All governments are responsible to their citizens, and as public servants, we uniquely understand the depth and breadth of that responsibility.
Governments are responsible for understanding the impact that our past decisions have made. Reflecting on the past may not seem like a worthwhile investment, but it’s crucial to figure out what we did right and where we must do better. By evaluating our progress and learning from past mistakes, we can shorten our learning curve and determine the most effective ways to achieve our goals. We can show citizens that we are working towards the programs, policy, and services that they need.
Every day, we must be ready to respond to challenges and recognize opportunities as they arise. By investing in monitoring and evaluation, we can more easily identify and avoid risks, better manage our resources, and be proactive about making adjustments to how we work. We can also be confident enough to stop what’s not working and be courageous in trying something new. Harnessing more accurate and relevant information will help us to move more quickly and flexibly, a vital capability for solving the complex and unexpected problems we’re facing in an ever-changing world.
In the near future, monitoring and evaluation processes will become an integral part of daily operations and culture, touching every area of government. The demands on our time and our resources are only increasing, so the more comprehensive, relevant, and accurate information we’re able to obtain, the further we can look ahead and the more strategic, evidence-based decisions we can make. In the long-term, we’ll be able to adapt and change; better engage with and empower our citizens; and take increased ownership of our actions.
It’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect - that we’re not trying to collect, track, measure, analyze, or assess everything. What investing in these processes will do is help government focus on asking and answering the important questions, at the right times. We could discuss the finer details of performance measurement, setting KPIs, and showing return on investment, but we should always remember that big-picture responsibility.
Are we progressing towards the outcomes we want? Do we have enough credible and useful information to support the decisions we’re making? Are we supporting citizens in the best way possible? These are some of the essential questions monitoring and evaluation can answer. Governments that are investing in monitoring and evaluation are investing in their own potential to do great work, and their ability to show how that work is serving the people that depend on them.