Government Performance Management Systems: Case Studies From South Asia

Partial approaches are akin to arranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic. In a dysfunctional system, looking for pockets of excellence is a futile exercise. In many cases, you can get temporary results by focusing on some part of the organization or even some government departments, but you can be sure, just like a waterbed, that the inefficiency has travelled to another part that is currently not under scrutiny. Therefore, I have long argued that governments must have an integrated performance measurement system.

How to Avoid Four Fatal Flaws When Designing Your Government Performance Management System

Most “Government Performance Management Systems” suffer from serious conceptual flaws that have regularly proven to be fatal. For example, often there are no consequences for “good” or “bad” performance in government. Thus, even a good performance measurement system is a waste of time.  In addition, performance measurement systems in government lack: (a) upfront prioritization of goals and objectives; (b) upfront agreement on how to judge deviation from targets; and (c) focus on the whole of organization.

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Meaning of ‘Performance’ in Government Performance Management

Most governments around the world are working on improving the performance of their government agencies. It is clear that the ‘performance’ of a country’s government has emerged as a key determinant of the competitive advantage of nations. The race among nations is being won not by those nations that have more resources or ideas. Rather, the outcome of this race among nations is largely determined by how effectively nations use their resources and how well they implement good ideas and policies. This task is usually achieved by a performance management system in the government.

Seven Steps for Creating a Bottom Line in the Government

The Challenge

Absence of an objective, credible and meaningful bottom line for government agencies is arguably the single biggest challenge in managing government. Most of the management problems we observe in government agencies are ‘symptoms’ resulting from the missing bottom line in this sector.

How to Foster Innovation in Government Management Systems

Little wonder therefore that governments around the world want to be seen promoting innovation. However, based on my experience, government efforts in this area can be divided into two broad categories: Most of the governmental resources (money and time) are used for promoting innovation by non-government actors, and only a small amount is allocated for the innovation programs meant to encourage management innovation within the government itself. The former category represents innovation encouraged ‘by’ the government and the latter innovation generated ‘in’ the government.

How to Design Effective Team Targets in Government

The Challenge

Government is famously a team sport. Almost everything (really) important we do in government requires effective teams. Whether it is reducing child mortality, disaster management, fighting opioid crisis or stopping money laundering. The list is indeed long and familiar.

How to Prevent Soft-targeting in Government Performance Management Systems

It is, therefore, hardly surprising that the preference for “soft-targets” is a near universal phenomenon. Anyone designing a government performance management system (GPMS) must assume we humans have a preference for soft targets.


Senior Fellow (Governance), the IBM Center for The Business of Government, and Special Envoy for Sustainable Development Goal Implementation
Commonwealth Secretariat, London
United States

Prof. Prajapati Trivedi is a Senior Fellow (Governance) with the IBM Center for The Business of Government and Commonwealth Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Sustainable Development Goal Implementation. Previously, he was the Senior Director heading the Economic, Youth, and Sustainable Directorate of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, UK. In this position, he also reported directly to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

From 2009-2014, he worked as a Permanent Secretary to the Government of India in the Cabinet Secretariat, Prime Minister’s Office, where he was responsible for designing a highly regarded whole-of-government performance monitoring and evaluation system for government departments and reporting the results to the Prime Minister of India. He worked as a Senior Economist with the World Bank from 1995-2009; Economic Adviser to Government of India (1992-1994) and a Chaired Professor of Public Sector Management at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (1987-1992). He has taught at many leading universities in the world and continues to teach economics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government as a visiting faculty.

He studied for B.A. (Economics Honours) from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, (where he was honoured with the C.F. Andrews Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2012); M.Sc. (Economics) from the London School of Economics in 1974 and Ph.D. (Economics) from Boston University in 1985. Author of four books and several academic papers, he has worked in more than 50 countries around the world. He is the first Indian to receive the International Public Administration Award by the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) in recognition of his significant contributions to the field of public administration as a scholar and practitioner. He is also the first Indian to be elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), Washington, DC. In March 2019, he received the Harry Hatry Distinguished Performance Management Practice Award for 2019 in Washington, DC, awarded by the Center for Accountability and Performance (CAP) of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA).

View his video series on government performance management!

Listen to Praja's interview with Business of Government Hour host Michael Keegan.


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