Supporting results-based programmatic approaches in Cambodia
*** Note for consultation ***
Programme-based approaches (PBAs) are the Royal Government of Cambodia's (RGC) preferred tool for implementing sector strategies and core reforms. PBAs are regarded as a mechanism to promote national ownership of development programmes, ensure coherent programming of resources, strengthen national capacities and systems, and, most important, to deliver development results. At the third CDCF meeting in June 2010, RGC and its development partners endorsed the PBA approach and agreed to move forward with their development in order to maximise the combined impact of domestic resources and external development assistance.
This note clarifies the definition and purpose of a PBA. It then identifies the principal components of a PBA, which may be adopted by RGC Ministries and agencies with their development partners, working together in the Technical Working Groups. It then proposes a 'menu of options' of support that, upon request from a Ministry, agency or TWG, can be provided by the Cambodian Rehabilitation and Development Board (CRDB) of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), in its capacity as the RGC's designated aid management focal point.
Support will be designed and tailored to enable a practical diagnosis of challenges in a particular sector or programme together with next steps to be taken. This customised and applied approach has been described as a "clinic".
II. Defining a programme-based approach
A programme-based approach is defined in terms of its objective. This is usually stated as an effort by Government to lead a sector (e.g. health), thematic issue (e.g. gender) or a reform programme (e.g. public financial management, decentralisation) in a coordinated way to achieve results in an efficient and sustainable manner.
A PBA is defined as way to work together in a coordinated partnership under Government's lead to achieve results in an efficient and sustainable manner
The key words, which are underlined above, require some elaboration:
Leadership – The PBA is a nationally owned programme. Government sets out policy, identifies how resources are to be used, defines implementation arrangements, manages coordination arrangements, and establishes effective monitoring mechanisms.
Coordination – all partners engaged in a PBA participate in policy dialogue and review. Resources are programmed in a comprehensive and coherent framework in line with the RGC budget and public financial management reforms. Partnerships are established to ensure effective information sharing, learning and effective use of resources.
Results – a clear framework of expected results at output and outcome level is associated with the respective policy and expenditure frameworks. These results are to be articulated at the level of the sector or programme and all external resources are to be programmed to support their realisation. Project-level results frameworks are to be based on sector policy.
Efficiency – working arrangements are to be agreed and implemented so as to minimise the financial and administrative cost of delivering a defined output. PBA portfolio reviews and a focus on using national systems are examples of how efficiency can be promoted.
Sustainability – is to take account of capacity and financial considerations. Sector resources should be used to develop capacity and systems, while the integration of recurrent and capital expenditure frameworks will ensure that public investment is effectively managed and maintained over the longer-term. Appraisal of new projects, identification of the drivers of costs and inclusion of all resources and expenditures in a sector budget framework are methods of promoting sustainability.
It should be noted that:
(i) no particular working practices are prescribed. A PBA is intended to represent a national programme so that all domestic and external resources are managed within a comprehensive framework.
(ii) a PBA does not come with a blueprint, although a number of common components have become associated with a PBA, based on their broader public service reform underpinnings (e.g. efficiency, performance, results and accountability) that informs the approach.
III. Principal elements of a PBA
Following directly from the definition of a PBA and the principles on which they are based, the basic components of a PBA can be identified as:
There are a number
of additional features and considerations to be noted:
multiple funding modalities in a PBA
IV. PBAs in the Cambodia context
Achieving and sustaining high levels of sector performance requires that support be directed to develop the sector as a whole, not programmed and implemented as discrete initiatives. This means that all partners and their resources, both national and external, must be working together under RGC leadership to formulate, implement and monitor activities at the sector or programme level.
A PBA is a mechanism that enables the sector or reform programme to become better organised by bringing together the many actors and processes that are already in place. PBAs may appear to represent new or different ways of working, but they are simply ways of bringing together the activities that have been established in the partnership over time. Their focus on effective management, improved performance and greater efficiency is consistent with the objectives and approach of all major RGC reform programmes as well as the aid effectiveness principles that have been agreed internationally and endorsed locally.
The 2010 Aid
Effectiveness Report identifies the potential benefits of a PBA. Beyond their
potential to promote harmonised procedures and greater efficiency, they offer a
flexible approach to address many of the aid management challenges that have
been documented in almost every sector and reform programme in Cambodia in
With a focus on ownership and capacity development, and by working within a common policy framework and workplan, multiple funding sources and modalities can be effectively and efficiently managed to produce the desired results. A PBA in Cambodia is therefore not only about aid delivery practices, it is much more fundamentally about how leadership is developed and how a sector can be organised to manage sector resources and deliver results.
Based on what has been learned since 2006, when the NSDP first set out the programmatic approach to sector development and reform, the following points are perhaps of most importance to the development of PBAs in Cambodia:
V. A format for a PBA workshop or "clinic"
CRDB/CDC is preparing to offer RGC Ministries, agencies and their associated TWGs, support to a facilitated process that can assist in establishing or developing their PBAs. A joint needs assessment to be discussed with CRDB/CDC and ratified by the TWG will lead to the delivery of a "clinic", which will take the form of a practical training and supported-dialogue event that is based on the identified needs of the sector. This may include the following components:
NB this section requires further elaboration and application to respective sector/TWG
1. Introduction to PBAs – contextualising their use
2. Effectiveness and results
3. Partnerships and the PBA
4. Capacity development and the PBA
The format of these "clinics" will be determined based on negotiation with the TWG Chair and TWG members. They can either be in small groups (for development of ideas and approaches) or for larger groups (mainly aimed at awareness raising and consensus building). Each "clinic" will conclude with a discussion on next steps to be taken and follow-up actions.
A PBA is about getting organised to produce the best results. There is no blueprint but this paper has provided a basic roadmap that identifies the main objectives and components. By focusing on the use of PBAs, the experience gained will inform the RGC position to be communicated at the Fourth High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, which will take place in Seoul, South Korea in November 2011, and in the development of a new RGC aid management policy framework to be developed early in 2012.
For some readers of this note, a PBA represents a new way of doing business. They can appear confusing, riddled with jargon and lacking in a clear motivation or objective: for these readers this paper has hopefully offered some clarity and described how the relevant application of a PBA in the sector/reform in which they are engaged can address management problems and support improved performance.
For other readers, PBAs are well understood but may be regarded as risky, contrary to their own interests or undermining the control and influence derived from parallel project support: for them, this paper has clarified how a PBA can serve multiple interests in a framework that is based on common objectives. It has set out a step-by-step process that accommodates all modalities, offers no threat to current interests and can even reduce risk in project implementation.
For the remainder, who may have received some formative training in PBAs, the approach may be supported in theory. But it can be a struggle to apply these principles and ideas, or to be able to convince others to do so: for them, this paper outlines a process in which consensus may be built on taking practical steps towards establishing and strengthening PBAs.
CRDB/CDC is prepared to provide technical advice and practical support to any RGC Ministry, agency or TWG that requires assistance in establishing or developing a programme-based approach. The Partnership and Harmonisation TWG may be used as a forum to develop this concept of a "PBA clinic" and to support joint learning and sharing of ideas that can benefit all participants in sector programmes and reforms.