Sierra Leone’s Decentralisation Programme has no doubt been making steady progress since its inception in 2004; and evidences of this abound. Perhaps the most glaring evidence is the appearance of new Local Council offices which bless the landscape right across the country with their majesty. As the programme gains momentum under the direction and patronage of the Decentralisation Secretariat (Dec-Sec) and the Local Government Finance Department (LGFD), the lives of ordinary folks are more positively and directly influenced now more than ever before in this country. A commonplace development in our neighbourhoods during the past three or four years is the appearance of waste disposal facilities, gravity water systems (in rural areas), rehabilitated Health and Education facilities and much more.
These developments serve to give credit to government for bringing about the Decentralisation Programme crafted in the creation of the second tier of government (that is the Local Councils), created out of the Local Government Act of 2004. Of course Dec-Sec and LGFD of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development are able to effect their interventions thanks to timely and ready funds provided by Government of Sierra Leone and Donor Partners. At the moment, the quantum of funds received by Local councils, and the volume and quality of service they delivery are things to write home about.
|DEC-SEC’s Director, Alhassan Kanu(C) delivering the keynote address.
But if Local Councils in Sierra Leone are generally deemed to be up to the task of delivering services to the people, one factor responsible for this progress has been the constant oversight and monitoring carried out by Dec-Sec and LGFD. One major monitoring exercise is CLoGPAS about which a lot has been said since the first assessment exercise was held in was held in 2006. Below is a reiteration of the rationale of CloGPAS for the benefit of those who may not have been chanced till now to learn about the concept.
In 2006, a performance assessment framework was designed and implemented as a way of showing results for development investments made at Local Council level. This annual assessment, the Comprehensive Local Government Performance Assessment System (CLoGPAS), laid the foundation for routine monitoring of Local Councils and the provision of evidence-based information on Local Councils functional capacities and performance.
|Participants at the Validation Workshop
This exercise was conducted in 2006, 2008, 2011 and in 2013 to provide an objective means of assessing key performance bench marks and to keep track of progress made by Local Councils in strengthening local governance structures whilst improving on service delivery. In 2006 and 2008, the assessment consisted only of a set of Minimum Conditions and Performance Measures.
Following two successful assessments, it became expedient in 2010 to revise the tool and incorporate additional competencies into the assessment to include key service delivery components such as Local Economic Development, Ward Committees, and Gender issues and on the devolved sectors (Health, Education, and Agriculture).
|DEC-SEC Director, Alhassan Kanu (R) delivering the keynote address.
The primary purpose of this assessment is to measure Councils’ performance in an objective manner, as a mechanism to further accelerate high performance to realign Local Council’s business processes with improved results.
The Minimum Conditions (MCs) deal with aspects of Local Council management, accountability; and assess the compliance of Local Councils with existing laws and regulations which guide the Decentralization process.
The revised MCs have six (6) thematic areas with sub-indicators that define specific areas. The thematic areas of the MCs are as follows: (1) Financial Management (2) Development Planning (3) Project Implementation(4) Budgeting and Accounting (5) Transparency and Accountability and(6) Functional Capacity of the Local Council.
The Performance Measures (PMs) are concerned with councils’ operational proficiency in terms of effectively using existing and established structures/institutions to improve decentralized service delivery, support good governance, transparency, accountability and inclusiveness.
The PMs have seven broad thematic areas: (1) Management, Organization and Institutional Structure (2) Transparency, Openness, Participation & Accountability (3) Planning System, Project Implementation and Monitoring and Evaluation (4) Human Resource Management (5) Financial Management, Budgeting and Auditing (6) Fiscal Capacity and Local Revenue Generation (7) Functionality of the Procurement Unit.
In preparation for the fifth round of CLoGPAS which takes place this year 2015, the Decentralisation Secretariat in collaboration with key partners, organized a two-day Residential Retreat at the Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown on 21st and 22nd August to review and validate the assessment tool for onward presentation to Local Council stakeholders. The interactive forum provided an opportunity for the CLoGPAS Technical Working Group and representatives of Civil Society Organisations to review and update the CLoGPAS Fieid Manual. Giving the Key Address on behalf of the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, the Director of the Desentralisation Secretariat, Alhassan Kanu stressed that CLoGPAS has wide ranging implications and ramifications for the reputations of our Local Councils and devolved MDAs. He said that CLoGPAS is also of great significance for the furtherance of the decentralization reform and the effective and efficient delivery of much needed services to Local Councils.
Alhassan Kanu was grateful that representatives from key Institutions were present at the workshop making the process highly participatory and inclusive. He was of the conviction that performance management approaches by the Office of the Chief of Staff and other Institutions will be synergized and coordinated ‘in the not too distant future’.
He said that concerns continue to be raised in recent times about some Local Councils not complying with standardized processes, nor ensuring effective records keeping, judiciary management, carrying out proper procurement, supervising and complying with safeguard judiciary, nor incorporating Engineers in the decision-making process for undertaking strategic tasks.
‘Moving forward with a view to providing more robust support to the decentralization process at the policy level, periodic joint monitoring missions to Local Councils to ensure their adherence to legal provisions, proper procurement, proper financial book keeping, and enhanced project implementation and management have been undertaken in consultation with communities’, the Director said.
He intimated that Government in the last seven years, has made and continue to make massive investment in the capacity building of Local Councils and devolving MDAs to strengthen their capacities and create the enabling environment for effective and efficient service delivery with strict adherence to legal provisions and laid down procedures and guidelines.
Referring to concerns raised by the public about the seeming duplication of performance assessment exercises by the Director said the ministry of Local Government has commenced discussion with office of the Chief of Staff to harmonise the performance management systems and tools so as to ensure synergy and coordination. He disclosed that the outcomes of two rounds of monitoring missions held in 2014 have shown promising impacts in getting Local Councils carry out activities in accordance with laid down procedures and revealed plans to embark on the third joint monitoring mission scheduled to take place on 31st August, 2015. A representative of Civil Society Ogranisations, Festus Minah pledged his organsation’s commitment to ensuring that state institutions discharge their duties proficiently. He stressed the importance of the decentralization process and thanked Government and partners for the CLoGPAS initiative. President of Local Council Association, Munir Fofana wha is also Chairman of Port Loko Dstrict Council, called on African countries to promote and cascade the process of decentralization for the benefit of all. Improved performance by Local Councils he said can only be achieved if they are well motivated, noting that the essence of decentrlisation is to ensure inclusiveness and help central and local governments promote development. Making a presentation on CLoGPAS tool and process, the DEC-SEC’s Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Colina Macauley said the programme provides an opportunity for participants to identify capacity gaps to ensure a successful CLoGPAS process. On CLoGPAS principles and Scope, the Consultant, Osman Barrie who directed the validation and review process, said the ultimate objective of CLoGPAS is to enhance service delivery and expressed the need to recognize the inputs of every stakeholder so as to determine gaps and weaknesses. DEC-SEC’s Capacity Building Manager, Jonathan Kpakiwa who chaired the programme said the process is a strategy introduced to ensure development in the country.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.