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The APO training course on Performance Management Systems for the Public Sector was conducted in collaboration with the National Iranian Productivity Center in Tehran, IR Iran, 14−18 February 2009. It was the second in a series of projects begun in 2008 to create a pool of public-sector productivity catalysts in member countries. The first project was the workshop on Sustainable Management Strategies for the Public Sector held in the Republic of Korea in November 2008. The follow-up course in IR Iran was attended by 13 international and 10 local participants who represented mid- to senior-level management from various government organizations. All 13 international participants had previously taken part in the first program held in Seoul. The APO requested participants who had successfully completed both programs to share their experiences, which produced the following three comments.
Public-sector agencies have a great responsibility to guide and streamline all other sectors. Therefore, the productivity and quality of all other areas depend on those of the public management system. However, our experience has shown that in most developing nations, public agencies are more tightly constrained, missions are legislatively fixed, and civil service budget systems are activity based and input driven. Hence, I appreciate the APO’s initiatives in selecting the public sector to be a new thrust area for support and its organization of a series of programs on this subject to strengthen public-sector agencies in its member countries.
The APO workshop, held in Seoul last year as the first of its series, successfully provided participants with knowledge on system dynamics and the world cafe approach along with the differences between conventional management practices and sustainable management practices. During the workshop, we visited the Korea Gas Corporation, a public enterprise providing LNG across the country, and learned about its sustainable management strategies. The second project was the training course on Performance Management Systems for the Public Sector, held in Tehran last February, that focused on imparting practical knowledge on integrated result-based management and performance-based budgeting for the public sector. This project featured many practical examples. I found these projects to be appropriate and timely, meeting current needs. To move forward in this direction, I look for the APO to conduct a research project on the problems and constraints of public-sector agencies in APO member countries which will provide a detailed picture of the current issues and future challenges, as well as new dimensions of innovation required in public management systems. It would certainly assist participants to apply and disseminate the knowledge gained through the previous projects for strengthening public-sector agencies.
Performance budgeting is an important factor in improving productivity and stable management in the public sector. In the past, management and planning organizations emphasized cost accounting while neglecting other elements such as strategic planning evaluation, rules and regulations, administrative background, defining the concepts of performance measures, and specific education. The training course held in IR Iran highlighted the fact that performance budgeting is an integrated policy package combining activities such as establishing strategic planning, defining indicators, establishing accounting systems, and identifying policy requirements and stakeholders/clients. This training course, in conjunction with the previous workshop held in the Republic of Korea, provided me with a useful theoretical framework that I have utilized to persuade policymakers to focus on performance budgeting, which has previously been ignored. In the future, I will develop training programs for parliamentarians and public-sector agents. By doing this, I will ensure that the knowledge and practical examples I obtained from the two APO projects can be disseminated.
A key learning point of the workshop held in Seoul was the need for strategic thinking in designing and implementing public-sector programs, in my case a training program for banking-sector professionals in Thailand. While I learned a great deal from the resource speakers, I also learned a great deal from the other participants, mostly mid-to senior-level public officials in other APO member countries. The training course held in Tehran focused on performance management systems. The experts emphasized that we should concentrate on the outcome rather than the simple output of a program from the planning stage. Emphasizing outcome focuses more on the purpose and the impact of programs. I have now incorporated all these learning points into my designs for talent development programs in the banking sector. I am trying to include all the key points imparted in the two projects. They guide me to think about the purpose, impacts, and outcomes of new programs in a holistic manner.