DG’s key note address at the technical Indaba working session

13 – 14 September 2012
We are from a past that instilled in us the assurance that no government can function effectively without a reliable M&E system and processes that support it, tracking performance is vital for any good governance model, and we hence find that throughout the country government is striving and making inroads to improve its performance by creating systems to measure and help itself understand its performance.

This therefore implies that government has placed M&E as the core function in the Public sector in its attempt to assess the effectiveness of programs and projects to enhance the required outputs, outcomes and ultimately impact. As we all know that our business as government is to respond to the needs and expectations of our citizens in providing them with quality services and in a humane way.

By bringing together government, private sector, civil society and all our partners who play an important role in M&E, can effect and should steer a process that can improve the lives of our people at large.

Programme Director, colleagues this Indaba will serve as a vehicle to give birth to our provincial M & E framework that will in turn serve as an effective tool to conduct our monitoring and evaluation processes. We will continue to make use of the national M & E framework as reference and to help as a supporting document.

Without an effective M & E framework we are likely to fall prey to the pressure of failing in our efforts of development planning, the use and interpretation of data, budget measures and overall decision making processes. We have come too far a distance to fail now

The establishment of a Provincial M & E framework will be to ensure that we are able to align our outcomes approach to a result based approach and management system. Different stakeholders and partners have thus been invited to the indaba today, to incorporate different views, inputs and suggestions, in order to enhance such participation in the planning, decision making, implementation and evaluation process. Governance processes only become effective if it carries the support of all partners and will thus strengthen our capacity as a province. However in order for the M& E framework to be effective, we require both organizational as well as cultural changes in the public sector, and that will enhance the framework to be far more than just a technical tool for change.

Since the advent of democracy in 1994 the public management space to deliver qualitative services to the electorate has been inundated with reforms and transformation of some of its key elements. In November 2007 Government published then the Policy framework for the Government wide Monitoring and Evaluation systems. The Government wide Monitoring and evaluation system initiative builds on previous public management reforms and transformation. Centrally the Government wide Monitoring and evaluation system is about the consolidation of public management reforms and transformation.

It is about systems integration and the evaluation of outcomes across and within the tiers of government. National Government then in 2008 took a leaf out of the wide variety of practices and conventions that emerged in all nine Provinces within the M&E space. Most important out of those experiences is how we moved differently in institutionalising M&E in the public sector. In institutionalising M&E the Premiers Office is place at the pinnacle of such a development. In that context the Government wide M&E framework recognises that the Premier’s Office plays a pivotal role in providing coherent strategic leadership, co-ordination in Provincial policy formulation, review, planning, overseeing service delivery planning in relation to the implementation in support of the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy and National priorities and plans.

In playing that role the Premier’s Office must and needs to ensure that in the Province there is an effective, efficient and central co-ordinated M&E system. However we need to be the first once to acknowledge the complexities that are bound to emerge as a result of our constitutive political and administrative institutional arrangements. As such our response to such complexities requires genuine mind-shifts from us public service servants to advance and serve the public good. Therefore as we move today in our deliberations here we need to respond to the following complexities that we ordinarily shy away from:

How are we going to ensure intensive sectoral co-ordination and facilitation?
How we are going to enhance our intergovernmental planning to ensure alignment of all plans for better monitoring and evaluation.
How prudent will we move to ensure functional and spatial coordination in policy making, planning, budgeting and our implementation processes.
In practical terms how are we going to make joint work possible as that on its own will create compelling requirements for a collaborative M & E systems.

In an effort to enhance and contribute in answering the above questions what is it that the Premier’s Office has done, is doing and plans to do. We have said to ourselves any system that will work and be integrated needs to stand on three legs. Our thinking told us we need to put together a Provincial nerve Centre which will have an eagles view over the Province through a dashboard prism. Our Provincial Nerve Centre will have all our 194 wards data with the intention to narrow it down to household levels in the most poverty stricken wards in our Province. Through surveys we have 63 poverty stricken wards in the Province. With such data across sector departments we will spatial reference and number of identified data sets. Such identified data sets will have sector data custodians and we are in the process of concluding MOU’s with all sector departments in this regard. Thereafter we will have the business intelligent tool to do the high level outcomes monitoring and evaluations.

Our approach of ward base data narrowed to household level in some instances, spatial referencing such and extrapolating high level impact assessment reports will assist us in the following:

Data available to see where services are needed mostly
Geographic Information (spatial data) available to assist us with planning, prioritisation and reprioritisation.
Impact assessment reports to see whether we are making a difference in relation to the 12 outcomes.



We have also initiated four processes as the Office of the Premier to build into the work of the provincial Nerve Centre. We have set up an interdepartmental team to work on a detail Provincial Government Midterm Review Report to coincide with the release of the census 2012 results so as to extrangulate accurate and reliable data. Secondly we have a team led by Office of the Premier, Provincial Treasury, SALGA, COGHSTA and the municipalities to come up with detailed ward based service delivery assessment reports. Thirdly we have convened an intergovernmental session of all government planners to look at alignment issues of their APP’s and Municipal IDP’s. Fourthly we have said to departments let us look at all high impact expected provincial projects and identify some that may need central coordination and ensure their consistent assessment at a high level steering committee constituted by my selves as Director General, all HODs, project managers and their different project working teams.

All these, but not limited to them will ensure that we indeed move in an integrated manner and coordination of all efforts are properly monitored and evaluated. It is further our expectation that this session will assist us as its outcome will provide us with a Province wide M & E framework. Consequently we have also planned to have a planning Indaba that will precede this one to look at all our planning institutional arrangements to integrate them so that our M & E efforts become seamless.

Allow me therefore to indicate what will constitute an M & E framework for the Province, to what it has to talk too.

Our framework must clarify all of us and attempt to invoke a singular Provincial understanding of monitoring and evaluation. Such an understanding will let us all know why M & E is important and assist us to demystify some definitional elements of what constitutes evaluation. Such a Provincial understanding will allow us to move in concert, have a common and shared view on key M & E concepts in the Province.

Monitoring and Evaluation does not happen outside of a particular context thus essentially for us this Indaba must assist us on what are or should the M & E principle be in the Province given that ours is within the realm of developmental state that needs to respond to issues of unemployment, poverty, inequality and the burden disease.

The M & E space is flooded by a number of different systems. This is evident in the province from sector departments and municipalities on the different systems in circulation. The point here is whether do we want to come up with a single system throughout the Province or what do we want to attain. The response to this question is rather how compatible and adaptable current systems in the Province are to fit into the SAS M&E system that the Premier’s Office has procured. We need to answer this question and my view is if some systems in circulation are not adaptable and compatible then we need to have a single electronic M&E system that will fit in to the National System. Such a bold resolution of this Indaba will require that Provincial sector departments and Municipalities come up with alternative ways to assist us as the Office of the Premier to carry the ancillary costs of such a decision. The SAS system has those levels of compatibility and adaptability. Electronic system in essence can also assist us to define the institutional relationship that we need to define in this Indaba.

Our framework needs to tell us what is our aim to develop such a Province Wide M & E framework. It will also assist us to define the system descriptions and its ancillary flowcharts. I believe as part of the deliberations here, such technical information will be shared on the current SAS system under constructions in the Province. Essentially what we want to do is to generate quality data that may be utilised for planning and correcting system deficiencies in our programme implementation. As a results thereof our framework will have to speak to matters of government’s data terrains namely programmes performance information, social, economic and demographic statistics and evaluation data.

To ensure that there is drive in our M&E space we will have to ensure that we have well staffed and functional M&E institutional capacity. We have already resolved that all sector departments must create such a capacity and we hoping to engage our municipalities to follow suit. Our institutional arrangements need to speak to the kind of capacity in terms of the personnel we need, how do we link M&E to other managerial systems, ensures that M & E becomes a management practice across sector departments and municipalities. We would be failing in our endeavours if at any point the outcomes of this Indaba does not define the roles and responsibilities of the Provincial Legislature, the Executive authorities, accounting officers, programme managers, line managers all other officials and M&E units in sector departments and municipalities.

We are thoroughly mindful of the reality that M&E is in its development stages in our country and therefore necessitates a coherent programme of capacity building in the public sector. We will have to as part of our deliberation respond to what capacity do we need to beef up our M&E space in the province, why do we need to build such capacity, what is the purpose thereof. In our assessment do we know currently what the extent of our capacity is so that whatever intervention we seek to unleash speaks to the material conditions on the ground.

As we deliberate we need to be sure that we do not just appropriate functions for us which do not emanate from any legal or policy mandates. The appropriation of functions and roles without any legal mandates tends to polarise the public administration management realm and as a result hampers its ability to deliver as confusion reigns as to who should be doing what.

This Indaba takes place in the context of a number of new developments in the M&E arena and as such we have some benefit of lessons, best practices, hindsight and the National Evaluation Policy Framework. It is therefore clear that we converging here at an opportune time and moment. That this time and moment will indeed allow us to come up with a quality document that we will all be proud off.

I must also indicate that amongst our many challenges is person power, sometimes based on how we have beefed up our support functions at the expense of our strategic and core functions. In the Premier’s Office we are currently grappling with this challenges and its difficult cause it involves people, their job descriptions and employment contracts. As a result we need to appeal not only to Provincial Treasury but to National Treasury, the Presidency and other social partners to hold our hand in ensuring that our M&E space gets the requisite personnel and funding. We are optimistic that this Indaba will not be a start of a partnership but will cement relationships to better the machinery of government to deliver to the people.

This Indaba is a technical working session as such when we have a product we will elevate it to our political principals for further enhancement and enrichment. In a paper commissioned by the independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank called Evaluation Capacity Development working paper series no.21 July 2010 # Ronette Engela and Tania Ajam makes two important points which I want to quote extensively point 4.5 and 4.6 from pages 25-26.

Point 4.5 is Para-phrased as Good on Paper, but in Reality?

“ The South African experience with other public sector reforms ( such as the Public Finance Management Act of 1999) leads us to believe that, initially, public institutions will craft impressive M&E framework, often with the technical assistance of external consultants. However, it will take some time before these M&E frameworks are actually fully operationalized and M&E frameworks, the increased pressure for effective service delivery, and the concerted efforts to build demand for M&E findings and insights should help create a culture receptive to M&E.

The Office of the Public Service commission has been providing an important independent view. Often, Useful recommendations are not effectively implemented by departments and have become recurring concerns (for example, introduction of performance agreements by accounting officers) in terms of the Public service Amendment Act, the Public Service Commission may now issue directive for the implementation of their recommendation to the executive government on matters raised in Public Services commission reports.

The OPSC will play a critical role in monitoring the extent to which public sector institution build capacity for M&E in their sector and align with the GWM&E policy framework.”

Point 4.6 is Para – phrased as Information Sharing

“In the rollout of the GWM & E system, and especially through the production of M & E products, it has become increasingly clear that civil servants are uneasy about sharing data. In many instances, custodians of data guard their information and, in some instances, the “culture” has become so entrenched that governmental departments are forced to buy data that should be readily available from a sister department. Other consequences include different versions of similar data existing, and even different baseline data between departments ( for example the number of households used for planning services). In part, this is because of the negative experiences by government departments when inaccurate data have been released to the public.

Furthermore, the reluctance to share information may occur not just between departments but even between program areas within the same department. Often, there are no central data repositories within departments. Different program areas frequently are not even aware of what data are available within the department itself. A resolution to this problem clearly does not only depend on the introduction of appropriate management system, but also on changing the organisational culture to one that values the sharing of information and analysis in pursuit of enhanced performance.

It could be useful to consider different levels of data availability – at the intragovernment and intraexecutive levels- before forcing departments to make data publicly available. It is clear that this is not a hurdle that will be overcome by administrative fiat. The proposed data forums, where M & E frameworks for each sector will be developed, will give special attention to data needs and custodianship of information.”

In that same report on the implementation of the government wide Monitoring & Evaluation system in the country critical lessons emerge which we should as part of our deliberation not lose sight and they are:

There should be an appropriate balance between deliberate system design and evolution.
When sequencing reforms, do the basics first.
Coordination is critical in a decentralised system, factors inhibiting coordination are multifaceted.
There should be a balance between top down guidance and button up (sector departments and sub provincial) expertise.
There should be a dual implementation approach combining short term visible M & E achievements with longer term strategic direction.
Government wide Monitoring & Evaluation is a management system not an IT system.
Resistance is inevitable and managing change is therefore critical.
M & E is an art as well as a science and there is no substitute for learning by doing.
Choice of a principles based approach versus a firmer policy regulatory approach depends on country’s context.

I thought it prudent to share the above lessons to further stimulate our thought processes.

In conclusion let me wish you well in the tough work that lies ahead. The Province depends on us to make it work and each comment, input, clarity and question will count. This session may just make all of us M & E fundies when we leave here so let us serve our people by producing a framework that will push us to respond to their needs.

I thank you.

 

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