Balance between institutional capacity building and local population service delivery

Review of the Implementation of the Action Plan for the Development Strategy of the Ministry of Interior of Serbia

Main challenges

  • Time constraints:while prior knowledge of the MoI from ISSAT team and assistance from Sida/SPAP greatly contributed to carry out the field mission, the team had only two weeks in Belgrade, which restricted the number of meetings and activities possible.
  • Culture of secrecy: like if by default, all kinds of documents and information are classified in the MoI and it is difficult to navigate a mandate of this nature when the prevailing institutional culture and legal/policy framework is one of secrecy and opacity.
  • Empowering while doing no harm– Capacities are uneven among mid- and senior management at the MoI and between units. The imbalance of capacity across units is compounded by uneven attention given to different units by senior managers and donors. In this mandate, the risk was that those units needing the most support would be undermined further by being highlighted as deficient in the report due to the inherent blame culture (the Analytics Directorate being an example). Asymmetrical support to some units while others take on expanding responsibilities posed another challenge: how to reinforce the most performing units (e.g. BSP) whilst not creating too much of a gap in capacity with the rest of the MoI, making them the object of jealously by their peers.
  • MoI in transition– the MoI was looking ‘very inwards’ (sic) until Brussels gave its feedback to the screening under Chapter 24, and then preparing Serbia’s follow-up on the results; afterwards, the new Cabinet has been focusing attention in drafting the new Police Law. Discussion on gaps identified by ISSAT will thus depend on the Cabinet being more free of those processes to think on strategic management. The report ‘is a seed that can grow, but in other conditions’, as pointed out in the AAR. (See below also).

Review of the Implementation of the Action Plan for the Development Strategy of the Ministry of Interior of Serbia

Outputs and Outcomes

The mid-term evaluation report delivered by ISSAT was considered very useful, pertinent and objective  by both the mandator and the MoI. Both stakeholders noted nonetheless that the report has yet to produce it’s full impact due to circumstances external to the mission: first, the catastrophic floods that put the country in a status of national emergency for several months; second, the general elections held in March that redrew Serbian political landscape and brought a new party to power. At the MoI, both events took attention and resources away from discussions on strategic management and disrupted ordinary activities. This was compounded by an overriding priority given by the new Government in its first months in office to the revision of the National Programme for the Adoption of theacquis communautaire(NPAA) and the follow-up to the EU screening on Chapter 24 (Serbia recently submitted a new action plan to meet the goals set by Brussels on Justice, Freedom and Security).

Only recently life returned to normal in the Ministry. The action plan for Chapter 24 and the new plan for the Development Strategy provided an opportunity for BSP to use ISSAT’s report within the MoI, at this stage to raise awareness of issues raised in the document and the importance of building capacities in areas like budgeting and strategic analysis. ISSAT findings and recommendations are likely to have a bigger impact long after the mandate finished, into 2015. Indeed, the review seems to be recognised at senior level in the MoI as a reference source to inform planning at the Ministry, in two dimensions that seem interconnected. First, the mandate report is used as a stand-alone document considered for its sensitive analysis and recommendations - even if the latter were not yet or not entirely acted upon. Second, the mandate (report, methodology and ISSAT’s overall approach) left a set of tools and good practice, meaning that ISSAT contribution is clearly understood to have high value beyond the review conducted. New management in the Directorate for Analytics has also enhanced opportunities for the recommendations to actually be taken in consideration in terms of addressing some of the imbalances identified in the report.

The item of capacities for budgetary inputs into strategic planning was not included on the initial Terms of Reference for this review but it was considered relevant during the field mission and included in the report. The resulting remarks and evaluation were credited as being very useful to the MoI, well beyond the new Action Plan recently approved. Adding budgeting to the mandate contributed to raise awareness of the importance of this focus-area at the MoI, as previously mentioned.

Strategic Management - Baseline Study Moldovan MIA

Outputs and outcomes

ISSAT produced a comprehensive report that evolved from the original request of doing a baseline report to one that looked at the various needs and made substantial recommendations. Note that the term ‘baseline’ suggests that programme areas have been already identified and the study is to see where the process evolved from. This mandate actually needed the programme areas to be identified.

In order to capture a broader array of views, an electronic survey was developed by the team and distributed to key personnel in the Central Apparatus/MIA and the heads and deputy heads of a number of departments within the General Inspectorate of Police, Border Police, and the “Stefan cel Mare” Academy (SCM) following the first main mission.

The findings of the review were considered robust, sharp and timely both by the mandator and the MIA. They point to the exceptional progress made in 18 months in strategic management at the MIA  under the current minister, while identifying gaps in different areas. The report was used by the mandator (Sweden) to develop a programme by DCAF with the MIA, with a suggestion made in the AAR that findings from the baseline assessment can be carried forward by DCAF.

The recommendations are meant to quickly shore up gains obtained so far with the need to sustain reform in the longer term, also against the prospect of a change of tide in Moldovan politics. The question raised in the AAR is whether those recommendations can be implemented in the existing conditions, due to political constraints and limited human and financial resources.

Early on the mission, the team  had discussions with Swedish embassy staff on what the role of ISSAT was regarding capacity building and the question remains if ISSAT’s ‘reinforce not replace’ role was effectively delivered. There were plans to have an afternoon capacity building session with the embassy staff, which never materialised due to time constraints and uneven engagement. From the perspective of the mandator, though, the results were tangible in terms of apprehending methods and tools.

Strategic Management - Baseline Study Moldovan MIA

Innovative approaches

  • In recent years, the MIA increased dramatically the level of participation in its activities, which in turn was reflected in substantial gains in transparency, which makes for a unique case in the region. Crucial to civil society participation is the Civil Society Council of the Minister, an informal body made up of key persons from civil society that convenes every three months. The Council provides an avenue for substantive inputs from civil society to the MIA, for instance in undertaking monitoring.
  • The Stefan cel Mare training Academy, one of the administrative authorities subordinated to the MIA, plays an important political role, as many politicians and members of Parliament are former alumni. The Academy, though, is seen as averse to reform and its influence might play against the momentum created under the current leadership.

Audit /assessment of the Inspectorate General of Public Security in Burundi

Main challenges

Concepts and processes– Uneven understanding among different stakeholders, within the IGSP and across the MSP of the role, importance and mechanisms entailed by internal control in a functioning democracy.

Political engagement– As noticed in the AAR, even the most immediate quick-win activities recommended in the report need that IGSP has a legal framework in place, but political commitment from Burundian Government to move forward on this has been vague, in fact compromising IGSP critical role.

Programme support– The audit sets clear directions and suggests an action plan to address fundamental gaps in internal control, but any progress on this depends on a robust and immediate support from SSD to democratic oversight and accountability.

Programme overstretch– SSD is a complex, far-reaching SSR programme spanning for eight years and supporting the main security institutions in Burundi (Police and Defence Forces), but there is the risk that whatever is not included or prioritised and funded under SSD is not purposely sustained by the Burundian counterparts.

Uneven and unused capacity– IGSP badly lacks capacity across the board when it comes to main and secondary/procedural functions of an internal control body, from legal expertise to strategic management, while some of the actual existing capacity among staff is lost by the way IGSP functions.

Lessons identified:

  • Civil society organisations are usually keen to engage in discussions about internal control mechanisms of police services. Such occasions offer entry-points to bring-in external stakeholders, otherwise kept fairly outside relevant processes and activities, as it happened this time, in spite of clear demands from ISSAT for such opening from the Burundian authorities.
  • Training in internal control and democratic oversight, linking up internal audit bodies with the role of external stakeholders (Parliament, Ombudsman, etc.), are the natural and crucial follow-up of this mandate. These activities can be a contribution from ISSAT to pursue support in areas identified as major capacity gaps, and keeping the momentum for a reinforcement of the SSD Governance pillar. It’s worth reminding that “Internal Control” goes on being  one of the focus areas under the action plan for ‘Police’ pillar of SDD Phase III.
  • Dedicate the first day of the team in the field to set up interviews and organise agenda, since gaps in pre-arranging interviews are recurrent and almost unavoidable in such contexts.

Annual Review of DFID Sierra Leone Access to Security and Justice Programme

Innovative approaches

Three main interesting approaches regarding support to S&J were discussed during the AAR (the following reflects the main points discussed and, unfortunately, do not explore in depth these approaches because of the limited time allocated for the AAR discussion):

  • The ASJP has a balanced approach to central institution capacity building and local level service delivery. This is not an innovative approach in itself, as it has already been applied in various DFID S&J programmes, BUT, the extent to which the balance has been incorporated in the design and the implementation of the programme is rather unique.
    • A key factor was the search for such “equal” balance during the design phase. Indeed, local actors and better service delivery to the local population were not just side aspects of the programme but considered as important as, or even more important than, building the capacity of state institutions. The ASJP support is directed to central administration, local districts, NGO, para legal / legal aid providers, traditional leaders / chiefs, etc.
    • The implementation of this support is also well managed by the programme thanks to the committed team who has technical advisors, a district coordinator and local support staff. This combination of staff enhances the implementation of such an approach.
  • The ASJP uses public financial management (PFM) tools to increase S&J effectiveness and accountability.This has mainly been taken forward by an ASJP advisor with a PFM background. The ASJP has then been able to bring on board the Ministry of Finance, which was a great achievement.  Awareness on PFM is growing within security and justice ministries, which facilitates discussions for budget increases. It also enhances the accountability (at least on the financial side) of security and justice actors/institutions, even though this aspect has to be further developed by the ASJP. The involvement of the ASJP with various actors / ministries is considered by the participants in the AAR as a good practice for future support.
  • The ASJP has a strong M&E component for measuring the programme performance and developing local partners M&E capacity. This has mainly been taken forward by the M&E advisor within ASJP. The M&E tasks are not only aimed at measuring the progress of the programme according to the logframe, but also have a strong focus on building the M&E capacity of local partners. This last point is crucial because without good data from the partners, it is harder to have a good M&E system for the programme itself. Although the approach is very sound, a lot of challenges are still present. For example, a lot of time is still invested in the programme logframe and indicators, which detracts from the time spent on building local M&E capacity; good data are still very difficult to collect which hinders the measurement of the progress; there is a need for more M&E advisors who understand the S&J sector, but they are difficult to find.