President’s evaluation of ministers leaves more questions than answers

The ongoing one-hour each, face-to-face meeting of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, his Vice President and his Chief of Staff, with ministers of state to orally evaluate their performance in office, after they had been evaluated by the Ministry for Monitoring and Evaluation leaves more questions than answers.

Prior to the widely publicised evaluation of ministers, the President had openly endorsed, applauded and approved the performances of some of the ministers in the course of delivering his state of the nation address to parliament last week. For the untinctured mind, those ministers singled out for praise have passed the test even before the President’s evaluation.

In like manner, the verdict is obviously against those who were not mentioned for praise by the president. They would naturally have a lot more of explaining and convincing to do at the encounter with the President. This raises the question as to whether or not, the selective praises were necessary in view of the pending evaluation?

We are given to believe that performance evaluation is not new to the government machinery in Ghana. Previous government officials have confirmed that their performances were evaluated by the President and his Council of Advisors. The difference is that, we now have a whole ministry set up for and dedicated to that function; and this time round, the Presidency has made a big deal out of it, contributing to the escalation of the perception of an inevitable ministerial reshuffle based on the performance evaluation.

 

Performance evaluation:

As a constructive process in the corporate world, evaluation measures and acknowledges the performance of a non-probationary employee. In the case of ministerial appointees, an appointee’s evaluation should be sufficiently specific to inform and guide him or her in the performance of her or his duties. And it must be emphasised that performance evaluation is not in and of itself a disciplinary procedure. Those outside government, particularly the media; that are fuelling the perception, the government officials and party communicators linking it to the pending reshuffle must come off it.

The President, as the CEO of the country can hire and fire whoever he wants. No one can challenge him on that. But I would assume he has the mandate of the people based on an agenda he offered them at the polls. And it is required of him, as is required of leaders in the transformational development framework, to keep that agenda in view and be informed by it in the process of mobilising human resources, in this case, ministers to enable him to deliver on the agenda, which is a social contract.

 

Ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation:

It is not clear why a new ministry was created for monitoring and evaluation. Now that it is confirmed that the President himself is carrying out the evaluation or part of it, what must we make of the ministry and the staff hired for that purpose? Is someone duplicating another’s functions or they are complementary? For what effect and to what end?

In my candid opinion, this is a function that is best managed by a properly constituted, professionally staffed Policy Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation office at the presidency. It does not require a ministry. I recall the effusions of Dr. Tony Aidoo of the previous administration to the effect that his Policy Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation outfit was starved of the tools and resources  required for the work.  Did that inform this administration’s decision to elevate that office to a ministry?

If the Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Akoto Osei, has, as has been reported in the media presented evaluation reports on the performances  of the ministers  amidst claims  that the report will serve as the basis for the President’s “assessment”, how did the ministry generate the reports? What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? Why are they not made public so interested citizens can follow the process and understand how the scores were arrived at?

 

Key considerations:

Typically, performance evaluation would take two key issues into consideration. First is the appointees’ soft skills (initiative, reliability, trustworthiness, loyalty, adaptability, customer service, public relations) etc. and how it impacts on the second; which constitute KPIs such as specific targets and tangible deliverables in terms of whether they were attained, exceeded or not attained. There must be room to find out why KPIs for instance were not attained.

So I take Mr. Kan-Dapaah for instance who is in charge of National Security and one of the first four ministers to be evaluated by the President.  Security in Ghana has obviously not been the best under his watch. But we also know why the security situation is that bad and why in many instances he cannot be blamed for the breaches. In addition to that, he was not singled out for mention by the President at the state of the nation address. How would he fare in the assessment? How much weight is given to the soft skills and how much is assigned to the tangible hard deliverables?

 

Way forward:

Monitoring and evaluating the performance of government appointees is very important for national development. It is the only way we can know individually and collectively whether we are making progress of not. It must by all means be scaled up, sustained and organised in such a way as to get the best out of each and every appointee for the advancement of the national agenda.

Although the ministers’ evaluation is situated in a political milieu, we must endeavour to avoid reducing it to inter or intra party political football, such as the wide publicity given to it, to the effect that something unusual was happening at the Presidency which would inevitably lead to a ministerial reshuffle.

It is a mark of great leadership to manage the hawks and the doves in the party and in the nation on a balanced scale to keep the national agenda on the move, while operational necessities such as performance monitoring and evaluations come and go. The need to make it clean, objective and fair does not necessarily call for media bursts, wide publicity and fan fair. If it must be so, then full disclosure is required. But is that necessary?

 

The Last Uprising
…with William DOWOKPOR

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *