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Opinion - PMS policy undergoes review

2021-10-21  Staff Reporter

Opinion - PMS policy undergoes review

At independence, Namibia has initiated a plethora of projects and initiatives, aimed at fashioning, shaping and transforming the state public management machinery she has inherited. 

Among others, she had to restructure to ensure a balanced public service in terms of demographics, gender and personnel suitability with regard to skills, expertise and competencies. 

Therefore, the aim of government remains that of entrenching and nurturing certain norms and values, and commensurate ethical standards to ensure effective and efficient service delivery to the Namibian people. 

The Office of the Prime Minister is enjoined to empower the rest of the OMAs for the latter to deliver on their respective mandates since it is responsible for capacity building in the public service of Namibia. The government of the day has, in fact, entered into a social contract with the Namibian populace since the day it was popularly elected. 

Against the caveat, the Public Service Performance Management System (PMS) is undergoing a multi-layered review – and this time, it is expected to be more integrated. The review emanated from a report recommendation by a consultant recruited by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), whose key objective was, inter-alia, to review the existing PMS implementation. 

A PMS was conceived and adopted by the public service of Namibia, following approval by Cabinet in August 2011. Since then, the PMS, as one of the reforms, was formalised as a business process for competency in the public service.

Although the PMS was designed as a strategic operational tool for managing organisational, team and individual performance to realise organisational goals, and a primary vehicle for implementing government initiatives/agenda, the government deemed it necessary to review the PMS processes to enhance accountability and improve the performance culture in the public service. 

Furthermore, the report expressed the need to integrate the Performance Management Framework (PMF) of both public servants and Public Office Bearers (POBs), since the current PMS applies to all public servants employed under the Public Service Act, 1995 (No.13 of 1995) and staff members appointed in terms of the Regional Councils Act, 1992 (No. 22 of 1992).

Although PMS has been applied in Namibia since 2005 for public servants and 2015-2020 for POBs, anecdotal evidence from interviews conducted with senior government officers in 2020) reveal a disconnect between the two levels of policy, namely POBs and public servants, particularly in the strategic planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes. 

The same was also revealed about local authorities (LAs) and public enterprises (PEs) that they do not prescribe to this PMS, despite these institutions being part of the category ‘democratic institutions of the State’, responsible for the execution of public policies, programs and projects. The UNECA sponsored report recommended one overarching PMS for all these institutions. 

Other recommendations identified by the same report were to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework administered by an independent unit to establish a unit/office to manage the Public Office Bearers’ (POBS) performance and performance incentive regime for the bureaucrats.

In 2015, the government invited the UNECA to assist in designing and rolling out performance contracts between the President of Namibia and Cabinet ministers to ensure effective and efficient service delivery, hence improving the livelihood of the people of Namibia. 

It is against this background that the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) required further assistance for the programming for the implementation of UNECA recommendations. As a follow-up, in 2017, Namibia, through OPM, requested for the extension of technical support from UNECA, mainly towards reviewing the policy and integrating the performance management system policy for public servants with that of public office bearers into one Integrated Performance Management System Framework (IPMSF).

Pursuant to the extended Terms of Reference (TOR) for the partnership between UNECA and government, a consultative workshop took place on 12-14 April 2021 at Safari Hotel and Casino in Windhoek Namibia. The workshop was attended by representatives from OMAs, Regional Councils, and Association of Local Authorities in Namibia, Association of Regional Councils, City of Windhoek, NUST, IUM, Unam and NIPAM.  

The specific objectives of the workshop were to review the draft report on the proposed IPMSF for the government of Namibia, provide a platform for stakeholders to verify and validate the accuracy of the report content, identify potential gaps and provide necessary input to provide a basis for finalising the draft report and the proposed integrated system, and to recommend improvement in the proposed IPMSF.  

The workshop reached a consensus that the PMS in Namibia needs to be refurbishment and agreed that a hybrid model of the IPMSF indicating a depiction of a strategic and operational alignment be implemented, synergy between plans (NDPs, HPPs, Manifestos, etc.) be established, PMS automation process be fast-tracked and that non-monetary incentives schemes be introduced in the Public Service, among others issues.  

Recently, the key expert of the Namibian EU PMS Funded Project, Dr Mark MacNamara, visited Namibia to work with the local technical committee to finalise the IPMSF and guidelines, of which the latter will be translated into the public service staff rules for PMS.

It is worth stating that to advance the level of monitoring and evaluation, the PMS implementation process will be automated. The EU Funded Project has already investigated software requirements for PMS Automation at the organisational and individual level (Strategic and Annual Plans, as well as Performance Agreements); evaluated different implementation options, and made concrete recommendations to the government for PMS automation.

2021-10-21  Staff Reporter

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