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Strengthen the civil service MAX system

The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) starting Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 – 2017 implemented Managing for Excellence (MAX) system for the civil service replacing the old Performance Management System (PMS). Comparatively, MAX is a better system than PMS. However, after undergoing two FY experiences and currently carrying out the third MAX exercise for 2018 – 2019 FY, it is becoming apparent that MAX too may entail the same issues if not worse as PMS presented.

What agencies, departments, divisions, sections and offices of various ministries/organizations are doing is they incorporate only those actions and activities that are absolutely doable and achievable. Such strategy will definitely result everybody’s performance as excellent even at an individual level and it is no different than PMS. This if not taken care now may become difficult to amend and mend the scar as it matures over the period. Why is it happening? Following may be the reasons:

1.    Performance measurement of MAX system is like a competition or a race not only among co-workers but even with other agencies, departments, divisions, sections and offices. This could be due to measurement of performance being based on quantitative percentage (%) outcome;

2.    Other issue pertains to top-down approach whereby based on the finalized APA, first at agency level then subsequent levels, respective Actions/Outputs are drawn and linked to overall objectives. Based on the finalized Actions/Outputs, Individual Work Plan (IWP) with activities is formulated for the following FY. This approach seems to be static and one-way street which gives ample opportunities to tweak and twist generously as to ensure excellent performance at all level;

3.    Another major issue pertains to lack of a holistic monitoring and evaluation modus operandi either annually or at par with the Five-Year Plan (FYP) review period. Yes, financial and human resources is an issue but there are tools using modern technology or further enhancing MAX into an intelligent and dynamic system that could overcome this challenge to a large extent. On this note, often many point out, let’s take one small step at a time but the question is, are those small steps taken adequate or at mature and optimum level?

Agreeable that it is easier said than done, but, for the benefit of larger civil service fraternity and to serve Tsawa-sum with tha-dham-tsee, following suggestions could be considered to address the above issues:

1.    All respective ministries, departments, divisions, sections and offices to develop a detailed Five-Year Strategic Plan (FYSP) aligning with the Government’s FYP. Once the FYP is finalized, FYSP to be also endorsed accordingly. However, key consideration is that FYSP has to be a living document with conditions and limitation. This FYSP should present comprehensively as to what they intend to do, bring change or develop annually in the next five-year period. So, it is about developing progressively and bringing better change down the line (Growth Mind-Set). Today, the vision, mission, strategies, goals and values are for namesake and stored in a recycle-bin. Many government organizations hardly have any road-map and strategic vision as they are too engrossed in their regular work;

2.    Assuming that the MAX system is enhanced, FYSP is to be recorded in MAX and serve as the main database of respective agency, departments, divisions, sections and offices. However, information, actions or activities need not be punched all over again. It can be selected from the respective FYSP database.;

3.    Considering FYSP as the main reference point, monitoring and evaluation measure to be initiated such as post performance audit (PMA) carried out for a particular period. PMA can compare the FYSP against respective performance and deliverables.

4.    MAX system need to be automated holistically considering end-to-end approach. It needs to be dynamic and an intelligent automated system to overcome human resources constraint.

The suggestions are not exhaustive and neither will it result to a perfect solution but to a large extent, it seems to be a better pay-off.

A humble submission in the best interest and benefit of all hard working and dedicated civil servants.

 

Contributed by

Phuntsho

Olakha, Thimphu

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