NIPAM facilitates public sector transformation

The Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM) was officially launched in February 2011 with the core aim of providing administrative and management training. It also serves as a thinktank for the public sector while engendering a public service culture that values good governance, co-operation and co-ordination.

Its other key role is to provide management development training, which focuses on public servants and how to develop their skills further with a special focus on management development training.

Thus far, NIPAM had 319 enrolments during the first quarter of the financial year (April - June 2012) and 267 during the second quarter of the financial year (July - September 2012). Most of them were sucked into their courses and flagship programmes (such as the various middle management development programmes and the senior management development programmes, which run over a period of nine months each). The institution also strives for the building of partnerships, conducting operational research and capacity evaluation. That’s a feat they are progressively accomplishing.

The chief strategic communications and corporate affairs officer, Birgit Hoffmann, says the institution has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception.

“In March 2011, we started recruiting our first members of staff and our resource pool to develop our governance policies and procedures as well as strategic and annual plans. We also identified products and services before sourcing international and local co-operation partners at various levels in addition to developing suitable training materials. In other words, we got our operational framework in a working order and ready for our first intake of participants. In February 2012, we started rolling out our flagship programmes on a pilot basis. Continuous feedback resulted in continuous refinement of the programmes,” explains Hoffmann.

NIPAM has maintained its mandate of serving the average citizen by staying focused on the public sector, offering training and development opportunities for public servants.

“The NIPAM competency-based curriculum focuses on the development of cognitive thinking and behavioural skills including attitudes and values of public servants, which improve service delivery and ultimately result in capacity building for improved service provision for the people of Namibia,” says Hoffmann.

With Vision 2030 fast approaching, NIPAM plays its part in what Hoffmann describes as a ‘developmental state’ and an ‘entrepreneurial state’.

“In a developmental state, the state plays an active role in guiding economic development and using the resources of the country to meet the needs of the people. A developmental state tries to balance economic growth and social development. It uses state resources and state influence to attack poverty and expand economic opportunities.

“In an entrepreneurial state, an entrepreneur shifts economic resources out of an area of lower into an area of higher productivity and greater yields,” Hoffmann explains.

NIPAM is a state-owned enterprise (SoE)under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) whose major stakeholders are the central government, the regional local government and some SoEs. This is in addition to having strategic partnership agreements with local and international partners, which include, among others, the University of Namibia, Polytechnic of Namibia, Ciedel in France, the University of Stellenbosch School of Public Leadership, the Finnish Embassy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the USA, Southern Business School and management sciences for health.

The central aim of these strategic partnerships, according to Hoffmann, is to bring international insight and expertise to Namibia, geared toward developing programmes that have a strong relevance and are complemented by the best practices.

“Our aim is to make our unique and tailored courses or programmes of world class quality which are able to stand up to the best,” quips Hoffmann.

With a three-year plan to implement its strategic development plan, which is complemented by annual plans and a working budget, NIPAM has a performance agreement in place for the Governing Council, the Training and Development Board as well as the NIPAM executive leadership.

“Non-achievement of the agreed upon targets is dealt with according to developmental processes and normal disciplinary guidelines. Furthermore, we have a comprehensive governance system with all stipulated governance meetings that take place as required by the SoE Act. NIPAM works with a very lean staffing structure,” says Hoffmann.

NIPAM’s mandate of providing administration and management training, instilling a performance and learning culture in the Namibian public sector through capacity development, consulting and research pays dividends, as those that have trained with the institute create a niche for themselves in the corporate world.

“Our aim is to become self-sustainable on the operational side of things. The prices of our courses are determined by a financial model, which takes into account items such as costs incurred to develop initial material, purchasing of accredited materials internationally, lecturing fees, materials handed to students, continuous development of our materials and uptake of our courses. The quicker we run at full capacity, the quicker our initial setup costs will be settled.

“It is not within our mandate to make a profit, yet our cashflow needs to be of such a nature that we remain a going concern. Our research indicates that we are priced competitively in this market compared to similar courses and programmes offered locally and elsewhere. We also offer differentiated prices for the different client groups and take cognisance of affordability,” adds Hoffmann.

Embroiled with many challenges that include setting up a new organisation from scratch and developing infrastructure, NIPAM has stood the test of time.

“Our achievements include setting up a structure per approved strategic plan, the development and approval of our annual and strategic plans as well as identifying resources, courses and programmes. The challenges are associated with those that are typically encountered when setting up an organisation from scratch and range from staffing to getting systems in place,” she adds.

The vision statement of NIPAM is to be a world-class management development institute that catalyses the transformation of the Namibian public sector into a development and entrepreneurial system.

It is clear that NIPAM contributes towards creating a great future for Namibia by grooming and nurturing skills that will place the country among the best in the world in terms of capacity-building and development through training. PF