Performance Management System is the process of evaluating organizational results against planned targets, identifying opportunities for improvement, and taking action to fix problems and enhance successes. In the public sector, this is often identified as managing for results. The public sector has shifted from the traditional appraisal and performance agreement to an enhanced performance management system. The former system was characterized by low executive commitment, absence of rigour, objectivity and continuity in the administrative system, non-linkage and enforcement of rewards and sanction mechanisms amongst others. Productivity was also difficult to measure, while the general public’s perception on the public servant was poor. The new performance management system ensures an objective and transparent scheme for assessment.
Rationale for Performance Management
The Local Government Service Act, 2003 (Act 656) which established the Local Government Service defined the functions of the Service and the Council to include: set performance standards within which District Assemblies and Regional Co-ordinating Councils shall carry out their functions and discharge their duties; and, monitor and evaluate the performance standards of District Assemblies and Regional Co-ordinating Councils. With these functions and the changes in the public sector performance management system, the Local Government Service also sought to institute a mechanism for effective performance management in the Service.
The Local Government Service’s Performance Management System (PMS) involves the use of two instruments namely: the Performance Management Contract (PMC) and Performance Appraisal (PA). Through these instruments, the Service enters into agreement and commitment with its employees to set clear, quantifiable targets using agreed objectives and indicators for attainment of goals within a given timeframe. The emphasis of the assessment is placed on the overall achievement of the institutions rather than the signatories to the contracts.
Overview of the 2015 Performance Management Process
The first round of the PMC were signed in 2015 between: Regional Ministers and Regional Coordinating Directors (RCDs) and also between District Chief Executives (DCEs) and their District Co-ordinating Directors (DCDs). The PMC has six broad Key Performance Areas (KPAs) with deliverables that reflect the span of administrative duties of the RCDs and DCDs who work with their Departmental and Unit Heads to facilitate achievement of set targets. The KPAs are:
1. KPA 1: Priority Area of each RCC/MMDA
2. KPA 2: Performance Reporting
3. KPA 3: Implementation of Annual Action Plan and Financial Management
4. KPA 4: Human Resource Management
5. KPA 5: Client Service Initiatives
6. KPA 6: Work Environment Improvement Initiatives & Cross-Cutting Issues
The performance management process for 2015 went through four phases. These were planning, mid-year review, end of year evaluation and decision making. The planning phase involved setting of individual performance targets related to the key performance areas using work plans derived from RCCs’ and MMDAs’ Medium Term Development Plans (MTDPs). The planning phase also included an assessment and schedule of competencies aimed at the personal development of the RCDs and DCDs.
The second phase of the process which is the mid-year review was carried out in July 2015 and involved an assessment of the status of implementation of the contract deliverables for the first half of the year. This was done to identify and address bottlenecks that were inimical to the achievement of desired targets. The third phase is the end of year personal evaluation by each of the RCDs and DCDs to assess their performance over the year. The final (fourth) phase of the process entails decision making (application of appropriate rewards and sanctions).
Owing to the fact that the mid-year review and end of year evaluation were conducted by the officers themselves, there was the need for an independent assessment. The Local Government Service Secretariat (LGSS) therefore commissioned a team of consultants who independently undertook a monitoring and verification exercise to confirm the assessments undertaken by officers. The exercise examined evidence of achievement and established the true status of implementation.
On the whole, 96% of MMDAs performed very well notwithstanding the resource constraints within which they discharged their duties. Some RCCs and MMDAs scored 99%. The best three (3) RCCs and MMDAs were awarded plaques, laptops and desktop computers with accessories. MMDAs in the fourth to tenth positions received plaques. Additionally, two officers each from the overall best RCC (Central Regional Co-ordinating Council) and MMDA (Asokore Mampong Municipal Assembly) were sponsored for a study tour to South Africa.
Observations from the 2015 PMC Implementation
A number of observations were made during the monitoring and verification exercise and these can be broadly categorized into specific and general issues. Under the specific issues, a major observation was the inability of most MMDAs especially the less endowed ones to achieve their Internally Generated Fund (IGF) targets under KPA 1. It was recommended that central government should provide some special support to the less endowed MMDAs while MMDAs were encouraged to explore innovative ways to improve local revenue generation.
Under KPA 3, a major observation was the improper constitution of the Audit Report Implementation Committees (ARIC) example being the non-appointment of Auditors to serve on the ARICs. It was recommended that RCCs and MMDAs should be proactive in addressing audit queries by taking necessary steps even in the absence of a properly constituted ARIC.
The inability of Heads of Departments to carry out performance appraisal of their subordinate staff was the major observation under KPA 4. The recommendation was that staff should be provided with specific schedules with clear quantified targets and also the performance appraisal document should be adapted to make it user friendly for lower ranked officers.
The observation under KPA 5 borded on the functionality of the Client Services Units in terms of availability of qualified personnel to be in charge of the units. It was recommended that RCCs and MMDAs should sensitize the citizenry about the Client Services Units (CSUs) and ensure that the CSUs are manned by qualified personnel. Observation on KPA 6 relates to records management challenges. It was recommended that RCCs and MMDAs should engage Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD) to train their records officers to ensure the proper documentation and management of their records office.
Some general observations from the verification exercise included the non-availability of Assets Register in most MMDAs and where available, they were not adequately maintained. Also, irregular and inadequate flow of statutory funds to RCCs and MMDAs adversely affected the effective and timely implementation of plans, programmes and activities. Again, it was observed that some RCCs and MMDAs lacked capacity building initiatives to continuously sharpen the skills and competencies of their staff. Finally, the monitoring and verification exercise revealed that best practices were not shared across RCCs and MMDAs. It is expected that the planning phase of the 2016 PMC will take cognizance of these observations and address them going forward.
A Bite of the 2016 PMCs
Implementation of the 2016 PMC began with the contract signing on January 15th 2016. Deliverables under the contracts were anchored on the six KPAs. Targets were set within these areas based on resource availability and issues over which MMDAs have control. The mid-year review of the state of implementation have been conducted by officers in addition to an independent monitoring and verification exercise carried by the LGSS. Preliminary results showed a general satisfactory performance by all RCCs and MMDAs.
Highlights of the issues reported include; non functionality of RCCs and MMDAs Websites due to internet connectivity challenges from National Information Technology Agency (NITA); presentation of HR reports without analysis; non-functionality of substructures; need for restructuring and management of records offices of RCCs and MMDAs; and the non-issuance of fire safety certificates by the Ghana National Fire Service for the buildings of RCCs and MMDAs. The mid-year review provided RCDs and DCDs an opportunity to reflect on their priorities and targets based on these observations and fashion out appropriate strategies to address these issues for the second half of the year.
It is evident from the foregoing that the introduction of the PMC in the LGS has brought numerous benefits to staff and the institution. Firstly, it provides a comprehensive, collaborative and objective approach for the measurement of performance of staff and the LGS. Secondly, it provides basis for the development of competencies, productivity, increased job satisfaction and achievement of the full potential of staff. It also provides a platform for comparison of the performance of RCCs, MMDAs and staff in recognition of outstanding performance. Performance contracting also ensures that officers are provided with schedules on which specific deliverables can be demanded at the end of the evaluation period.
Indeed, it is the belief of the Head of Service and the Local Government Service Council that the Performance Management System introduced in the Service will contribute immensely to the achievement of the goal of the Service leading to the delivery of its mandate of effective administration and management of local governments in the country.