(State Management Review) – The industrial revolution 4.0 has gained attention of governments, businesses, scholars and public opinion in recent years. However, there are no studies focusing on the question: What elements of the 4.0 industrial revolution can policy makers apply to the policy formulation? The paper will address the core elements of the digital technology in the industrial revolution 4.0 and propose some solutions to apply those factors to the policy making process in Vietnam.
Policy formulation in Vietnam
Policy formulation is the first stage of the policy cycle, in which public problems were identified and included in the public agenda. Policy makers study the identified public issues, develop and promulgate a public policy. It can be understood that policy formulation is a process through which a public problem is presented in the public agenda and a policy is developed and promulgated to solve that public problem.
Policy development is the second phase of the policy formulation, aiming to develop policy content and provide a basis for policy decision. Therefore, the quality of a public policy mainly depends on the policy development stage – this means that to improve the quality of a public policy in Vietnam, it is firstly necessary to improve the quality of policy development and follow the process of public formulation as follows:
According to Chapter II, Sections 1, 2, and 3; Chapter IV; and Chapter V of the 2015 Law on Promulgation of legal normative documents, the policy formulation process is incorporated into the process of promulgating legal normative documents. Accordingly, the policy formulation process consists of three phases: (1) Agenda setting; (2) drafting a policy document; (3) promulgating and publishing the policy document.
Agenda setting is the process in which a policy proposal is formulated and incorporated in the agenda of policy development by a competent state agency.
Agenda setting includes drafting a proposal for policy development; verifying a proposal for policy development; reviewing and adopting the agenda of policy development. Policy development is identified as the most important step, deciding the quality of a policy, including problem identification, policy goal setting, problem solving solution identification, assessment of impact of the solutions, cost and benefit analysis of the solutions, policy options.
The outputs of this phase are the proposal for policy development, the proposed policy impact assessment report, explaining the need to promulgate a policy, the policy options, and decision by competent state agencies on integrating this proposal into the agenda of policy development.
Drafting a policy document
Drafting a policy document is a process in which drafters use methods and tools, mainly language, to express policy contents in the form of a document according to the legal provisions before submitting it to the competent state agencies for approval.
In this phase, the agency and organization in charge of drafting a policy document conduct necessary activities to develop a draft policy document. The drafting process follows a certain procedure: setting up a drafting committee; drafting a policy document; getting comments on the policy document draft; verifying the draft; revising and finalizing the draft, submitting the draft for adoption of the draft policy document.
Promulgating and publishing the policy document
Promulgating the policy document is the process in which after debating the competent state agency reaches agreement on the content of the draft policy document, votes for approval, and signs for promulgation of the policy document.
The process of promulgating and publishing a policy document depends on the authority to promulgate a policy document and includes the following key steps: submitting the policy document draft; appraising or verifying the policy document draft; reviewing and adopting the policy document draft; signing for promulgation of the policy document; and publishing the policy document.
The above policy formulation process shows that the policy development is incorporated into the process of setting a policy development agenda. It also clearly separates the development of a policy document from the development of a legal normative document (a document with provisions on policy)t, thereby shortening the time to draft a legal normative document (because there is no need to conduct policy analysis and policy content development as regulated in the Law on the Promulgation of legal normative documents in 2008). Since the policy has been adopted right in the stage of agenda setting, the actor who proposed the policy should be held responsible for policy quality ; and the agencies in charge of development of detailed regulations to implement the policy will have more time for their development, which prevent the delay of the policy implementation in practice.
For a high quality policy, actors involving in the policy formulation must conduct a series of logical, inter-related activities – called policy analysis. These activities include: (1) identifying a policy problem; (2) setting policy goals; (3) designing policy solutions; (4) assessing the impact of the policy; and (5) consulting stakeholders about the proposed policy. Accordingly, policy makers should perform the following tasks: to review the legislation implementation or evaluate the existing legal normative documents relating to the proposed policy document ; to conduct a survey and assess the current state of the social relations relating to the proposed policy; to organize research on the relevant issues to support the proposal for a policy document; to study relevant information, documents, international treaties of which Vietnam is a signatory; to develop the policy content in the proposal for a policy document; to assess the direct impact of each policy; to gather opinions of relevant agencies, organizations according to regulations and those directly affected by the proposed policy; to post explanatory and responding reports on the portals of the agency, organization proposing the policy document development.
Clearly, the main activities of policy development are gathering, processing and analyzing information to develop the policy content and provide the rationales (arguments and evidence) for policy options by the competent authority.
Application of digital technology in the industrial revolution 4.0 into the policy formulation in Vietnam
As mentioned above the core elements of digital technology in the industrial revolution 4.0 including: artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and big data[ii] can support the main activities of the policy development, such as providing, gathering and exchanging information and data (IoT and Big Data); processing and analyzing information to solve problems (AI). The application bring about many benefits such as increasing the pace and effectiveness as well as the openness and transparency of the policy development process, and improving the quality of policies. Specifically:
- Policy development requires a large amount of information and data in different fields. Therefore, the application of digital technology in the policy development process will help to provide complete, diverse, accurate information and speed up information processing, thereby shortening the time of policy development and saving cost of information gathering and processing.
- In policy development, policy makers must use knowledge and many different techniques, interdisciplinary knowledge of politics, public administration, law, economics and sociology in problem analysis, goal setting, problem-solving solution identification, and assessment of impact of each solution. Policy makers need to apply techniques to gather and process the necessary information to identify the right policy problem and design all possible solution options and digital technology will ease the process.
- A crucial task in policy development is to assess the impact of policy options and propose the optimal option. Assessing policy impacts requires anticipation of socio-economic, environment, administrative procedures, gender impacts, and the consistency of the legal system, and other impacts of the problem-solving option. When undertaking this task, policy makers must not only gather a large amount of data and information but also use qualitative and quantitative methods in impact assessment to identify and anticipate impacts of each policy option. They even need to consult with the stakeholders. Therefore, the application of digital technology in policy impact assessment will help ensure objectivity, publicity, transparency, save time and manpower in making policy impact assessment reports help improve the quality of the report and select the optimal policy option.
- In policy formulation, it is necessary to consult relevant agencies and organizations according to regulations and those directly affected by the proposed policies and policy solutions; to synthesize, study, integrate comments, and report. The application of digital technology in solicitation of public comments, gathering and integrating the comments, responding to the comments will help to speed up this step, reach more audience, and ensure objectivity and democracy.
Solutions for the application of digital technology into policy making in Vietnam
Firstly, promoting information and communication to raise the awareness of the policy makers and stakeholders concerning the industrial revolution 4.0 and its applications into policy development to enhance the quality of the proposed policies.
Secondly, designing and delivering training for policy makers on policy analysis knowledge and skills, big data analysis, application of internet of things to involve the whole society in the policy development process; application of artificial intelligence into information gathering and processing, policy analysis.
Thirdly, accelerating e-Government according to the Government’s Resolution No. 17/NQ-CP dated March 7, 2019 on some key tasks and solutions for e-government development in the period of 2019 – 2020 with a vision to 2025; building a digital government, digital economy, and digital society. Speeding up the development of a national database of sectors and areas to facilitate the data connection and sharing among the information systems of ministries, agencies, organizations in policy development.
Policy development is a stage of the Policy Council process – this is the stage of developing policy content and policy quality regulations in the legislative proposal. When developing policy contents, policy makers must apply knowledge and many different techniques based on interdisciplinary knowledge to gather, process and analyze information to analyze problems, set goals. , identify policy solutions and assess the impact of each policy solution.
Policy development is a stage of the policy formulation process, focusing on developing the policy content in the proposal for a legal normative document proposal, affecting the quality of policy. When developing the policy content, policy makers must apply various interdisciplinary knowledge and skills to gather, process and analyze information to identify problems, set goals, develop policy solutions, and assess the impact of each policy solution.
The elements of the digital technology can be applied in the main activities of the policy formulation, such as in providing, gathering, exchanging information and data (IoT and Big Data), information processing and analysis to solve problems (AI). This application will save time and resources, and more importantly, improve the quality of the proposed policies, provide a robust rationale (arguments and evidence) for the optimal policy choice.
However, in order to take advantage of the digital technology in the policy development, the State should implement a number of solutions such as: promoting information and communication on the industrial revolution 4.0; training policy makers on knowledge and skills to apply digital technology into policy analysis; accelerating e-government, building a digital government, digital economy, digital society.
[i] Policy documents in this paper are referred to documents with policy content provisions such as laws, ordinances, resolutions, and decrees.
[ii] Cách mạng 4.0 là gì? Nó sẽ ảnh hưởng như thế nào đến Việt Nam? Retrieved from https://Blogchiasekienthuc.com, dated May 10, /2019.
Dr. Le Van Hoa
National Academy of Public Administration