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Open Performance Review And Appraisal System (opras) In Tanzania


Performance measurement

Harrington (1995) said “to measure is to understand, to understand is to gain knowledge. To have knowledge is to have power. Since the beginning of time, the thing that sets humans apart from the other animals is our ability to observe measure, analyze and use this information to bring about change”. Cronje et al (2005, P274) mentioned that the main instrument used to control organizations human resources is performance measurement. This entails evaluating employees and managers in the performance of the organization mainly assessing the individuals and groups performance with predetermined standards. Zairi (2003) suggests a TQ – based performance measurement implementation “EYE” model – a framework by which measures are cascaded throughout the organization


The Open Performance Review and Appraisal System (OPRAS) is an open, formal, and systematic procedure designed to assist both employers and employees in planning, managing, evaluating and realizing performance improvement in the organization with the aim of achieving organizational goals. OPRAS has the following unique features that can be differentiated from the previous confidential appraisal system: ((Johnsen,2000).


The public sector reform drive was initiated under several names, one of which is New Public Management (NPM). These reforms came into existence during the 1980s in the advanced capitalist democracies as a response to the economic constraints. Gregory (2001) highlighted five main factors that have led to this change in perspective. They are rebureaucratization; lack of trust in government; lack of legitimacy of the government; politicization of public administration; and redefining the recipients of service as customer of citizen. In addition to this, Lane (1997:2) has expressed on how the growing size of the public service contributes to these changes. According to him “in the early 1980s there was a realization that the public sector had a profound problem in relation to how well its various programmes were operating. The adoption of NPM means the application of private sector practices and solutions to the problems of the public sector.

With the growing number of challenges faced today, there are now, more than ever, increased demands on managers and all other staff members to achieve higher levels of efficiency and productivity. The continuously changing nature of most public services today and the high expectations from the general public have increased pressure on public servants to re-evaluate their contributions in the workplace and the way in which they work. The introduction of performance appraisal systems has been one strategy adopted to meet these challenges


The Government introduced the use of Open Performance Review and Appraisal System (OPRAS) in July 2004, through Establishment Circular No.2 of 2004. OPRAS replaced the Confidential Performance Appraisal System which was characterized by absence of feedback and poor help in the identification of the training needs of the employees. Hence, failed to promote performance improvement and accountability in the Public Service.

These changes in appraising performance of Public employees are in line with Public Service Management and Employment Policy (PSMEP) of 1998 and the Public Service Act No. 8 of 2002, which both emphasizes on institutionalization of result oriented management and meritocratic principles in the Public Service.

Introduction of OPRAS is a key part of the Government’s commitment to improve performance and service delivery to the public. It is a key accountability instrument for individual employees that emphasize the importance of PARTICIPATION, OWNERSHIP AND TRANSPARENCY through involving employees in objectives setting, implementing, monitoring and performance reviewing process. This way there is continuous communication between supervisors and employees; and understanding on the linkage between organizational objectives and individual



Like the private sector, public sector organisations around the world face pressure to

improve service quality, lower their costs, become more accountable, customer focused and

responsive to stakeholders’ needs.And at another side to ensure every Individual is contributing to 2025 vision MDAs.


According to Gibson, C. L. (2004) , appraisals are conducted for two major reasons: evaluation and feedback. When used for evaluation, the appraisal provides input for decisions on promotions, transfers, demotions, terminations, and compensation (salary increases). When used for feedback purposes, the appraisal focuses on the development of the individual, including the identification of coaching and training needs. The job analysis process determines standards of performance, which are clearly communicated to the employees and used as the basis of evaluation in the performance appraisal process.

Under OPRAS the characteristics and qualities of Public service employees are evaluated under “attributes of good performance” aspect. Attributes of good performance aim to motivating and instilling positive work behaviours while discouraging actions that come into conflict with established rules of good conduct and values of the public service. Among the notable values are integrity, commitment, discipline, ability, teamwork and effectiveness in establishing good relationship with fellow employees within public service and outside organisations.

allows both employee and employer discuss and agree on the organisational and individual objectives to be achieved during the year; this Provides an opportunity for the supervisor and employee to discuss and agree on measure to improve weaknesses so as to prepare the employee for future organizational responsibilities. also it guide career decision in organisation

; involve employees in the process of setting objectives, performance targets and criteria as well as determining, assessing and recording performance;

Accountability; individual employees are required to sign annual performance agreements and account for performance against agreed targets and resources allocated for each activity;

; shows linkage between individual objectives and the overall organizational objectives in a given period. This helps the employee understand own role and contribution thus creating commitment in achieving organizational goals.

: Another new element introduced in the OPRAS is an appeal mechanism in case of disagreement of evaluation scores between individual employee and immediate supervisor

in which Performance is measured against. This help in the established comprehensive standards which are written in a clear and explicit style and communicated to the employee at entry on the job and at the beginning of the appraisal period.

OPRAS are very effective in providing the data which is very as possible. there is a long history in the industry of subjective, standardized performance review documents. These tend to rely heavily on the subjective opinions of the manager who is reviewing the employee. OPRAS is different because both manager and employees opinion are considered. Something with makes it bias free in measuring employees performance.

Employees are kept informed about methods and purposes of appraisals. Employees are promptly notified in writing and preferably orally, too, of the results of their performance appraisal. To prevent misunderstanding about whether the appraisal was given or what the appraisal contained,

With all those qualities of effective evaluation OPRAS if well implemented can provides an opportunity to measure the aggregate of achievement by individual employee in a given year. Emphasis is on quantity, quality and efficiencies and effectiveness in utilization of resources.

Performance appraisal is “the process of identifying, evaluating and developing the work performance of employees in the organization, so that the organizational goals and objectives are more effectively achieved, while at the same time benefiting employees in terms of recognition, receiving feedback, catering for work and offering career guidance”. (Lansbury, 1988:46)


Setting work standards;

Assessing the employee’s actual performance relative to these standards; and

Providing feedback to the employee with the aim of motivating that person to eliminate performance deficiencies or to continue to perform above par. (Dessler, 2000)

Neely, A. (1995) identifies the following as distinguished advantages of OPRAS if well implemented in public sector in developing world.

The job of the person being appraised may be clarified and better defined. Since it require the the employer as well as employees to sit together and to set the expected outcome based on organization objectives

Valuable communication can take place among the individuals taking part (that also include communication between the subordinate and the superior. This is due to the nature of the performance appraisal used. The person whose performance is appraised may develop an increased motivation to perform effectively.

OPRAS tend to develop the self-esteem of the person being appraised particularly good performers since it demand the use of various strategies such as feedback, rewards recognition etc ,this helped a lot to develop self esteem of the employees within organization.

Through the effective use OPRAS, Rewards such as pay and promotion can be distributed on a fair and credible basis. Although the appraisal system in the Tanzania Public Service has yet not been linked to any formal reward under the current system

OPRAS require both the employees and employers to know the objective of organization clearly before setting any performance standards, this helped to make Organizational goals clearer, well known sense they can be they more readily accepted by both parties.

Valuable appraisal information can allow the organization to do better manpower planning, test validation, and development of training programmes. This can be done Through identification of performance gap within organization, the information which can help managers to make proper human resource decisions such as coaching, guidance, recruitment, firing etc.

Better and timely service provision, is another strength of the effective use of OPRAS. Through the use of it the public service provision can be made within well known stipulated time bound .this minimize unnecessary delays in public service deliveries, Enables the employees to know what is expected of them within a limited time, thus greater citizen satisfaction. Example is the speed Migration department of in processing its customer’s passport application.

Making bureaucrats more accountable for their actions is another advantage of using OPRAS in public sector because Appraisal System has the benefit of making individual Officers accountable for their job. It offers an opportunity to both Officers and employees to make a proper assessment of their work and evaluate their contribution in fulfilling the overall mission of the organization. So it is a change of attitude from the old notions of public administration.

Motivated to perform effectively and continuously improve performance

due to recognition;

Empowered through resources provided to implement planned and agreed


Informed of skill gaps and measures for improvement
Guided and focused in the execution of duties and responsibilities;
Improved working relations
Improves transparency; and
Enables the employees to know what is expected of them.

There are several consequences of performance appraisal system. Mohrman Jr. et al (1989) has explained a number of such consequences.

The self-esteem of the person being appraised and the person doing the appraisal may be damaged.

Large amount of time may be wasted if not well designed.

The relationship among the individuals involved may be permanently worsened thereby creating organizational conflicts.

Performance motivation may be lowered for many reasons, including the feeling that poor performance measurement means no rewards for performance (i.e. biased evaluation including favoritism towards some employees).

Money may be wasted on forms, training, and a host of support services.


In April 2004 all government organizations was directed to implement the system across the board. The objective of that scheme has been laudable, yet it has not met with the same success that was originally expected. Indeed, this system was faced with many difficulties and challenges, it is beyond doubt that the current scheme will face fundamental obstacles to be effective institutionalized in the public service(Cutler and Waine, 2005). and in one word, we may say that it has not been to the expectation of its promoters.

The main reasons for that are:

Powell, S. (2004) comment “From the experience of years, it was evident that offered to public servant. Those who have been trained have been not able to deliver the good. As the result acted as the obstacles to institutionalize the OPRAS in the whole of public service”. In other words, the institutionalization process of the appraisal system was facing Poor knowledge particularly from public sector beurecrats on how to conduct effective evaluation through OPRSAS .This meant that the ongoing efforts to improve the services provided to the public and making the public service ‘mission-oriented’ were not being properly evaluated in the form of individual performance appraisal.

Another barrier is the society which poses unique challenges for the Performance Appraisal System. According to the system, there needs to be close and continuous communication between the subordinate and the superior. As Asim (2002:4) has mentioned, due to the nature of the Tanzanian Public Service it may “lead to difficulty in making objective assessments in the work place, and the reluctance of managers in taking any action that may disappoint fellow employees”. In other words, it could be generalized that the public service is arguably based on the principles of conflict-avoidance among the subordinate and the superior.

The Performance Appraisal System has been perceived as an intellectual exercise and thus appears not to be simple to certain categories of employees especial to those who are not well educated. Too many management terms have been used which lacks simplicity and clarity and which “frighten” Public servants .This made the majority of lower or middle cadre employees not to conversant with the scheme this is due to the nature of public servant in Tanzania which involves lower or middle educated individual.

One of the stereotypes about public sector organization in Tanzania are ,poor interpreted goal as well as frequency interruption from politicians this generally reduce the effectiveness of OPRAS ,sense they making public sector employees not in a position to know what exactly their efforts are directed. This brings a lot of confusions on what and when to be archived and to what level. This poses a number of challenges in the institutionalization of the performance appraisal system. For the example is clash program for teacher training which was a hard hoc decision and it was out of well known plans.

is Among the above mentioned factors, Tangen, S. (2004) noted the nature of most of public sector institution in Tanzania doesn’t allow the effective participation of the both employers and employees and other stakeholder in equal basis in planning, designing bargaining of what to be done and to what extent. This makes the public administrators themselves to set some unrealistic objectives and performance to be achieved on behalf of employees .this makes the whole process invalid to measure employees performance.

is another factor which makes OPRAS to fail in Tanzania The state of available resources in implementation OPRAS in Tanzania was less convincing to be sufficient as Neely, A. (1995) noted. It is obvious that, resources were needed to support organization and employees objectives set .due to this the most of managers employees fail to achieve their expected outcome as agreed, hence poor performance

of the system also posed another challenge regarding formal personal as well as professional relationships. Performance Appraisal, being a ‘open’ considered to be as a “western product” , facing difficulties to be implemented in more collectivist cultures like Tanzanian, As Vallance (1999:81) has mentioned, in most non-western societies “it is important that an individual be allowed to save ‘face’ and to be protected from criticism”. The need to save individual “face”To a certain extent lead to its failure.

The is also a factor that influences the unsuccessful of OPRAS in Tanzania. Not most of us spend as much time planning as we know we should, even though planning is crucial to using time effectively. The world is witnessing fast-moving change, and people’s attitude towards time is not an exception given the changing roles of public administration. Performance Appraisal could be time-consuming for most as it requires considerable time to plan work. However, that occurs when the recipients see the appraisal work as something that is separate from their daily routine work.

; it appears that the open Performance Appraisal System cannot be carried out in certain Ministries/Departments because of their specificities. For example, in service offered department like education or health services, The experience shown that it is very difficult to set expected goal to be evaluated this is due to the nature of responsibility which require more time and special measurement elements for effective measurement.

is another obstacles for effective implementation of OPRAS need the government to establish effective communication system between the individual within the centre of government and the periphery so as the feedback can be sent on time,in Tanzanian experience things are total different, the information system is not well formulated to allow the quickly transfer of information.

; The new system has been wrongly sold out. Indeed, the Public Relations of this system has not been done in an effective manner so that those who are concerned have not been able to know its real objective and how it will affect their performance and work situation. this lead to the Reluctant, conservativeness of public servant towards the scheme ,this attitude made it to fail despite some efforts government puts to implement it for the better public service system. This contributes to inefficiency of the OPRAS in measuring employees performance.

; the introduction of OPRAS has failed to gain the consensus of the different stakeholders. For example, the Trade Unions have always been against this system. Consequences of OPRAS itself pose another challenge the public sector in Tanzania particularly after experiencing the pains caused by impact of structure adjustment program such as retrenchment. Its introduction create a sense fearing the consequences of OPRAS which can result to punishment in term of displinary action or even to be fired based on OPRAS feedback.

One may conclude by saying that despite the Government efforts to introduce OPRAS it has not been in a position to develop a real and effective Open Performance Appraisal System. It is true to say that an effective Performance Appraisal System demands a thorough reform process which can only be achieved by a paradigm shift in organizational culture and mindset which would be supported by both senior management and political heads with the collaboration of the all potential stakeholders. Therefore there is need for the Government of Tanzania through the coordinating Ministry, to prepare physical and human resource with expertise in Human Resource Management and wide experience preferably in the field of Performance Evaluation/Performance Management to enable it to pro-act and respond positively in to the needs of organizations. At another hand contextualization of the scheme to Tanzania situation would ensure its smooth implementation.

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