Issues to be covered in this presentation: · Background on the PSC · Early processes in developing a useful M&E system · The PSC’s pilot project · The PSC’s current M&E System Project · Building M&E capacity in the Public Service · Constitutional values as an assessment framework
·Background on the PSC
·Early processes in developing a useful M&E system
·The PSC’s pilot project
·The PSC’s current M&E System Project
·Building M&E capacity in the Public Service
·Constitutional values as an assessment framework
Presentation to the Ad-hoc Joint Sub-Committee on Parliamentary Oversight and Accountability
Wednesday 20 March 2002
PUBLIC SERVICE MONITORING AND EVALUATION
·The South African Constitution tasks the PSC with the important role of monitoring and evaluating the public service. The PSC compiles an Annual State of the Public Service report in which all its research findings are consolidated and analysed.
·The PSC meets its strategic objectives by undertaking targeted research projects into specific issues that have been identified as being of strategic importance.
·There is also a need to develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system that will systematically gather information on performance by public service entities over time in order to identify trends and patterns.
·This should serve as a useful tool for public service delivery improvement: by providing information on performance in ways that are useful to managers, policy makers and service users, good practice can be identified and promoted while bad practice can be combated.
·In 2000 a research project was commissioned by the PSC to suggest what an integrated and transversal m&e system could look like in terms of inputs, data sources, output and outcomes, hard and software, costs, risks and benefits. In implementation strategy was also proposed.
·The project concluded that it was appropriate for the PSC to develop such a monitoring system and that an incremental, low-tech strategy be adopted. This should concentrate on getting the conceptual framework and research instruments properly developed before focusing on technology and software.
·The report suggested that the principles stated in the Constitution should serve as the yardstick by which performance should be measured and that the approach should be tested in a number of pilots before being rolled out on a large scale.
·During 2001 the PSC tested the system in the Northern Cape using research instruments developed internally while drawing off extensive support from a range of different partners. The pilot study investigated performance in the Departments of Health Agriculture and Conservation and the Office of the Premier.
·The pilot study offered a number of lessons including the fact that the research questionnaire and reporting formats were too complicated and not user friendly enough.
·Although there is often resistance to monitoring and evaluation by ;public service officials the findings and results can be very useful to public sector managers who value external verification of their own perceptions and opinions.
·The PSC is now rolling out a second pilot project. This project intends to develop the system further including reworking the research tools and reporting formats.
·An important component of the project is to assist with the internal PSC processes required to promote the use of M&E practices and methods internally in the Office.
·The Project will take twelve months to complete including field research phases planned for June and July. Extensive preparations still need to be made in order for the ambitious deadlines to be met.
·Findings from the next round of research will prove to be a valuable source of data to be drawn upon in preparation for the next State of the Public Service Report planned for late 2002.
·Monitoring and evaluation needs to be seen as a component of public management, rather than a separate or specialized area of activity. Given the need to improve public management practice, this project should form part of a broader strategy for promoting monitoring and evaluation in the public service.
·Elements to such a strategy could include the promotion of annual reporting standards proposed by the National Treasury and greater demand for accountability and transparency by public oversight structures all have a major role to play in this process.
·There is a need for such a strategy to be made explicit: a programme could perhaps be developed with a dedicated budget and a clearly appointed programme leader and role-players. The PSC would support such a programme.
·It is important to consider what framework will be used now and in the future to assess performance. The framework needs to be robust and simple and should facilitate comparisons with other countries.
· Following an analysis of the kinds of reporting done by similar structures to the PSC internationally, the Constitutional values were identified as being an appropriate assessment framework against which to consider public sector performance.
·The values meet many of the needs met by similar tools such as the Balanced scorecards often used in Corporations and Excellence Models promoted by other agencies.
·The approach to be adopted by the PSC is that it intends its monitoring to be useful to Departments and Provinces. The reports should be useful resources to be drawn upon when doing strategic planning and in undertaking budgeting.
· The idea is to sign Monitoring Agreements with Departments and provinces and to work closely with them so that M&E practices and methods are adopted in our partners. It is widely accepted that participation and self evaluation will enhance the overall result and lead to sustained improvements.
· The PSC sees the monitoring work it does now and in the future as part of the overall national drive to promote service delivery improvement. Of particular importance is the approach taken to reporting.
·The key product delivered by any monitoring system is the report, although the process through which this is developed is also extremely important.
·The PSC wants to involve its clients or users in developing a reporting format that is friendly, useful and accessible. The system should generate short reports that point clearly to actions taken in response to objective assessments.
·The report should also be quantified based on agreed measurements and should allow an index to be developed. This will allow the tracking of Public Service quality and offer important oversight structures tools for assessing performance.
·The PSC Public Service Monitoring project is also intended to enhance the overall performance of the Commission itself and will include the development of a project tracking system so that the PSC can monitor its own performance.
·Training and capacity building initiatives are also planned.
·A task team has been appointed and will work consistently on the project over a period of time.