National policy on project evaluation | Daily News

National policy on project evaluation

Global forum to be held in September

The government will soon bring in a national policy on ‘evaluation’.

The Chair of Parliamentary Forum on Development Evaluation, UNP MP Ananda Kumarasiri whose Forum had been lobbying for this, expected it to be approved by Cabinet in June.

Kumarasiri together with 16 other MPs (both from the government and opposition) have worked since 2015 to incorporate a system of evaluation to all government projects, big and small.

“There is no evidence based decision making at present. Instead of looking at the success or failure of the project after implementation, it is important that we first evaluate its success before it is on the ground”, he said addressing a media briefing at Parliament yesterday together with fellow MPs Mayantha Dissanayake, Buddhika Pathirana and NUW MP Mylvaganam Thilakarajah together with other partners in the programme.

In 2013, then Opposition MP, Kabir Hashim had proposed an evaluation process for all government projects to be introduced in Parliament.

“This bill and the RTI were one of the two most important legislation that were first proposed by the UNP government in 2001”, MP Pathirana said. In 2017, Pathirana once again brought it up through an adjournment motion.

The MPs stated that they are currently holding district wise consultations, from the Grama Niladhari level to the District Secretariat in 11 districts to sensitise the officers on the need to incorporate an evaluation process into project design and implementation.

Sri Lanka will also host the first meeting of parliamentarians from around the world, called ‘Eval Colombo’ this year focused on promoting a ‘culture of evaluation’.

The goal of the event is to learn from global examples to establish a domestic Parliamentary evaluation process in Sri Lanka, they said.

“It is very important that we must have our own evaluation process, not donor-centered evaluation,” National Integration and Reconciliation Ministry Secretary V. Sivagnanasothy said. He said past attempts to set up evaluation schemes were not “taken seriously” because they were imposed from the outside.

Sivagnanasothy said that projects usually failed due to: improper design and planning; bad implementation (government agency not capable of handling it); issues in the operational stage (poor maintenance) or due to policy factors.

“Evaluation can be done either in the planning stage, during implementation or post implementation to look at lessons learnt,” he said stressing that this would incorporate accountability into the system.

At present the implementation of the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) which has been incorporated into the development framework of the country also needs an evaluation process from within the country and Sivagnanasothy noted that the presence of a policy on evaluation will help the country take account of its own progress.

“We need certain fundamental policies- We need a national policy, sensitization of parliamentarians, evaluation system, capacity building of government officers, standards and ethics, dissemination of information to public and the incorporation of evaluation into the Budgeting and planning process so we get value for money”.

Evaluation reports would also help Parliamentarians in Oversight Committees investigate into projects backed with evidence. “At the moment, once we have any project plan, we don’t have any evaluation method to see whether it is viable or not for the country,” said MP Thilakarajah, “But we’re using public funds.”

He argued all projects carried out from the village to national level should have an evaluation report, as not to repeat mistakes like the water issues at Uma Oya.

If there is no proper planning and continuing evaluation, “that’s money wasted,” he said.

Hundred countries are expected to participate in the global forum, which will be held from September 17 to 19 at the Hilton Colombo and the Parliament.

It is organised by the Global Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation, the Sri Lanka Parliamentarians Forum for Evaluation, EvalPartners, and the Sri Lanka Evaluation Association.

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