Government Reform: Kenya and Malaysia (Part 4)

Several developing countries are making seemingly breathtaking progress in developing performance management frameworks from scratch. What can we learn from them? Today’s focus is on Kenya and Malaysia.

The World Bank seminars this past Spring continue to have me mulling about the progress of the performance movement internationally, and how surprised I was that several countries seem to be putting foundations for performance in place at two or three times the speed of more developed countries. Four countries struck me as making notable progress. I summarized two in a previous post (Colombia and South Africa). Today I’ll focus on Kenya and Malaysia:

Kenya. Emmanuel Lubemebe, the head of public sector transformation program in Kenya, provided some historical context for the country’s management reform efforts over the past 20 years:

  • 1993 – passage of the first civil service reform bill
  • 2003 – a new government institutionalizes “results-based management” at both the organizational and individual levels
  • 2008 – the government creates a Public Sector Transformation Department
  • 2010 – a new constitution includes a focus on implementing meaningful results

Some characteristics of the Kenyan performance management system include:

  • Performance contracts with specific targets
  • 100-day targets for “rapid results initiatives,” which are embedded in the performance contracts
  • A strategic “Results for Kenyans” plan, Vision 2030, with 5-year plans to meet interim targets
  • A performance management framework that creates alignment, and cascades to individuals
  • Public Sector Transformation’s focus is on:
    • Service and transparency
    • Cooperation, collaboration
    • Accountability, structured stakeholder engagement
  • Use service charters and outcomes frameworks
  • These efforts also focus on streamlining administrative processes. For example, they were able to reduce the time to issue passports down to 8 days, and birth certificates within 3 days.

Lubemebe says their goals over the next 10 years are to refine their performance management system by:

  • Refining organizational performance contracts and individual contracts, and linking rewards and sanctions to them.
  • Improving the rapid results initiatives and institute quarterly reporting.

Malaysia. Presenter John Xavier helped develop Malaysia’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit, where he found that rewards and incentives work better than sanctions.

He said there have been 18 waves of performance-oriented reforms in Malaysia since 1968. The current “Government Transformation Program” focuses on delivering outcomes to people. There are seven key outcome areas (e.g., crime reduction, rural infrastructure, reducing corruption, etc.) with designated lead ministers. Citizen forums were convened to help set these priorities.

He also said the government is:

  • Moving away from “New Public Management” principles and is placing a greater focus on citizen feedback and an emphasis on smaller sets of issues. For example, “It’s all about service delivery” and they are placing an emphasis on reducing administrative bottlenecks.
  • Focusing on outcomes: “Are we delivering the right things?”
  • Realigning agencies to focus on national agenda items and Key Performance Indicators, which reflected in the country’s Vision 2020 plan with has 5 strategic thrusts. For example, one item is to move from 91.0 percent to 91.4 percent of people living within 5 km of a paved road, or 1-day registration of property titles, or 1 hour issuance of a passport.
  • What’s been the country’s progress so far? They’ve moving in a ranking of “ease of doing business” from 23rd in 2010 to 18th in 2011.

Most reform efforts seem to have a limited shelf life, but in the long run, they have influenced the overall fabric of the government’s performance culture. The important point is that the cultural norms will outlast the specific initiatives. Xavier notes that performance and results matter, but the “mindset” matters too.

Other Blogs in Series on Government Reform:

Part 1: An International Snapshot of Progress on Performance Management

Part 2: The New Zealand Example

Part 3: Colombia and South Africa

Part 4: Kenya and Malaysia

Part 5: Inspirations from Developing Countries: Summary Assessment

Part 6: Insights for the Future of the Movement

Graphic Credit: CampsAfrica

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Carol Davison

So what I understand is that if we get rid of all of the deadwood in our 2,000,000 Federal workforce and underminining policies we will have an effective and efficient government. Right?