Establishing a national M&E system in South Africa
South Africa has a number of actors with legal or constitutional mandates for monitoring and evaluation (M&E). There has been a major shift in emphasis concerning M&E since 2009, partially stimulated by a political need to improve service delivery, but also from the extensive exposure of both technocrats and political leadership to international experiences. As a result, the Ministry of Performance M&E was created in the Presidency in 2009, and the Department of Performance M&E (DPME) in January 2010. The DPME has introduced a number of initiatives since its establishment, including a focus on 12 government priority outcomes; the assessment of the quality of management performance of national and provincial departments; a new system of monitoring front-line services; a national evaluation system; and a municipal performance assessment tool, which is still in development. These tools have contributed to a major increase in the availability of evidence for policy and decision making. Rapid recent progress is due to strong support at the onset from South Africa’s President, learning from international experience, and strong teams in DPME and the National Treasury. Despite these positive developments, significant challenges remain in ensuring the coherence of reform initiatives conducted by central government departments, improving administrative data quality, and establishing M&E as a core role of management.