An important step in efforts to build or strengthen an M&E system is to map out an action plan. This would ideally be based on an in-depth understanding of the strengths and weakness of existing M&E functions. See Diagnostic Guides
It is important to note that each country is unique, in terms of its starting point and also in terms of the destination to which it aspires -- much depends on the particular uses of M&E information for which the system is being designed. An action plan would therefore be based on an identification of opportunities to institutionalize M&E in support of key government activities: to support evidence-based policy-making, particularly in the budget process; to support results-based management of government programs and projects; and to enhance transparency and support better accountability. See Priority for Government M&E Systems
Action plans would typically seek to build on existing public sector reform work, including related capacity-building. Action plans would address issues such as identification of M&E champions and the M&E roles and responsibilities of central and sectoral ministries. Training of officials and others, including trainer-training, would also be expected to be a component of most action plans. (See IEG’s Evaluation Training website) These plans might include other components such as:
- A review or audit of administrative data systems for producing and disseminating monitoring information in key ministries.
- Identification of M&E priority activities. When strengthening M&E functions, it is important to focus on cost-effective, fit-for-purpose M&E. In the poorest countries there may be a shortage of skilled personnel, data and other resources. Such constraints might be one of the reasons for more emphasis to be placed on “low-tech” M&E approaches, such as performance monitoring indicators and participatory poverty assessments, rather than rigorous impact evaluations. There exists a broad range of M&E tools, methods and approaches, and it helps to understand the potential cost-effectiveness of each. See What is Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)?
- A schedule of major evaluative activities which would be undertaken, such as public expenditure tracking surveys, service delivery surveys, participative poverty assessments -- this work would necessarily be linked with efforts to strengthen the capacities of national statistical offices.
- Options for engaging civil society in M&E.
- Efforts to better coordinate donor M&E activities within the government.
- Sector-specific actions, such as a more detailed diagnosis for key sectors.
For a detailed checklist of options to strengthen a government M&E system, see
2002 Annual Report on Evaluation Capacity Development, Annex B, Table B.1