Complex

KUALA LUMPUR — The complicated mixture of National Transformation Programme (NTP) key performance indicators (KPIs) and those set by the Public Service Department (PSD) will cause confusion for senior government officials, a World Bank Group report said.

The April 2017 report by the organisation headquartered in Washington DC noted that the KPIs for senior civil servants (chief secretary, secretaries-general, directors-general and state secretaries) set by the PSD were broader than those related to the NTP coordinated by Pemandu, a unit within the Prime Minister’s Department.

“It is not clear how the NTP-related KPIs are captured in PSD’s KPIs for senior officials, leading to questions about how various cascading KPIs interact and potentially create conflicting performance incentives.

“Even if they do not conflict, at the very minimum their multitude and complexity is bound to create confusion and blur performance incentives,” said the World Bank Group’s report titled “Driving Performance from the Center: Malaysia’s experience with Pemandu.”

According to the report, the PSD-set KPIs for senior government officials included three components: shared and collective responsibility; ministries, departments and agencies’ specific programmes; and leadership and core personality values.

The World Bank Group report also highlighted the proliferation of parallel performance monitoring systems aside from the NTP that created an additional reporting burden on government ministries, departments and agencies.

“Outside Pemandu’s remit, the key part of the national performance monitoring system also includes the Outcome-Based Budgeting effort, which has its own set of requirements for reporting performance linked to annual and medium-term plans.

“Aside from reporting on the NTP-related KPIs, the MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) also report on the indicators related to the implementation of the Malaysia five-year plan to the EPU (Economic Planning Unit).

“In addition, MDAs provide updates to the Implementation and Coordination Unit (ICU) in the Prime Minister’s Department that monitors all public investments projects through the SPP II (Project Monitoring) system,” said the report.

The World Bank Group highlighted the large number of institutions involved in performance monitoring, pointing out that the Prime Minister’s Department had over 50 different agencies reporting to it.

“Only a small number of centres of government worldwide, including the US and Russia, are that large.

“With a multiplicity of agencies active at that level, and what appears to be the lack of well-defined coordination mechanisms between them, it is not surprising that lines and roles often get conflated. Overlap of functions and blurred accountability for results inevitably ensue from this system,” said the report.

The World Bank Group also said the success of KPI-driven performance depended on whether the right indicator has been chosen to measure the desired outcome.

“There are some parts of the NTP, particularly the NKEAs (National Key Economic Areas), which easily yield themselves to measurement and quantification. Others – especially the key parts of the GTP (Government Transformation Programme) such as the NKRAs (National Key Result Areas) of fighting crime and combating corruption – are notoriously difficult to measure. Those measures that Pemandu ends up using are often critiqued as selective,” said the report.

The World Bank Group pointed out that many Malaysians did not feel safer even though the 2012 GTP annual report said that street crime dropped 40.8 per cent after the launch of the transformation programme.

“If the reported KPIs clash with citizens’ own experiences, it can undermine the trust in the entire transformation effort. Such discrepancies fuel skepticism about the metrics employed and successes reported, and lead to attributing transformation successes to aggressive communications and public relations campaign,” said the report.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced last January that Pemandu would start transitioning its NTP work to the civil service over two years and reduce its current staff strength from 133 to 45 this year and to 30 in 2018.

Under the transition process, all staff in Pemandu and Pemandu’s development consulting arm, BFR Institute, would move to Pemandu Associates Sdn Bhd, a private consultancy firm established by Pemandu management and staff.

The NTP was launched in 2010, comprising the Economic Transformation Programme and the Government Transformation Programme, to improve the government’s delivery system and to drive Malaysia towards high-income status by 2020. – MMO –

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