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Barbados – bridging the gap between man and government



The thing with governments is that they can be slow to act – really slow. And we are not referring here to the much debated and criticized situation of Hurricane Katrina, the 2016 Argentinian Locust Swarm or the recent Indian Heat Wave.

We are talking about the average citizen, standing in line at the counter to get his/her paperwork done, about the kicking around back and forth for an official stamp or the lengthy time it takes a civil servant to answer a telephone call. And it is as true, as it is not so surprising, that a world sprouting up millennials like never before, cannot endorse much longer the “primeval tantrums” of governmental bodies.

The crux of the matter

So, what’s with this slow-paced sickness, afflicting government agencies and civil servants alike? And is there a cure to this epidemic? Debates over time and, otherwise random disclosures, have surfaced not one, but many factors to blame.

On the government’s side, these include but are not limited to: unstructured processes, burdensome procedures, hopeless bureaucracies, inadequate equipment and outdated technology.

With respect to civil servants, governments are accused of entertaining ill-mannered staff, lack of business acumen, limited accountability, the inability of public officers to carry out duties and meet the expectations of the citizens.

As news of ridiculously apathetic governments spreads, many of these entities search for a solution that they can parade around, in order to settle down angry nationals. And it is now, in the latest ages of man, that governments have come to realize the need for producing and measuring the results that their societies expect of them.

However, throughout this process, not all of the world’s governments have managed to get to the bottom of things.

Many are having customized performance management systems designed for them, others are integrating performance criteria within their already existing frameworks, for reporting on performance. Few of them actually go deep enough to acknowledge the core of the matter that needs improving, the foundation of all things, whether system or society: man.

So even though it might come across as a surprise, Barbados makes it as one of our favorite countries on this topic, due to their systematic approach.


The Barbados HDS

Through its Human Development Strategy 2011-2016, Barbados is maybe one of the few countries that gets it: governments are people, and investing in people will produce more efficient governments.

The Barbados Human Development Strategy promotes the development of human capital within the state’s Government, and then some. It comes up with a Performance Assessment Framework – PAF for short, which establishes performance indicators that monitor the execution of the Human Development Strategy. Thorough this framework, the Government of Barbados is thus trying to ensure that:

  • public servants are educated enough to inform the public about the best public provider for their needs;
  • an efficient environment is created as a prerequisite for quality public service delivery;
  • the public profile of governmental institutions is raised, while allowing increased stakeholder buy-in;
  • progress towards the achievement of the country’s Medium Term Development Strategy is achieved.

The Performance Assessment Framework for the Human Development Strategy with the Government of Barbados is clear, concise and provides access to some valuable performance indicators, which can be used to monitor results across Human Development Programs worldwide.

The Barbados PAF has a well-defined structure consisting of: Strategic Pillars, Activities, Performance Indicators, Results Indicators and Impact Indicators.

A number of 15 Performance Indicators measure the progress of activities under 5 pillars, namely:

  1. Enabling Environment
  2. National Qualifications Framework
  3. Demand-Driven Educational System
  4. Knowledge Management Systems
  5. Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Capacity

These Performance Indicators are mainly input and process indicators. They ultimately feed into 9 Results Indicators, also known as KPIs, the progress of which is rigorously monitored with the help of a Performance Scorecard, as can be seen below.

In addition to these, the framework’s Impact Indicators relate to the main objectives of the Barbados Human Development Strategy and reflect on the overall competitiveness of the country on the international market.


Strategic objectives are formulated for the Results Indicators, under each of the 5 pillars and every indicator, whether Performance Indicator, Results Indicator or Impact Indicator is documented for the following fields:

  • Name
  • Definition
  • Justification
  • Limitation
  • Source of Verification

Here you have an example of a Documentation Form for such an indicator.


Indicator Definition: This indicator refers to the number of persons who undergo a formal session of career planning and counseling at the post-secondary level through one of the institutions authorized to offer the career planning and counselling service.

Indicator Justification: The global competitive nature of the workplace demands a more skilled worker, one who comes with the relevant academic knowledge and skills to satisfy the demands of employers in the labour market.

For all individuals, including students and persons in the labour force, career planning guides the education and training decisions and lays the foundation for lifelong learning and continuous career advancement during their working lives.

However, it is recognized that there is a need for better coordination between career planning services being offered within and outside education and training institutions and the labour market.

As it currently exists, there is no formal framework of career counselling at the secondary level. Whatever level of counselling that currently exists is focused more as a reactive intervention for personal development rather than a proactive intervention towards professional and lifelong development.

Building on the existing network of the Guidance Counselors Association of Barbados, a National Career Planning and Counseling Unit – NCPC Unit, under the MEHR will be established to coordinate and support such activities within the secondary and post-secondary school system.

The NCPC Unit would be responsible for effectively utilizing labour market and human resource information and other research to provide a pool of information for dissemination to schools and educational institutions.

For the adult population outside of the school system, the National Employment Bureau, under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, will be strengthened to become the premier career counselling centre for the labour market and will liaise with the NCPC to provide a mechanism that would support the transition of students from school to work.

Indicator Limitation: This indicator will require the establishment of the appropriate policy framework and institutional mechanisms to support its promotion and implementation. Work on these aspects will commence in Quarter 1, April – June of the Financial Yeah 2012 – 2013.

Source of Verification: Administrative records of the MEHR and registered educational providers and agencies authorized to deliver career counselling services.

So what have we learnt from Barbados’ example? Well, if nothing else, the simple fact that citizens demand quick and efficient actions from the government, just as they do from the market. And that’s the thing with people: they can be fast, really fast.

Give them what they need to perform and they will, in turn, produce a government that is capable, efficient, fast-paced and reliable. But in the process, try to be like the Government of Barbados: measure your ability to provide the tools and techniques needed for your people to perform first and foremost, then you can start working on other aspects!

Image sources:

Costa Rica - Sometimes money does grow on trees
Haiti’s Poverty Reduction Strategy - a performance measurement strategy

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