Canadian Government Executive - Volume 23 - Issue 08

18 / Canadian Government Executive // November 2017 Public Service A s the recent resettlement of Syr- ian Refugees exemplifies, gov- ernment programs, currently running on RBM, can be made more accountable if they were managed using PM principles, as well. The Organization for Economic Coop- eration and Development (OECD) has outlined five accountability criteria for evaluating projects: relevance, effective- ness, efficiency, sustainability, and impact. Setting the latter two aside for now, the paper focuses on the tools to adequately meet the relevance, effectiveness and ef- ficiency criteria in projects. All temporary endeavors with a clear beginning and an end, which result in a unique product, ser- vice or an output, qualify as projects. RBM works well for relevance The most widely used management tool in public service is results-based man- agement or RBM. It focuses on achieving strategic policy goals, emphasizing that project outputs lead in a logical way to the desired outcomes. RBM relies on feedback loops via indicators, measuring the prog- ress on immediate, intermediate and ulti- mate outcomes. For example, the resettle- ment of thousands of refugees (the project output) is logically connected to the stra- tegic goal (ultimate outcome) to alleviate suffering in the Middle East. The project is generally consistent with foreign policy goals, e.g. it satisfies the relevance criteria in evaluations. Moreover, managers also need to en- sure projects are implemented effectively and efficiently, ensuring accountability to tax payers. This entails achieving project outputs successfully (or effectively within the project scope) and economically (or ef- ficiently with scarce tax dollars). While the RBM is focused on achieving higher level results or outcomes, it provides no tools to combining RBMwith project management tools Better accountability through manage project outputs in a cost-effective and timely manner. More likely, RBM was not designed to achieve output effective- ness or financial efficiency – two of the main OECD evaluation criteria. Effectiveness and efficiency through project management techniques Often, evaluation reports indicate prob- lems with controlling project effective- ness and financial efficiency. It may sug- gest a lack of project thinking; and yet project management (PM) principles could assist government officials to use the scarce resources efficiently and to en- sure the achievement of project outputs. In addition, PM logic provides guidance for stakeholder management, a crucial as- pect in a project’s success. Unfortunately, the public sector seems to overlook these obvious benefits associated with PM tools, giving greater emphasis to RBM practices. PM tools lay out a coherent system for managing projects by creating a 2D ma- trix of project five phases (or life cycles) and project knowledge areas, such as scope, cost, human resources, duration, risk, communications, quality, and pro- curement. For example, in the project initiation phase, the PM tools instruct managers to work on two knowledge areas only: to specify a project goal and to identify stakeholders based on an assessment of needs. In the proceeding planning phase, managers have to engage with many addi- tional project knowledge areas. The most important task is scope management. The planners need to determine the work needed to achieve the scope, and only this scope, by breaking it down into man- ageable work packages or activities. To these activities, the planners will assign cost, allocate necessary human resources, stipulate duration, identify risk levels and determine quality requirements. Only then can the manager know the total cost, the duration, and risks of the project. Similarly, PM tools offer specific guidance Marje Aksli