Following up on the idea of a Government focussed on customer service, I'd like to look at the "Doing Business" series of reports that the World Bank has set out. These reports have helped trigger reforms in the business environment in numerous countries. This is really a sort of standard corporate benchmarking exercise executed well. I believe that the time has come for a similar series of "Living Life" reports that compare sovereign governments, and within countries, comparison of sub-regions right down to municipality or village wards.
Note : This part of the post was added later. The original post is available after the jump.
The World Bank has started an annual series of reports titled "Doing Business." The overall objective is to make it easier to do business in countries. The tools that are used are (a) a relatively simplistic but significant set of well defined metrics, (b) Annual data collection with standardisation of definitions, (c) Comparison across countries on each indicator, with absolute measures as well as rankings available as a time series, and (d) Discussions on the ways laggards can move to the top end of the scale based on what other countries have done. The areas where metrics have been defined includes (a) Starting a Business, (b) Dealing with Construction Permits, (c) Employing Workers, (d) Registering Property, (e) Getting Credit, (f) Protecting Investors, (g) Paying Taxes, (h) Trading across Borders, (i) Enforcing Contracts, and (j) Closing a Business. Each has further sub-metrics. For the curious, India ended up ranked 133 out of 183. SIngapore is #1, Japan #15, Mexico #51, China #89, Russia #120 and Brazil #129. On the sub indicators, we do best on Getting Credit (#30) and Protecting Investors (#41), and worst on Starting a Business (#169), Dealing with Construction Permits (#175), Paying Taxes (#169) & Enforcing Contracts (#182). In other words, there's only 1 country on the entire list of 183 that are worse at Enforcing Contracts than India. Or 14 as far as Paying Taxes or Starting a Business. Only 8 as far as getting Construction Permits goes.