How to Make Strategy 2020 Matter
27 November, 2014
The government has released its Social-economic Development Strategy of Georgia. This is a great first step. It says a great deal about the former administration that they never produced one in all their decade of power. They would say they were too busy for such dull pointless work, and maybe they were right, but that also meant that there were very few entry points for those not in the inner circle to have a discussion about where Georgia should go. And
they wanted it that way. So hats off to this government for this formal strategy.
But there is a way to make it much more useful. What we have now is a plan that says, we will improve this, we will facilitate that, it says things like, “The Government‘s economic policy will achieve prosperity through reducing unemployment.” This is a good idea and nobody will disagree with it, but it is not very useful for those in ministries or the parliament. If the government wants to create a more useful document they will make a Vision of Georgia in 2020. The current document lists lots of very good things, has a few numbers and says the government will try to move in the direction of those numbers. But the few numbers there are fall just short of being specific enough to be actually useful.
A vision of Georgia on the other hand, could be very specific. It would include very detailed information about society, life expectancy, disease rates, income per person broken down by city and region. Number of new businesses, number of factories and their locations, number of civil servants broken down by ministry, exactly what local government looks like. Housing, the amount of IDPs and where they live, the amount of schools, the amount of students, what they study, languages they speak, size of is the army and each of its parts and ranks and what it is designed to do, what is exported, crops that are grown, the amount of prisoners, consulption and sources of electricity, the amount of cars on the road and how many people are killed or injured in them and by them...and many many more.
The list of statistics could be very long indeed. But with careful selection they could be such a useful guide for officials. The whole point would be that it would be very easy to measure if ministries and others are moving in the right direction, or moving at all.
But of course the political liabilities are giant. No government or political party would want to have to say some of the things they would have to say in that document. Five years is still within the political horizon. They will be judged by that document. So perhaps the more realistic thing would be for the government as a part of the discussion about Strategy 2020 to invite the international community and NGOs to combine their efforts to write their own Vision 2020. But the government would participate, comment, welcome the effort. That way it is not their responsibility, but they are involved.
What citizens want to know is the same thing officials want to know: Where are we going? Just point us in the direction we are going. This strategy document is an important step. But what we really need is an
exact map of what we want 2020 to look like. It won’t matter if we get there, but think of the conversations we must have to create that document! What a joy it would be to talk about those things, rather than the pointless inanities that pass for political discussion most of the time in Georgia, particularly on television. As the senior allied commander in WWII and president of the United States from 1950 to 1958, Dwight Eisenhower was fond of saying, “the plan is nothing,
planning is everything.”