The implementation of the government-wide monitoring and evaluation system in South Africa : a provincial case study of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
Monitoring and evaluation practice is an imperative for a country to ensure good governance in government departments, including transparency, accountability, effectiveness and efficiency. Successful implementation of Government-Wide Monitoring and Evaluation (GWM&E) systems results in a government that is well co-ordinated, legitimate, credible, relevant and a government that seeks operational excellence (Kusek & Rist: 2004). The South African government seeks to achieve greater developmental impact and one of the ways government is increasing effectiveness is by concentrating on monitoring and evaluation. Improving monitoring and evaluation leads to improvements in the quality of planning and implementation systems. The implementation of GWM&E and its strategies should be characterised by a management culture within government departments, which demands performance and utilises monitoring and evaluation (M&E) findings for planning and budgeting. Otherwise M&E systems could degenerate into superficial ‘tick the checklist’ exercises which comply with the GWM&E framework, but undermine its spirit. This study investigated the implementation of the GWM&E system, using the KwaZulu -Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT) as a case study. This study explored how the intended aims and objectives of the GWM&E have been realised at a provincial level and the understandings and processes employed in institutionalising it. The research methodology used is interpretative, using semi-structured interviews and content analysis to establish the relationship between what needs to be done according to legislation and what is done in practice. Theories of change, organisations, implementation, results-based evaluation and public policy were reviewed to examine the interrelationships between context, mechanisms and outcomes, with regards to GWM&E. The review of implementation of the GWM&E system found that public institutions craft impressive monitoring and evaluation frameworks but it will take time before these frameworks are actually fully operationalised and M&E findings are influential in shaping policy and strategy formulation in public resource allocation. Implementation of GWM&E requires clear aims and objectives of the M&E systems, co-ordination and integration in a decentralised system like the South African system. There needs to be a balance between top-down guidance and bottom-up expertise. There is a need for M&E to be taken more seriously in South Africa in order for government mandates to be met and policy initiatives and programmes to be improved.