Nepal | October 13, 2019

Success lies in transparency: Experts

Roshan S Nepal
  • Performance contract needs to be made accessible to the public

Kathmandu, August 4

With the government making it mandatory for all the ministries and their subordinate departments, agencies and offices to conclude yearly performance contract with employees from this fiscal year, almost all ministries have started to conclude such pact.

The government said the rationale behind the decision taken based on rule 34b of the Civil Service Rules, was to make bureaucracy competent, service-oriented and responsible by reforming service delivery mechanisms. Success of the system lies in transparency, according to experts who demand that content of the contract and results should be made public.

They also warn signing of the contract will just be a formality if the general public is not informed about how the contract has been designed, who is responsible for what, and how they have performed.

Since the Civil Service Rules do not speak anything about making public such contracts, or evaluation of results. The Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers says it depends on decision of concerned ministries.  Most of the ministries THT talked to, including Foreign Affairs, Federal Affairs and General Administration, Communications and Information Technology and Finance, have yet to decide whether to make public the contracts.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, which started it with the signing of performance contract with Chief District Officers and division heads last year, did not make public the contract for the last fiscal year.

MoHA Spokesperson Ram Krishna Subedi said since most of the ministry’s work was related to security, it would be difficult for it to make public such contracts. “Generally speaking there’s nothing wrong in making public such contracts, or evaluation results,” he told THT, adding, “But for MoHA, it will be impractical given the nature of its work.”

As per the Civil Service Rules, the performance contract includes goals of the office, budget, human and non-human resources and means and time-frame to achieve the goals, results to be achieved or expected outcomes, indicators of the performance evaluation, conditions for the termination of the contract and power required for the implementation of the contract and its validity.

The concerned ministry and department shall regularly monitor whether work as referred to in the performance contract has been carried out. There will be a committee under the convenorship of the concerned ministry, comprising representatives of the MoFAGA and the National Planning Commission for annual appraisal of the work as mentioned in the work performance agreement.

In the event of failure to perform in accordance with the performance contract, except owing to circumstances beyond control, such an employee may be relieved of his/her special responsibility for two years, the rules stated. The content of the contract will depend on the levels of government employees and nature of their tasks. Former Chief Election Commissioner Bhoj Raj Pokhrel said such contracts would definitely bring clarity in terms of reference of government employees, and they would be clear as to what would happen if they accomplished or did not accomplish their assignments.

Pokhrel, however, said success of such contract would lie on its content and transparency. He said the performance indicators and bases of evaluation should be specific and quantifiable.

“The contract and evaluation results should be made public by posting them on social media so that the civil society and the press can hold government employees accountable,” he told THT. “Or else, it will just be limited to papers.”

Former Chief Secretary Som Lal Subedi expressed a similar view. “People should know who is responsible for what, and whether government employees have performed as per their commitment,” he told THT. “Transparency is precondition for success.” Subedi also suggested that the evaluation should be done by an independent professional mechanism.

The system of signing performance contract was first introduced in mid-2000s in public enterprises, but it failed to yield desired results. Public Enterprises Board set up by the Baburam Bhattarai government in 2012 had also planned to implement the system, but the board itself got scrapped last year.

 


A version of this article appears in print on August 05, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.


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