WASHINGTON, April 20, 2012 – Out: Public programs that don’t deliver results in education, health and other critical areas.
In: Monitoring and evaluation systems that hold agencies accountable and ensure public services reach those most in need.
Since the late 1990s, there has been a growing demand in many countries for strong and institutionalized monitoring and evaluation systems that help root out inefficiencies and poor performance.
The 2008 global financial crisis gave additional impetus to such efforts as many governments faced tighter budgets along with rising demands for social services. Could public programs become more effective and do more with less?
The purpose of monitoring and evaluation systems, World Bank Managing Director Mahmoud Mohieldin told a packed conference room in Washington on April 18, is “to understand what works and what doesn’t work, what needs to be kept and what needs to be changed – and what [programs] need to be eliminated.”
Mohieldin was flanked by government officials from Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa. They visited the World Bank’s headquarters to discuss the progress and challenges they face as they seek to streamline and strengthen performance assessments of public programs in their nations.
South Africa hotline receives 1,000 service delivery complaints daily
In South Africa, for example, the government began to focus more closely on performance after protests erupted in townships across the nation in 2009 over poor housing, schools and other public services. This prompted a debate about shortcomings in service delivery and the 2010 creation of a new executive agency, the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation.
The department, with a staff of 200, is now working with provincial and municipal governments to determine, through direct contact with citizens, whether service delivery has improved, Sean Phillips, the department’s director-general, told the panel.
A presidential hotline was also created which now receives some 1,000 citizen service complaints daily, Phillips reported. “We have a resolution rate of 80 percent, although we’re often slow to respond,” he said.