A perennial grouse within the civil service is that irrespective of whether civil servants are hard working or lazy they all get the same treatment when promotions are around the corner.
This, civil servants say has lead to a system where some people shoulder the majority of the work load while others just do the bare minimum, or not even that. It ends up affecting government efficiency and service delivery to citizens.
The government, to deal with the above is in the midst of coming up with a Performance Management System (PMS) that aims to not only see which ministries and departments are performing but also individual civil servants.
Experts say that if the government can pull of the PMS down to the individual civil servants then it would lead to a sea change in governance.
The Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said, “The government will be brining in the Performance Management System soon. Clearly defined goals and targets will be set for agencies and ministries so that their performance can be measured against the targets. The Minister, Secretary, Directors, Dzongdas and staff down the line will have targets. The system will show if the Civil Servants are doing good work and if the civil servant is not working as per the aims then the system will also show that.”
The PMS is currently being looked after by the Cabinet Secretariat with technical support from the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC).
The cabinet will soon be approving a task force to take forward the work on PM. It will comprise members from the Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of Finance, RCSC, GNHC and Department of Local Government.
GNHC System Manager Chencho said, “Currently we have large defined national development targets for the 11th plan like the 16 national key result areas or targets sub divided into 160 sectoral key result areas. Under the PMS the government will divide the targets down on an annual basis and then to the Ministry, Department, Division level and if possible even the individual level and assess their performance.”
Therefore, the key base for the PMS will flow from the targets set by the government for the 11th five year plan.
Chencho said that currently the GNHC had a plan monitoring system but it looked at the targets in terms of five year targets.
When quizzed on the McKinsey or ABSD project and the performance compacts with ministries and agencies carried out by the previous government, Chencho said that the compacts set very broad targets for the ministries in some priority areas like Tourism, Construction, Agriculture, Education etc.
In the case of the PMS it would be much wider and deeper and would be institutionalized.
PMS will have a system of incentives for performers and non performers would face repercussions.
Chencho, however, however clarified that it would be different from that practiced by the corporate sector which gave salary bonuses etc.
He said that the main objective would be to have clear facts and figures on the performance of agencies and civil servants so that they can be evaluated.
Chencho said that their deadline to roll out the PMS in full was by around July 2014 and that would mean the first PMS evaluation would take place by June 2015.
He said the PMS system would also need to incorporate provisions for ad-hoc or non planned activities carried out.
The study done so far on PMS will be presented to the PMS Task Force who will then further work on it. He said that there would be several workshops held to get the views of civil servants on whom this system would be implemented.
He said that Bhutan would be studying examples from PMS internationally and currently they were looking at examples from India and Malaysia. He pointed that countries like UK, USAM Singapore even had a Performance Delivery Act.
Given that the Bhutanese civil service was founded in line with the Indian civil service system the PMS team is taking a close look at the PMS in India.
Chencho said that India had a very detailed PMS system covering 80 central government Departments but the only difference was that performance evaluation was done only till the Department level.
He said the idea was to hold the ministers accountable who in turn would make his department heads accountable.
In the Indian case each Department was issued with a PMS that had a vision and mission. The main part of the document listed a set of objectives or targets and each objective was given a score out of 100 to gauge its importance. Then the action to achieve that objective was listed along the success indicators that needed to be achieved. Then scores were to be given for the level of success.
The interpretation of the achievements was made clear to all the parties and a high level committee in India first approved the targets and then the assessment of the work done.
The government may not have to rebuild the entire wheel on the PMS as the GNHC already has Plan and Monitoring System (PLAMS) that can be used as a base on which to build PMS.
Chencho said that PLAMS is used by GNHC to monitor the progress of the five year plans. Though it was there in the 10th plan it is now more thorough and complete for the 11th plan.
He said that under PLAMS all the government objectives or targets and the activities to achieve these targets over the five years were already listed down and divided down to the division level.
In the PLAMS system being currently used if the Department of Agriculture was taken as an example it had four main programs in the 11th plan one of which is the National Horticultural (Fruits and Vegetables) Commodity Development program. Each program has an outcome or target, the output (service or product) which are the keys areas where focus is needed to achieve the outcome and finally the activities that need to be carried out.
The outcome for the horticulture program is to increase horticulture for nutrition and income and the seven outputs to achieve the outcome are bigger area of production, citrus farming, potatoes, fruits and nuts, mushrooms and improved service delivery.
The numerous activities are also listed like promotion of nutrition gardening in food insecure gewogs, establishment of packing and storage facilities, promotion of farm mechanization etc to achieve the targets.
Under Output the three targets for five years are increasing cultivation from 28,255 acres to 42,382 acres, increasing productivity from 1.3 MT per acre to 1.85 MT per acre and increasing post production infrastructure from 307 to 522.
Chencho said, “With all the targets and activity already present we need to give it weightage, break it on an annual basis and assign responsibilities down to the agency and individual level.”
For example vegetable production would be given to the Vegetable division along with the different outcomes, outputs and activities. This in turn would be divided among the officers of that division.
He said that since the senior officers themselves were being evaluated along with the department it would be in their interest to assign the work in such way that it gets done.
Currently in the civil service normal promotions can be given after four years depending on their performance and after three years for good performance.
RCSC Commissioner Bachu Phub Dorji said that the PMS system would be complimentary to the RCSC as it would allow for better and more accurate information to judge civil servants while deciding promotions, selections, transfers and other decisions.