Performance Monitoring & Evaluation
Dept. Performance Monitoring & Evaluation

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) is one of several initiatives to improve the performance and service delivery of national and provincial departments. MPAT is a structured, evidence-based approach to the assessment of management practices. Underpinning MPAT is the logic that improved management practices is key to improving government performance and service delivery. The goals and objectives of MPAT are to improve management practices by, establishing benchmarks for performance; establishing baseline performance of institutions; tracking improvements against the baseline performance; providing managers with useful information to inform improvement; catalysing improvements in management and encouraging all departments to implement improvements. Given weaknesses in management and administration, MPAT has elevated the resolution of this as a strategic issue that should concern all executive authorities and accounting officers. Since many departments do fully comply and operate smartly MPAT facilitates a process of learning from each other through sharing case studies and good examples. Improved management practices are the key to an improved public service and will contribute to improving service delivery through providing a holistic picture of the quality of management practices within a department, against common standards. This information can be used by management to inform improvements and can be used by transversal departments to provide support where it is needed most. In many areas service delivery failure can be attributed to weak management and administrative processes. Examples include delivery of text books and medication on time and payment of suppliers within 30 days. MPAT analysis shows that good Human Resources practices are crucial to meeting service delivery objectives of departments.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The Management Performance Assessments Tool (MPAT) project was started in order to provide the executive with monitoring information on the state of management practices. President Zuma in an address to DGs and DDGs in April 2010 challenged civil servants to “manage government differently” in order to improve government performance and service delivery. In addition the adoption of priority outcomes in 2010 highlighted that developing an efficient and effective public service is a critical requirement to enable government to achieve its service delivery outcomes and targets. Improving the state of management practices across government is thus a priority As stated in the NDP, building a capable and developmental state is a prerequisite to achieving all the objectives in the plan. The effective and efficient translation of inputs into outputs through good management practices is important for improving government performance and service delivery. ‘Management performance assessment’ involves assessing the quality of these management practices. It contributes to developing a culture of continuous improvement through moderated self-assessments and sharing of good practice. It also contributes towards professionalization of the public service, as advocated in the NDP.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
For the first time in government MPAT provides a link between policy makers and implementers. MPAT is a collaborative initiative with the centre of government departments that aims to strengthen and improve existing systems and performance in government. By undertaking self-assessments, senior management in a department are given the opportunity to ascertain its strengths and weakness. This results in ownership by the department of the problems and a commitment to implement improvements. The MPAT system has created a data base of knowledge and information across all national and provincial departments. This allows for sharing of good practice and collaboration with other centre of government departments to minimise on reporting duplications.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
MPAT is an institutional self-assessment tool applied by DPME, to assess the quality of management practices in National and Provincial Departments in four management performance areas namely, Strategic Management, Governance and Accountability, Human Resource Systems and Financial Management. The assumption is that improved management practices are key to improving government performance and service delivery. MPAT is based on similar methodologies used by India, Brazil, Kenya, Canada and New Zealand. Lessons from international experiences indicates that such methodologies can make a significant contribution to improving the performance of government, particularly if the leadership of the departments being assessed take ownership of the assessment process and implement and monitors improvement plans. MPAT assesses the quality of management practices related to Strategic Management (including planning and monitoring and evaluation); Governance and Accountability (including service delivery improvement, functionality of management structures, accountability, ethics, internal audit, risk management and delegations); Human Resource Management (including human resource planning, organisation design, recruitment and retention, performance management and management of discipline); and Financial Management (including supply chain management, procurement and expenditure management). Performance is assessed against the management requirements established by the relevant transversal departments (e.g. National Treasury for financial management and supply chain management and DPSA for human resource management and development). The MPAT process has three distinct phases, namely, self-assessment and internal audit validation; external moderation and feedback; and performance improvement and monitoring. The self-assessment must involve the senior management of the department who during a single sitting can focus their attention on the state and quality of management practices in their department. The self-assessment element is very important because it encourages departments to own the assessment process and to utilize the results to inform improvements, and not to view MPAT merely as another reporting requirement which must be complied with. The assessment locates departments in terms of four progressive levels of management performance against 31 management standards. A department which scores at level 1 or 2 for a particular standard is non-compliant with the minimum legal prescripts in that management area, and is performing poorly in terms of its management practices in that management area. A department which scores at level 3 is fully compliant with the legal prescripts in that management area. A level 4 department on the other hand is fully compliant and operating smartly (i.e. going beyond compliance and working efficiently and effectively) in terms of its management practices in that management area. In such cases, good practice case studies are available and are being disseminated through learning networks.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The implementation of MPAT started in October 2010 when Cabinet approved a proposal from the DPME to work with transversal departments and Offices of the Premier to develop and pilot its implementation. DPME collaborated with transversal departments, namely, the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), National Treasury (including the Office of the Accountant General), the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCOG), PALAMA and Offices of Premiers of various provinces and independent bodies, namely, the Auditor-General and the Office of the Public Service Commission in the development of MPAT. A Technical Committee comprising senior officials from DPME, DPSA and National Treasury has been responsible for guiding the technical inputs and processes of MPAT. DPME officially launched MPAT in October 2011. A total of 30 national departments and 73 departments from eight provinces participated in the first assessment cycle (the 2011/12 cycle) and all 156 departments (national and provincial) participated in the 2012/13 assessment cycle. Management performance is measured against 31 standards. MPAT collates benchmarks for management performance; establishes a baseline performance of departments, provides managers with useful information to inform improvements; catalyses improvements in management practices; develops agreed improvement strategies, provides targeted support to departments; and tracks improvements against the baseline performance
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
On 8 October 2010, Cabinet approved that DPME design and pilot management performance assessments. This was informed by the 10 and 15 year reviews carried out by the Presidency, which emphasised that implementation capacity is a key weakness in government. On 6 June 2011, Cabinet approved the “Management Performance Assessment Framework” and for DPME together with other transversal administrative departments and the Offices of the Premier to undertake assessments of the quality of management. During August 2013 the results for the 2012/13 cycle will be tabled in Cabinet. In addition to Cabinet and Provincial Executive endorsement of the project, DPME has established a Unit within the departments with competent staff to manage and oversee implementation of assessments on an annual basis. The Officers of the Premier in all provinces are partners on this project and provide support and guidance to provincial departments to participate in the assessments and to implement improvements.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
In collaboration with the transversal departments responsible for improving various aspects of management practices (National Treasury, DPSA, DCOG and PALAMA) as well as the Premiers Offices and the institutions with independent monitoring responsibilities (the OAG and the OPSC) a framework was agreed on, for the holistic management performance assessments in South Africa. Working with 156 departments both nationally and provincially, customer care and support has been and will continue to be of paramount importance. On an annual basis after the launch of MPAT, there is continued support and guidance to departments. We strive for excellence in customer care and support. MPAT provides managers with useful information to inform and catalyse improvements in management and to track improvements against the baseline performance.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
An implementation evaluation of MPAT will be conducted in 2014. The results of this evaluation will inform improvements and amendments to the MPAT programme design and methodology. Once the majority of departments achieve level 4 status the levels of the MPAT standards will be reviewed to lift the bar and encourage further improvements in management practices. Purpose of the evaluation This evaluation will assess whether MPAT is succeeding in correcting weaknesses in management capability across government and whether improvements in MPAT scores are translating into improved government performance and service delivery as it was envisaged when the tool was developed. The findings will assist DPME to understand how the intervention is working, and how it can be improved. Key Questions to be addressed • To what extent is MPAT improving management practices in government in general? • Are there early signs that improved MPAT scores are translating into improved service delivery? • To what extent is the design of MPAT appropriate to measure management practises across government? • Does MPAT duplicate the existing similar assessment tools of other key departmental assessments? • What is working well and what is not working well with the tool? • How could the intervention be strengthened or changed to improve its impact? Principal audience Cabinet, Parliament, DPME, departments and the general public Type of Evaluation Impact (changes in performance of departments) and implementation, and Economic Evaluation Management strategy Strategies for improvement will be embedded in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the DPME. Cost Estimate It is envisaged that the evaluation will cost R1.5 million, which will be funded by DPME. Timing and Duration The evaluation will start in March 2014 and be completed by December 2014 (9 months duration).

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
We experienced challenges in terms of connectivity when we wanted to upload documents from departments to serve as evidence to be used during the moderation phase. We learned not to rely on existing infrastructure but to explore new possibilities such as wireless connections and using 3G connections.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Management performance assessment’ involves assessing the quality of the management practices which are used to translate inputs such as money and staff into service delivery outputs. It contributes to improving government performance and service delivery by developing a culture of continuous improvement. An important step in the MPAT process is for the senior management of a department to conduct a self-assessment against a range of management standards.156 national and provincial departments are requested to complete the self-assessment. The self-assessment is then moderated by experts from the policy departments and the implementers of the policy. The results of the self-assessments reflect the levels of compliance with aspects of legislation covering various areas of management amongst the departments. The results also indicate whether departments are working as smartly as they could. Where weakness is identified departments are encouraged to implement improvement plans to address the areas of weakness and to ensure that their management practices become both compliant and smart. Annual assessments will be used to monitor improvements in management practices against the baseline self-assessments. Once an improved moderation process is in place, changes in the moderated self-assessment scores will also be monitored.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
DPME in collaboration with COGTA and NT adapted and piloted the tool at municipal level.We have also provided advice to national and provincial legislatures on adapting the tool to assess the management and administration of the legislature. Further possibilities exist to customise the methodology for different sectors. The methodology could be used to assess the management and governance of an education or health district it could even apply at an individual school or clinic level.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
MPAT is continuous improvement. By interacting with departments that have demonstrated good management practices (level 4) and writing their case studies, other departments use them as a model to improve their own management practices. NT, DPSA and DPME should develop support plans to assist departments to improve management practices where low levels of compliance are evident.This may require reviews of frameworks in some areas, for example review of service delivery improvement planning frameworks.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Dept. Performance Monitoring & Evaluation
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Vaneshree Perumal
Title:   Project Leader  
Telephone/ Fax:   +2712 312 0307
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   DPME Private BagX944
Postal Code:   0001
City:   Pretoria
State/Province:   Gauteng

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