This “Theoretical Framework” segment highlights the historical background, preceding actions, policy process and the research and scientific rationale for establishing the 3psmars web portal.
In the past few decades, healthy debates on the need to focus on results as an approach to improving management of public affairs, to better translate vision into policies and actions that reduce poverty and improve the socio-economic and environmental well-being of the populace, has continued to impact international development in a positive way.
At present, the most popular terms used to qualify this approach are Results-Based Management (RBM) and Managing for Development Results (MfDR). Both terms are sometimes used interchangeably or in a complementary manner. While MfDR is a management strategy that focuses on using performance information to improve decision making and involves using practical tools for strategic planning, risk management, progress monitoring, and outcome evaluation, RBM is described as critical for the accountability, effectiveness and efficiency of programme and management – it is a management strategy aimed at achieving important changes in the way organizations operate, with improving performance in terms of results as the central orientation. RBM provides the management framework and tools for strategic planning, risk management, performance monitoring and evaluation. When properly applied, RBM improves efficiency and effectiveness through organizational learning, and fulfills accountability obligations through performance reporting. Key to RBM's success is the involvement of stakeholders throughout the management lifecycle in defining realistic expected results, assessing risk, monitoring progress, reporting on performance and integrating lessons learned into leadership and management decisions.
Of late, there has been much emphasis on the question of broadening the focus from donor-assisted programmes to increased consideration for results approach to home-grown development programmes. In the same vein, development initiatives that gives consideration to local realities and distant themselves from the one-size-fits-all approach are perceived as conform given the efficacy of tested initiatives over the years. This is much more of what decentralization underscores and which the results-based approaches tend to facilitate. It has also been proved that today’s results agenda has its roots in the Millennium Development Goals.
See Werner Meier Results Based Management Group (2003), Results-based Management: Towards a Common Understanding Among Development Cooperation Agencies, Discussion Paper (Ver. 5.0), Prepared for the Canadian International Development Agency, Performance Review Branch, for consideration by the DAC Working Party on Aid Effectiveness and Harmonization.
The adoption of the MDGs saw donor countries renewing their commitment to continue to financially support developing countries in achieving the inherent objectives. However, in the advent of aid fatigue, whereby developing countries have had little to show as impacts of development aid and assistance over the years, donors were also determined to see that, under the MDG dispensation, financial assistance would yield the desired fruits. This brought about deeper discussions on aid effectiveness, as more and more meetings that focused on this followed, with the hypothesis that since development results mean sustained improvement in the lives of people in developing countries, measurement of results will be based on more children educated, fewer infants dying and more families lifted out of poverty. This became the theme of the series of meetings that were held in favour of aid effectiveness in the following sequence: At the International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Monterrey, Mexico (2002), it was agreed that it would be important to provide more financing for development – but more money alone was not enough. Donors and partner countries alike wanted to know that aid would be used as effectively as possible and making a difference. This called for the need to measure results throughout the development process, and demonstrate that results were achieved and so was, the beginning of the discussions on the concept of Managing for Development Results (MfDR) through aid effectiveness.
In the same year the World Bank convened an International Roundtable on Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing for Results (2002), at which development practitioners grappled with concepts, approaches, and practical issues related to getting development results.
The Second International Roundtable on Managing for Development Results, in Marrakech, Morocco (2004), saw more than 60 representatives of partner countries meeting with representatives of bilateral and multilateral development agencies to discuss the challenges of managing for development results (MfDR). Participants endorsed a set of core principles on how best to support partner countries’ efforts to manage for results, and agreed on a costed and time-bound action plan for improving national and international statistics – without which baselines cannot be established and progress cannot be measured.
In 2005, 60 partner countries and 60 donor agencies endorsed the Paris Declaration, at the Paris High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (2005), committing to specific action to further country ownership, harmonization, alignment, managing for development results, and mutual accountability for the use of aid.
2007 hosted the Third Roundtable on Managing for Development Results in Hanoi, Vietnam, and focused on country-to-country learning. Representatives from 45 countries, 32 development agencies, and 30 civil society and private sector partners shared experiences and charted a course for continuing efforts.
In 2008, the Third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness took place in Accra with the participation of about 1.700 participants, including more than 100 ministries and heads of agencies from developing and donor countries, emerging economies, UN and multilateral institutions, global funds, foundations, and 80 civil society organizations. The high-level engagement at Accra helped bring about the Accra Agenda for Action which expressed the international community’s commitment to further increase aid effectiveness. At this same Forum, the 4th Roundtable on Managing for Development Results, produced five sets of principles, which were adopted by the international community as fundamental to effective Management for Development Results as follows:
- Focusing the dialogue on results at all phases of the development process;
- Aligning programming, monitoring, and evaluation with results;
- Keeping measurement and reporting simple;
- Managing for, not by, results; and
- Using results information for learning and decision making.
While the following were set as priority areas for action:
- Strengthening Country Capacity to Manage for Results.
The quest for development results begins with developing countries, which must manage their development processes to achieve the outcomes they want. They need to define the results they want to attain, while working in partnership with development agencies, civil society, and other stakeholders-design policies and programs to achieve those results. Countries need information on which to base this work, and statistical capacity and monitoring and evaluation systems to generate the information. The role of development agencies is to support developing countries in strengthening their capacity to manage for development results.
- Improving the Relevance and Effectiveness of Aid.
For most development agencies, managing for development results means going beyond their traditional focus on input delivery and output quality to focus on the achievement of outcomes-that is, a more explicit consideration of the contribution that an agency makes to country results. To this end, agencies are introducing results frameworks into their cooperation strategies and programs, shifting their internal incentives to focus on sustainable country results, and developing reporting systems on results.
- Fostering a Global Partnership.
Some of the greatest challenges in managing for development results can be best addressed through a global partnership-for example, a global effort is needed to support countries in generating reliable and timely data to assess progress on the Millennium Development Goals and other country goals; to strengthen international reporting mechanisms; and reduce the burden on countries of multiple, agency-driven reporting requirements and monitoring and evaluation systems. Through partnership, the international community can make it easier for developing countries to manage for results.
These areas of action formed the basis of the activities of development and donor agencies to date. For developing countries, especially Africa, the need to make governments and donor spending achieve the desired development results became more of an urgency because of the discrepancy that has perpetually existed between development spending and visible results. To this end, Communities of Practice (CoP) on Managing for Development Results were developed in Africa, Latin-America and the Caribbean, and Asia and Pacific with the aim to reinforce capacity to manage for development results through sharing experiences and peer learning. They provide a forum to exchange solutions to increase evidence-based decision and policy making for effective delivery of development results. Each of them is supported through specific mechanisms and develops different activities. The African Development Bank in collaboration with the Africa Capacity Development Foundation has been fully involved in the running of the Africa Community of Practice since its creation.
MDGs and result-based approach
It should be recalled that the prevailing approach of Managing for Development Results (MfDR) or Results-Based Management (RBM) has its philosophical origins almost 50 years ago with Peter Drucker’s 1964 book “Managing for Results.” Results frameworks originated in 1971 with the United States Agency for International Development’s first logical framework as a project design and monitoring tool. From 1975 to 1995, the logical framework was adopted by most bilateral donors and was made more results-focused with the addition of the results chain. In the 1990s, the approach spread in two directions: from individual projects to overarching programs and whole organizations; and outside of the international development arena to a whole of government approach in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other countries, such as Malaysia.
Nevertheless, the aftermath of the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the International Community in September 2000, was a huge landmark in the quest for development actions, on a global scale, which focus on real measurable impacts, with timeline framework in countries and precised main lines of actions. The ten sets of development goals, while declaring the absolute pursuit of poverty reduction as most essential in international development, emphasized a multi-dimensional perspective and was framed in terms of results-based management . Within the MDGs framework the inevitable question of How would we know we have succeeded? arose when the agreement to focus on addressing seven specific aspects of poverty was made. This question brought the expected new dimension, and added to the fact that the United Nations, as at year 2000, was just getting deeper into a system-wide reform that focused on real impacts, measurable action and real development results in Member States. In the same vein, the strong willingnessto combat poverty and related issues buttress the firmer engagements by both the developed and developing countries on the MDGs, instilling a common sense of responsibility by Heads of Governments to achieve the set goals by the time-line of 2015.
From aid effectiveness to development effectiveness
In the course of seeking ways forward for Aid effectiveness, strengthening of country capacity to manage for results came as a huge challenge to the international community. In effect, the 4th Round Table at the Accra High-Level Forum suggested that Results management requires country systems to manage change, while leadership and capacities need to be developed to be able to achieve the required feat.
This is not unexpected because of the special need and the institutional settings in most developing countries, especially, Sub-Saharan Africa. The activities of communities of practice were therefore meant to focus on regional and country level awareness and application of results approach in public management. Furthermore, research reveals that even more needs to be done at the country level and that awareness of managing for results need to be a priority and should cut across all areas and levels of the public service. A survey of activities on most online platforms of CoP for MfDR point to the need to not only involve national planning, monitoring and evaluation professionals, but the public service as a whole. And this should start by inculcating the political class (leadership), general management, administrative personnel and every other professional involved, in one way or the other, in the development management process, into the background, principles and methods on results-based approach. This consideration, on one hand, is very essential as the next stage of action achieving development effectiveness in countries.
On the other hand, the lack of adequate management of residual knowledge across ministries and practice areas has been a challenge in the discourse for effectiveness of development delivery, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although there has been a lot of efforts to ameliorate the state of knowledge management, the lack of resources or administrative leadership that gives knowledge management its place in the development process has restrained progress in many countries. Also, the need to streamline the role of foreign and national professionals on projects in aid-recipient countries is becoming another major course for concern. For example, a survey carried out by the Nigerian National Planning Commissionidentified the fact that projects done through development aids often see experts from the donor countries dominating the management of its execution. According to the report, the formulation and implementation of donor-assisted programmes are currently characterized by inadequate involvement of indigenes, high cost of technical assistance, donor driven approach to aid delivery, proliferation of aid agencies, uneven spread of donor activities, institutional weaknesses, inadequate coordination and problem of counterpart funding. This results into lack of continuous capacity building for national officers and has a strain on independence on programme execution that guarantees results through ownership.
These three dimensions, which stressed on moving from the level of aid effectiveness to development effectiveness, constitute the overarching objective, contributions and focus of 3psmars.
Therefore, by the means at our disposal, 3psmars will focus on enhancing development effectiveness through:
- Promoting the Results-based approach;
- Development Ownership;
- Transforming leadership;
- Local action with a global perspective; and
- Collective responsibility