The Strategic Transformation Office (STO) has been established by the Order of the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Number 19/2018 (B.E. 2561) to be a key government agency who drives the Country Reform, the National Strategy, and the Reconciliation Plans into action .
The main tasks and responsibilities of STO are:
(1) to suggest measures and solutions to the government in order to implement the Country Reform, the National Strategy, and the Reconciliation Plans efficiently,
(2) to gather and utilize the government data regarding the Country Reform, the National Strategy, and the Reconciliation Plans,
(3) to cooperate with the National Strategy Committee, the Country Reform Committees, and other relevant committees and agencies,
(4) to receive any claims, complains and suggestions regarding implementation of the National Strategy, the Development Master Plans, and the Reconciliation Plans from public,
(5) to arrange specific trainings for government officers regarding the Country Reform, the National Strategy, and the Reconciliation Plans,
(6) to do other tasks that the Prime Minister assign.
STO has been set up to work directly under the Prime Minister of Thailand, which is not a part of any ministries or commissioners. Since it is anticipated to be a special task force for the Prime Minister to drive some specific agendas, STO has been designed to be compact and dissolvable. There are 55 officers in its organizational structure, and five years duration for its working period. After five years of operation, the National Strategy Committee (NSC) will consider whether STO should continue or finish its missions.
There are five divisions established by the Order of the Prime Minister Number 7/2019 (B.E. 2562), which are Divisions 1-3, Innovation Division, and Central Administration Division. The Divisions 1-3 have been assigned to cooperate academically and professionally with the selected national committees, and to drive urgent policies into practice. Meanwhile, the main duties of the Innovation Division are to develop innovations and to apply digital information technology and artificial intelligence with public processes in order to enhance country’s competitiveness and development. The Central Administration Division has a duty to manage human and financial resources, and to do any other assignments.
Partnership for Change: Being A Jigsaw between Policy-Makers and Executors
For many decades, Thailand has applied ‘a dual-track policy approach’, which employs both top-down and bottom-up mechanisms for country’s development. Typically, the central government agencies initiate multi-dimensional socioeconomic policies, and then ask the regional and the local government bodies to implement them. In a meantime, local authorities and communities can also raise their problems that they want the central government to concern and to solve.
Thailand has employed this kind of policy approach for a number of years; unfortunately, its development level is still unsatisfied. Although its macroeconomic indicators show a moderate economic growth (approximately three percent of GDP growth) in these recent years, inequalities still exist. A number of Thai people have been found unsecured, poor, and lack of opportunities. This signals that the government should revise its policy implementation approach.
STO has analyzed this structural problem and found that there is a missing link between policy-makers in the central government and executors in the local areas. A number of policies and measures to stimulate the economy and develop the society have been initiated from the central government, which the local authorities across the country have implemented. However, a number of evidences shows that the government policies are not as effective as planned since the local executors do not understand the policies’ intentions. This might be because the policy-makers have not worked closely with the local executors, but only cooperated with a policy level in the relevant ministries.
In this regard, STO has positioned itself as ‘partnership for change’ to connect policy-makers, local executors, and other stakeholders altogether. Since STO has been designed to focus on an implementation of National Strategy and other plans, it applies ‘the dual-track policy approach’ in its working style.
In any issues that STO has been assigned, the officers normally start with gathering relevant data from all stakeholders and verifying that information. Not just the policy-makers that STO staffs work closely with, but also the local executors in targeted areas. Knowing their problems, pain points and demands would help the policy-makers to amend their policies for better results and impacts. Government innovations, i.e. big data, geographical interactive map, and cloud-based applications, are typically applied in STO’s works in order to facility operations of public agencies.