9th Five Year Plan (Vol-1)
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Implementation, Delivery Mechanism and Institutional Development
Introduction and Review || Strategy for the Ninth Plan || People's Participation || Monitoring and Evaluation - Methodological and Organisational Issues

Monitoring and Evaluation- Methodological and Organisational Issues

5.42 The need for an effective monitoring and evaluation (M and E) system was felt as early as in the First Plan itself. The First Plan document stated that "with increased investment on development, more attention to systematic assessment and evaluation of the results from public expenditure was necessary. With every important programme, provision should always be made for the assessment of results. In spite of considerable development in economic and social sciences........, our knowledge of human motivation and social processes is but limited. We cannot always say for certain that a given set of causes will produce a particular, clearly definable, set of results and none other;". The Second Plan document emphasised the need for a strong M and E system, building up a strong development administration, training of personnel, informing and educating the public and organising a sound system of planning based as much on the participation of the people at each level as on the best technical, economic and statistical information available. As a review of the past Plan performance revealed gaps in achievement in various areas of development, the need for a strong M and E system only got reinforced in subsequent Plan documents.

5.43 Over time an elaborate monitoring and evaluation mechanism has been built for efficient development administration and a large number of institutions for training in public administration at the Centre and State level have been created. While the M and E system has proved its utility in development administration, it is not as effective as it should be. The scope and nature of development programmes have been undergoing changes and the interaction between a programme and its environment is becoming increasingly complex. The government now operates under increasing financial and competitive pressures. The M and E system has not shown the necessary dynamism to cope with these changes and complexities. The Working Group on Monitoring and Information System of the Seventh Five Year Plan identified the following problems:

  • ineffectiveness in identifying/reducing likely delays and problems;
  • large data gaps, delays in data generation and transmission, inadequate data
  • analysis, feedback not reaching proper users;
  • inadequate information on interlinked projects;
  • information difficult to retrieve in the absence of data bank;
  • information not reflecting the true picture;
  • more emphasis on reporting than on action; and
  • inadequate use of monitored information in decision making.

5.44 These problems arise primarily out of methodological weaknesses in the existing monitoring system. First, the existing system of monitoring has been routinised and gives an impression that it is a well-oiled system. But, in reality this has resulted in the growth of complacency and weakening of guard against deterioration of quality, reliability and timeliness of the information monitored. Second, the system places undue emphasis on monitoring but not on what could be done to re-adhere to the plan of work and targets as originally fixed. Third, time and cost overruns are often explained away by ‘reasons beyond control’ of the project management and this explanation is usually accepted. Non-adherence to the accountability criteria has weakened the effectiveness of the monitoring agencies too. Fourth, the existing system places greater emphasis on financial progress reporting than on physical progress.

5.45 The Government has already taken measures to make the implementation and delivery system more effective. Specific mechanisms with regards to monitoring and effective implementation of Central Sector projects/programmes, Centrally Sponsored Schemes and State Plan schemes have already been worked out. In the case of Central Sector Projects, the following steps have been initiated:

(i) Empowered Committees have been set up to monitor any question of delay in award of contracts and issues related to contract management including speedy resolution of disputes by those Departments/ Ministries which are executing/implementing the Government owned projects. The projects implemented by the Port Trust are treated as Government owned projects. In other Ministries/Departments, the system of Quarterly Performance Review Meeting exists; where it does not, it should be introduced. EC/QPR meetings are chaired by the concerned Secretary and it includes representatives from other Ministries, such as Ministry of Finance, Planning Commission , Department of Programme Implementation, Ministry of Environment and Forest. The Financial Advisers of the concerned Ministries/ Departments are invariably represented on the Committee. Participation in the proceedings for the EC is at the level of a Secretary to the Government of India as far as possible and in no case participation at the meeting is below the level of a Joint Secretary to the Government of India.

(ii) The EC/QPR meetings are to monitor and review the progress of all projects being implemented departmentally by the Administrative Ministry or by the PSUs. However , the EC/QPR give special attention to monitor projects costing Rs. 100 crores or more and keep a continuing watch over their implementation in view of their size and varied nature of problems faced by them.

(iii) In the event of any problem not being resolved in local EC/QPR, the chairman of the Committee is free to refer the matter to the Cabinet Secretary for a final decision.

(iv) For projects costing Rs. 50 crores and above, a Nodal Officer responsible for implementation is appointed for the projects duration. He is expected to have at least five years of services to ensure his involvement in the project up to its completion stage so that he is fully responsible and accountable for the implementation of the projects. The tenure of the nodal officer is for the duration of the projects or for 5 years whichever is earlier. In only rare and exceptional circumstances if his transfer becomes inevitable, this is effected only with the approval of the concerned Secretary. The nodal officer so appointed is delegated adequate financial and administrative powers and made fully responsible for time and cost over-runs while implementing the project and his future promotion/career is linked with the performance in implementing the project.

(v) Projects which are unable to make progress and where expenditure incurred is 20% or less even after 60% of the gestation period is over, may be shelved or dropped or transferred to the private sector;

5.46 A system of annual updation of projects cost has also been introduced. Financial Adviser of the concerned Ministry/ Department is responsible for yearly updation of project cost (cost above Rs. 50 crores ) and communicating the results of such updation to the Planning Commission before the Annual Plan exercise. They would also indicate if the updated cost is different from the phasing of expenditure based on completion cost. This is to enable the Planning Commission to take into account the project-wise fund requirements in recommending Plan allocations to the Ministry of Finance. In order to ensure a uniform methodology for updation, Planning Commission has prepared indicative guidelines in consultation with the Department of Expenditure and Department of Programme Implementation on yearly updation of cost and circulated the same to the Financial Advisers of all Ministries/Departments.

5.47 The above decisions, by and large, are applicable mainly to Central Sector projects. In order to ensure that projects are implemented within the given time frame and minimum cost over-run, apart from above measures, the following additional measures have been suggested:

a) For projects costing Rs. 50 crores and above, projects authorities would prepare resource based PERT chart, which will facilitate not only monitoring of these projects and assessment of financial requirement, but also help in allocating resources optimally at the time of finalisation of Annual Plans.

b) The concerned Secretaries would send the Quarterly Status Reports of the projects under implementation to Planning Commission, highlighting the constraints identified by the EC/QPR meeting. The concerned Division in Planning Commission, based on the information contained in the status paper received from the concerned Ministry and that available in the Division, would prepare a background note for the Quarterly Sectoral Meeting to be taken by the Member Secretary. Concerned Secretaries would be invited to this meeting.

5.48 With regard to the Central Sector development programmes/schemes, the following decisions have been taken:

a) Planning Commission in consultation with the concerned Central Ministries would fix yearly physical targets corresponding to plan allocations.

b) Concerned Secretaries would take QPR meetings to review the progress of all Central Sector Schemes and programmes being implemented by the Department/Ministry and submit the report to Planning Commission. QPR meeting to be chaired by Secretary to the concerned Department/Ministry will include representatives from other Ministries/Departments such as Planning Commission, Ministry of Finance and other concerned Ministries /Departments.

c) In the event of any problem not being resolved in the local QPR, the Chairman of the Committee is free to refer the matter to Cabinet Secretary for a final decision.

d) For programmes/schemes costing Rs. 50 crores and above, a Nodal Officer responsible for implementation is appointed for the project duration or for 5 years whichever is earlier. He is expected to have atleast 5 years of services to ensure his involvement in the projects upto its completion stage or five year plan period so that his is fully responsible for implementation of the project. In only rare and exceptional circumstances if his transfer becomes inevitable, this is effected only with the approval of concerned Secretary .

e) Based on the report received from the Central Ministry and information available in the concerned Division, concerned Adviser in the Planning Commission would prepare a review paper identifying the constraints and remedial action required for consideration at the meeting to be taken by Member Secretary, Planning Commission. Secretaries of the concerned Ministries and, if required, Chief Secretaries of concerned States would participate in the meeting.

5.49 Monitoring of Centrally Sponsored Scheme in the social sector is done through the monitoring committees/cells set up under the scheme. The monitoring mechanism consists generally of an apex body/committee at the national level headed by the Minister or the Secretary of the Administrative Ministry/Department with representatives from other Ministries and bodies which are associated with the scheme. A similar type of mechanism has been established at the State level under the Chairmanship of Ministries/Secretaries of the Department concerned involving representatives of the Department /Institutions /bodies. At the district level, a coordinating-cum-monitoring mechanism has been established under the chairmanship of the District Collector with representatives from other Departments/Panchayat Raj Institutions and prominent user organisations and knowledgeable persons in the area.

5.50 In case of Externally Aided Projects, tripartite bodies/societies are formed to monitor the scheme at the project/district level involving representatives from official, professional and private organisations. At the national and state levels, advisory-cum-monitoring committee are set up for overall supervisions. The monitoring is done on a periodic basis (annual, mid-term appraisal and project ending) and the monitoring reports sent to the apex organisation as also to the donor agencies overseas.

5.51 In some schemes for instance, Basic Minimum Services (BMS), the monitoring is done jointly by the Central and State Governments concurrently. Ministry of Rural Development reviews/monitors the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) under the concurrent evaluation surveys, the latest being that of 1992-93. The Programme is also constantly reviewed at block/district/State/Central/ level through Coordination Committees.

5.52 While the monitoring mechanism envisaged for individual Centrally Sponsored Schemes at the time of approval of the scheme would continue, additionally the following measures have been proposed.

a) Planning Commission, in consultation with State Governments and concerned Central Ministries, would fix yearly physical targets corresponding to plan allocation and the concerned Central Ministry would take quarterly review meetings and submit the report to Planning Commission.

b) Based on the report referred to above and information available in the Subject Division, concerned Adviser in the Planning Commission would prepare a review paper identifying the constraints and remedial action required for consideration at the Quarterly Sectoral meeting to be taken by Member Secretary, Planning Commission. Secretaries of concerned Central Ministries and Chief Secretaries of concerned State would participate in the meetings.

5.53 Review of State Plan Scheme/Projects would be undertaken as a participatory exercise with the State Governments. For important programmes like BMS, Planning Commission in consultation with the State Governments and concerned Central Ministries would fix the yearly physical targets corresponding to Plan allocations. The concerned Central Ministries would take quarterly review meetings with concerned State Governments, preferably at the State capitals. Concerned Plan Adviser in the Planning Commission would be invited to these meetings and submit the report to Planning Commission.

5.54 Based on the review done by the Central Ministries and constraints identified, a background note would be prepared by the concerned State Plan Adviser for consideration at the meeting to be taken by Member Secretary, Planning Commission. Secretaries of concerned Ministries and Chief Secretaries of concerned States would participate in these meetings.

5.55 With a view to bringing transparency in Government functioning and introducing social audit, details of state-wise and year wise outlay and physical targets would be made available on Internet for information to all. Actual expenditure and achievements in physical terms would also be fed into the internet against the aforesaid targets. To start with physical and financial targets and actual achievements in respect of important programmes in the Social Sector being implemented by the State covering areas like health, primary education, safe drinking water, sanitation, housing, nutrition etc. would be fed into the Internet. Later the coverage would be expanded to include more sectors.

5.56 In addition, a Plan Speed Group has been constituted to speed up implementation of some sectoral projects/ programmes in the backward States so that the development gaps between the progressive and backward States are minimized within a reasonable time frame. The Group will consist of the following:

  1. Adviser, Planning Commission in charge of the Sector.
  2. Secretaries to the Government of India in the sectoral Ministries/Departments.
  3. Secretaries of the backward States dealing with the sector.
  4. Representatives from Ministry of Finance and other Central organizations in that sector.

5.57 The Plan Speed Group would look into the reasons for the slow progress of schemes in that particular sector in the backward states and take the following steps:-

  1. analyse reasons for slow progress
  2. suggest measures for giving a push to the schemes which are not moving at desired speed
  3. remove obstacles to progress
  4. identify the factors contributing to rapid progress in other States and transfer   that experience to the backward States.
  5. suggest changes in personnel, systemic practices, administrative procedures,  etc. which will catalyze development.

5.58 If monitoring is to serve its purpose the constraints have got to be removed. Instead of routine and comprehensive monitoring, it may be useful if emphasis is placed on a few indicators of physical and financial progress that can help diagnose the problems in implementation. Whatever data are generated must be analysed with a problem solving perspective in mind. To ensure timely feedback of the monitored information, computerised information network is required and for retrieval of information a data bank must be built. Finally, an efficient monitoring system would be indispensable under decentralised planning. The transfer of Centrally Sponsored Schemes to States and the involvement of PRIs in the implementation of poverty alleviation, development, and the seven - point basic minimum services programmes would certainly require a strong monitoring system at the state district and taluk levels. Adequate resources would be earmarked for strengthening the M and E System during the Ninth Plan.

5.59 As noted earlier in the chapter, evaluation studies are a rich source for learning lessons from experience. If these lessons are put to practice, the design and implementation of development projects and programmes will considerably improve. The Programme Evaluation Organisation (Estd. in 1952) and the State Evaluation Organisations (SEOs) were established with this objective in mind. However, over time, these organisations have become some what ineffective grown weak. As in the case of monitoring agencies, the root cause of the gradual weakening of the evaluation orgnisations is primarily the non-adherence to the accountability criteria by planners and programme managers. As a result, the findings of evaluation studies do not get the necessary attention, and follow-up actions are often not taken. This general apathy has affected the health of these organisations adversely. Their professional staff strength has been declining, the professional competence of existing staff is not equal to the task they are required to perform and there is lack of infrastructural facilities. Because of these inadequacies, the evaluation organisations are unable to deliver quality and timely output to the users. There is no arrangement for training of their staff, as a result of which there is lack of awareness about the latest development relating to the methodological issues of evaluation. Inadequate infrastructure has further contributed to their ineffectiveness. The Evaluation Advisory Boards in many States are non-functional. Even where these exist, the members are drawn only from government agencies. These should be broad-based to include academics and social activists to ensure quality and reliability of the evaluation reports. In the context of decentralised planning, there is a greater need for a strong evaluation system. The District Planning Committees too will need feedback from evaluation. The evaluation organisations at the State level will need major expansions and adequate infrastructure to contribute towards planning and implementation of programmes at local levels. To avoid duplication of efforts and wastage of resources, the activities of the evaluation organisations at various levels need to be coordinated.

5.60 There is also an inadequate appreciation of the role of training in conducting evaluation studies. No mechanism exists at present to impart training in evaluation methods. There have been innovations in evaluation methods to provide quick and timely feedback to the users but these methods have hardly been used by the evaluation organisations in the country. Even the basic training on standard evaluation methods, sample design, techniques of data analysis etc. is not imparted to the staff. The existing training institutions like Indian Institute of Public Administration(IIPA), Institute of Applied Manpower Research (IAMR) and National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) are at present not adequately equipped to respond to the training needs under decentralised planning. These need to be strengthened to meet the needs of planners, implementors, evaluation professionals and District Planning Committees.

5.61 It must be appreciated that ex-post and concurrent evaluation of programmes/schemes/projects is required for mid-course corrective actions and learning lessons. Evaluation studies should, therefore, be carried out by organisations which are independent and which possess the required skills and infrastructure. There is a general tendency to get the evaluation studies carried out by organisations which do not have adequate capacity to undertake diagnostic evaluation of government programmes.

5.62 For ensuring optimum use of the monitored information and findings of evaluation studies for efficiency improvement in implementation and design of projects/programmes, there is a need for reconsidering the linkage of evaluation organisations with the users of their findings. At present, these are attached to the Planning Commission and Departments. While planners need their services for improving design of projects/programmes, greater weightage needs to be given to follow-up actions on the findings of evaluation studies. To ensure those follow-up actions on the findings of evaluation studies are taken by the planners and implementing ministries/departments, the demand for evaluation studies must originate not only from the policy-making bodies but also from the public. This requires giving access to the findings of evaluation to the general public through press releases of main findings. The Planning Commission has started doing this. Another effective way of ensuring follow-up actions on the findings of evaluation studies is to involve the stakeholders of development programmes in the design and implementation of evaluation studies. The method of participatory evaluation has been experimented with and found very effective in some countries. The Programme Evaluation Organisation has been involving the implementing agencies and the beneficiaries themselves in the implementation of evaluation studies. This will further enhance the utility of such studies and hence ensure follow-up actions on the evaluation results.

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