Back to the Future
Back to the Future

Back to the Future

Earlier this month President Hassan Rouhani ordered the Management and Planning Organization split into Planning and Budget Organization and the Administrative and State Recruitment Organization 

Back to the Future

First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri says downsizing the government and improving productivity have always been incorporated into development plans. “But, unfortunately, what happened was that the government got bigger over the years, productivity declined and corruption prevailed.”
Jahangiri made the critical assessment Wednesday at the inauguration ceremony of Mohammad Baqer Nobakht and Jamshid Ansari as presidential deputies and chiefs of the newly-revived Planning and Budget Organization and the Administrative and State Recruitment Organization.
Earlier this month President Hassan Rouhani ordered the MPO (the body in charge of devising annual, 5-year and 20-year development plans) split into Planning and Budget Organization and the Administrative and State Recruitment Organization. In other words, he engineered the revival of the Planning and Budget Organization and the Administrative and State Recruitment Organization after 16 years.
In 2000, the two organizations were merged into the Management and Planning Organization of Iran. The move aimed at unifying and downsizing the government and strengthening one of the best known organizations since 1948. 
The short-lived merger, however, was dissolved by former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2007 “since it was founded by the Americans and naturally follows their goals”. In its place the former president created a low-profile office and named it the Planning and Strategic Supervision Department.
Dissolution of MPO was one of the most controversial policies of the Ahmadinejad administration. Respected economists time and again blamed uninformed economic decisions by his inner circle on the absence of a strong planning and decision-making team. They often called for the rebirth of the MPO to help bring back some stability to the sputtering economy.
Reviving the MPO turned into one of the main promises President Rouhani made during his campaign back in 2013. He delivered on his promise in November 2014. Rouhani’s advisor for Supervision and Strategic Affairs and the spokesperson of his government, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, was appointed head of the MPO.

  A Snap Decision?
With less than a year before the end of his term, Rouhani, he ordered the MPO to return to its earlier organizational structure earlier, a move that +stopped many economists in their tracks. According to what the president said in his recent TV interview, the leaked paychecks of senior executives [exposing exorbitant pay plus bonuses] sparked the idea of the revival of the Administrative and State Recruitment Organization. Interestingly, he said the move would also help downsize the government.
The first vice president had previously blamed the absence of an oversight body  ( MPO) for the inflated paychecks [during the former administration] in a report to the president in the aftermath of the salary scandal.  
Despite criticisms levelled at the president for the dissolution of the MPO, notable economists believe Rouhani’s decision cannot be likened to Ahmadinejad’s. The previous government saw organizations such as MPO as a hurdle in the way of its goals and policies, says Alinaqi Mashayekhi, professor at Sharif University of Technology. “They wanted to spend increased revenues from oil exports the way they saw fit and fast,” Tejarat-e Farda weekly quoted him as saying. “But the Rouhani team intends to reduce the additional responsibilities of the MPO and revive the Administrative and State Recruitment Organization.”
Experts think that since the objectives of Planning and Budget Organization and Administrative and State Recruitment Organization overlap, planning and decision-making authority should rest with one body. “I don’t approve of the president’s decision. Delegating authority to smart and strong executives was a better option than turning the organization topsy-turvy,” Mashayekhi said.
“What followed the dissolution of the MPO in 2007 was the layoff of experienced and seasoned executives and technocrats with knowledge of planning, budgeting and HR management. These elder statesmen were never rehired by Ahmadinejad government due to political reasons. This left a chasm between veteran policymakers and younger junior managers simply because experience was not transferred to the new generation of executives.”
Unfortunately, the Rouhani government failed to bridge this gap even after the revival of the organization, the economist said. “Had the government enjoyed the services and know-how of experts it would not have to succumb to second dissolution of the MPO.”


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