Friday, December 08, 2006

Importance of "Utility"

A government department G with 10 sub-departments complains to a consultancy C about the overwhelming documentation. C does a survey of five documents that the department usually deals in. Based on inputs from the various sub-departments, the five documents are presented in increasing order of importance. One document prepared by one department is specifically targetted for unimportance and its huge contribution to workload. So it is recommended by C to be chopped off from the documentation process. Turns out that document is actually a Right to Information one. Its utility to the various departments may be low when applied on a department-level scale but it has huge systemic utility.

Moral of the story: Blind application of survey to order utilities means missing out on an important component of economic logic. Utilities are intrinsically subjective and difficult to capture across various sets of people. That is a huge limitation of surveys.

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