Performance contracting practices in tertiary institutions
Objectives of the study
The Target Population
Sample Size and Sampling Procedures
Table 1: Sample size distribution for the study
Results and discussions
Source: field data 2014
Performance contracting was introduced in Kenya on 1st October, 2004, in 16 largely commercial state corporations. This would see institutions freely negotiate performance agreement with the Government every year. Regular monitoring of the implementation of the contract agreed upon has been a vital aspect for its success. The institutions provide feedback by forwarding quarterly reports and taking corrective action where necessary. In 2007, the Government of Kenya published Kenya vision 2030 as its long term strategy for achieving global competitiveness and prosperity. The country also aims at linking reforms and economic growth to actual quality of life of Kenyans, increase customer satisfaction with government services and to build trust in the government. Thus, one of the foundations of the Kenya vision 2030 linked to performance contracting is an efficient, motivated and well trained public service. Service delivery in Public Primary Teachers Training colleges has not improved much in spite of the introduction of Performance contracting. That was why this study seeks to determine performance contracting practices set by employees in order to improve service delivery in their institutions. The study employed descriptive survey design. The study population comprised teacher trainees, tutors, heads of department and sections and principals of the purposively selected Colleges. Purposive sampling, simple random sampling and stratified random sampling were used to identify the sample population. A total of 429 respondents formed the sample size representing 30% of the study population. The study revealed lack of capacity building of employees regarding performance contracting, ambiguity in the process and resistance by personnel to participate in the process hindering the full success of the service delivery strategy. The results further reveal that the teaching staffs’ level of knowledge of Performance Contracting was relatively high. The study recommends that the set targets be well communicated to all members of staff and teacher trainees. The student population should also be included in the setting of their own targets in Colleges for effective implementation and realization of the same. Performance contracting practices should be monitored closely by institution’s body entrusted to oversee its implementation.
Key words: Targets, ranking, performance contracting, public institutions, college employees
Performance contract is a branch of management science referred to as management control systems which is a contractual agreement to execute a services according to an agreed upon terms, within an established time period and with a stipulated use of resources and performance standards Gathai (2012). Kenya Sensitization Training Manual (2004), defines performance contract as a freely negotiated performance agreement between Government Organizations and individuals on one hand and the Agencies on the other hand.
In Latin America, PC has been used at different times in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela with success in improving the performance of their own public sector by designing performance Contracts after carefully examining an adapting to their particular needs and learning from the lessons of the vast international experience with regards to performance contracts (GoK, 2010). Performance contract is seen as a method of establishing defined expectations, accountability and consequences for meeting or not meeting a set standard of execution excellence. Two or more parties agree on the actions the performer will execute and the expected results from implementing those actions.
In Africa, performance contracts have been used in countries such as Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco and currently Kenya (GOK, 2010). What propelled most of these countries to introduce PC was that most public services in many of these countries were confronted with many challenges which constrain their delivery of service capacities (Lienert, 2003). They include the human resource factor relating to shortages of man power in terms of numbers and key competencies, lack of appropriate mindsets, and sociologist that are necessary to support effective service delivery. On one hand Africa is constraint by resources, and on the other hand the gradual erosion of the work ethics and accountability has continued to bedevil the public sector in the delivery of public services to the people effectively. Public sector reform meant to address those challenges has achieved minimal results (AAPAM, 2005). In order to be effective in conducting business or rendering services, organizations need to implement management procedures and practices that will yield the desired results. Under PCs, targets are set and although the areas of concern are the outcomes rather than the processes, the processes do determine the outcomes. A performance contract is anchored on two items, the strategic plan and service delivery plan. The development of strategic plans is one of the things that state corporations are required to do before entering into performance contacts. A strategic plan enables an organization to be better focused on its core business. It also helps the organization to clearly set out its objectives and action plans that will enable it achieve the objectives. In effect what the institutions are called to do is to plan performance, thus the development of strategic plans (Republic of Kenya 2005).
However it is a fashion these days for many institutions in Kenya to write very elaborate strategic plans. The sad reality is that the majority of these plans are never implemented. Most of the activities listed in strategic plans lack funding. The only likely solution to this problem is to develop strategic plans which can be funded with the available resources. Innovation can increase these resources and is part of the content of PC guidelines for tertiary institutions to follow. In an effort to implement their strategic plans, various institutions had to develop operational plans so as to realize their strategic objective(s). Operational plans are a critical component for any organization thus the planning performance stage is important in setting targets against available resources. The resources then provide the much needed support whether in terms of skilled personnel, facilities and equipment or even much needed funds. Regular monitoring and evaluation of the set targets and their achievement set basis for review of performance and drawing up of relevant objectives for the planning stage (Republic of Kenya 2007). One of the advantages of the performance contract system is that it makes the strategy of the department clear to all its operational units and, above all, spells out the resources that will be made available for achieving the targets that they have formally undertaken to meet.
Performance contracting practices in tertiary institutions
Public institutions are required to anchor their performance contracts on their strategic plans. The strategic objectives in the strategic plans should be linked to Government policy priorities and objectives as set out from time to time, in policy and in publications such as the National Development Plan (NDP), the vision 2030 and Medium Term Plans (MTP). There have been several government initiatives since 2002 meant at improving delivery of services. The enactment of the public procurement and disposal Act, 2005 for example was meant to streamline procurement efforts within the government and avoid wastage of resources. The anticorruption efforts being implemented through the enactment of the anticorruption and economic crimes act, 2003 are among several other initiatives that have generally contributed to overall government performance and service delivery practices.
The current performance management system popularly known as performance contracting in government was introduced in 2004. Since then, the system has gone through its, own measure of successes and challenges. Performance contracting system is transforming the management of public affairs in a significant way. A culture of professionalism, competitiveness, innovation and target setting is being incorporated into the public sector. Government offices are being publicly challenged to account for public resources entrusted to them on a day – to- day basis as the level of achievement is raised each year. The Kenya public sector is for the first time being challenged to compare with the best practices of the world while various governments within and outside Africa are expressing interest on how the PC system can be adopted and customized to suit their individual cases. Government services are meant to be available to all citizens throughout the country as it imparts a sense of national belonging in that citizen. It is therefore imperative that every effort is made to increase access at all levels.
Kenya has adopted a theoretically sound institutional arrangement. The vetting of performance contracts at the beginning of the year and the evaluation of agency performance at the end of the year is done by a group of independent professionals. This is in keeping with international best practices. However , it appears that the independent professionals or the members of this Ad- hoc Task Force who do the evaluation at the beginning of the year are not the same as those who do the evaluation at the end of the year as has been the complains from PPTTCs. This needs to be corrected as the persons who do the evaluation must fully understand the rationale for the target setting and under which context was the setting based.
Target setting involves a lot of investment of time in understanding the agency hence the need to have the same evaluators throughout the PC process or a marking scheme which takes care of all the agreements. In some cases, it may be difficult to identify concrete outcomes or results for a service; for example, training which an education service is might be provided with the goal of disseminating information and identifying people’s behaviors. However, it may be difficult or impossible to track participants and determine whether the training helped them to think and act differently. In these cases, the development of an output measure such as the number of training sessions to evaluate the impact of the training efforts such as pre or post test scores should be developed. If a department is unable to identify performance outcomes for specific services type, a meeting with head of the department and other departments may be useful to stimulate new ideas and share best practices (Korir, 2006).
In order for performance measures to be useful, it must be clear to everyone precisely what is being measured and how the measures are calculated. Achieving this degree of clarity between both the contract and the contractor is one of the most difficult and challenging aspects of performance contracting. Any ambiguities about what and how performance is being measured should be eliminated before the contract is executed. This will ensure that a contractor understands the responsibility and the data collected will be reliable (Letangule, and Letting, 2012).
Under performance contracting practices, the staff members provide feedback to the manager on their progress towards the achievements of the agreed performance objectives. The manager provides regular formal and informal feedback on the assessment of the staff members’ achievements; positioning is left to national evaluation committee. Since performance contracting has been seen to yield positive results in terms of better services in countries who have implemented it, it is the expectation of this research that the introduction of PC in PPTTCs will improve service delivery. It has been observed that most PPTTCs are performing poorly yearly in terms of PC indicator areas as can be inferred in the annual PC results since its signing by PPTTCs in 2007. It was prudent at this stage to determine the level of PC practices by college employees in an effort to improve service delivery to their customers. Employees practices on PC means that they understand their role in PC and have no problem in terms of implementation . Nyongesa (2012) noted that information on PC is still scanty in that not all employees know about it. In most cases, it’s only the senior management who are fully involved in the activities of PC. They are inclined to the training that they underwent with the hope of passing information to the workers at the lowest cadres before implementation. He also noted that PC is not fully accepted by all workers who might be exposed negatively in terms of their poor performance by the outcomes. Gatere (2013) noted that employees of TSC headquarters by majority in a research done to determine the level of awareness of PC had not been trained. This then raises the question on how senior employees who are not trained would assess the junior employees. The findings from TSC show that there is a disconnection between PC actual practices and what the staff undertakes in their daily work activities. This provoked the researcher in this study to try to find out the relationship between what the teachers practice daily and PC practices provided on the guidelines with an aim of establishing the reasons behind low ranking of PPTTCs.
To evaluate the extent to which the promised services were delivered, the government has recommended carrying out annual customer satisfaction surveys. Developing service delivery charter however, which resonate with Mwananchi’s aspirations requires reorienting attitudes of government service providers to focus on outcomes as a measure of success and not primarily process outputs. This is the complimenting reason for the state to invest in the development of sector performance standards whose targets are benchmarked to the higher levels attained in the better performing economies of the globe.