The time has come for Small Island Developing States like Barbados to optimise the use of scarce resources and invest them in attaining results and impactful, sustainable outcomes, rather than outputs that fall short of producing the socio-economic benefits anticipated.
This observation was made yesterday by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Juanita Thorington-Powlett, as she delivered remarks at the launch of The Programme to Strengthen the Capacity of the Government of Barbados to Manage for Results (PRODEV).
According to Mrs. Thorington-Powlett, PRODEV would furnish Government with the tools to: strengthen the technical capacity of the public sector for setting policies and investment priorities; improve its capacity for continuous analysis of its decisions and programmes; and offer greater scope for learning from experiences and redefining policy and investment decisions if warranted.
She pointed out that results-based management was not an entirely new concept to the public sector, having been already applied to human resource, budgetary and financial systems, as well as the public sector investment programme, through the Performance Review and Development System; multi-year performance budgeting; and an established Project Cycle Management System.
She noted, however, that those endeavours were taking much time to be implemented, adding that the PRODEV project could also fall victim to a lack of results if it was not executed efficiently and the need to institutionalise Managing for Results was not taken seriously.
“The success of this project or rather its effectiveness requires of its stakeholders a strong sense of ownership and commitment. This is an integral part of why we are here, to rally champions for the cause,” Mrs. Thorington-Powlett told those present at the launch.
The Permanent Secretary stated that Government recognised the need to employ results-based management techniques in its operations, especially given the public sector’s ultimate responsibility for setting national strategic objectives, and determining the means by which they would be achieved.
She stressed, however, that Government needed to evaluate how it conducted its business.
“We need to measure our performance in a meaningful systematic manner, from formulation through to execution and operationalisation of policy initiatives. We need to start placing emphasis on the HOW and not just the WHAT and WHY, otherwise the results of the said initiatives become as effective as carrying water in a basket,” Mrs. Thorington-Powlett noted.
She implored participants to embrace the Barbados PRODEV project as a means to ensure the efficient use of public sector resources and the effectiveness of its development initiatives; and as a tool to better enable individuals to make the social and economic gains necessary to improve the quality of life of our people and maintain our international status.
In his introduction, facilitator and Director of Corporate Planning and Performance Monitoring, Ministry of Transport and Works, Jamaica, Shawn Grey, noted that there was a need for decentralisation in the public sector, so that managers could make decisions based on a framework. He said that there were some management tools which remained the same, but management for results called for a change in attitude.
“Leaders must outline the objectives. In Management for Results leaders must lead by example and must set the tone for everybody to follow, not only in terms of behaviour, but in terms of attitude,” Mr. Grey suggested.
He also stressed the importance of engaging civil society and the private sector and of having a mechanism to analyse whether the programme was achieving the desired impact.