Making Party and Government Organs More Conservation-minded (Extract)

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2011-09-20 14:16
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 The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have always considered it important to make Party and government organs more conservation-minded. Party and government organs at all levels have responded to the requirement of the CPC Central Committee and central government to become more conservation-minded and have made progress in this regard. However, we need to recognize that this progress still falls short of the requirement to apply the Scientific Outlook on Development, the need to improve Party development efforts and the need for government self-improvement as well as public expectations. Party and government organs at all levels need to take into consideration the ramifications for the political situation and overall situation and fully understand the major significance of making Party and government organs more conservation-minded under the current conditions.

 The key tasks for making Party and government organs more conservation-minded

 Construction of new office buildings needs to be strictly controlled. In the State Council’s second Working Meeting on Ensuring Clean Government held in March 2009, Premier Wen Jiabao declared, “From now to the end of 2010, no Party or government organ is allowed to build a new office building, training center, hotel or guesthouse. Legally mandated standards must be adhered to for projects that have already been approved and started. Standards may not be exceeded in the construction or remodeling of housing for leading cadres. No Party or government organ may build a new building in the name of boosting domestic demand.” All localities and all Party and government organs must follow these requirements to the letter. Construction projects should be subjected to strict examination before approval and no Party or government organ construction or enlargement project should be approved for a building used for reception. Demand for office space should be met first through space in existing buildings. Construction standards should be strictly controlled for official office buildings and design of the projects should have a dignified and simple style and should be functional and economical. Master plans should be improved to make more intensive use of land. Where appropriate, different Party or government organs should share a building and support buildings, facilities and equipment. The oversight and regulatory mechanism for construction projects should be improved to resolutely prevent construction of projects that violate regulations and construction of office buildings that exceed legally mandated standards. 

 Management of official cars should be tightened. The process of managing the size of the fleet of official cars should be strengthened to effectively ensure that the size of official fleets is kept within mandated limits. We need to work out an identification system for official cars to strengthen oversight on the use of official cars. Standards for official cars should be promptly adjusted in line with the development of the automobile industry and changes in retail car prices to reduce expenditures for purchasing official cars. We must devote more energy to studying reform of the use of official cars and review the results of trials held in some regions so we can carefully and confidently carry out reform of the use of official cars. 

 Official business expenses need to be strictly controlled. All localities and Party and government organs must fully implement Party and central government requirements, strictly comply with relevant regulations and strengthen oversight and examination procedures and the accountability system to make further progress in controlling official business expenses. We must strengthen budgetary control of expenditures for meetings, business trips, and official receptions. The scope of official business expenses should be strictly defined, standards for official business expenses should be diligently followed and expenditures and reimbursement for official business expenses should be strictly examined before approval. We need to carry out reform of official business expenses, tighten oversight of official business expenses and gradually include official business expenses in the scope of government affairs that are made public to make official business expenses more open and transparent. 

 June 12, 2010, staff of the Administration of Departments Directly under the Government of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region visit an exhibition promoting energy conservation. In the run-up to the 20th National Energy Conservation Week (June 12 to 18), a number of government departments in the Inner Mongolia staged a series of activities related to energy conservation, green travel, the experience of an energy shortage and combating excessive packaging to promote a green office environment and a low-carbon footprint life. / Photo by Xinhua reporter Li Yunping

 Party and government organs need to make a great effort to improve return on investment for their projects. Party and government organs at all levels must strengthen investment management to ensure that funds are used effectively. Decisions should be made scientifically and democratically. They should carefully examine construction projects before deciding to go ahead and make careful and detailed budget estimates. The project management process needs to be improved to strengthen the operating efficiency of the project, shorten the construction period and reduce management expenses. We must actively work to implement the “project contract system” to make project management more professional. Fund management should be tightened to strictly control expenditures and improve fund-use efficiency. Laws and regulations governing public bidding and government procurement should be strictly followed and project oversight should be strengthened to make project construction more transparent and prevent corruption.

 Party and government organs need to increase efforts to conserve energy and reduce emissions. Some preliminary progress has been made in this respect, but there is still great potential in this area. Party and government organs should focus on key links in energy conservation and emission reduction and take effective measures to further reduce energy consumption. One, more effort needs to be made to increase the energy efficiency of buildings. Assessment of energy efficiency before buildings are built needs to be improved to promote energy efficient building design, use of new energy-saving materials and products, and use of new energy sources and renewable energy. Existing buildings should be analyzed and retrofitted to truly reduce energy consumption. Two, we need to reduce consumption of petroleum products and gas. Party and government organs should take the lead in using low-emission, fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars and continue modifying gas-fired boilers, heating systems and cooking stoves to improve energy efficiency. Three, we need to reduce consumption of electricity. Party and government organs should modify facilities and equipment to reduce electricity consumption, optimize lighting system designs and make use of advanced lighting technology. Oversight and management of the use of electrical equipment should be improved and standards for setting the temperature of air-conditioning should be strictly followed to decrease power consumption. Four, we need to do more to conserve on water and materials. Party and government organs should expand the use of water-saving facilities and strengthen maintenance of water-consumption facilities to put an end to waste and loss. They should expand the use of energy-saving, environmentally friendly and renewable office supplies and promote the development of paperless offices and recycling of office waste. 

 Developing stronger institutional guarantees to make Party and government organs more conservation-minded

 We are working to improve related legislation. Recent years have seen the introduction of state laws and regulations such as the Law on Government Procurement, the Energy Conservation Law, and the Regulations on Energy Conservation in Government Offices. Concerned central government departments and regional governments have also formulated rules and regulations. These acts provide certain legal guarantees for making Party and government organs more conservation-minded but they are still not comprehensive. We need to gradually introduce more laws and standards for making Party and government organs more conservation-minded. We need to accelerate formulation of rules and supplementary policies to strongly promote energy conservation in government offices and formulate corresponding rules concerning the affairs of Party and government organs. Operating expenses of Party and government organs and allocation of resources should be set in accordance with economic development, changes in the market, government revenue and actual need. Standards for construction and maintenance of official office buildings need to be improved, setting limits for energy consumption and targets for reduction of consumption of petroleum products, electricity, water and gas in Party and government organs. Dynamic limits should be set for managing expenditures and consumption of energy and natural resources.

 Budgetary control of the expenditures of Party and government organs should be tightened. This is a measure that will promote conservation and control administrative costs at the root. The system of budgetary control for department revenue and expenditures should be improved in line with the requirement to make department budgets more scientific and detailed. Budgetary items should be classified in detail according to the characteristics of different department organs to make budgets more scientific and specific. We must tighten examination and verification procedures for operating expenses in budgets of Party and government organs and strictly control budget revisions to avoid exceeding budgetary limits. Party and government organs should improve cost accounting, carry out performance-based management and strengthen internal controls. They need to move away from focusing on form to the neglect of actual results and focusing on making investments without taking into consideration return on investment to make the more efficient use of funds and avoid extravagance and waste.

 Management of state assets needs to be tightened. The system of asset management needs to be improved by making management responsibilities more clear. Management of tangible assets should provide a reference for budgetary management of assets and budgetary control of assets should restrain management of tangible assets. We need to strengthen centralized examination and registration of assets, standardize the purchase, use and disposition of state assets and diligently implement the management responsibility system to ensure that every state asset has someone responsible for its management and oversight to prevent assets from laying idle and being wasted or being lost. More innovations need to be made in the way assets are managed, developing separate ways suitable for the management of the assets of administrative organs and government institutions, movable and fixed assets, and profit making and non-profit making assets. We need to make good use of market forces and develop a platform for adjusting and disposing of assets to make best use of stored assets and increase returns from the use of assets.

 We need to greatly increase the scope of government procurement. This is an important measure for the effort to decrease expenditures for purchases and conserve on the use of government funds. Party and government organs should continue adhering to the system of centralized government procurement and strictly follow standards for purchases so that centralized procurement can play its full role and purchases are made according to actual need and in accordance with the law. Methods for carrying out measures for centralized procurement should be improved by standardizing the purchasing process and increasing the use of IT to promote more transparency and more online purchasing to reduce overhead for purchases. In addition, centralized government procurement should play a stronger role as a policy guide for energy conservation by increasing the number of energy-saving products and the scope of products subject to government procurement, thereby controlling the consumption of energy and resources in Party and government organs at the source.

 Oversight and inspection need to be strengthened. Making Party and government organs more conservation-minded involves many areas. Government departments responsible for managing the affairs of Party and government organs and departments responsible for development and reform, finance, auditing and discipline inspection and supervision should strengthen coordination and cooperation based on their respective duties to form an integrated force. Responsible departments of the State Council should increase their efforts to make Party and government organs more conservation-minded by strengthening their guidance and oversight and constantly review their experience so that they can expand application of their accomplishments and effective measures. The role of auditing and oversight should be strengthened by increasing follow-up auditing of operating expenditures of Party and government organs, especially for engineering projects. Operating expenditures of Party and government organs should gradually be incorporated in the scope of government affairs that are open to the public so they can be subject to the oversight of all their personnel and the general public. A system should be developed for assessing the goal attainment and handing out rewards and punishment that assigns responsibilities to all individuals, job positions and routine management personnel for energy conservation. The administrative accountability system must be diligently followed by strictly prosecuting management personnel responsible for tremendous waste due to negligence or poor management and the persons directly responsible for the waste.

(From Qiushi in Chinese, No. 2, 2010)

Note: Author: Member and Secretary General of the State Council of the P.R.C 

This is a transcript of a talk the author gave at the Conference to Exchange Experience in Making Party and Government Organs More Conservation-minded and the Fourth Congress of the National Association for Government Affairs on November 12, 2009, which was issued in an abridged version.

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