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Dwight Waldo’s Contribution to Public Administration

Measuring Performance in Philippine Local Government Units (LGU’s)

Introduction

Performance is defined as the execution or accomplishment of work, acts, or feats. It is an indicator of whether goals or objectives have been satisfied or not. It is only logical that we manage Performance. Performance management includes activities that ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner. This helps us determine whether the workers are accomplishing their assigned tasks efficiently or not. Performance management also helps us find out if there are gaps between the desired outcomes and the actual outcomes. Such gaps are called performance problems. While it is often very easy to objectively quantify and manage performance in the private sector, I cannot say the same for our local government units. Provinces, cities, and municipalities do not have the luxury of just being concerned about generating revenues. Beyond this function, these entities must focus on high quality and sustainable public service and increasing public value. Such compelling responsibilities require a different approach in performance management. And managing performance is not possible without the appropriate performance measurement system.

I was quite relieved to know that we have the new LGPMS (Local Governance Performance Management System). It evaluates the extent to which local governments perform their functions and responsibilities. It helps set a standard that cultivates a logical basis for our local leaders in making wise decisions.

In this paper, I shall discuss the purpose and uses of LGPMS in helping our provinces, cities, and municipalities. I will then proceed in sharing the relevance of performance indicators used in this type of performance measurement system. After that I will mention the feedback on its utilization by its different stakeholders. And finally, I will indicate the limitations of the new LGPMS.

Purpose and Uses of LGPMS

The purpose of the LGPMS is to help develop provinces, cities, and municipalities in assessing and managing their own performance. It focuses on management concerns like the delivery of social, economic, and environmental services, and ensuring good local governance as a whole. Being a tool for progress, it also guides the local leaders in the said areas in determining the state of development they are in. All of this is very crucial in the planning and decision-making processes of the local public administration.

To further help me in this study, I was able to seek Maria Antonieta A. Porol’s professional assistance. She is the current LGPMS Regional Focal Person – Local Government Operations Officer V in DILG – Cagayan de Oro City. She was able to share the following information:

As a whole, the LGPMS serves these primary uses:

  1. To build a culture of high performance that is critical in an environment of local autonomy.
  2. To build and pursue an accessible database management for Administrative Governance, Social Governance, Economic Governance, Environmental Governance, and Valuing Fundamentals of Governance that encourages open convergence among stakeholders.
  3. It informs national policy-makers on the state of development in local governments.
  4. It benchmarks local government performance against established standards.

Now to further specify the above-mentioned benefits, we discussed the various stakeholders’ perspectives in terms of the usefulness of the LGPMS.

For local government units, the LGPMS:

  • Stimulates innovations
  • Improves local government management and operations
  • Suggests ways to provide high quality and essential public services
  • Improves planning, budgeting, and rational allocation of resources
  • Strengthens transparency, accountability and participation
  • Helps achieve a focused vision for the future

For national government agencies:

  • Serves as a common national platform of information about LGU performance
  • Provides benchmarks for local government performance
  • Provides a basis for capability-building initiatives
  • Identifies good local governance and sustainable development practices
  • Provides a basis for the strategic allocation of resources and assistance to LGU’s

For Civil Society Organizations and the Business Community:

  • Serves as a medium for better awareness of LGU operations and challenges
  • Conveys citizens’ agenda to local government officials
  • Stimulates effective participation in governance

For International Development Partners:

  • Provides information benchmarks on local government performance
  • Facilitates more focused assistance to LGU’s

Relevance of Performance Indicators Used

Ms. Porol was helpful enough to log-in in the LGPMS database for me. Only then that I fully understood the basis of those performance scales in the LGU’s annual e-reports. There are 5 performance theme areas (Administrative Governance, Economic Governance, Social Governance, Valuing Fundamentals of Governance, and Environmental Governance), 17 service areas that are specifically assigned to each of the said 5 performance themes accordingly (Local Legislation, Transparency, Participation, Development Planning, Revenue Generation, Revenue Allocation and Utilization, Financial Accountability, Customer Service, Human Resource Management and Development, Health and Nutrition, Education, Housing and Basic Utilities, Peace, Security and Disaster Management, Agriculture and Fisheries Development, Entrepreneurship, Business and Industry Promotion, Natural Resources Management, Waste Management and Pollution Control), and 111 indicators. There are 4 types of indicators: (1) List indicators – these express descriptive attributes in which data is provided simply by making a check mark; (2) Percentage indicators – there are 2 numeric values (numerator and denominator). The formula to compute the percentage is provided, in which the result becomes the basis for the LGU performance level for that indicator; (3) Value indicators – these are exact numeric values as data input; and (4) Exclusive list indicators – they are descriptive attributes that are mutually exclusive. These help address the fact that some attributes are true for a local government at any given time.

Indicators are also divided in performance measures for inputs, outputs and outcomes: (1) Inputs or performance indicators – refer to the underlying capacity of a local government. This capacity is assessed in terms of structures, policies, guidelines, administrative systems, managerial and technical competencies, tools, facilities, equipment, and financial resources; (2) Outputs or productivity indicators – refer to the availability and quality of basic services delivered by a local government; (3) Outcomes or state of development indicators – refer to the socio-economic and environmental conditions in a locality. The state of development shows the results of actions or lack of action of government and other stakeholders, sectors and individuals, deliberately or unintentionally.

The above-mentioned areas of performance, service areas, and indicators have been designed in such a way that it is very relevant in facing the various concerns facing our country today. Practically all core issues are prioritized and the methodology used is strongly directed towards increasing public value via delivery of essential public services “the right way”. If utilized wisely the new LGPMS version, with its substantial capacity-building directives, will present huge opportunities for our local leaders in their planning, decision-making, and overall execution of their tasks.

Feedback on Utilization

“Identifying and monitoring of appropriate measures are important to determine whether we are successful in our initiatives or not. What is more important is not what we have done but the impact that we have created in the lives of the Filipinos. We see LGPMS as a system that can help boost the performance of local governments… This tool is very useful for government planners and policy makers as it serves as a benchmark for development planning, program performance review and administrative guidance, and as a tool for policy research and development.”

- Secretary Jesse Robredo, DILG

“The LGPMS allows us to have a balance management perspective in running the municipal government. It centers on the core areas of management concerns like the delivery of social, economic and environmental services, and at the same time, ensuring good governance. We use performance information in planning and making a decision.”

- Mayor Sofronio Ona Jr., Municipality of Calaca, Batangas

“I am happy that the two major government agencies, the Department of Health and Department of Tourism, has teamed-up with the DILG in using LGPMS a common platform in providing a performance management tool and performance information for local governments.”

- Asst. Secretary Rolando Acosta, DILG and LGPMS Executive Champion

To be honest all of the feedback found in the internet on the new LGPMS is positive. There seems to be an ambiance of celebration. I do not blame them. Somehow there are growing initiatives or will in measuring the performance in the local government level. In fact, this is a relatively huge step. Considering the things I learned in this study, it is now hard to imagine how LGU’s operated 30 years ago. In short, I am really grateful about the new LGPMS. And the fact that we can easily access it through the internet only adds its appeal. And finally, everything about the new LGPMS and how it is presented can make the general public want to be more involved in our communities.

Limitations of LGPMS

There are, however, many opportunities for the new LGPMS to improve. And there are some facts about it that alarms me. They really need to be modified. Ms. Porol openly shared to me such limitations:

  1. The LGPMS does not include our baranggays. The competency of our baranggays needs to be evaluated. Their functions and responsibilities have a huge impact in our local communities. As such their output and performance needs to be measured.
  2. The LGPMS only goes as far as being a status report. Only the LGU’s themselves are responsible to come up with the analysis and solutions in the problems that are shown in their e-reports (not DILG). The LGPMS program does not cover such burden. If this is the case, then I hope our LGU’s have effective tools in addressing strategy and analysis based on their findings using the LGPMS.
  3. The indicators can be very weak and unreliable. The LGU’s HRMO answers the questionnaires (from DILG). The information generated becomes the raw data (indicators). After the collection of these indicators, the LGU’s then upload the data into the web-based LGPMS database using their designated accounts. The results of those LGPMS indicators are converted by the software into performance levels ranging from 1 to 5. After that, the system processes data inputs and produces tabular and graphical reports. But the problem of all of this is that the raw data uploaded is just a self-assessment of the LGU’s personnel. This can be an issue of honesty and accuracy – a troubled politician might adjust the data on the revenue generation of his city or a research about pollution control in a municipality yields incorrect analysis.
  4. Lack of third party assessment. Prior to being uploaded in the LGPMS database, indicators must be assessed for accuracy and consistency. As mentioned in #3, unverified LGU status reports are unacceptable. Ms. Porol mentioned that as for now, some forwarded (and finalized!) e-reports have not been reviewed by the LGPMS Committee. She said that supposedly, after the appropriate data have been gathered in an LGU, the information must be initially reviewed and verified as correct by the said committee. Afterwards, encoders can then submit the accepted data in the LGPMS online database. Cagayan de Oro City, for one, does not have such a committee. Our mayor must approve it first. She suggested there must be an open communication between DILG-X and our mayor’s office for this to happen. But so far, no action has been taken.
  5. The LGPMS is obscure to most. I asked a clerk in the City Hall on who should I talk to about LGPMS. She doesn’t know. I did the same in the Municipal Hall and got the similar response. Finally, I got someone from DILG-X who is obviously an expert – Ms. Maria Antonieta A. Porol. Everyone in that agency was referring me to her, who has yet to arrive from lunch when I came in. Her co-workers are as unaware of LGPMS as the others (or maybe they were just uninviting since LGPMS is not part their task in the office). My point is that I have seen the raw data indicators and questionnaires for the different performance and service areas in the database (when Ms. Porol logged-in in her account during the interview). And I believe the data required warrant relative and substantial involvement from LGU personnel. If LGPMS is a tool in assessing performance, then everyone must be involved somehow.

Conclusion

The new LGPMS must progress as our society does. And it has, for example, by utilizing the comfort and accessibility of the internet. Its limitations are expected because there is no perfect system in this world. The most important thing is balance and the will to always improve in serving the public. Our national government needs all the help it can get, and it all starts in the grassroots of our LGU’s. One cannot improve what one cannot measure. What you cannot measure, you cannot manage. Without a standard there is no logical basis for making a decision or taking action.

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