In 2017 the Government of Ghana added a new tool to its development process by establishing the ministries for Planning (MoP) and for Monitoring and Evaluation (MoME). The MoME and the NDPC (National Development and Planning Commission) and the local M&E Association – the Ghana National Monitoring and Evaluation Forum (GMEF) – have developed a National Monitoring and Evaluation Policy. Once cabinet approves the Policy, it will be an important instrument in fostering the culture and practice of evidence-based decision-making in the public sector. The institutionalisation of M&E calls for better planning, use of resources, implementation and learning from outcomes about what worked and what did not.
With the establishment of the MoME and the recent launch of GIMPA’s (Ghana Institute for Management and Public Administration) Masters programme for evaluators, a better coordinated ecosystem for evaluation appears to be forming. However, the government system still faces many challenges, such as:
- weak M&E capacities,
- low demand for, and utilisation of M&E results, limited resources and budgetary allocations for M&E,
- non-compliance with M&E reporting timelines and formats by MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) /MMDAs (Metropolitans, Municipalities, Districts and Agencies)
- inconsistent data quality,
- data gaps, and
- limited management information systems.
Given that building evaluative thinking and systems is a relatively new endeavour, research into the current M&E culture in the public sector would prove useful. It is for this reason that the Ghanaian government partnered with Twende Mbele to undertake a study to establish a baseline of the M&E culture in the public sector that can be used to measure changes in practices and attitudes over the coming years. The study included interviewing 43 senior management officials from 14 ministries and two agencies using a formulated survey. The results below are based on the Report on the Ghana M&E Culture Baseline Survey.
All (100%) respondents to the survey indicated that evaluation reports are not structured to hide results. Futhermore, most (95%) reported that evaluation results of poor performance are not ignored and 92.50% that senior management does not reject evaluation reports with findings of poor performance.
The MoME is currently working on frameworks and policies to standardise and improve use of M&E across government. This includes the development of a mechanism to obtain information to understand the cause of poor performance. The above suggests a positive management attitude and environment within which to practice M&E in the public service.
According to survey results, recommendations are implemented and learning outcomes are documented and used to improve future results – 92.50% of respondents stated always. The implementation of performance management and performance contracts with managers of the ministries has yielded some results as performance measurement and results are now a basic requirements by Senior level Managers, Ministers and Cabinet for decision-making. There was however, a perception that the officers responsible for poor performance are not sanctioned, (32/38 of respondants stated never), which needs to be addressed in order to motivate staff. The report therefore recommended that a rigorous sanction and rewards regime must be implemented to regulate staff performance in the Ghanaian public service.
An enduring M&E system cannot be developed overnight. However, the Ghanaian government has proven that it is committed to pursuing a desired change based on the work of existing institutions including NDPC, MoME and GIMPA. It has been a steady process and one of the building blocks required was behaviour change. There is also the need for a paradigm shift towards the incorporation of M&E into the routine work of public service staff in addition to deepening M&E processes by which public service activities are conducted in order to build a stronger, learning-focused M&E Culture in Ghana.
By: Rendani Manugu
Twende Mbele, South Africa, Country Coordinator