Evaluating governance

From outlays to outcomes: building a culture of evaluation

November 24, 2010

Speaker: Dr. Anand Gupta

Has the Government of India's Outcome Budget initiative been successful? What are the lessons learned for the newly established Independent Evaluation Office? Speaking at Delhi seminar series, the Director of the Economic Management Institute Dr. Anand Gupta stated that the Outcome Budget failed in achieving its objective.

The Outcome Budget was launched by the Government of India in 2005 to change the culture of measuring performance in terms of the amount of money spent against budgeted allocations to a new culture of measuring their performance in terms of outcomes delivered to the people. For Dr Gupta, the Government of India did not create the requisite incentives for the various ministries to prepare the Outcome Budget, and assumed that the Ministries had the requisite knowledge and skills to define outcomes and generate credible data.

“This failure could offer important lessons for the proposed Independent Evaluation Office being set up by the Government of India. But given the current Indian public sector’s culture of no incentives and no demand for evaluations, will the Independent Evaluation Office make any visible difference in development effectiveness?,” he asked.

Responding to Dr. Gupta's presentation, Dr Santosh Mehrotra, Director General of the Institute of Applied Manpower Research at the Planning Commission, emphasized that while there may not be an active demand for evaluations in India, there was a demand for government accountability from the media, Right to Information Activists and NGOs. 

“The Outcome Budget is just one instrument for performance which on its own might not achieve anything. We need to build an architecture for monitoring and evaluation within the Government of India which would include improving Management Information Systems and improving the quality of evaluations by implementing protocols and guidelines,” he said. 

In the discussion that followed, issues concerning the coordination of programme evaluation between central, state, and district level and between integrated interventions were raised. Mexico was cited as an example of a country that has cultivated a robust evaluation culture by having champions, strong incentives and training programmes to meet its objectives.

Download Dr. Gupta's presentation (51.5 KB)

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