An effective state is essential to achieving sustainable socioeconomic development. With the advent of globalization, there are growing pressures on governments and organizations around the world to be more responsive to the demands of internal and external stakeholders for good governance, accountability and transparency, greater development effectiveness, and delivery of tangible results. Governments, parliaments, citizens, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), civil society, international organizations, and donors are among the stakeholders interested in better performance. As demands for greater accountability and real results have increased, there is an attendant need for enhanced results-based monitoring and evaluation of policies, programs, and projects.
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is a powerful public management tool that can be used to improve the way governments and organizations achieve results. Just as governments need financial, human resource, and accountability systems, governments also need good performance feedback systems. There has been an evolution in the field of monitoring and evaluation involving a movement away from traditional implementationbased approaches toward new results-based approaches. The latter help to answer the “so what” question. In other words, governments and organizations may successfully implement programs or policies, but have they produced the actual, intended results.
Have governments and organizations truly delivered on promises made to their stakeholders? For example, it is not enough to simply implement health programs and assume that successful implementation is equivalent to actual improvements in public health. One must also examine outcomes and impacts. The introduction of a results-based M&E system takes decisionmakers one step further in assessing whether and how goals are being achieved over time. These systems help to answer the all important “so what” question, and respond to stakeholders’ growing demands for results.