Research shows lack of legislative framework, misunderstanding of job description [Archives:2007/1019/Reportage]

January 25 2007

By:Nisreen Shadad
A Young Administration Leaders conference was held on Monday to present the results of ten research studies applied in ten ministries on administrative tasks and performance evaluation and its credits and defects. One of the general outcomes all researchers reached is the lack of legislative framework and misunderstanding job descriptions.

The conference was about Youth Leadership Development Foundation with the cooperation of National Endowment of Democracy under the auspices of the Minister of Youth and Sport, Mr. Abdul- Rahman Al-Akwa. The Youth Leadership Development foundation provided in its fourth year, a great opportunity for a one year program in Human Rights and Democracy.

In her speech Intilaq Al-Mutwakel, the director of the Youth Leadership Development Foundation said, “There is no development without an affective administration that has competent administrative leaders who know their jobs and responsibilities they are in charge of. Therefore, we aim to qualify leaders who are able to manage their job and bear the responsibilities,” she said.

Fifteen researchers are of different backgrounds, some of them have a master's degree, others have baccalaureate degree and others have a diploma: “We want to give the chance for all those who have a will to join this field and are eager to work,” Ilham Mohamed Abdul-Malik, a professor in the Law college and one of the research supervisors said.

“This was a vital experience for the researchers to direct the girls' skills and make leaders of the future. It is not important for to criticize only, but most importantly to build and correct,” Ilham added.

“The researchers studied by means of qualified teachers. First, they studied numerous courses of methodology of research, planning and management theoretically. Then they made a field research so each researcher had several objectives and goals to conduct their study, and at the end they reached to some really good recommendations,” she explained.

“This experience broke the fear barriers. The Ministry of Cabinet was something impossible to enter or conduct a study in. However, I learnt nothing is impossible: Man can do whatever he/she wants. Moreover, I learnt many skills of leading, communication and negotiation,” Nawal Al-Shehri said.

The obstacles they faced, according to the researchers are a lack of resources, an absence of transparency and restricting them in only specific offices: “We can not take the information from where we yearn for. In some places, we are not allowed to have a study in or understand their work, “one of the researchers said.

“When I did my study in the Ministry of Human Rights, one of the administrative directors commanded that I be deprived of the questionnaire as they are for a secret agency,” Jamela Al-Wadi'e added.

The research conducted in Ministerial Cabinet, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Human rights, Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, Ministry of Water and Environment, Ministry of Public Health and Population, Ministry of Local Administration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources proved many weaknesses and unsystematic and reliable plans. Mostly for all ministries, there is a high degree of centralization of power in the high levels of the ministry and lack of delegation of tasks and specializations. A lack of positive incentives for staff and lack of systems for performance evaluation to implement the concept of punishment and reward has been reflected on the poor motivation of staff.

On the effectiveness of the administrative tasks in the Ministry of Education Wafa'a Mohamed said, “There are many problems related to how the education leaders and staff are being selected and the selection criteria according to work needs. At some administrative offices, workers are more than what is needed, on the contrary, a lack of the officers exist at the other places. “

The questionnaire that applied in The Ministry of Education and answered by the workers there show that 77 percent of the selection and promotion criteria of workers is according to the mediation; those who have power and 52 percent of them are selected according to their qualifications. 68 percent of the workers there are not aware of their job description, “Most administrative staff do not know the responsibilities of their positions and have no terms of reference and don't know the bylaws that organize their work,” Mohamed continued.

“Add to that the double standards and overlap of responsibilities and tasks of staff all rooting from the structural organogram which does not define and distribute tasks and that lacks flexibility, there are no meeting points for coordination of different sectors at administrative levels,” she explained.

Fallouts Fatima Al-Kibsi reached on “the role of the Ministry of Education in development support in Yemen” that the existence of copious defects in the role that the ministry of education is playing supporting development in Yemen. Some of these defects are not directly related to the ministry but there are some that the ministry carries their responsibility and the ministry can work harder to improve these defects through paying more attention to human resources and better allocation of financial resources.

“The ministry suffers from absence of terms of reference on which many administrative decisions are taken in the human resources domain especially regarding the selection of persons to fill leadership positions,” she explained.

Also the lack of terms of references affects the evaluation of performance and training needed assessments and other human resource related activities.

Lack of training opportunities for ministry staff especially that half of the staff carry qualification degrees that are below bachelor's degrees.

The work load is not divided based on specialization but based on experience only.

Some employees do no contribute to work fully and only part of their capacity is being utilized.

Analytical studies of the Ministerial Cabinet show the improper distribution of human resources. Employment is focused on two departments namely the department of financial and administrative affairs and the human resources department.

“The follow-up with the implementation of decrees is usually done by the department of monitoring or specialized departments or through field visits to ministries,” she persists.

“By-laws are implemented in some departments but not timely in others. The work is centered with some employees and not distributed equally between all staff. There is electronic archiving for the employee files. There is no deterioration of salaries of staff of the Ministerial Cabinet compared with employees of the presidential office,” she explained.

Performance evaluation at the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation is for different administrative functions. The lack of optimal utilization of available human resources leads to a situation when a small group within a Ministry is assuming all work responsibilities, irrespective of the presence of other highly-qualified staff, which can benefit the organization by effectively performing different functions.

Add to that there is a lack of concern about human resources in terms of incentive and equal access to training opportunities, which affects the interests of the institution and leads to slowdown in work process and sometimes to non-completion of assigned tasks. In spite of the Ministry's being responsible for general planning for the state, it suffers from flaws in its own annual work plan and in the ways of performance evaluation of its sectors and directorates.

The research of Ministry of Water and Environment is significant as it matches the current event of a severe water crisis in Yemen. Nura Al-Taheri summarized the nature of this crisis and the most important points she mentioned are depletion of groundwater, lack of access to water in large human settlements and lack of access to clean water by many beneficiaries.

Regarding the organizational structure of Ministry of Public Health and Population and its Suitability, Nawal Ba-Abbad said, “Inflation of middle management layer at the expense of lower management layers, which leads to fragility of organizational structure and weakness of administrative performance (indicated by 46% of the sampled).”

“Absence of job descriptions indicated by 20 percent of the sampled and lack of conformity between actual responsibilities and job description, when present (37%), which confirms lack of competence in performance especially at the lower levels and leads to pile-up of the tasks at middle level. Processing of business transactions is completed on middle and senior level to reach a decision. Moreover, there are work relations not stipulated in job descriptions, which do not reflect positively on the work process 37 percent,” she continued.

“We got a lot of benefits from their research and the questionnaire they applied, however we can't promise to apply the recommendations in our Ministry as we are not the decision-makers. We can only recommend of taking the researchers' recommendations into account,” said Faysal Adeeb, working in the Ministry of Education as a general director of planning and following the illiteracy eradication institution.