Public Service Monitoring and Evaluation: briefing by Public Service Commission

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Meeting report


20 March 2002

Chairperson: Ms Chohan-Khota (ANC)

Relevant Documents:
Public Service Monitoring and Evaluation
Background Document

The PSC plans to roll out its Public Service Monitoring and Evaluation project over the 2002 year. This was preceded by research in 2000 and a pilot project ran in the Northern Province in 2001.

The main objectives of the exercise are the promotion of a high standard of professional ethics and to build capacity and develop public service institutions. The plan is to evaluate ten Government Departments and three Provincial Administrations. The PSC is to sign monitoring agreements with the Departments. It will study the Departments' strategic objectives and look at the extent that they have achieved these.

Ms Odette Ramsey and Mr D Fraser represented the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Ms Ramsey said the Commission is developing a monitoring and evaluation system for the public service. The aim is to analyse what the Departments are doing and improve around that.

Mr Fraser said the two main objectives of the exercise are the promotion of a high standard of professional ethics and to build capacity and develop public service institutions.

In 2000 the PSC commissioned six months research to look at the scope and scale of a possible transversal monitoring and evaluation system. The research drew the Commission's attention to the fact that monitoring and evaluation systems tend to go too high or be technical. It advised that a more incremental strategy be adopted. The plan is to have the system grounded before starting to develop software.

The guiding principles (contained in the attached document entitled Background Document) are taken from the Constitution. The research also encouraged pilot projects; one such pilot project was run in the Northern Province during 2001 in which three Departments took part.

The lessons learnt from the pilot project were that the evaluation system used was too complicated and sought to deal with too many issues. PSC needs to focus on the most illustrative indicator for evaluating departments. The pilot project showed that public officials resent being monitored. Monitoring has to be done in such a way that it builds capacity and improves performance.

The PSC is now rolling out its monitoring and evaluation project. [The project plan is appears under the heading: Monitoring and Evaluation Project in the background documents.] The project will run for a year until December 2002. The aim is to build the PSC as a component of public management and to encourage reporting to be tied to strategic objectives of departments.

Mr Fraser said that for each constitutional principle an attempt is being made to select an indicator that is easily accessible and create an integrated evaluation of what is being evaluated. The plan is to start to put international benchmarks in place to compare countries in similar situation.

The aim of the research is to encourage capacity building. The PSC does not want to act as police as this would cause reluctance on the part of Departments to work with them. The PSC wants the information to be useful and constructive. The style and way the Commission works with the Departments is very important.

The PSC is to sign monitoring agreements with the Departments. The more participatory the project is, or the more it gets people to evaluate themselves, the more useful it will be. The PSC would look at the Departments' strategic objectives and look at the extent that they have achieved these. [The types of reports envisaged are under the heading Performance Monitoring Report in background documents.]

Mr Fraser said they are working on the setting of norms and standards for service delivery. They plan to develop an index so as to have a sense of performance over time. This has to look at variables that contribute to an improvement or decline in service delivery. A training exercise is planned for officials of the PSC with the assistance of the Australian Government. A task team will be trained which in turn will train people in the PSC divisions.

Ms Chohan-Khota (ANC) asked for information on the phases of the project's implementation.

Mr Fraser said these are under Project Schedule in the background documents. He said the aim is to have three result areas as outputs. Ten Departments and three Provincial Administrations are to be evaluated. The strategy is to encourage people to want to be monitored by PSC as capacity building partners.

Ms IJ Mohamed (ANC) asked, in relation to field research phases being planned, whether there are any definitive problems regarding reports of the Commission.

Mr Fraser said they are looking at deliverables and how they can calculate unit cost. PSC would compare internationally in this regard. They want detailed analyses of how to evaluate Departments and come up with verifiable conclusions.

Ms Jacobus (ANC) asked whether the pilot site details looked at how far down the Commission had gone with its research concerning service delivery.

Mr Fraser said they are in the process of running customer service/end user interviews and are working with citizens' forums. Points of reference at the PSC would be researchers and ethics specialists.

Mr Jeffery (ANC) said there needs to be more discussion with the PSC regarding its relationship with Parliament. According to the Constitution, the PSC is accountable to the National Assembly. It would also be important to look at their relationship with the NCOP.

The meeting was adjourned.


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