Establishing KPIs for politicians in the Jamaican context
No offence to the actual patty shops in Jamaica. But I’ve made this point on the odd occasions that I chime in on discussions on governance. I have asked, “When considering someone for a prime minister or any other politician, in the same breath, if you had a patty shop, would you consider them qualified to run it?”
I’ll laugh now and hurriedly move on from that discussion at this point.
Long ago when I was in college, I can’t remember which lecturer had mentioned that traditionally, persons who ventured into politics were those who were already established professionals who wanted to give back. What I got from that was that politics was a way for people to give back and serve the people and not the other way around.
On reflection, I cannot say that I echo those sentiments when I consider the current crop of politicians. I simply don’t get the feeling that service is paramount for them. When I listen to how they engage the public or comment on issues (more like fail to comment or sidestep with condescension), I constantly ‘SMH’ or say, “You know say them people here tek we fi idiot, though?” There is little respect or sobriety, and I can’t help but feel a sense of disgust, but maybe that’s just me.
Jamaica, if you were to look at us as a business, then you would agree that we are the largest business in the English-speaking Caribbean – certainly in terms of the weight we throw around. Now, if you were to consider the C-Suite management team for this multinational, would you really feel comfortable with the crop of ‘executives’ and the level of compensation they have awarded themselves? If you were a shareholder, what would you do?
The debate recently and the cries of the people is that most are aghast by the salary increases for members of Parliament. What I get from the outcry is a non-objection to an increase, but what is unconscionable is the percentage jump attended by the lack of parity when you consider all the factors affecting Jamaica.
The increase would suggest a booming economy and a society where there is equity in public service compensation, minimum wage, social services, tax collection, accountability, and transparency; and that economy, effectiveness and efficiency are the deal of the day.
The point I am trying to make is that politics at its core should be viewed as a noble and voluntary service to society. It is an opportunity for individuals to contribute to the betterment of their communities, advocate for the interests of their constituents, and shape the future of their nation. Unfortunately, politics has become synonymous with personal enrichment, leading to widespread corruption, distrust, and a disconnect between elected officials and the people they serve.
KPIS GAINING RECOGNITION IN OTHER COUNTRIES
When you look at many countries, the portfolio ministers are actually technically competent in their portfolio responsibilities, and they make sound policy decisions. I cannot say the same for Jamaica, but if that were the case, then, perhaps we wouldn’t be so quick to elevate our thoughts to the point of an objection.
What could be added if you had technically competent politicians with actual experience outside of politics are job descriptions and KPIs and then the compensation could be tied to it.
In many countries around the world, the concept of job descriptions and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for politicians is gaining recognition as a means of enhancing transparency, accountability, and effective governance. By clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of politicians and establishing measurable criteria to assess their performance, the aim is to ensure that elected officials work diligently to serve the best interests of their constituents.
In several countries, citizens and politicians alike are clear about the duties of parliamentarians and thus the establishment of a job description wouldn’t be a major task for them.
Let’s consider some examples of countries where the duties of MPs are clear and then consider provisions that could be included in job descriptions, should we embark on such a move:
United Kingdom (UK):
In the UK, job descriptions for politicians are not formally established. However, guidelines exist to outline the general roles and responsibilities of Members of Parliament (MPs). These include representing constituents and participating in legislative processes.
While job descriptions are not strictly defined, the UK Parliament has established a code of conduct and ethical standards for MPs. The code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of Members of Parliament as they carry out their work. It also contains the rules concerning the additional income, gifts and personal interests that must be declared by MPs and published in the Register of Members’ Interests.
The expected duties, including law-making, representation of constituents, community engagement, and oversight of government activities are clear and accepted. They also emphasize the importance of upholding democratic values and acting in the best interests of the public.
Similar to Australia, New Zealand politicians are guided on their roles and responsibilities. Emphasis is placed on representation, legislative duties, policy development, and engagement with constituents. Additionally, ethical conduct and accountability are highlighted as fundamental aspects of the political role.
OPPORTUNITY TO LEAD
As an advocate for Key Performance Indicators for politicians, Jamaica has the opportunity to lead in this area. After all, we have ventured into the lead with the unprecedented salary jump with an air of novelty.
Following the uproar over the unconscionable compensation package, Prime Minister Andrew Holness started the process by announcing last week that several accountability measures wouldl be implemented for the political directorate.
Given where we are as a country, setting KPIs for politicians will be a complicated process, but certainly, we might consider these for a start:
CONSTITUENT SATISFACTION INDEX (CSI):
This KPI would measure the level of satisfaction among constituents regarding the accessibility, responsiveness, and effectiveness of politicians in addressing their concerns and needs. It can be assessed through surveys and feedback mechanisms. The collection of this data could be done by polls supported by technology.
This KPI would evaluate the politician’s ability to propose and pass legislation, participate in parliamentary debates, and contribute constructively to policy development. The number of bills laid in Parliament, the successful passage of bills, and the impact of legislation on society are key indicators.
CRIME FIGHTING INITIATIVES (CFI):
This KPI would evaluate the Government’s ability/effectiveness to seriously tackle the scourge of crime affecting the nation. This could be evaluated by conducting a National Crime Victimisation Survey and the results are then weighted.
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND TRANSPARENCY:
This KPI would assess the politician’s commitment to engaging with the public, promoting transparency, and building trust. Factors such as public meetings, responsiveness to inquiries, and proactive communication of government initiatives can be considered.
This KPI could measure the extent to which politicians’ policies and initiatives contribute to societal and economic development. It could consider factors such as job creation, economic growth, social welfare improvements, and environmental sustainability as well as any big-ticket items mentioned in the political manifesto. The point is, if you are going to put it out there and it’s not a bluff, then why not agree to be evaluated by it?
ETHICAL CONDUCT AND INTEGRITY:
This KPI evaluates the adherence to ethical standards, code of conduct, and avoidance of conflicts of interest. This would assess the politician’s honesty, integrity, and commitment to acting in the public’s best interests. This could be done again by poll and the general perception of the constituents would form the rating.
The main vehicle forming the assessment machinery would be public surveys, performance reviews, and evaluations by an independent hybrid evaluation committee that would have responsibility for assessing politicians’ performance.
The implementation of job descriptions and Key Performance Indicators for politicians is gradually gaining recognition as a means to enhance accountability and transparency in governance. While the extent and formalisation of job descriptions may vary across countries, the common goal is to define politicians’ responsibilities and evaluate their performance objectively.
I can’t see any issue with why this cannot be done with a sense of alacrity – or is it that the Government isn’t serious?
n Hodine Williams is an attorney-at-law with an LLM in International Business Law. He has held positions in banking, auditing, finance, and corporate governance/management consulting. Hodine has also worked in several offices in the Civil Service for over 13 years. Email feedback to email@example.com.