Public Service Commission - News
Monitoring and Evaluation System to be Developed
By Chief Directorate: Management and Service Delivery Improvement
The South African Constitution entrusts the Public Service Commission (PSC)
with the task of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of public service performance
and promoting a high standard of professional ethics in the service. The Commission
is in the process of developing a Monitoring and Evaluation System. The aim
of the system will be to gather, capture, organise, store and retrieve data
relating to public sector performance in order to assist the PSC in meeting
its constitutional mandate. Significant progress has been made in terms of developing
the system specifications.
In order for the proposed M&E System to be implemented, a number of processes
will have to take place simultaneously, and agreement has been be reached on
a number of principles. These include the following:
- A carefully planned approach based on collaboration and participation in
system design and development will be adopted with the institutions to be
monitored by the PSC. This means that from the outset, other role-players
will be involved in all elements of the project. The system will aim to build
monitoring and evaluation capacity in the organisations it monitors and, by
so doing, to build management capacity and Monitoring and Evaluation culture
in the South African public service.
- Technology will be used as an enabler: processes and procedures must be
clearly understood and mapped and their value identified before being automated
- The danger of being systems-driven will be guarded against.
- A phased approach will be adopted so that a number of elements are put
in place in the correct sequence. This will enhance the chances of project
- The strategy proposed has serious personnel implications: While the PSC
has experienced and skilled staff, many have limited Monitoring and Evaluation
expertise or research experience. In addition, experience in using and applying
technology is limited in the PSC. Since there are limited additional resources
available for hiring new expertise, skills development must become a priority.
Training will have to be planned as an integral part of the overall strategy
and should include basic word processing skills as well as more high level
analytical and project management modules.
The implementation plan allows for clearly identified phases (as indicated
below) with specific activities and time frames.
|1. Stakeholder Consultations
|January 2001 - April 2001
|2. Initial Systems Proposal and Discussion
|March 2001 - April 2001
|3. Pilot survey of paper-based system
|May 2001 - August 2001
|4. Appointment of IT partner and product provider
|5. Automation and Computerisation
|July 2002 - May 2003
|6. Evaluation of system
Good progress has been made and the Commission is on target with the first
Developing Performance Indicators
The development of performance indicators poses one of the greatest challenges
to the PSC in developing its monitoring system. The performance indicators will
significantly influence data to be collected as well as the method and ease
of collection. There is acknowledgement within the Commission that the determination
of the performance indicators should be an inclusive process led by the PSC.
Some work has been done on formulating possible performance indicators, but
more work needs to be done in this area. Since it is the conceptual heart of
the system, the actual indicators that get monitored need to be the product
of investigation, debate and discussion at a high level. This is an aspect of
project implementation that needs careful attention.
Key challenges include the need to formulate a manageable number of indicators
that will allow for realistic amounts of data to be gathered and to produce
reports and analyses, which fall squarely within the mandate of the Commission.
In developing the first cut of Performance Indicators for the PSC's M&E
system, the Commission decided to use the constitutional values on public administration,
which the PSC is required to uphold as benchmarks.
It is likely that these proposed Performance indicators would generate significant
debate and contention, even after they have been amended. Once some consensus
around an initial set of Performance Indicators has been reached, it will then
be necessary to propose a set of questionnaires and then pilot these early on
to establish potential for success.
A study has been undertaken in the Northern Cape to pilot the M&E System
indicators and questionnaire. The study had two purposes:
- To produce a report on the state of the public service in the Northern
Cape, since this is what the M&E System should eventually be able to do.
- To test the indicators and questions: Are the indicators measuring key aspects
of the public service and giving a balanced picture of the state of a complex
system like the public service? Are the questions enabling us to get relevant
data on the indicators?
The Department of Health, Agriculture and Premier were included in the pilot
study and the Office of the Commission is currently drafting a report on the
Developing a monitoring and evaluation system to support the Constitutional
mandate of the Public Service Commission poses a huge challenge. The environment
in which such a system must be developed is hostile insofar as several central
departments also aspire to develop similar systems. One way to overcome the
problem of institutional turf battles is to develop joint strategies for central
data collection and warehousing that allow for the formatting and processing
of data to be undertaken in accordance with specific institutional requirements.
While there is much reference to the need for M&E systems within contemporary
public management frameworks, and much talk of the desirability of these in
South Africa across the public service spectrum, the country has yet to develop
a solid culture of implementing these systems. There is also a need to build
capacity in both central departments with monitoring mandates, as well as in
Once consensus has been reached around specific monitoring systems, the challenge
of securing accurate data to input into the system becomes a major issue. This
data needs to be generated in accordance with specific performance indicators.
Article compiled by Chief Directorate: Management and Service Delivery Improvement