Performance Contracting needs legitimacy

Something about the government Performance Contracting (PC) results reminds me of the elections in 2007.  The poll results should have been a reflection of Kenyans’ views, but on many occasions did not resonate with public sentiment. 

Having said that, I believe that some of the fundamental purposes of government are to administer public policy, protect the rights of its citizens and maintain law and order.  Underlying these facets is a complementary need to ensure customer service delivery to Kenyans and not to government alone.

As such, if Kenya is to measure the performance of various government departments, then the citizens ought to be largely involved in the process as they are the main stakeholders.

As it stands right now, most Kenyans (outside of government) do not understand how the process works and may not be privy to the criteria used. Some departments have, to their credit, come up with mantras against which they can be judged.  For instance, if I say ‘Utumishi bora kwa wote’ one can automatically relate that phrase to the Police force and gauge their services at a glance. 

Other departments launched their Service Charters at the onset of the PC process, but we doubt whether their own members have internalised their expectations.

In my opinion, the principle behind Performance Contracts is a very laudable one.  Measuring performance is critical because it demands that a company sets and meets its targets and that its workforce is productive.  These are the practices that enable private sector companies to progress year after year.

I am not going to talk down the process, rather emphasise the need for government to legitimise it in the eyes of all stakeholders equally.  For a start, Performance Contracts ought to be made a public affair. We need to know and understand the criteria being used, so that we can monitor the performance of ministries we interact with regularly.  Perhaps the government can consider incorporating members of the public in the evaluation process to increase their efficiency. 

Secondly, once the results are finalised, it would be great to know generally what outstanding activities made certain departments emerge in the lead and vice versa.
For example, what performance indicators resulted in the Ministry of Labour (which ironically deals with Human Resource) being at the bottom?  And in the same breath, what are the indices demonstrating the high performance of the State Law office?

It cannot be overly stated that transparency is a necessary component of the process, if the government is to keep the public interested.  Otherwise, all non-vested members of the public will begin to tune out the PC process all together. 

I hope that we will begin to see a turnaround in the process this year, instead of the carrot and sticks being waved in the air a little too late.

On a different note, I must say that I liked the new advertisement by the IIEC.  It captures different members of our society, including children, imploring people to register as voters.  Congratulations IIEC, this is the way to go! 

I will end by saying that over last couple of years, Kenyans have been very vocal in demanding for change in governance.  We began to have the ‘audacity of hope’ and believe that change and reform is possible when President Obama was elected into power.  If they could embrace him, so can we bring on change in our beloved country.

Well, registering as a voter is one sure way to measure your desire to be part of the reform process.  Where do you stand?  Are you a reformist or a non-reformist?  The choice is yours.

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