Performance contracts boost Uganda’s PDM

Jonas Mbabazi

What you need to know:

  • Implementing Performance Contracts for Local Government officials at all levels would easily guarantee improvement in the livelihoods.

The Parish Development Model (PDM) was launched on February 26, 2022 by President Museveni as a strategy for promoting grassroots development and fostering economic growth.

The PDM seeks to elevate 17.5 million Ugandans from subsistence to a monetary economy. The PDM’s financing structure, which directly provides seed capital through a Parish Revolving Fund (PRF), signifies a pro-poor orientation, further enhanced by affirmative action for marginalised groups. 

Despite its potential, the PDM faces several challenges. Among them is the absence of clear indicators of success and accountability mechanisms. The accounting and technical officers do not have clear-cut performance measures for implementing the different PDM pillars. Additionally, the lack of specific metrics for evaluating the performance of PDM Saccos and enterprise groups further complicates efforts to assess the impact of the model. 

The public sector reforms meant to address these challenges have achieved minimal results. Governments worldwide view performance contracting strategy as useful for articulating precise objectives, goals, targets and monitoring performance. According to the African Association for Public Administration and Management (2006), performance contracting strategy addresses issues that; include improving performance to deliver quality and timely services to citizens, improving productivity to increase wealth, and reducing or eliminating reliance on the exchequer.

The association further notes that performance contracting strategy instils a sense of accountability and transparency in service delivery.

Thus, implementing performance contracts for local government officials at all levels would easily guarantee improvement in the livelihoods and welfare of 39 percent of the households in the subsistence economy. As the OECD (1999) guided, the performance contracts strategy would entail a range of management instruments that define responsibilities and expectations between government and technical officials to achieve mutually agreed results.

The fundamental principle of performance contracting is the devolved management style, emphasising management by outcome rather than process management. It would, therefore, be imperative to develop comprehensive performance indicators that capture the key dimensions of the PDM’s objectives.

These indicators should be tailored to each locality’s unique characteristics and priorities, ensuring relevance and effectiveness in driving development outcomes. Data collection, monitoring, and evaluation mechanisms should also be established to track progress and facilitate evidence-based decision-making.

The national performance assessments conducted by the Office of the Prime Minister should reflect district-level performance indicators for the PDM, providing valuable insights into overall progress and identifying areas requiring targeted interventions. This comprehensive approach to performance evaluation can help identify best practices, share lessons learned, and drive continuous improvement across all levels of implementation.

Based on these assessments, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Service should publicly recognise and reward top-performing officials while providing support and targeted interventions for those who require assistance.

In conclusion, the PDM represents a valuable opportunity to promote grassroots development and drive economic empowerment in Uganda. Through implementing the performance contracting strategy, the PDM can realise its full potential as a catalyst for sustainable development and positive change at the grassroots level. The level of success of a strategy depends on the degree of participation in planning and personal acceptance of the goals, indicators and targets set.

Mr Jonas Mbabazi Musinga is a research fellow at ACODE, [email protected]