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This article is taken from the August 2001 Phatlalatsa newsletter

 

Finalising the Medium Term Strategic Framework for the Presidency

S&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.

Introduction

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.

Prioritising policy

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.

Performance measurement

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.

Accountability

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.

 

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