- It will be wise to keep a constant eye on unfolding global best practice in order to come up with a suitable tool that serves our domestic circumstances best.
- Is it not time we set up a system that publicly acknowledges officers who put their best foot forward and go the extra mile to make a mark?
Kenya’s public sector performance contracting culture has clocked a good 20 years since inception. It has been embraced by two presidential regimes that preceded the current, which is in its first cycle of the same routine.
Performance contracting must have served the two previous presidential epochs in ways considered favourable and little wonder it has been retained by a third administration in a row.
For the record, globally, performance contracting is not a recent phenomenon. Its earliest vestiges are traced to France in the 1960s. Other early up-takers of performance contracting include the United Kingdom and New Zealand while pioneering countries in Africa include The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria and Tanzania, among others.
Lest we forget, in the past, Kenya’s performance contracting has been recognised and even feted globally. In 2007, Kenya won the United Nations Public Service Award, first category for “… improving transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the Public Service". Kenya has in the past also attracted acclaim for performance contracting from the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation and Harvard University.
While the foregoing is eye-opening, a little more introspection is needed if we are to transition to a new era of performance contracting that benefits our prevailing circumstances and unique contexts the most. In this day and age of dwindling support to ministries, departments and semi-autonomous agencies by the Exchequer, viable ways of maintaining targeted delivery of results in the public service space ought to be found.
Moving forward, the lessons learnt in the last two decades with regard to performance contracting should breathe life into the apparatus with which to assemble a futuristic scaffolding to prop efforts of target monitoring and goal implementation in the public sector. As that happens it will be wise to keep a constant eye on unfolding global best practice in order to come up with a suitable tool that serves our domestic circumstances best.
Human nature has a way of suffering tedium and possible nonchalance when a routine repeated year in, year out does not renew its lease of attraction to those on the delivery end of a given service. In a nutshell, the question foremost in my mind is how can we make performance-contracting engagements for public service delivery moments to look forward to with bated breath and not a dispirited sense of foreboding or veiled scepticism?
On rewarding those who deliver on their targets, is it not time we set up a system that publicly acknowledges officers who put their best foot forward and go the extra mile to make a mark? Well deployed, an elaborate reward scheme for best showing in the delivery of services to the public is an all-time winner.
Whatever else we elect to do as the persons entrusted to meet the targets the government has set for itself, the ultimate judge and beneficiary of our performance should remain Wanjiku.
That is where Brian Tracy’s words in Goals: How to get everything you want make for a worthy reflection when he implores each would-be achiever “…to become a goal-seeking organism, like a guided missile or a homing pigeon, moving unerringly toward the goals that are important to you”.
A way of making performance-contracting goals important to each officer in the hierarchies of government ought to be found, pronto.
This article derives, in part, content in a speech delivered during a performance contracting event officiated by Rebecca Miano, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Developments on Monday the 28th of August 2023.