By Stephen Kangal
January 21, 2008
All the three major but flippant proposals announced by PM Manning at the inaugural Regency Hyatt Chamber of Commerce $800 luncheon lacked thought, vision, investigative evaluation and an appreciation of the fundamentals of problem-solving.
These include his experimental ABC “play whe” lottery plans for crime fighting, his hanging proposal debacle and the duplication of monitoring and evaluation teams in each Ministry. Someone has to tell PM Manning, even if he does not listen, that he has to consult to avoid verbal insults to the native intelligence of Trinbagonians.
Will someone or anyone pray please tell me with respect to the OPM, when last did the present incumbent utter anything sensible and with unassailable merit? When?
This establishment of new and additional monitoring/evaluation teams in each Ministry that will report directly to the Prime Minister is nothing more than glorified and selective subjective “news carrying” or political spying inspired by his pre-election secretive and contaminated poll on ministers. Sometime ago there was a Special Team of Ministers monitoring and evaluating the implementation of Cabinet Notes that came to nought.
This monitoring team must be exposed as the unilateral imposition of another bureaucratic layer of political patronage (contract jobs for management gurus) that is geared to diminish and/or duplicate the role and function of the Minister of Public Administration, the Public Service Commission (DPA) and each Permanent Secretary/Head of Department.
Will this “inspectorate” also monitor/evaluate the transparency, accountability and the value-for-money obligations of State Enterprises/Companies and the 14 Special Purpose creations that are allocated and expend the commanding heights of the resources of the State under the cover privacy? The Public Service is no longer the engine of Government implementation strategy. Is this an ad hoc approach designed to pre-empt public service reform?
At present the Permanent Secretary is the exclusive administrative head of each Ministry. Together with the Heads of Departments they are continuously involved in monitoring activities and evaluating the performance of officers on a daily basis on stated and mutually agreed targets of the Ministry/Departments in accordance with the objective criteria set out in the new Performance Management by Objectives System introduced by the late Gordon Draper. These confidential reports are submitted not to the political directorate as proposed by the PM Manning but to the Public Service Commission. Will this supposedly new and additional monitoring/evaluation team now use subjective criteria for evaluation culminating in the politicisation and the breach of the non-partisan independent status of the Public Service?
It seems to me that each Ministry must now formulate its functions-specific strategic development plan/work programme with clearly identified, objective performance ministerial and personnel achievement targets that are easily susceptible to monitoring and evaluation for political purposes. That must and should be separate and distinct from the work package to be reported on to the DPA.
What will be the role of the Auditor-General, the Inspector of Missions (Ambassador Donaldson) and internal auditors in this new scenario?
This proposed monitoring and evaluation role directed from the PM’s Office is another expensive layer of duplicating political bureaucracy geared to interfere in and micro-manage each Ministry.
In fact PM Manning has already monitored and evaluated the National Security Ministry and re-appointed a pathologically self-confessed failing Minister Martin Joseph. He dismissed Special Branch, the Police Service and the Defence Force from providing his security detail in favour of a highly paid, privately- hired company without the accountability and transparency of the public tendering procedures.
Or is the initiative designed to divert attention from the more critical accounting for the scores of petro- billions disbursed on the make-work URP/CEPEP/UDECOTT/ State Companies largesse?
Are we looking after the pennies and overlooking the pounds?