This article is taken from the Phatlalatsa newsletter
Finalising the Medium Term Strategic Framework for the PresidencyS&T was recently involved in finalising the Medium Term Strategic Framework - a planning and performance measurement tool for government - for the Presidency, supported by GTZ. David Everatt describes the project.
The recent bosberaad between government and the media will hopefully provide
more rounded future coverage of what is happening within government – not
just headlines about roll-overs and the like. This is important not least
because the challenge to deliver – the defining characteristic of the Mbeki
era – has forced government to grapple with the transformation of the public
service, and the relationship between policy, planning and delivery. Transformation
of the public service is a key challenge. Changing the composition of the
public service has received much public attention, but the greater challenge
is transforming the machinery of government into an efficient delivery agent.
The introduction of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was important
in allowing departments to plan their activities over a three-year period.
However, the MTEF cycle has become an increasingly technocratic exercise,
and there is a need to ensure that government as a whole in continuously
reflecting on and working towards the achievement of policy goals that reflect
the electoral mandate. To this end, the Presidency is finalising the Medium
Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). S&T Senior Partner David Everatt was
approached by the Presidency to offer assistance to the Chief Directorate:
Governance and Administration with the MTSF.The MTSF will be released later
this year, and it would be inappropriate to share details of the Framework
at this point. Briefly, the Framework seeks to align the planning and expenditure
planning cycles of government as a whole, to ensure that the policy goals
set by Cabinet and drawn from the mandate given by the electorate are the
driving force for these cycles.
But the Framework is not merely a planning tool. Rather, it is a performance
measurement tool, for government as a whole as well as for individual spending
agencies. The Framework will introduce a rolling cycle of planning and performance
measurement, in order that government is able to pay close attention to
delivery targets, identify problems, incorporate unforeseen events or concerns,
and manage itself.
But performance measurement of this type – common in government across the
world – is not merely an internal monitoring exercise. Accountability is
fundamental to monitoring, and the Framework will be linked to a robust
communication strategy. The goals of the Framework are broad, ambitious
and realistic: to ensure that policy drives expenditure planning and delivery;
to ensure that the performance of individual agencies is monitored and internal
accountability is structured; and then to take accountability beyond government
to the public. For this to work, levels of monitoring and evaluation within
departments and across government as a whole will have to improve considerably.
Performance-related data will have to be accurate and timeous, and reporting
against targets will become the norm. Once the Framework is finalised and
becomes operational, it will be an important facet of the on-going challenge
to transform government. It will also enhance the capacity of citizens and
the media to interrogate the way in which electoral mandates are transformed
into policy goals; and the extent to which government achieves those goals.