Modi the Task master: Performance Appraisal of Ministers and Ministries


If you were a minister in the Modi government sooner or later, will come the realization that becoming a Minister is not all that easy as it used to be with fun and fare, visiting foreign countries, inaugurating big projects and monuments, speaking at fancy places , giving parties and luncheons etc etc. Gone are those days.
This Friday, all the ministries ( barring few) were called by the PM to give a presentation of their two years tenure and highlight the achievements. Such practices are rare if not totally out of world whether they are carried out by any other Prime Minister or even Chief Minister of the country. We do not know how the PM and his team evaluated the performances and what exactly were the parameters and benchmarks that were placed to be assessed. The British government carries out thorough performance evaluation through a very professional approach in collaboration with World Bank ( . The United States of America performance monitoring is carried out through strategic goals. The GAO also came out with its set of recommendations and to do list with tools and practices that is a must reading for all nations to follow, (
Unlike UK and the world Bank, and the US, the exercise initiated by Modi government is also challenging as it is directly conducted by the PM , and it requires two basic criterions to be fulfilled. First one should be as much workalcoholic as one expects from the ministers else there will not be any credibility of the performance appraisals. Second this also requires courage and boldness.
Besides, Building monitoring and evaluation systems helps strengthen governance in countries—by improving transparency, by strengthening accountability relationships, and by building a performance culture within governments to support better policy making, budget decisionmaking, and management.
Performance appraisals is not new in our country and has been happening for years with reforms and innovatve best practices at various levels and agencies like Planning Commiission, CAG, Action Plans, targets etc. ( However the personal involvement of the PM and the ministers makes the whole thing interesting and challenging.
It is one thing to take presentations in private company and it is all together different game when you ask your cabinet colleagues to come and read out from power point slides. All the ministers , whether big or small are well versed in politics and can easily get hurt or have a bruised ego. Therefore what the PM is doing is absolutely unique and also praise worthy no matter which side of ideology one stands for. Just imagine could Manmohan Singh hold such a power packed meeting of his ministers and ask them to read from PPTs.
Coming back to the subject it is undoubtedly a good practise for making ministers review their work and showcase their achievements. Since the practise is so important for proper governance we have outlined some proposals for the same so as to make them more effective. We hope that the PM can get the message and can have a look to them.
It is said that this will be a regular routine every three months. However once something becomes a regular, there is a tendency in the government to make it casual and merely a formality. Moreover people stop taking the job less seriously. Therefore the Prime Minister will have to make sure that these events are held with utmost sincerity and seriousness when ever they are held. It wont be a bad idea either to reward or punish someone solely on the basis of performance presentation and immediately after the meeting is held so that the message gets conveyed in no uncertain terms.
Than there are certain other issues associated. Most performance management systems are simply too cumbersome and formal for today’s start up world. Plus, the time reviews require is itself a huge barrier to doing them well.
Spending three-four hour with 10-30 people each quarter, one-on-one, plus all the preparation and documentation required, does not look to be very scalable. And since most of the presenters want and appreciate immediate feedback on performance issues, it also becomes quite a routine tasks with some well known plusses and minuses and comments. It will be also difficult for the PM to find time always as he runs a very tight schedule handling multiple tasks and challenges simultaneously. Therefore someone equally powerful ca also be entrusted with the job which the PM can see remotely and or through recordings. (
As against these, the biggest advantage is that any minister or his secretary will get a good opportunity for a direct one to one meeting with the PM where the real work and challenges can be placed before the PM without any intrusion. We strongly believe that these meetings can be aired publicly or at least to the minister concerned.
The performance appraisals will also project the government work to the public and will increase the credibility of the government. It will be a good idea if such presentations are made public in the future, so that the common citizen can get involved in the process. The process has to be fine tuned for the same.
It is also necessary to bring some other stake holders into the process. For example the Chairman, Directors , Heads of State run institutes, organizations, Departments and PSUs can also be called.
As the government has announced the seventh pay commission it is necessary that the pay out may not be considered as easy money for government officers and staff which is the general impression among the common public.
While the senior staff like secretary and Joint secretary of a minster are over occupied with work, that is not the case with other staff in any ministry and or government office.
The government must therefore try to bring everyone under strict accountability as it starts from the ministers level and must percolate at least till the Director level. This will automatically make the other staff also work and complete their tasks rather than get engaged in counting the benefits of the seventh pay commission and wasting crucial time. The impression that government job is the best job to pas life need to be checked. As one find that to be a minister is after all not all that easy in the Narendra Modi government similar message must go for the government job too.
The government can also try to bring a separate unit which focusses only on the performance of various ministries. Such establishment will therefore has to be maintained by future government and will help making the governance in the country gradually strong and will not disappear in case Modi government does not win next general elections.
Indeed that will be a great achievement for the Modi Government and only he can bring back the system on track.
While such measure will also be criticized by those who do not want to work and be disciplined it is important that the PM does not allow any lethargy and casual approach to creep into it.
We wish the Prime Minister and his team along with all ministers our best wishes and let they all set an example to make the governance of the country a well managed system.
Further Reading and Notes:
In December 2007 The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report entitled ‘A Call for Stewardship: Enhancing the Federal Government’s Ability to Address Key Fiscal and Other 21st Century Challenges’. In this report the GAO identifies 13 areas of action to enhance the performance of government departments. The GAO, strongly believes that consistent use of the 13 will help policymakers (1) reach consensus on the outcomes Americans most want their government to achieve, (2) increase transparency and accountability, (3) better prioritize competing demands, (4) make more-informed decisions, and (5) modernize federal operations and management. (
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Asheesh Shah
Author: Asheesh Shah

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