Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Evaluating Performance and End Results
And so we now have the KPI and the NKRA as instruments for evaluating the performance of the government and its functionaries!
The NKRA defines the six key areas of national concern that will be focused on - reduce poverty (p), reduce crime and corruption (2c), improve accessability to quality education (e),elevate living standard of low income group (ls), expand infrastrucutral facilities (if) and improve public transportation (t). The KPIs are still being compiled though some have been defined,
I've abbreviated the National Key Result Areas as pccelsift or POCELSIFT for ease of memory. The KPI will certainly have to include: current rate or index (ci) and the targeted rate or index (ti), time required (tm), expenditure involved (ex), manpower required (mp), level of public satisfaction achieved (sl), unexpected consequences (uc) etc, etc. They must indicate the situation now and what is desired, the time taken (for getiing a bridge repaired in five years, for example, is nothing to be proud of), the expenditure involved (for spending RM2M to repair a small bridge is surely a case for the MACC), the manpower utilized ( even a mountain can be moved with thousands of workers hired with exorbitant pay), the level of satisfation achieved ( for you can't always satisfy 100% of the people at 100% level but only say 70% at 100% level or 100% at 70% level - Pareto's optimum),etc. We will have to see what the Six Lead Ministers responsible for the NKRA will come up with.
It will be obvious at this stage that the evaluation of performance and end results is not a simple and straightforward thing. It can start an endless chase for the illusive pot of gold and many top ministers' man-months or man-years could be wasted on the matter. There's always the Pareto's curve coming into play - more people satisfied ( or high target achieved) at a lower level of satisfaction or less people satisfied ( or lower target achieved) but a a higher level of satisfaction!
What I would stress on is that the evaluation system should be simple ( remember the KISS principle - Keep It Simple, Stupid).
One way of doing this is to go for the lowest common denominator. If we are talking about reducing poverty, check on the most tragic cases of poverty as identified in the villages or urban slums, work on alleviating those cases and the less serious ones can also be dealt with mor easily). On crimes and corruption, those involving the common men and the poor, can never be eliminated entirely, even in the USA, UK or Japan. The worst common denominator is crime and corruption among the rich and powerful. It leads to injustice, exasperation and despair. Deal with that and the petty crime and corruption can be dealt with as a normal daily routine for the law enforcement officers.When caught the culprit will quitely go to jail and cease to operate. But the rich and powerful when involved in crime and corruption, corrupt the entire nation and the people. The common men just follow their leaders. In education, check on the opprotunity of the most empoverished kids to get a good education. If they can get the opportunity, the rest of the children can certainly do so. As for infrastructural facilities check on facilities accessible to the poor families in the towns and in the villages. If accessible to them at an affordable rate, don't worry about the more able and higher-income population. They can certainly take care of themselves. As for public trassport facilities, check on the comfort and convenience level of using them. The lowest common denominator is the crowded buses, never on time, non-airconditioned with broken and uncomfortable seats. Improve these and even the high-nose executives wouldn't mind taking a bus to the office.
I think the simple down-to-earth and easily seen improvements in all the areas of concern focused by the NKRA, is more desireable than a complicated high-brow evaluation system which I'm sure will have to use the computers to produce comprehensible results. The system evolved will have to be tested, fine-tuned etc.etc. Meanwhile actions on the ground continue to grind at a slow or retrogressive pace. One can identify many things now that seem to be worse off than before.
Let's not be successful in building up a sophisticated evaluation system but not in bringing about the desired results, as shown by the lowest common denominator or the worst-scenario cases.