During a meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) where the implementation of foreign-funded projects was being discussed, some rather unconventional ideas were put forth. In a bid to accelerate work on development projects that are behind schedule in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, the federal government has decided to keep a physical check on their progress through satellite-based monitoring.

The inclusion of technology to streamline processes and increase efficiency is always a welcome move, but the feasibility of measures is something that needs to be taken into consideration as well. As per reports, a three-pronged approach will be adopted to keep track of these projects, which would entail physical verification via the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission’s (Suparco) satellites, financial tracking and prioritisation of fast-moving projects over slow-moving ones, and the use of Gantt charts to monitor project timelines and ensure timely completion of objectives.

While the intention to ensure smoother implementation of projects is well received, one wonders if the government needs to reinvent the wheel for what is considered to be a routine task of project management. Of course, the completion of projects has been a longstanding issue because of inefficient organisational structures and poor allocation of resources. However, these issues can be remedied through increased public scrutiny and transparency.

Non-sensitive data related to the projects can be shared with the public and journalists so they can keep track of the progress against Key Performance Indicators. Also, the other measures stated regarding financial tracking and using Gantt charts are elementary in nature, and one must question why they were not already in place before.

Though no financial details have been revealed regarding this new monitoring system, one hopes that this initiative delivers and does not end up being a gimmick. There are already established and proven procedures for project management that are currently in wide practice, from CSOs to the private sector. Perhaps the government should consider these before reaching for the final frontier.