In recent years, evaluation has gained importance within public administrations of different countries. Even still, in many cases, it is implemented in a fragmented manner, in response to specific and isolated requests. On the other hand, to speak of a “system” with regards to monitoring and evaluation (M&E) implies that the practice derives from stable institutional arrangements that distribute the functions between those involved in the process, as well as other definitions with an orientation towards quality assessment information in a regular and sustained manner.
This document analyzes different institutional arrangements of a set of countries with federal governments with respect to M&E. Those analyzed include Canada, Spain, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. The case studies of the following sub-national governments are included as well: Catalonia, Jalisco, Pernambuco and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. Said studies demonstrate that if a single pattern of institutionalization of M&E functions does not exist, it is important to consider transversal aspects that affect its development.
The formation of a system does not end with the creation of an agency or body responsible for M&E. For this organism to have the necessary capacities to carry out its functions, it requires an institutional insertion that guarantees a certain degree of political independence, while also enabling it to promote evaluations as a management tool.
Likewise, it is necessary to establish rules defining responsibilities, rules that establish the obligation to evaluate and define quality standards in addition to defining a financing mechanism that guarantees the autonomy, perdurability of the system, and the commitments of evaluated programs or organisms.
With respect to the evaluative practice, it is important to consider, not only the definition of an evaluative plan, but also quality control of information produced, and the promotion of evaluation, the use of which improves accountability, transparency of government actions, and decision making. This last facet requires the instauration of mechanisms promoting the use of information in management but also the generation of M&E information that could easily translate into decisions, improving programs and policies.
The analyzed case studies demonstrate that M&E systems have started to expand to a level of sub-national states. These governments should act as an active partner in the design and implementation of the national M&E systems and promoters of their own systems. Because of this, the development of capacities and the institutionalization of areas in the government with these specific attributions from said matters are key.