Kumara, M. H. A.S. & Handapangoda (2008).
public management: The level of preparedness and
implementation – A study based on the Sri Lankan
context, JOAAG, Vol. 3. No. 2
New Public Management: The Level of Preparedness and
Implementation – A Study based on the Sri Lankan Context
M H Ajantha Sisira Kumara1
Wasana S Handapangoda2
NPM initiatives are recognized essential components of an effective public sector.
Accordingly, in Sri Lanka different elected governments have taken varied steps to
formulate the background for and implementing NPM reforms in public sector agencies.
The objective of the study is therefore, to analyze the level of preparedness for NPM
initiatives in Sri Lanka in terms of legal provisions, organizational capacity, human
resource development, information and communication technology and political
backup. The methodology adopted is primarily qualitative.
The study found that the quality of public services in Sri Lanka is gradually
deteriorating, particularly due to the free-rider problem despite its preparedness towards
NPM. Hence, market mechanism is recommended to be the most potential solution for
The Dissertation on A Study on Job Satisfaction Level on Employee’s Performance at JUPEM Negeri Sembilan
INTRODUCTION 1.1Background of the Study Employees are a valuable corporate asset that must be managed by the company in order to provide optimal contribution. One of the things that should be the primary concern of the company is the job satisfaction of their employees, because the employees in the work they do not feel comfortable, under-appreciated, cannot develop all their potential, then ...
the problem of free riders. Similarly, decentralization – a widely recognized element of
the agenda on NPM – is advocated to be an effective means of empowering the poor.
Keywords: citizen participation; decentralization; market orientation; new public
1 Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce,
University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka. E-mail: [email protected]
2 Department of Business Economics, Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce,
University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka. E-mail: [email protected]
Having been characterized by a relatively large public sector instigated by the colonial
rule, today Sri Lanka is well-known for her role as a welfare state. Conversely, the
country experiences much vulnerability in terms of economic indicators which remain
relatively stable through post-independent history. Not surprisingly, the role of state
became an issue of debate in the late 20th century advocating its retrenchment bolstered
by right-wing liberal ideas. Resultantly, Sri Lanka embarked on an extensive economic
liberalization process in 1977 becoming the pioneer in the whole of South Asia.
According to Fukuyama (2004), it is merely the change of role of state by cutting back
in certain areas and strengthening in others. The missing dimension was that proper
attention was not given for state-building agenda which resulted in failure of liberalizing
economic reforms basically due to lack of proper institutional framework.
Since the early 1950s, the country’s ratio of public expenditure to GDP (Gross
Domestic Product) is steadily on the increase, being largely attributed to debt servicing,
welfare spending and capital expenditure of the state. For instance, the ratio of public
expenditure to GDP rose from 22.5 per cent in the period 1951-1955 to 37.5 per
cent thirty years later (Hulme and Sanderatne, 1996:5).
However, on the other hand,
The Essay on Public Service Sector America Government
Public service is essential to protecting America and its citizens. It is responsible for ensuring that our air and water are clean, food is fresh, and material products are safe. Without public service, our society would be prone to impurity, and consequently, decay. Thus, the government does a great deed in providing civil service that is often taken for granted. Coming from a family that has ...
among 179 countries, Sri Lanka was ranked 94 in Corruption Perception Index [CPI]
with an index of 3.2 (Transparency International, 2007).
Since the late 1970s, in an
attempt to address [these] critical problems…, Sri Lanka has experienced much public
sector reform (Samaratunge and Bennington, 2002:91), which indeed has become an
international phenomenon. As part of these reforms, a paradigm of public sector
management known as new public management (NPM) has emerged in OECD
[Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries and elsewhere
(Hughes, 1998; Osborne & Gaebler, 1993; Pollitt, 1995; cited in Samaratunge and
Similarly, Sri Lanka too has taken necessary initiatives to
introduce NPM to the government sector with the hope of enhancing and streamlining
the sector for better outcomes.
It is argued that there is strong connection between building a proper institutional
framework and NPM based reforms in which the institutional framework of the
government represents minimal size and strength ensuring an efficient, effective and
corruption free public sector. However, issues exist with regard to the applicability of
Western-born NPM reforms in the developing world arising from cultural disparities
between the latter and that of the Western world. But, there are stories of success as
well. For instance, Total Quality Management (TQM) and managerialism approach
adopted by Malaysia and Hong Kong, respectively, just to name two stories of success
(see Hughes, 1998).
Thus, there is some sense that the new managerial approach has
some potential to replace traditional administration even in developing countries
(Hughes, 1998:219) including Sri Lanka, regardless the issues of implementation which
are largely context-specific. For decades bearing the burden of a relatively large yet
unproductive public sector it is advisable for Sri Lanka to make an effort towards NPM,
which, on one hand has the leverage over traditional public administration, while on the
The Essay on An Assessment on the Importance of Public Personnel Management as a Field of Study
Public Personnel Management as a field of study has undergone considerable development in the past 40 years. Personnel professionals now have available a wide range of techniques which they can apply toward the efficient acquisition, allocation, and development of human resources – human resource planning, job analysis, selection, appraisal, training, and labour management relations. The field of ...
other hand devoid of any potential replacement, thus-far.
Research Objective and Methodology
The objective of this paper is to analyze the level of preparedness for NPM initiatives in
Sri Lanka in terms of legal provisions, organizational capacity, human resources
development, information and communication technology and political backup, which
are significantly evident in the current system of public administration. The
methodology adopted to realize the objective is primarily qualitative. However, in data
analysis, simple descriptive statistics were utilized. As the source of primary data, a
representative sample of 25 high ranked bureaucrats at ministerial level was interviewed,
who shared the experience of both paradigms; traditional public administration and the
NPM. The interviews were conducted based on a structured questionnaire containing
both open-ended and closed-ended questions with a focus on more precise and specific
answers. As a supplementary source, secondary data and information have also been
utilized in the study.
Different paradigms are found to have impacted on Asian institutional reforms. Two
notable ones are the “new public management” (NPM) and “good governance”
models. NPM represents a critique of the traditional model of public administration
based on state bureaucracy and of the general failure of government – expressed as an
unresponsive but invasive state, overextended state, or private interest state captured by
privileged groups (Cheung, 2005:258-259).
Equally, the wave of public sector reform
that began in the 1980s is commonly referred to as new public management (NPM).
The term refers to a focus on management, not policy, and on performance appraisal
and efficiency; disaggregating public bureaucrats into agencies which deal with each
other on a user pay basis; the use of quasi-markets and of contracting out to foster
The Research paper on New Public Management
... of government to bureaucracy to governance to new public administration to new public management (though each one of them were designed for the betterment of public service, ... its citizens. NPM basically derives its management techniques and practices from the private sector. Its focus is shifted from traditional public administration to public management, which ...
competition; cost cutting; and a style of management that emphasizes among other
things, output targets, limited term contracts, monetary incentives and freedom to
manage. It is said to be a global phenomenon. It is a policy ambition for international
organizations like the OECD (1995) and the World Bank (1992) (Bevir, et al.,
Since the 1980s, administrative reforms have emerged to considerable
fanfare under the banner of “New Public Management” in New Zealand, the United
Kingdom, and elsewhere and “reinventing government” in the United States (Kettle,
It is also based on an underlying assumption that if public managers are left to
their own devices, they will be inefficient and ineffective and will pursue their own selfinterest
at the expense of public interest (Boyne, 1998) (cited in Samaratunge and
Consequently, the NPM is referred to as transforming
public sector agencies to decision making bodies with the aim of enhancing
transparency, accountability, equity and quality of service processes realized by the
means of market-oriented public services, citizen participation, decentralization,
outsourcing, cost-minimization and performance-based remuneration.
The champions of the New Public Management see … [the] emphasis on performance
as a sharp break with past approaches to administration. Earlier years, they argue, were
conducive to Max Weber’s (1947) ideal of centralized, bureaucratic monopolies, in
which laws and regulations dictated standardized services and accountability entailed
compliance with procedures (Barzelay, 1992; Osborne and Plastrik, 1997).
decades, major changes in politics, economics, society, and government itself have
challenged those administrative traditions: Voters and elected officials now demand
effective programs that do not consume excessive tax revenues; globalization requires
adaptive economies supported by nimble public agencies; and diverse citizenries seek
responsive services – all from governments facing regulatory burdens and cross-cutting
political pressures (Cullen and Cushman, 2000; Kettle, 2000; Peters, 1996) (cited in
The Term Paper on New Public Management Administration Reform
INTRODUCTION Public sector reforms adopted in a number of countries such as USA, UK and New Zealand in the last fifteen years and characterised by efficiency units, performance management, contracting out, market type mechanisms, and agency status have come to be known as the New Public Management or NPM. Appearance of the NPM as shifting the paradigm from the old traditional model of ...
It was simple but simplistic to say that government just needed to be
cut. What was more important was that government be efficient, facilitative and
appropriate to its circumstances rather than merely small (Hughes, 1998:217).
However, NPM, to say the least, is a highly contested concept (Maesschalck,
According to Page (2005:713), the field of public administration has
been rife with debate about the New Public Management over the past decade.
Interpretations of its origins and evolution, in particular, have become polarized.
Champions of the New Public Management argue that pressing demands for change
have overridden the historical traditions of public administration, resulting in a global
revolution favoring post-bureaucratic forms of government (e.g., Barzelay, 1992;
Caiden, 1991; Kettle, 2000; Osborne and Plastrik, 1997).
Skeptics, however, link the
principles of the New Public Management directly to long-standing administrative
traditions and contend that recent changes in government are more incremental and
historically contingent than discontinuous and universal (Dobel, 2001; Lynn, 1998,
2001; Wolf, 1997).
The core of these criticisms has focused on the undue emphasis on
economic rationalism and diminishing “publicness” of public service, with services like
health care and education having been the hardest hit (Haque, 2001).
some critics, new public management is nothing new; rather it is another version of
“Taylorism which emerged in the early 1890s” (Bremner, 1995; Stilwell, 1995).
these reasons, on one hand, while NPM is regarded and as an effective answer to the
inbuilt impasses of traditional public administration, and thus, extensively lip-serviced in
both developed and developing countries; on the other hand, the concept is criticized as
a “mimetic process” of the same orthodox doctrines of public administration, however,
with a “new look”.
For many reform-minded citizens in developing countries, as well as for academics and
practitioners in the international development community, good governance has
The Essay on Records Management
Topic No 2; Records Management in organizations Prepared by; Abdul Maziko. “Trust nothing suspect everything” Introduction. • records management is an application of systematic and scientific control to the recorded information required in the operation of an organization’s business (Robek et al , 1995) • Records Management:Systematical control of records in their entire lifecycle, that is, from ...
become as imperative to poverty reduction as it has become to development more
generally (Grindle, 2004:525).
Despite some differing views on the exact constituents
of NPM, many developing countries in the 1990s have experimented with some
elements of its commonly accepted components (Common, 1998; Larbi, 1998;
Polidano, 1999; cited in Samaratunge and Bennington, 2002:90) including Sri Lanka.
Regardless of the criticisms, it is explicable that among the various doctrines
encompassed in the concept, high quality public and market based services;
accountability for output and outcome; efficient and effective utilization of public
resources; human and technology enhancement, and empowering citizens are
emphasized with the ultimate aim of offering “a better product” to the citizens.
Preparedness for New Public Management: Sri Lankan Experience
Many Asian countries have embarked on administrative reforms of one kind or another,
engaging in rhetoric that resonates with the global paradigms of “new public
management” (Cheung, 2005:257).
Similarly, Sri Lanka too has developed an
environment conducive to undertake the NPM reforms, and this section of the paper
discusses the Sri Lankan preparedness towards the reforms in terms of human resource
development and capacity building; and institutional, administrative and legal
Human Resource Development and Capacity Building
Getting good governance calls for improvements that touch virtually all aspects of the
public sector – from institutions that set the rules of the game for economic and political
interaction to … human resources that staff government bureaucracies (Grindle,
Nature of the impact of the NPM agenda is therefore, largely based on the
enhanced quality and competencies of the bureaucrats, in which capacity building is
Public sector middle level managers in Sri Lanka are selected from an examination called
Sri Lanka Administrative Service (SLAS) Examination. Initially, the selected are trained
in a compulsory one-year Diploma Programme and later, in courses on public
administration and related fields by Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration
(SLIDA) with the aim of enhancing their competencies. In 2005, SLAS officers had
been given short-term training courses themed new public management, public sector
productivity, good governance and accountability, managing IT and E-Governance, and
procurement management. In addition, senior officials had been assigned to both local
and foreign capacity building programmes under the NPM practices.
Table 1: A Sample of Foreign Training Programmes Exposed to Sri Lankan Public
Sector Officers (2002-2006)
Theme Country Year
Productivity and Managing
Public Sector Investment Italy 2002
E-Governance Hawaii, Korea 2003, 2004
Managing IT Japan 2004
Standards for Public Sector
Public Management India 2005
Source: Survey Data, 2006
According to the survey, the new trend in the Sri Lankan public sector is ‘collaborative
programmes’ implemented with the espousal of national universities in the country.
Middle and operational level managers are trained in these programmes with the aim of
up-grading their competencies. In 2005, Ministry of Public Administration and Home
Affairs had taken initiatives to train its managers through a similar programme called
Diploma in Public Management (DPM) with the collaboration of a state university,
University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
It is understood that public sector agencies in Sri Lanka have placed serious attention on
moulding a HR force capable of meeting the challenges of the era of NPM. For
instance, under the recommendation of Sri Lanka Administrative Service Minute
numbered 1419/3 – 2005, November 14, to be graded to Class I, SLAS officers are
required to complete a master’s degree in either public management, development
administration, economics or local government. Hence, lately at the ministerial level
scholarly collaborations have been instigated with postgraduate institutions and national
universities availing generous opportunities to SLAS officers.
Institutional and Administrative Preparedness
The New Public Management is overwhelming. Scholars have found link between
particular kinds of policies and institutional arrangements associated with growth or
poverty reduction. Most of the good governance agenda is about what governments
need to do to put their political administrative and financial houses in better order
Hence, there is a question of how institutional and administrative
set up is to be adjusted to ease the NPM initiatives (Barberis, 1998: 453).
The institutional and administrative preparedness towards NPM in Sri Lanka is
understood with the appointment of the Administrative Reforms Committee (ARC) by
the Cabinet with a mandate to:
• Formulate a programme of administrative reforms with the objective of making
the government administrative machinery a citizen centric, efficient and effective
instrument of governance for the rapid development of the country, and for the
fostering of national harmony operating in an environment of accountability,
transparency, equity, meritocracy and non-partisanship, and respect for
democratic imitations and the law
• Have such reforms implemented through out the governmental system
The committee is chaired by the Secretary to the Prime-Minister and consists of some
other secretaries to ministries and knowledgeable persons in the field including a senior
representative of the private sector. The ARC has adopted a work plan that can be
altered according to requirements. The work items performed by the ARC with respect
to NPM initiatives can be categorized into four broad groups, namely re-examination
and rationalization of the content of work of government agencies, human resources
development, re-engineering of the business of government agencies and creating of
working environment conducive to continue productivity enhancement (see
Nonetheless, the Information and Communication Technology
Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka has been established under the Companies Act No.17 of
1982 as the executive agency to assist the national committee on information and
communication technology established under the Information and Communication
Technology Act No.27 of 2003 (Parliament of the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka,
Apart from, a pilot project on E-Governance is being implemented through
the ICTA with the assistance of private sector agencies.
Decentralization of management to the local level has been increasingly recognized as an
unavoidable process in Sri Lankan context (Perera, 2006:2).
When it comes to
privatization in Sri Lankan arena, the required institutional framework is still under
construction since 1980s. In August 1987, a Presidential Commission on Privatization
(PCP) was appointed (Mahadeva, et al., 1988; cited in Kelegama, 1997: 460).
was established to recommend on privatization of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and
formulate legal framework for performance. Since this was moving slowly, the
government decided to hasten the process using line ministries, thus, the PCP was
replaced by the Public Investment Management Board (PIMB) in September 1989.
Later, in March 1990, PIMB was converted to Public Management Investment
Its role was to provide institutional leadership to the privatization
process. The institutional framework for privatization was next transferred to the
Commercialization of Public Enterprises Division (COPED) of the Ministry of Finance in
1990. According to Jayewardene (1994; cited in Kelegama, 1997:462), it was the
slow progress under a rigid bureaucracy in various line ministries that led the Ministry of
Finance to take overall command. As a result, in 1996, Public Enterprises Reforms
Commission (PERC) was established to handle privatization issues.
The latest initiative is the Strategic Enterprises Management Agency (SEMA) established
in June 2004 in order to revive several key public sector enterprises. This is aimed at
improving their efficiency, service delivery, financial independence and accountability.
Initially 12 strategic enterprises have been identified. They are the Bank of Ceylon
(BOC), People’s Bank (PB), National Savings Bank (NSB), State Mortgage and
Investment Bank (SMIB), Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Ceylon Petroleum
Corporation (CPC), Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Airports and Aviation Authority
(AAA), Ceylon Government Railway (CGR), Ceylon Transport Board (CTB) and
Regional Cluster Bus Companies, National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB)
and State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC).
The introduction of professional
management, improved commercial viability and consequential benefits to the national
budget will enable the government to better address social agenda in an effective
Legal framework of any country contributes immensely towards the implementation of
NPM initiatives. Thus, the existing legal framework may require to be altered by
introducing new acts, enactments and circulars facilitating the NPM efforts. For
instance, in Sri Lanka the circulars issued by the Department of Pensions are
appropriately amended to speed up and provide non-fraudulent services to the clients.
Public sector employees are advised to up date their personal files six months prior to
retirement so that their gratuity will be paid on the date of retirement. Further, certain
legal provisions have been made with the aim of assuring the competencies of public
officials, particularly SLAS officers. According to Sri Lanka Administrative Service
Minute numbered 1419/3 – 2005, all the SLAS officers are required to complete a
master’s degree in public administration or a related field to be lifted to Class I.
Since the country plans to introduce legal enactments to provide legal recognition to
electronic media, electronic transaction laws are speedily required since the lack of such
laws creates uncertainty with regard to legal recognition of E-commerce based activities
in Sri Lanka. In furtherance, the ICTA has embarked on a programme to facilitate legal
reforms, and two important areas being addressed are e-signature legal reforms and data
protection. The lack of a framework on data protection prevents the free flow of
personal data and information. Therefore, the government recognizes the need to have
legislative measures for other measures such as the adoption of a “Codes of Practice”
embodying principles that would ensure protection of personal information (ICTA,
Accordingly, in Sri Lanka, attentiveness towards the NPM practices in public sector is
adequate and thus, satisfactory in terms of human resources development and capacity
building; and institutional, administrative and legal preparedness. The country has
passably initiated necessary background elements challenging the prolonged Weberian
notion of bureaucracy and bolstering the NPM agenda. According to Transparency
International (2006), Sri Lanka scores 47% out of a possible 100% of the OBI [Open
Budget Index, i.e., the index, which measures the availability of key budget documents,
the quantity of information they provide and the timeliness of their dissemination to
citizens in order to provide reliable information] in the year 2006. Further, quoting
Transparency International, Sri Lanka’s performance indicates that the government
provides the citizens with some information on the central government’s budget and
financial activities, but that there is much room for improvement.
NPM in Action: Sri Lankan Entrance
Recognizing NPM Initiatives
As a country in the onset of the NPM reforms, it is important to have an understanding
of the views and perceptions of its senior bureaucrats on the importance of the elements
of the agenda as illustrated in Table 2.
Table 2: The Views of Sri Lankan Bureaucrats on the Importance of the Essentials of
Most Important Least Important
1 2 3 4 5 6
Decentralization 10% 50% 40%
Cost-cutting 20% 30% 40% 10%
Outsourcing 10% 30% 20% 40%
10% 40% 50%
Source: Survey Data, 2006
According to significance – from the most to the least important – the senior bureaucrats
held the opinion that citizen participation was the most significant, while market-based
public services were the least important among the essentials of the NPM agenda. This
implies that senior bureaucrats in Sri Lanka are embedded with the idea that public
services should be provided free of charge to the general public, which, on the other
hand is associated with the issue of “free-riders”. Hence, it is understood that there is a
“fundamental error of understanding of the concept of NPM” in Sri Lanka. Similarly,
the free availability of public services makes it both unable and reluctant to “exclude”
consumption leading to “non-excludability”. It simply means that every citizen – rich or
poor – is able to enjoy public services unlimitedly, which has however given rise to an
impasse between its continuation and the overwhelming burden on the government
budget. Similarly, free-riders have affected the quality of public services together with
high opportunity cost (e.g., opportunity cost of time due to line-ups), and bribery and
corruption involved as critical issues of needing speedy attention.
During the survey, some additional elements were recommended by the bureaucrats as
imperative in the NPM agenda as listed down in Table 3:
Table 3: Additional Elements Proposed by Senior Bureaucrats in the Survey
Proposed Element Percentage of Respondents
Decision-making and Risk-bearing 80%
Simplicity and Understandability in Service
Decision-making by being in the Field 30%
Recognizing Human and Physical Resource
Profile prior to Restructuring Organizations 10%
Source: Survey Data, 2006
Citizen participation is taking a part in the processes of formulation, passage and
implementation of public policies (Parry, 1992; cited in Lowndes and Pratchett,
The concept citizen participation includes not simply voting and other forms
of electoral activities, but also contracting public officials, attending protests and
involving, either formally or informally, in local issues. Civic engagement with the
development and implementation of policy can help to generate a heighten sense of
public value about what government does. Accordingly, citizen participation in the
governance process is widely encouraged by academic and professional organizations
and is a popular conference topic (Berner, 2001:23).
Survey data revealed that 80% of the respondents were in the belief that citizen
participation the most important element in the reforms making it clear that Sri Lankan
senior bureaucrats are more “participatory-oriented”. Senior Assistant Secretary – HR
and IT, Ministry of Public Administration, Management and Home Affairs commented
in this regard as,
All the time public decisions are affected by the views of citizens. Therefore,
there should be proper systems and mechanisms through which the views of
citizens can be incorporated into decision-making processes of the government. I
think it is better if we can take decisions being in the field [decision ground in
his terms] (Source: Survey, 2006).
“Suggestion box” and “complaint box” are two widely used methods in encouraging
civic engagement, where a committee appointed by the Minister of Public
Administration, Management and Home Affairs called “Management Committee”
analyses the comments, views and ideas proposed by citizens through the above
methods. Thereafter, a summary report prepared by the committee is discussed in detail
in weekly meetings chaired by the Secretary to the Ministry. The new developments are
the ministry’s “general electronic mail” and “suggestion and complaint hotline service”,
where in 2006 three hotlines were opened up for general public to forward their
suggestions and complaints about the provision of services. Conversely, according to
Nanayakkara (1989:276), the local citizens have no access to an elected representative
at the sub-office instead he could only meet a bureaucrat, a career official, who may be
unresponsive to the citizen grievances.
…. decentralization can be defined as the transfer of responsibility for planning,
management and resource mobilization and allocation (Rondinelli, 1981: cited in
Decentralization of management has been the most commonly applied
element of the NPM reform agenda in the country (Samaratunge and Bennington,
Survey questions been confined to only deconcentration and delegation of
the four branches of decentralization, 100% of the interviewees were in the opinion
that decentralization of management should be the first, second or third important
component in the NPM reforms in the country (see Table 02).
Table 4: Sri Lankan Decentralization Efforts since 1948 to Date
Period Decentralization Effort(s)
Over 150 departments operated in the districts; Para-statal co-operations
operating regional offices in districts; District Agricultural Committee to
promote agricultural development; District Development Councils
(DDCs) to coordinate development activities of sub-national level; Rural
Development Societies (RDSs) established under the Department of Rural
Development within the Ministry of Home Affairs; Established
agricultural extension service as a field unit at the divisional level
District Political Authority (DPA) was introduced with the financial
support of the decentralized budget to introduce political leadership to
local level; Agricultural Productivity Committees (APCs) established at
the divisional level under the Agricultural Productivity Law of 1972;
Cultivation Committees at village level under the Paddy Lands Act of
1958 to promote agricultural development and safeguard of the rights of
Replaced DPA system with District Ministry (DM) system to formulate,
monitor and evaluate district development plans, identify bottlenecks and
supervise interdepartmental activities; DDCs were established under the
Development Council Act No.35 of 1980 to enhance coordination at
the district level; establishment of Gramodaya Mandalayas (a new village
level institution) with the membership of the leaders of NGOs (Non-
Governmental Organizations) in its area of authority; establishment of
Pradeshiya Mandalayas (a new divisional level institution) with the chairs
of all the Gramodaya Mandalayas in respective government agent
Provincial Council (PC) system established with the financial
decentralization under the provisions of the 13th Amendment to the
Constitution and Provincial Council Act No.42 of 1987 to supervise
divisions and local authorities; Pradeshiya Sabhas (a new divisional level
institution) are operating at divisional level under Pradeshiya Sabha Act
no.1 of 1987; Administration at divisional level is by a Divisional
Secretary in charge of the Divisional Secretariat
Source: Perera, 2006:1-17
When it comes to delegation of authority, the willingness of senior bureaucrats for
delegation can be demonstrated as follows:
Figure 1: Willingness of Senior Bureaucrats towards Delegation in Sri Lanka
done in any
Not wlling to
delegate in any
delegation is not
Source: Survey Data, 2006
In crucial situations, trustworthiness, capacity, experience and previous work related
issues have been carefully considered by senior bureaucrats prior to delegation. 40% of
them were willing to delegate their authority to lower levels without any hesitation,
while none (0%) expressed complete unwillingness towards the same. A respondent
I am fairly satisfied with the capacity and experience of my employees. In any
situation, whether crucial or not, I am ready to delegate my authority to them. I
gave them the password and user name of the general e-mail of the ministry
though it is totally under my authority. Because I see them as hindrances of my
time available for important decision making exercises (Source: Survey, 2006).
Despite efforts since independence, decentralization has not been able to reach the
expectations of the country largely due to the uneven distribution of resources with a
clear rural-urban disparity, tendency towards centralization of power, rural-urban
migration primarily in search of employment, and over two-decadal old ethnic strife.
Public-private partnerships provide an important illustration of the way the traditional
role of government as employer and service provider is being transformed. “… both
public and private sector organizations can benefit from working together in partnership
relations” (Grimshaw, et al., 2002:475).
Thus, service outsourcing can be recognized
as a key element of the NPM agenda as well as an effective means of reducing high costs
involved in public service processes. The survey found that 50% of the respondents
were in favour of outsourcing, but ranked second or third in the list of prioritization (see
Cleaning and environmental services, IT related services (programming,
website designing, software installation and computer repairing), and security service
had already been totally outsourced to private sector organizations, and the possible
services for future outsourcing included: building maintenance, keeping stores, supplying
and repairing vehicles, driving, and internal postal service. One respondent expressed
Outsourcing has greatly reduced the burden on the government. Now, high
quality services can be given at an agreeable cost. Benefits of outsourcing can be
optimized through fair and transparent tender processes (Source: Survey,
Conversely, another commented,
The benefits of outsourcing cannot be gained in the Sri Lankan context due to
unclear tender processes. Largely, tenders are given to contractors without
considering quality and price but for mere political patronage (Source: Survey,
A long-term plan of service quality including quality standards, specification of services,
and performance measures assist to have a specific framework of whom to outsource.
This plan should necessarily be prepared having consulted the service recipients. In this
regard, simply providing specialist education and training for senior civil servants is not
sufficient. Instead, recognition of the distinctive qualities of service provision in the
public sector is needed (Grimshaw, et al., 2002: 499).
According to the survey, several NPM elements were recognized as relatively more
significant by Sri Lankan senior civil servants despite certain misconceptions towards
some; market-based public services and merit-based remuneration, in particular. Not
surprisingly, the whole agenda had not been accurately perceived and understood by
the officials leading to a lop-sided practice of this universal phenomenon.
The NPM reforms should be initiated by any country with a clear-cut vision and
understanding. Sri Lankan system of public administration, largely shaped by the
colonial rule under the British, is on the move towards the NPM reforms, however,
without much focus. Performance related pay and market-based public services have
been hardly recommended and practiced witnessing its fractional awareness at the top.
In principle, the administrative reforms have been based on political agendas of different
regimes, and resultantly, the NPM based restructuring programmes have not been able
to be implemented as a continuous exercise. Despite country’s preparedness – largely in
terms of capacity building, and institutional and legal framework – and initial efforts
towards implementation, the quality of the services are often claimed to be on the
In Sri Lanka, system of public administration is the major mechanism of human
development, which however needs rejuvenation through transparent, efficient, equal,
accountable and outcome-oriented public service processes fueled by the NPM
initiatives. Not surprisingly, the progress achieved in this regard is marginal due to the
lack of these qualities, and the poor support rendered by the private sector and NGOs,
uneven distribution of resources, the ethnic strife and the tendency towards
centralization of power. NPM reforms should necessarily be implemented as a
continuous long-term exercise regardless of the political party in power. The entire
portfolio of the reforms, especially market-oriented public services, needs be exercised
with the presence and support of all the stakeholders for optimum results and well-being
of the country.
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