The Government’s initiative in introducing a Performance Management System will probably remain one of the highlights of their tenure.
Bhutan follows a 5 year development plan framework. The plan is then broken down into annual plans and budgets which entails sector-wise allocation of target and budget. The cumulative output of the 5 years would put a final value to the actual output of the 5 year plan. Without going too much into details, much development has taken place in this area. In order to track performance ‘compact agreements’ tool was implemented even during the 10thFYP, however, it remained largely limited to ministries. The 11thFYP has seen these compact agreements cover other tiers too. This is a significant development in terms of instilling a greater sense of accountability into the minds of other actors in governance. This has already been exhibited by reports in the news indicating hesitation on the part of some local leaders and this is good news. Without concerns these questions of resource and meeting targets on time may not have surfaced at all. The response confirms as increasing sense of accountability.
Much has been said about ‘recognizing and rewarding the right person in the civil service to improve morale’ but perhaps not much has happened albeit efforts. This is not a new discussion. Many have shared thoughts on ‘objective assessment’ and leadership in the civil service; a culture of meritocracy. I had written something about it in early January 2012 ‘Linking the civil service and service delivery‘ and I shared the need to link agency targets to each target. A simpler way to look at it would be to see a ministry’s target be broken down into departmental targets which further break down into divisional targets. In turn ministerial targets would become targets for government secretaries, departmental targets would become targets for director generals, divisional targets would become targets for division chiefs, so on and so forth. Each tier would track performance of subset tiers as it would directly affect their performance. Further more unit performance would show individual performance, for those who do not lead teams. For instance ministry/department/agency has a target, then the target of the ministry of finance would be to ENSURE the finances for these plans are AVAILABLE and ON TIME to do the 11thFYP. Incase financing for an activity is not available or delayed, that part of the target for a division and so, a department and therefore eventually target of a ministry is affected. While the performance of these tiers would be shown, how would the ministry of finance and more specifically the department of national budget be affected? Because their performance determines performances of others.
A question that comes to mind is, other than KNOWING performance of government agencies (another useful development), how is the compact agreement linked to ensuring greater accountability and therefore responsibility from people in leadership positions who sign compact agreements on behalf of the agencies? What does it do that pervious efforts have not done in ensuring greater delivery?
The government performance management system is a welcome initiative of the government. It holds great potential in bringing a big shift in how we work and enhancing productivity. As someone who has worked with performance management system I realize this is an opportunity that can not be missed. Compact agreements can not be left optional if we are to do what we set out to do. I hope to learn more about it in the coming days. As of now the only publicly available information on it has been executive orders on the cabinet website and statements in media.