Phurpa Lhamo

Senior civil servants have submitted their first leadership statement (LS) for mid-term review after its implementation in July this year.

The LS is a component of executive performance assessment that will evaluate individual contributions and ensure accountability.

Prior to its implementation in July, the LS was piloted in April and June this year to test the assessment areas that were identified.

Currently, a team from the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) is reviewing the first LS submitted by the executives and senior civil servants.

According to an RCSC official, the review report will be shared with the individual and the relevant supervisors to make necessary corrections and review in January and February next year. “The reviewed report will be evaluated in July and August of next year.”

The LS was conceptualised as an instrument to enhance and clarify responsibilities and accountability.

Individual contributions by civil servants are being evaluated in the five key areas, which are business delivery documents of their accomplishment of the annual performance agreement (APA) or annual performance target (APT); financial efficiency, which will measure contributions one made towards raising internal operational efficiency and rationalising use of resources; leadership capability, which will measure initiatives undertaken to develop human resource capability (through coaching, mentoring, managing performance); initiatives undertaken to improve quality of service delivery; and initiatives undertaken to enhance inter-departmental, ministry, agency collaboration, and facilitation of work processes for smooth service delivery.

RCSC officials said that other components of the executive performance scorecard include APA or APT scores, support functions assessment (SFA) scores, and leadership feedback scores.

“While APA or APT and SFA are proxy scores based upon performance at an organisational level, the LS and leadership feedback are more individual performance based,” an official said. “This is a more robust performance assessment and a good basis for deciding future HR actions.”

The official explained the commission will also decide other interventions to enhance accountability and strengthen leadership as and when required.

The importance of accountability among the civil service has been reiterated multiple times.

The Constitution’s Article 26, Section one states there shall be an RCSC, which shall promote and ensure an independent and apolitical civil service that will discharge its public duties in an efficient, transparent, and accountable manner.

The recently issued Annual Audit Report 2020-2021 also recommended that the government reinforce the system of accountability and sanctions for public agencies and individuals to drive ethical behaviours and performance.

Most of the irregularities pointed out in the audit report this year stem mainly from inadequacies in the design and operations of internal control systems across public agencies, stated the AAR 2020-2021.

In the current performance management system, those in P1 and executives are given a proxy score based upon the performance of their respective agency’s APA or APT.

RCSC officials said that if an agency was rated outstanding, the executives in that agency also got an outstanding rating for that year and vice versa.

“A few P1 and executives who make significant contributions despite the low performance of the organisation can be demotivated. Similarly, those who get in the high performing group due to others’ performance could demotivate those who work hard, as these ratings, amongst others, go on to decide future HR actions (promotions, transfers etc).”

In the new (LS) scheme, secretaries will ensure all director generals (DGs) or directors complete their LS and assess their performance individually and hold them accountable.

Similarly, DGs or directors will ensure chiefs complete their LS and hold them accountable for performance. “Chiefs, in turn, will be responsible for staff below them and hold them accountable. With the LS, the accountability will be cascaded at all levels, making all the civil servants accountable for their own actions,” an official said. “Heads of autonomous agencies will be accountable to their governing board or commissioners.”

There are 139 executives currently serving in the civil service and 424 at the P1 management level.

“The RCSC views accountability as the main driving force that will fundamentally reshape the civil service into an efficient and effective institution that ultimately supports our overarching national goal of ensuring the survival of our sovereign statehood as envisioned in the Royal Kasho on Civil Service Reform,” the official said.