Sustaining Excellence: Paving Integrated Avenues in Capacity Building
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead
The world is facing the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 since late 2019, probably the deadliest global health emergency of the millennium. This pandemic has come up with both the challenges and opportunities in public governance. The challenges are related to protecting the fundamental rights of the citizens, delivering public commitments, continuing the development activities and economic recovery. The opportunities lie in redesigning business processes of public institutions, service innovation and governance reforms to meet changing aspirations of citizens through the intensive use of information technology. In this context, with the implementation of the new constitution and federal system of governance, capacity building has become a key imperative to institutionalize transformations and promote culture of performance at all levels. Nepal Administrative Staff College (NASC), a premier institution devoted for building capacity of public sector, faced challenges to respond the need of innovating and motivating the public sector in the aftermath of COVID-19. We witnessed precarious situation in these two years. Several staff and their family members were also COVID infected but fortunately recovered well. However, we dedicated ourselves to design and deliver capacity building programs through online platforms. As we are celebrating the 39th anniversary of NASC, I feel privileged to share that the dedication of NASC family and support from the government was causative to make unceasing contribution in public sector capacity building. This year, leveraging on our own experiences and capacity, we undertook various policy initiatives of our own institutional reform in journey towards excellence. In order to respond the changing capacity building needs of our valued service recipients, we conducted Organization and Management (O&M) Survey of NASC to realign our structure and human resources to serve with enhanced role in the changed context. The recommendations of the survey will be implemented gradually. Upon successful implementation of five-year strategic plan, which gave NASC a new direction, we are preparing strategic plan with review of achievements, detailed analysis of internal and external factors affecting our core business and setting strategic priorities for the next five years. As a learning organization, we critically reviewed and redesigned Basic Administration Training (BAT), a flagship program for newly appointed gazetted Class-III officers of Nepal. The redesigned course aims to enhance core competencies of the officer trainees enabling them to undertake their role effectively and address the current issues of public administration of Nepal. We are continuously upgrading curriculum of Professional Course on Management and Development (PCMD), Advanced Course on Management and Development (ACMD) and Senior Executive Development Program (SEDP), to meet the learning needs of officers in the changing context of public governance. Recognizing the need of capacity development at all levels and roles, we have institutionalized the orientation and pre-placement training for Under Secretaries and Joint Secretaries. In addition, we have been continuously extending our work in research and consulting services. To name a few, a baseline survey on quality of public services at the local governments was conducted in collaboration with PLGSP, MoFAGA. The survey has provided an outlook of public service and would be useful for the government to initiate reforms in public service. NASC also conducted a GESI/GRB survey among over 1000 elected representatives of the local levels from Province 2, Bagmati and Sudur Paschim Province in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and UN Women, Nepal. The survey has provided fresh insights about policy and practices of GESI and GRB, which will be useful for strategic interventions in improving the social justice at local level. Moreover, NASC, in collaboration with Yale University, London School of Economics and Governance Lab, conducted three rounds of survey among local governments to understand their role and efforts in managing the COVID-19 pandemic situation. We have published number of books and research reports- Handbook of Federal Governance System in Nepal (in Nepali and synopsis in English), Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations, Development Coordination, Role of National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission (NNRFC), among others. Faculties have published number of articles in national and international journals. Our collaboration with the development partners like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UKAID, AusAid, UNDP, WHO, JICA, The Asia Foundation and several others has been instrumental to develop the capacity of public sector and institutional learning and growth of NASC. Institutional collaboration with reputed national and international organizations has expanded this year too. We have created avenues to strengthen academic front through Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with Yale University, USA, and Kathmandu University School of Arts (KUSOA). Similarly, MoU with the NNRFC, Niti Foundation and Policy Research Institute (PRI) have established our functional relationship in making joint efforts in research and building capacity at all levels for effective implementation of federal system. Infrastructure development has been our strategic priority to create effective learning environment at NASC. In this connection, residential infrastructure development project at Namobuddha is in preconstruction phase. Detailed Project Report (DPR) and Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project along with master plan has been completed this year. We are now preparing for land acquisition from the Government of Nepal. Similarly, reconstruction of ‘Sampada Sadan’ is at the final stage. The building is constructed with original archaeological outlook and modern learning facilities. This year, we have strengthened our IT facilities to provide uninterrupted online classes. We have a capacity of providing virtual training to more than 500 trainees at a time. Likewise, over 500 contemporary books and publications have been added in the library with the objective of strengthening resource center and expanding opportunity to readers and learners. This historic and refulgent journey of NASC is an outcome of shared commitments, dedication, and relentless contribution of leadership and every staff member since its establishment. I extend my hearty gratitude and appreciation to all of them for their invaluable contribution to lay the foundation and help build the institution. Despite the record progress, we still have to dedicate ourselves to improve the quality of services, cater the capacity building needs of province and local governments and elected representatives, and strengthen institutional capacity to transform NASC into an academic and research institution. I am indebted to the continuous support and cooperation of Government of Nepal to help strengthen institutional capacity of NASC. I am thankful to Governing Council, Executive Committee, our valued clients, former Executive Directors, development partners, national and international organizations, learning community and academia for their continuous cooperation, support and collaboration. I am confident that having such supportive hands would definitely add value in our endeavor of paving integrated avenues to capacity building and sustaining the journey towards excellence.
Dr. Rajan Khanal