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ACCOUNTABILITY AND PERFORMANCE OF NEPALI BUREAUCRACY: A SURVEY OF THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
Accountability is an instrument of ensuring good governance within the bureaucratic structure throughout the world, and Nepal is not an exception. Time and again, the government of Nepal has adopted various plans, policies, and institutional mechanisms to hold duty bearers accountable for their actions and performance. However, it is a general feeling that the practice and exercise of accountability in the Nepali bureaucracy are still not as expected. Citizens often feel that bureaucrats are being irresponsive and unaccountable, and criticize them for this. Perhaps, many of us have similar personal experiences that have led us to the same conclusion. Bearing such in mind, this quantitative study examined the determinants of accountability and performance of bureaucrats working in the education sector, employing three research questions: i) What is the level of accountability and performance? ii) To what extent do accountability and performance differ based on demographics? iii) What is the association of accountability with performance and vice versa?
To address these questions, I adopted a quantitative approach based on primary data, employing survey as a strategy of inquiry. My target population for the survey was educational bureaucrats working in the central level of organization of the Ministry of Education. According to the Ministry records, there were a total of 592 posts (Darbandi) across the different central level organizations. I excluded employees without ranks and vacant posts from the sampling frame. Hence, the total number of educational bureaucrats working in different levels of the central organization was 459. From this, I selected 213 respondents using the most popular and widely accepted formula proposed by Yamane (1967). Data was collected through a self-administered structured questionnaire, and analyzed by using descriptive and inferential statistics. For descriptive statistics, I calculated frequency, percentages, crosstab mean, median, and standard deviation; and for inferential statistics, I used Phi, Rank-Correlation, Chi-square, and Logistic Regression to determine the association between the variables.
The results of the study show that the educational bureaucrats working in central level of organization of the Ministry of Education seem to be accountable. Transparency, responsibility, and responsiveness also appear to be good; however, liability and controllability were not found to meet expectations. This scenario reveals that there is a weak controllability mechanism. Similarly, there was a weak system for performance-based reward and punishment. Educational bureaucrats were found to perform at a higher level, executing defined duties in a timely manner to achieve organizational goals and standards effectively and efficiently.
It is interesting to note that accountability and performance of educational bureaucrats differed by their demographic attributes, results that were confirmed by descriptive statistics. On the other hand, inferential statistics did not produce significant effects, except in regards to job position. Therefore, it can be said that accountability and performance of educational bureaucrats were independent, except for their position. Nevertheless, this scenario was different when examining the relationship between accountability and performance. Accountability and performance of educational bureaucrats were significantly associated with each other, as indicated by the results.