A December 17 State Council policy outlines a rating system for China’s civil service bodies, to be completed by the end of 2020, with the aim of ensuring that:
“every government service item, every government service agency, government service platform, and all government personnel are evaluated.”
The plan aims to tackle inefficiency and transparency and through the establishment of a “national integrated online government service platform” and employ big data to unearth bottlenecks and rectify pain points.
The system will offer incentives for civil service units with a record of positive feedback from companies and the general public, and regulate those with a history of complaints.
Ratings will be based on feedback and information gathered via four channels:
- Service rating equipment installed at government service windows
- Feedback modules built into government services websites
- Feedback collected via other channels, like hotline call-ins, emails and suggestion boxes
How does this relate to social credit?
Only theoretically. China’s central government conceptualizes social credit as a Swiss army knife for restoring trust in the market. The concept of “trust” includes trust between individuals in a social context, trust in the business environment, and trust between the government and the public.
The 2014 umbrella policy that kicked off the current incarnation of the social credit system singles out government services as one of several primary targets of regulation. In order to regulate government services, data is needed. Though this policy doesn’t directly fall under the banner of social credit, it’s worth noting, since it may prove to be one channel through which that data is collected.
What does this mean for businesses?
The policy requires the results of government evaluations to be made publicly available.
In theory, this means that companies will have access to data that will help them make better business decisions – which province has the most efficient local bureaucracy, and is a better choice for incorporating a branch office, for example.
But practically speaking, it remains to be seen how complete, genuinely useful, and faithfully transparent that data really is.