The Shaoxing Municipal Government faced a number of institutionalized obstacles to smooth service provision, including poorly trained and inexperienced workers, insufficient overall quality control, and inefficient and disorganized work conducted without a systemic appraisal method. Lacking centralized oversight, each member of the Shaoxing Municipality’s staff confined herself to individual assigned tasks, without a sense of the Office’s working procedures and methodologies. By choosing to implement ISO-9000 standards for service provision, the Shaoxing Municipal Government was able to raise the general level of its services, while meeting the needs of clients at all levels of municipal leadership more efficiently.
In May 2001, the local government office of Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province, was the first on the prefectural level in China to adopt ISO-9000 quality standards as a benchmark for its own administrative systems. On September 14, 2001, and again in September 2004, the Shaoxing government office passed ISO-9000 authentication according to principles of legal administration and provision of comprehensive service, including processing papers, holding meetings, and implementing decisions.
While ISO-9000 standards apply primarily to manufacturing and service industries, Shaoxing municipal office innovators were able to adjust evaluation standards to suit their government service provisions. Bureaucrats clearly delineated procedures in the Shaoxing Manual of Governmental Office Quality Management, stipulating policies, goals, and methods of office management, a system of comprehensive service quality management, specific responsibilities for individual administrators, and goals for measurement, analysis, and improvement of bureaucratic performance. The Manual provides examples of specific documents accompanying strategies for improving service quality, goal management, materials and records distribution, personnel allocation, and client satisfaction. By relying on a computer- and network-based office, the Shaoxing municipal government has brought its office into compliance with ISO-9000 standards for procedural management.
ISO-9000 compliance demands participation by all local bureaucrats and municipal staff members, intensive process monitoring, and continuous improvement in service provision. After implementing these exacting standards for review, the municipality issued a survey to its seven chief and vice mayors, twenty-three government departments, the municipal branch of the CCIP, and the municipal office of the National People’s Congress to gauge client satisfaction in government services and city order, environment, and appearance. The results revealed a 90% satisfaction rate relating to document processing.
Since adopting ISO-9000 quality management standards, Shaoxing Municipal Government has been taken as a model by many localities. At present, under its influence, nearly ten governmental offices in Zhejiang Province, including Ningbo, and Xiacheng District in Hangzhou have applied or are applying for ISO-9000 certification. The implementation of this system galvanized bureaucrats to overhaul inefficient office management systems and to standardize various service provision procedures while defining duties for internal departments and individual staff members.