Today, I was asked by several journalists to comment on the implementation of ministry's KPIs. My initial reaction was it is not something new. It was implementation in different forms during both Mahathir and Abdullah administrations.
Mahathir introduced his concept of "Bersih, Cekap, Amanah" to drive the performance of civil service. The civil service performance indicator is even more important than ministries' KPIs. It was an established fact that a number of policies faced implementation setbacks. Hence, the right thing for Najib and Koh Tsu Koon to measure is the government's implementation mechanism.
Abdullah introduced KPIs for the GLCs. The KPIs were created by Ethos Consulting. Unfortunately, not many of us are familiar with the performance measurement because it was never made transparent and open.
Second, I am beginning to doubt Koh's ability to come out with a comprehensive, fair and competent KPIs for all the ministries. He was super efficient. In less than a day, he has spoken to six ministries and gave the rest 30 days to come out with their respective KPIs. To come out with the right set of KPIs, a minister must be fully briefed on the important processes, objectives and works of his/her ministries. The KPIs must not only be able to measure the right activities and processes but can also be used to enhance performance, correct weaknesses and eradicate mediocrity.
I hope Koh does not forget about his own KPIs. Who is going to measure the KPIs of the minister in charge of unity and performance?
Najib has made a tactical mistake. Although it is a notable action to measure the performance of his ministers, he should have appointed an independent committee to look into the efficiency and performance measurements of his administration which should include the civil sector.
Third, does the performance measurement includes all BN chief ministers too? We can no longer tolerate chief ministers who spend public fund on flimsy 'technical visits' to amusement parks, Disneyland and others. If Mohd Khir Toyo was so intelligent that he can understand how an amusement park can be developed and run by mere social visits, there is no need for KPIs. Just appoint him to become the PM.
Fourth, can Koh handle these ministers? His other portfolio - unity - runs contrary to his main portfolio on performance. How can he help to promote 'unity' if he has to step on many shoes to ensure an optimal performance from the ministers? It is clear that Koh's appointment was made hastily. His own sets of KPIs run contrary against each other. Maybe, it was his mentor, Lim Keng Yaik, who helped him get the job.
If Najib is serious about KPIs, he should start with both accountability and transparency. An accountable government should not be afraid of public scrutiny. The first thing he should do is to free up the press and allow access to both MSM and online media to all important public information. His policies and implementation process must be subjected to constant public scrutiny and test.
Afterall, Najib is the one who said that the 'government knows best' era is over. The media, NGOs, academicians, analysts and stakeholders should be allowed to discuss, debate and provide feedback freely on public policies. Hence, previous actions of protecting details of privatisation concessions e.g. tolls, IPPs and other mega projects using the secretive OSA must be stopped immediately. A credible and efficient government is a transparent government.
Najib should have realised that the performance bar is high and expectations are many. Not many organisations and individuals are as generous as Hindraf which has given Najib a 100 days truce. The reception he received at the two by-elections, Bukit Selambau and Bukit Gantang, has shown that he is not going to enjoy a honeymoon period.
Najid should really get serious with promises and stop his 'instant noodle' reform.