor service delivery reflected gaps in accountability, disparities in policy planning, and inadequate coordination across public agencies, especially at the ministerial level. After assuming office in 2009, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak appointed Idris Jala, a politically unaffiliated corporate executive, as a cabinet minister to head the newly created Performance Management and Delivery Unit, known by the acronym Pemandu, which also means “the driver” in Malay. Najib assigned the new agency the job of monitoring and improving the performance of ministries. Idris facilitated policy planning by issuing a roadmap for change, developed by civil servants in eight six-week “lab” sessions held in October and November of 2009. Leveraging his role as an unaffiliated cabinet minister, Idris and his team at Pemandu then set about implementing the roadmap, building a service delivery chain that linked the cabinet minister to the citizenry via the civil service and implementing agencies. Under Idris, Pemandu implemented the Government Transformation Program (GTP), a system that focused ministries on six key results areas, involving measurable service delivery targets against which ministers and inter-ministerial initiatives would be assessed.
Deepa Iyer drafted this case on the basis of interviews conducted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in March 2011. Case published July 2011.
Associated Interview(s): Idris Jala
Centers of Government
Performance management system
Preparation of policy papers and choices
Principal-agent problem (delegation)
Country of Reform: