Thinkings for Overcoming Deficiencies in Evaluation Capacity in China

Submitted by jyuan@worldbank.org on Mon, 04/11/2016 - 13:17
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In recent years, driven by the strong domestic need of improving the performance of government, the public demands for political transparency, and the pressure of strengthening the institutional and personnel capacity building, China has seen a marked upsurge in demand for design and implementation of result-based evaluation and put great efforts to establish a complete result-based system among the government sectors to notice the input-output efficiency, comprehend outcome, and long-term effects based on management for development results since 1978. As an important emerging country in the world, China has already been on its way of spreading monitoring and evaluation culture with the cooperation of the WB and ADB. A lot of experts from universities and institutes are studying on setting up appropriate evaluation theories, methods, techniques, as well as indicator systems to promote the practice of development management. However during the way of building their own results-based development management system, China like other developing countries is facing great challenges like lacking internal political demand, necessary budget arrangement for system construction, incomplete law system, opacity of auditing and budgeting process, short-term policy planning, difficulties in inter-ministerial cooperation, and insufficient evaluation capacity.

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Thinkings for Overcoming Deficiencies in Evaluation Capacity in China
ZHAO Min
Asia-Pacific Finance and Development Center

In recent years, driven by the strong domestic need of improving the performance of government,
the public demands for political transparency, and the pressure of strengthening the institutional
and personnel capacity building, China has seen a marked upsurge in demand for design and
implementation of result-based evaluation and put great efforts to establish a complete
result-based system among the government sectors to notice the input-output efficiency,
comprehend outcome, and long-term effects based on management for development results since
1978.
As an important emerging country in the world, China has already been on its way of spreading
monitoring and evaluation culture with the cooperation of the WB and ADB. A lot of experts from
universities and institutes are studying on setting up appropriate evaluation theories, methods,
techniques, as well as indicator systems to promote the practice of development management.
However during the way of building their own results-based development management system,
China like other developing countries is facing great challenges like lacking internal political
demand, necessary budget arrangement for system construction, incomplete law system, opacity
of auditing and budgeting process, short-term policy planning, difficulties in inter-ministerial
cooperation, and insufficient evaluation capacity.
1. Challenges from Different Sides
(1) Challenges from institutional capacity. China has less developed financial, budgetary, and
accounting systems, which bring vague knowledge of the allocation of resources. Because
different government departments have different benefits and goals, as well as their weak capacity
of development evaluation, it is hard to plan the resource allocation as a whole. The capacity for a
results-based system includes the ability to measure inputs, activities, and outputs.
(2) Challenges from technique and capacities. Sound technical skills in data collection and
analysis, as well as the matched managerial skills in strategic goal setting and organizational
development are necessary for M&E system’s sustainability. Prevalently short of basic data base,
statistics system, and e-financial budgeting system, as well as well-trained human resources of
data collecting, monitoring and analyzing are the strong baffles of improving evaluation capacity.
In order to better management, information and data should be valid and available while most
developing countries prefer not to collect, analyze, disclose and share data base. However, some
projects only have temporary offices and employees, and when the projects are shut down it is
hard to call these people and information back. Sometimes, many officials like to make false data
to blandish their superiors.
2. Recommendations and Suggestions
In view of these situations and challenges, some measures or approaches could be taken to
enhancing capacity in the future.
(1) Winning more support from senior officials. To achieve real benefits, the M&E system
constructing needs the political and financial support from seniors. To provide performance
information and results to senior management and program managers is fundamental for them to
gauge the success of their efforts and adjust policies and programs when needed.
(2) Introducing more technical assistance. As important knowledge tanks, the WB and ADB have
very abundant information, experience, and experts of evaluation which could be shared with the
developing countries. Furthermore, some OECD countries have best practice in strengthening
accountability for results at projects, stimulating improved managerial performance and
introducing the disciplines of relevant benchmarking at all management levels.
(3) Enhancing the professionals’ capacity. Well trained staff and managers are also very essential
to build an evaluation system. Now many government officials have little knowledge of evaluation
ideas and methods, few independent evaluation institutions or training organizations. Therefore, it
is very necessary for universities, institute and government sectors to work together on researching,
training, and popularizing evaluation concepts and approaches.
(4) Improving citizens’ involvement. The public citizens should be well educated to supervise how
and where the public fund is spent on and more involved in measuring the government
performance. Local governments, especially neighbor communities may hold some workshops to
get real reflections of public programs from the normal people who are usually important
stakeholders.
(5) Emphasizing the media’s participation. Media plays very important role in popularizing the
ideas and methods of M&E, enhancing the supervision of public services, improving the mass’s
capacity and disseminating the governments information performance. Therefore the media, which
is the bridge connecting public and governments, should be trained first to increase the
communications of providers and recipients of public products.
(6) Strengthening institutional capacities. Establishing or reforming related auditing and budgeting
systems to be more results oriented are necessary to better use of resources allocation and decision
making. To set up formal institutions inside the local governments is essential to sustain the M&E
systems. As a distinguished model, Guangdong province has widely applied the M&E and set up a
formal Division of Performance Evaluation which is the first institutionalized M&E practice in
China.
(7) Founding a regional capacity center. For the great domestic and regional demand of well
trained professionals of evaluation, the capacity building is most urgent for the political
improvement and social development. Based on the past experience, some meaningful programs
should be paid more attention and get strategic growth by the support of China’s government and
IFR. For instance, SHIPDET should still take the responsibility of constructing capacity for the
whole region in long term. In the near future, based on strengthening and perfecting the existing
mechanisms and training model of SHIPDET, China is actively integrating domestic and foreign
resources to turn SHIPDET into the “Regional Evaluation Capacity-Building Center”.
Meanwhile, the broader network of SHIPDET will be more beneficial for the region to exchange
experience and share knowledge which would improve the evaluation ability of evaluators,
cultivate evaluation environment as well as create the related facilitation. The further development
of SHIPDET can sustainably promote the capacity building and reinforce the MfDR for the
developing countries in the whole region.
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