Monitoring & Evaluation: Change perceptions of Service Delivery in just six weeks

M&E: Change perceptions of Service Delivery in just six weeks. Calls for Public/Private partnerships continually emerge from various quarters and none are without merit. There is a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the private sector that can benefit the country through innovation aimed specifically at aiding the business of Government. 

Altron Karabina for example, known for the creation of bespoke tailor-made solutions for enterprises had, as a responsible corporate citizen, felt the need to close the gap between what tax-paying citizens were seeking in terms of the actuals around service delivery and the good work that Government was doing. We felt it was important to find a way to assist public officials to report accurately and in real-time. Through automated monitoring and constant evaluation of projects, the data required, to provide the points of proof in presentations to parliament and other forums, can be easily extracted to highlight the progress, successes and the problem areas that may need attention. 

To this end, we designed a Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) solution that has been specifically tailored for the public sector. The solution has already been successfully deployed within the social cluster of the South African Government and the results to date are making a significant difference to this department’s control of projects, budgets and reporting. 

 The fact is, a more complex, multi-faceted and expensive project than the Government’s multi-decade, National Development Plan (NDP) would be hard to find, given that it transcends all spheres of government and involves every national, provincial and local department. Some would argue that a more important undertaking doesn’t exist in our country either, considering the areas of impact it has on life in South Africa in general. It is imperative therefore that its many moving parts be kept in check. 

 Our Government’s Medium-Term Strategic Focus is described in President Ramaphosa’s foreword, of the Department of Monitoring and Evaluations document, MTSF 2019-2024,  as a focus that is built on three foundational pillars: a strong and inclusive economy, capable South Africans and a capable developmental state. Since the  National Development Plan was first made public in 2012, this MTSF is the second such iteration and it covers the work set out towards achieving South Africa’s national development priorities goals as set for the five-year period occupied by the current administration in Government. 

 Development planning, a results-driven approach to promoting development objectives through setting measurable, high-impact targets linked to realistic implementation plans, is the means through which our national development goals can be achieved.  In addition, Annual Performance Plans, which work hand in hand with Annual Performance Reports, are available for each department at national, provincial and local spheres of government – all geared towards ensuring effective service delivery to our country’s citizens. Tracking every single project and every single associated budget, in every office across all spheres of government, is certainly no easy task and, as such, technological interventions through sound Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) systems and solutions can provide a transparent, data-led, single view that’s desired. 

 Monitoring, the collection and analysis of information about a project or programme is undertaken while the project/programme is ongoing, while evaluation is the periodic, retrospective assessment of an organisation, project or programme that might be conducted internally or by external independent evaluators. 

 The importance of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) function within public administration has been magnified by the growing voice of civil society and, perhaps in response, a Policy Framework for a Government-wide M&E System (GWM&E) has been issued by The Presidency. Issues of good governance and more effective public administration have now come to the fore like never before and pressure on governments and organisations everywhere is increasing to become more responsive to their stakeholders,  for good governance,  accountability and transparency, greater development effectiveness, and the delivery of results that can be seen and felt at ground level. 

 The good news is that M&E, as a discipline, has been around for a really long time as a functional aspect of project management in corporate business organisations. It is tried and well tested in scenarios that are comparable to any individual project type, delivery timeline and budget that the Public Sector can throw at it. Built-in automation and AI-based budget and deliverable tracking and reporting can bring the transparent single view required in terms of offering an unbiased factual, real-time perspective on even the longest lead projects. 

 It is clear and proven,  why Government departments must do M&E and the benefits it can offer.  While it may sometimes seem like a time-consuming exercise, an administrative burden, or an unwelcome instrument of external oversight, if used well, M&E is a powerful tool for social change. It can help Departments assess what difference they are making and can provide the requisite intelligence to help assess and demonstrate the Department’s effectiveness in achieving its objectives and its impact on people’s lives. Best of all is –  a solution, similar to that which has already been successfully deployed within the social cluster – will take just four to six weeks to implement in most other departments using the data sets they currently have in-house. 

The article “Monitoring & Evaluation: Change perceptions of Service Delivery in just six weeks”  was originally published on IT Web on 26th October 2022.

Farhana has vast experience in the public sector.

If you would like to discuss the Government solutions that are available at Altron Karabina . Please reach out to Farhana Safedien

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