Rating Institutional Work Processes in a Digitised Economy

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The emergence of new technologies is gradually changing the roles and job performances of organisations that demand new and regular approaches to ratings in institutional work processes, writes Emma Okonji

  As technology is evolving and changing the dynamics and lifestyles of people, it is also changing tasks and targets of institutional work processes that no doubt, call for new method of performance rating in institutions and organisations, that are keen at maintaining global standards, while pushing for business growth and expansion.

The Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR), which has strong business organisational structure, policies and practices that facilitate effective service delivery, saw the need to embrace evolving technology in a digitised economy, when it came fully armed with latest technologies that have clear indices in analysing job performances of institutions and organisations. Based on the confidence it has in the technology to provide accurate results in every analysis, the BPSR listed several government institutions and organisations, whose job performances would be rated in order to encourage business growth within the organisations and institutions.

The bureau, penultimate week, focused on the telecoms industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and rated its performances and services to the public, using digital parameters from evolving technologies.

The rating

The BPSR rated the NCC high in institutional work processes. NCC got platinum rating, which tops institutional work processes in the country.

Director General of BPSR, Dr. Joe Abah presented the report and plaque to the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta in in Abuja.

The BPSR boss listed accountabilities and responsibilities for set standardised operating procedure (SOP) manuals of the commission’s 19 departments, using emerging technology in arriving at the conclusion.

“Accurate measurement of responsibilities and performance assigned to staff were the parameters for the evaluation of the commission,”Abah said.

In terms of governance, the BPSR said: “NCC strategic objectives are prioritised for potential impact using standardised principles including the balanced score card.”

NCC’s understanding of stakeholders’ needs and contributions are quite robust. The Bureau said NCC’s vision, strategy and impacts, complement other sectors organisational direction, adding that staff can articulate what the commission wants to achieve, its role and purpose; strategy is considered by the management team regularly throughout the year because the NCC has a sense of where it is going and how it should get there.

The Bureau also rated NCC very high in procurement processes, saying the commission “has adequate systems, processes and experienced personnel responsible for executing its procurement activities in line with extant provisions of the Public Procurement Act.”

According to Abah, it took BPSR 15 months to go through the evaluation during which period the bureau team had a meeting with the Human Capital Department team of NCC. Based on the approval of the EVC, the evaluation of the work processes took place thereafter whereby top management, senior and junior management staff were nominated to assess the work processes of the commission under nine main areas covering 117 questions supervised by officials of BPSR.

About BPSR

Established on 26th of September, 2003 as the lead agency and ‘engine room’ for integrated reform implementation, coordination and harmonisation, the supervision of the bureau itself, comes between the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the Office of the Head of Service.

For 70 per cent of its existence, BPSR has been led by Permanent Secretaries but in 2013, the Presidency approved the appointment of a Director General as head of the bureau.

The bureau has the mandate to initiate reforms in areas of importance to government for the attention of the steering committee on reforms; elucidate government policy on reforms; coordinate, monitor and evaluate the implementation of reform activities; conduct research on implementation efforts and present ‘best practice’ models; serve as clearing house for information relating to reforms; and as well provide advisory and technical support services for the federal government.

BPSR self- assessment tool

BPSR has self – assessment tools (SAT) that are bundled with emerging technology, with which it carries out its assessment. The tools are:  117 statements of good practices; nine main domains of international and local good practice, strategic governance; financial management; strategic planning and budgeting; and procurement processes. Others include operational and service delivery processes; human resource management; partnership and resource mobilisation; and key performance management and results among others.

It uses a rating scale for each good practice statement such as

(Strong: 75 per cent and above), (Well-Placed: 50-74 per cent),

(Developing Area: 25 to 49 per cent), (Needs Attention: 0 to 24 per cent). Its overall assessment results is as follows: Platinum Level: Exceptional (90 per cent and above); Gold Level: Exceeds Expectations (75-89 per cent); Silver Level: Meets Expectations (50-74 per cent); Bronze Level: Improvement Needed (26-49 per cent); Base Level: Unsatisfactory (Below 25 per cent).

Having satisfied with assessment of NCC’s performance, the bureau rated NCC as Platinum, which is the highest rating in its categories of rating.

Strength, structure and roles

Considering the key areas of strength, structure and roles as part of the parameters for rating, the bureau said NCC’s business organisational structure and plans support the organisation’s purpose and service delivery.

“NCC policies and practices facilitate the delivery of effective and efficient service delivery. Accountabilities and responsibilities are appropriately set and clearly documented. The Board sets strategy and performance goals which are aligned to government priorities and policy directives,” the bureau said in its report.

According to BPSR, the system has been established to ensure that all decisions relating to the use, commitment, exchange or transfer of resources involving board members are documented and records of transactions maintained to ensure proper accountability.

“NCC strategic objectives are prioritised for potential impact using standardised principles including the balance score card. NCC vision, strategy and impacts complement other sector organisational direction, and its staff can articulate what the Commission wants to achieve, its role and purpose,” report statement added.

Collaboration and partnership

In the area of collaboration and partnership, the report rated NCC, as an institution with strong sector relationships that understands and is responsive to stakeholders’ needs, explaining that its mechanism for capturing stakeholders’ contribution is quite robust.

“NCC strategy and services complement those of other sector agencies, and where appropriate, sector agencies work jointly. NCC has put in place strong partnership agreement including Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) to manage,” the report said.

Managing organisational performance

According to the rating, the NCC monitors and assesses its performance and uses performance information to improve policy, regulatory intervention and service delivery.

It periodically measures public perception of its performance and impact to provide an indication of the effectiveness of its strategies.

“The NCC demonstrates that formal performance management processes are clearly understood, consistently applied and deemed by all staff to be a valuable activity,” the report added.

 Safety and use of technology

While analysing the rating in the areas of safety and use of technology, the BPSR boss said the NCC well understood and consistently applied workplace safety practices that demonstrably facilitate a safe working environment.

“NCC has developed a health and safety policy, including a safety manual. Although the health and safety policy is yet to be signed, it will be useful when fully implemented,” Abah said.

Financial Management

The report said NCC ensures that effective  systems and procedures comply with relevant accounting policies and standards.

It, however, said that NCC was yet to link up to the government Integrated Management Information System (GIFMIS).

“NCC does not give financial reporting an appropriate profile at the meetings of senior management and governing board to reflect on progress towards strategic goals and adjusting strategy as required. NCC has an organisational wide asset plan that describes current and future needs, assets maintenance, acquisition and financing. However, the plan is generic and does not include the use of depreciation funding. The last time NCC undertook an accurate up to date inventory of assets and a functional mechanism for annual budgeting for asset maintenance and replacement was in 2012,” the report said.

Recommendations

In its recommendations BPSR advised the governing board of NCC to develop a formal code of conduct defining standards of behaviour to which individual governing board members and employees of NCC could subscribe and uphold.

It also advised it to ensure that the governing board establishes an anti-corruption policy with an entrenched whistle blower mechanism, and to ensure institutional mechanism for junior staff to fearlessly and regularly contribute ideas and experiences that are active and effective.

It urged NCC to consider including performance data such as information on output and outcomes goals in budget documents.

“Though challenging, the commission should strive  to maintain budget variance on both revenue or expenditure at a maximum of 5 per cent and also make financial reporting more frequent and on time at the meetings of the senior management and governing board to reflect on progress towards goals and to adjust strategy as required,” the bureau further advised.


NCC’s view

After the BPSR presentation, Danbatta said as someone from the academia, “he is very conversant with empirical analysis and criticisms and welcomed the bureau’s report.”

He said the rating would bring out the best of the situation among NCC staff. He therefore, and thanked Abah for the rare show of professionalism by making the presentation himself.