Midterm Evaluation of the project "Institutional and Capacity Support to the Parliament of Afghanistan (ICSPA)"

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Evaluation Plan:
2015-2020, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type:
Mid Term Project
Planned End Date:
01/2017
Completion Date:
04/2017
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
50,000

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Title Midterm Evaluation of the project "Institutional and Capacity Support to the Parliament of Afghanistan (ICSPA)"
Atlas Project Number: 00080438
Evaluation Plan: 2015-2020, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type: Mid Term Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 04/2017
Planned End Date: 01/2017
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 2.1. Parliaments, constitution making bodies and electoral institutions enabled to perform core functions for improved accountability, participation and representation, including for peaceful transitions
SDG Goal
  • Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
SDG Target
  • 16.6 Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
  • 17.18 By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts
Evaluation Budget(US $): 50,000
Source of Funding: Project Resources
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 50,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Tomislav Novovic Evaluation Expert tomislav.novovic@gmail.com
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: AFGHANISTAN
Lessons
Findings
1.

4.1. Relevance

There are two dimensions of Relevance that are pertinent to the mid-term evaluation.

The first dimension relates to the design phase during the planning and programming. The focus is to assess the particular area and validity ofthe intervention logic and the elaboration of the project to meet the identified needs of the National Assembly of Afghanistan (as the target beneficiaries). This analysis reflects if the proposed implementation plan, developed during the design stage, was coherent and realistic. Also, the evaluation of the "design phase" relevance analysedif there was a clear exit strategy with a focus on impact and sustainability of the intervention beyond the life of the project.

The second dimension is related to the evaluation of the “real-time” project relevance. The focus is to evaluate project’s significance at any point during its life-cycle, hence, to analysewhether the intervention logic remained true in the context of possible changes on the demand side. Also,it included assessing the response made to adjust and fine-tune intervention as set out in the project's Results Resources Frameworks. In this context, the fundamental question was whether the project’s target benchmarks remained valid and achievable or whether there was a case for revision to take account of change in demand or the speed of delivery of services.


Tag: Relevance Programme/Project Design Results-Based Management

2.

The evaluation confirms the broad conclusions from the original project document that external intervention was relevant and responded to the national priorities for legitimateand inclusive governance and the needs to improve the functioning of the National Assembly of Afghanistan towards more productive parliamentary institutions.

Regarding national priorities, the project document highlights links with the national development and reform priorities for Afghanistan. The project complies with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2004) that vests considerable power in the National Assembly of Afghanistan in terms of law-makingand oversight, enabling and requiring it to interact with the Executive Branch as an equal constitutional partner. The project supports the achievement of the priorities established in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) to “strengthen democratic processes and institutions, human rights, the Rule of Law, delivery of public services and government accountability”. Under the ANDS, the 22 National Priority Plans (NPPs) have been formulated and endorsed by the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB). Most central to the project are NPP 2-the National Transparency and Accountability Program, NPP 6-Human Rights and Civic Responsibilities and also the NPP on Capacity Development to Accelerate Implementation of the National Action Plan for Women in Afghanistan. The projectalso supported the implementation of the Government's strategic vision to support the electoral process and establishment of transparent and accountable governance in Afghanistan, as outlined in the document “Towards Self-Reliance: Commitments to Reform and Renewed Partnership” (2014).


Tag: Relevance Anti-corruption Election Parliament National Institutions

3.

When stating the “identified needs,” the reference is made to the consistent planning and design process, including identification and formulation of the project. Problem identification followed a bottom-up process of collaboration and involvement of policy makers and representatives of different departments from the Wolesi and Meshrano Jirgas. The phase II project document revised in June 2016 accordingly highlighted critical problems: the lack of fiscal and administrative autonomy that affects the NAA’s ability to carry out its responsibilities effectively. The core functions of both Houses are marked by a lack of internal institutional capability, by a general inability to attract and retain qualified staff, and by a lack of infrastructure resources, including core information sharing capabilities. These issues were identified during the identification/ formulation missions, that UNDP was leading. The first mission took place during 2013 for the purpose of formulating the ICSPA project. Also, the extensive UNDP support and partnership with the National Parliament (the references are the two phases of the projects “Support to the Establishment of an Afghan Legislature, SEAL1 and SEAL 2 implemented from 2005 until 2008) contributed to the formulation and relevance of the ICSPA project.


Tag: Challenges Relevance Programme/Project Design

4.

The initial project document foresaw its revision, based on annual reviews and changes in the external environment. Following the adoption of the NAA's Reform Action Plan, the mission performed areview of the ICSPA project, proposing fine-tuning and adjustments. Revised project document was signed in June 2016.

The MTE finds that the design process was comprehensive and sound resulting that the final proposed action was in fact explicitly tied to identification and assessment phase. The elements of the intervention logic (outcome, outputs, deliverables, and activities) were clearly formulated, with evident and strong links between them (more details in the effectiveness part of this report). This set the basis for successful implementation of the project and ensured multiplier effects.

The “real time” assessment of the project’s relevance confirmed that the focus of the project on supporting general secretariats and departments of the both housesof the National Assembly and the project intervention logic remained valid. The analysis of the national priorities and assessment of newly established project’s benchmarks (targets, indicators and sources of verification) is substantial evidence that supports this conclusion.


Tag: Relevance Parliament Programme/Project Design

5.

Based on the primary and secondary data, the overall project’s intervention logic and focus on the organizational development of the permanent (non-political) structures of the NAA, remained relevant from the start of the project. The enduring relevance of the intervention is fundamentally supported by the involvement, experience and high-level expertise of the ICSPA project team, the CTA, and the technical staff. The MTE finds that this was essential in ensuring substantive insight and adequate approach to supporting the NAA.

The review of "real-time relevance" of the project intervention logic assessed whether the adjustments were needed and fine-tuning was applied during the project implementation phase. This was done through the analysis of the ICSPA’s benchmarks -indicators, baselines, targets and sources of verification -if they remained valid and achievable or if there was a need to revise them. The completion of the comprehensive self-assessment and preparation of Reform Action Plans (RAP) for the Secretariats of the Wolesi and Meshrano Jirgas were a critical moment. The ISCPA project intervention logic was revisited to meet the aims and objectives of the RAP-its milestones are fully aligned with the activities of the Reform Action Plan, and this approach proved to be favorable for enhancing the relevance of the ICSPAproject vis-a-vis the priorities of the National Assembly. Furthermore, interviews with the project partners and beneficiaries confirmed high demand for the continuation of technical assistance and support/ activities implemented within the ICSPA project. The leadership of the Wolesi and Mashrano Jirgas highlighted that the distinct feature of the ICSPA project is its direct link to the implementation of the Reform Action Plan. The dominant paradigm of the previous development assistance was only to "implement activities in the NAA" is altered with a new model “project implemented for the NAA and by the NAA,“ that the ICSPA project streamlined. Furthermore, some ofthe practices, such as the development of nationally owned reform agenda or changes in the organizational culture of the NAA towards greater transparency and accountability, is recognized as a best practice model for replication and expansion in the future (more details are provided under the Sustainability part of this report).


Tag: Relevance Anti-corruption Parliament Technical Support

6.

The project was instrumental in implementation of some of the key national priorities as identified during the formulation process; the development priorities stated in these strategies are still relevant in the context of Afghanistan’s efforts to establish democratic governance. This MTE finds that the support provided to the National Parliament via the project remains highly relevant and needed throughout the implementation phase.The lasting relevance of the ICSPA was confirmed in the new Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework 2017-2020 (ANPDF), which is the central strategic document that sets the platform for the achievement of the national overarching goal of self-reliance "through addressing economic, political and security development priorities". The ANPDF is working to improve governance and state effectiveness through public sector reform, eradicate corruption and strengthen subnational governance (in the Afghan context, "subnational" refers to regions, districts and municipal structures). This additionally highlights and confirms relevance of the project.


Tag: Results-Based Management National Institutions Relevance Parliament

7.

The review confirms that there is demand for the continuation of the existing activities, especially considering the intervention areas and cross-sectoral challenges within the broader good governance context that the ICSPA is addressing.

The MTE finds that the adoption of the ParliamentaryService Act (PSA) remains a critical element that will substantively contribute to achieving “improved legitimate, transparent and inclusive governance at all levels, which enables the progressive realization of human rights”, while ensuring sustainability of Afghanistan's accountable, transparent and democratic governance. The adoption of the PSA will increase the need for additional technical assistance provided through the ICSPA project.

Still, this (the adoption of the PSA) depends upon external factors: the formal approval by the President and the Executive branch and the official submission for the adoption. Executive resistance to the enactment of the Parliamentary Service Act has been reported.


Tag: Relevance Anti-corruption Human rights Parliament

8.

4.2. Efficiency

Efficiency refers to the extent to which the project results have been achieved by rational use of inputs, such as financial resources, expertise, time, etc.

In the context of project management and the intervention logic, it concerns the link between results with the activities and inputs envisaged for the achievement of the result.

The analysis of overall project implementation, including management, and operational mechanisms served as a platform to validate efficiency.  As part of this endeavour, UNDP provided information on the status of the project results and the budget, and on the project governance structure and mechanisms that were in place during the project implementation. The filed visit served to confirm these inputs.


Tag: Efficiency Human and Financial resources Operational Efficiency Project and Programme management

9.

i) Implementation arrangements: Direct Implementation (DIM) is the modality whereby UNDP takes on the role of Implementing Partner, with its technical and administrative capacity to deliver outputs. Although UNDP assumes overall management responsibility and accountability for project implementation, the ICSPA project was working continuously to ensure national ownership and involvement. The actual implementation of the project followed UNDP policies and procedures. Conidering the environmentand the institutional capacity of the NAA, the MTEfinds that the chosen implementation mechanisms proved to be conducive for achieving the expected results.


Tag: Efficiency Implementation Modality Operational Services Technical Support

10.

ii) Organizational and operational arrangements

The ISCPA project's stated objective ("to increase the National Parliament's organizational functioning, while ensuring full national ownership and leadership") twinned with its implementation environment characterized by political sensitivity and deteriorating security situation, required multi-layered management and steering mechanisms.

The MTE finds that the steering and advisory structure of the ICSPA project isnationally owned and facilitate efficient implementation of the project.


Tag: Efficiency Parliament Operational Efficiency

11.

The Project Management Board (PMB) was established to provide strategic support and make management decisions to ensure that the ICSPA project remains on track. Also, the role of the PMB was the approval of project annual work plans and reports. The Speakers of the Wolesi Jirga and the Meshrano Jirga are co-chairing meetings of the PMB together with the UNDP Resident Representative / UN Resident Coordinator. In addition to the two Co-Chairs, the membership of the PMB includes all the funding donors to the Project, representatives of UNDP and the UN Mission in Afghanistan and the CTA. Donor representation is at the Ambassador level. The ICSPA project document envisaged that the PMB would convene once every three months or as often as may be necessary. Hence, the meetings of the PMB finally took place once per yeardue to the high-rank level of participants. The high rank of partner engagement in turn provided impetus for the parliamentary leadership to implement politically challenging reforms.


Tag: Efficiency Donor relations Human and Financial resources Oversight

12.

The Project's Technical Working Group (P-TWG) was established as the key thematic review body for ICSPA. The principal tasks of the P-TWG are to provide technical oversight, quality assurance advice and recommendations to the PMB on priorities deriving during the project implementation. In particular, the core tasks of the P-TWG are to review progress updates and provide technical feedback on management issues related to the project (e.g. changes to the budget and staffing structure; changes in the Risk Log, and monitoring of any escalation or realization of any risk; Monitoring; reporting, etc. The ICSPA project document envisaged bi-monthly meetings or as often as may be necessary. The P-TWG was organizing its meetings every six months.


Tag: Efficiency Oversight Technical Support

13.

The Parliament's Donors Group was established as a discussion forum for international stakeholders to discuss issues about the overall implementation of the Project and the UNDP-managed fund.Project Donor Group meetings were held 3-4 times per year.

Additionally, National Assembly Development Partner Coordination Meetings were organized annually led conjointly by the Secretaires Generalto ensure the alignment of partners support with the Parliament’s priorities and avoid duplication.


Tag: Efficiency Parliament

14.

Project implementation mechanism: At the operational level, the project document envisaged establishing the Project Management Unit (PMU), and the Chief Technical Adviser (CTA) is leading it. The CTA's prime responsibility, as highlighted in the project document, is "to ensure the efficient planning and delivery of Project results and to ensure that the results are of satisfactory quality and delivered within budget and on time." Regarding reporting lines, the CTA reports to the Project Board throughthe UNDP Country Representative.

The two "technical" members of the PMU are responsible for implementing project activities, working in close collaboration with parliamentary counterparts. Working under the direct supervision of the Chief Technical Adviser and in close collaboration with peers in the relevant Secretariats, they are responsible for supporting and ensuring the timely implementation of activities. The tasks of the International Technical Specialist were related to monitoring, evaluation and reporting for the project (Quarterly and Annual Reports). On the substantive level, the expert is tasked to support National Assembly staff to coordinate stakeholders supporting Parliament ( e.g., coordination with the USAID ALBA project and relevant parliamentary activities of UN Women, UNFPA and UNICEF). In addition to technical support, the PMU envisaged an Administrative and Finance Officer and two translators (interpreters).


Tag: Challenges Efficiency Parliament Human and Financial resources Project and Programme management UN Agencies

15.

iii) Application of standardmanagement procedures

Coordination of activities within the NAA: In 2014, 2015 and 2016 the project assisted the Secretaries General to jointly organizeand co-chair meetings of their development partners –including notably a USAID funded project (ALBA), UNDP, UN Women, UNFPA and the National Democratic Institute. This was the first time since the National Assembly’s inception in 2005 that the parliamentary leadership led meetings to coordinate the interventions of their development partners for themselves. Prior to this, the parliament asked UNDP to organize and lead coordination of their development partners. To further support national ownership,the project prepared Terms of Reference (TORs) and principles for development partner engagement with the Parliament in order to ensure that assistance is aligned with the Parliament’s priorities, prevents duplication and is sustainable. Notably the coordination principles, adopted by all partners in May 2016, require that all partners submit their work plans as well as technical TORs for the procurement of goods and services to the Secretary Generals for approval prior to the implementation of activities or procurements so that the Parliament may ensure that equipment is technically compatible and also to enable them to budget the maintenance costs.


Tag: Justice system Ownership Coordination

16.

Project monitoring system: The ICSPA project has established a sound, results-oriented reporting procedure. It includes well-structured and comprehensive Annual Reports and Quarterly Progress Reports. The ICSPA project followed results-based reporting, clearly indicating progress towards the achievement of planned results/ targets and using proposed indicators from the Results and Resources Framework ((equivalent to a "logical framework" in the UNDP's programming structure) to measure the progress.

The ICSPA project has not established a sound monitoring system, although it was a requirement from the project document. This is related to the ongoing vacancy of the P4 position. The National Parliament's institutional development is inherently linked with numerous challenges and therefore the system to monitor progress is highly important and the project should continue its support in this area. The importance of the monitoring system would become more apparent in the context of possible growth of the ICSPA project and the adoption of the PSA: monitoring only activities, without considering broader context, could affect the quality of results.


Tag: Efficiency Gender Equality Monitoring and Evaluation Results-Based Management

17.

Project reporting practice: The ICSPA project has established a sound, results-oriented reporting procedure. It includes well-structured and comprehensive Annual Reports and Quarterly Progress Reports. These progress reports provide information and reflect on the project activities, deliverables and results during the year, at the same time highlighting priorities for the forthcoming period. Of note, the project has produced quarterly reports although donor cost-sharing and trust-fund agreements require only annual reportingand despite the ongoing vacancy of the P4 specialist responsible for reporting1. This vacancy has deflected from the project’s ability to provide greater technical assistance to the parliament.The ICSPA project followed results-based reporting, clearly indicating progress towards the achievement of planned results/ targets and using proposed indicators from the Results and Resources Framework (equivalent to a "logical framework" in the UNDP's programming structure) to measure the progress.


Tag: Efficiency Policies & Procedures

18.

Management of projects risks: Preparation/ design of the ICSPA project was linked to a substantive analysis of risks, which could affect the project at any point during the implementation. This was a rather substantive analysis and a sound risk management system was put in place. However, the security situation in Kabul has been deteriorating further. The 22 June 2015 Taliban attack directed at the Parliament building has had a traumatic impact on Parliament and project staff, which resulted in the suspension of project activities while staff was recovering. In 2016, important project national counterparts were murdered in Kabul or fled Afghanistan as refugees, including the Director of the Wolesi Jirga’s Human Resource Department and the Director of the Wolesi Jirga’s Gender Directorate. In January 2017, at least 30 parliament staff were killed and more than 70 injured in a twin bomb attack perpetrated by Taliban terrorists in front of the Afghan Parliament administrative building in Kabul. The attackson the Afghan Parliament further exacerbated existing difficulties in recruiting or deploying qualified experts, consultants and staff for posts supporting the Parliament in Kabul. This included Experts from the Inter-Parliamentary Union who subsequently cancelled planned missions to Kabul.


Tag: Efficiency Parliament Project and Programme management Risk Management

19.

iv. Budget status and deliveryof project funds

The resources available for implementation of the ICSPA project, which were made available in timely manner, correspond to the needs of the action and to the planned/ implemented activities. Some examples could be: procurement of IT equipment and a camera system for the main parliamentary session room are based on the feasibility study and construction/ installation plans. Planning and budget allocation for procurement of goods were based on a market study. The remuneration system is based on the UNDP salary scale, including a percentage for staff security. The funds were available on time and there were no significant delays that affected timely delivery of results.

Payment to UNDP was in line with the Financing Agreements that were effective from the start of the project. DFID and UNDP funds were available from the start of the ICSPA project in 2014 and will cover the entire project implementation phase. German funds were planned for the period from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2016. However, as a no-costextension was approved, these funds will be available until June 2017.The European Union Trust Fund agreement in support of the project is valid from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2017.


Tag: Efficiency Human and Financial resources

20.

4.3. Effectiveness

Effectiveness refers to the relationship between the planned and achieved results of the project; it could be considered as a measure of the extent to which the project results have contributed towards the achievement of the project purpose (alias specific objectives).

The MTE finds that the ICSPA project was effective in achieving all planned results; while in some areas even exceeding the expected results. UNDP’s long-term involvement with the National Parliament through the projects SEAL I and SEAL II and the contribution of the other project partners to Afghanistan's governance system, has ensured substantive insight and demand-driven support to the National Parliament. In addition, the effectiveness of the program has relied heavily on the Chief Technical Adviser (CTA) who has built a strong relationship with the leadership of both houses, based on mutual trust and respect.


Tag: Effectiveness Parliament

21.

Some of the key results that the ICSPA project achieved are:

  • Both Houses of the National Parliament prepared the self-assessment in October 2015 and finalized the follow-up to Reform Action Plans in February 2016. The Secretary Generals (SGs) to both houses and their teams were leading the development of self-assessment reports and the preparation of the Reform Action Plans (RAPs). The fact that the SGs have led the self assessment process and preparation of the Reform Action Plans with project support has created a real sense of ownership and the desire to speed ahead with the implementation of the identified priorities. The regular engagement with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has secured the additional commitment of the SGs: they have been able to make presentations on their progress and challenges to the IPU’s Association of Secretaries General in Parliaments (ASGP)while also improving their knowledge of parliamentary best practices.
  • The ICSPA project provided support to the leadership of the National Parliament to begin implementing politically challenging reforms. Some of the most notable achievements are publishing MP attendance records, fining and suspending MPs for non-attendance, reducing the number of committees to increase efficiency. It also included improved system to share information about the Parliament’s functions and functioning, structures and proceedings. This information is available to the public through the national media and the Parliament’s website;

Tag: Effectiveness Parliament Public administration reform Ownership Technology

22.
  • The ICSPA project in partnership with the IPU provided the National Parliament with technical assistance to design a Parliamentary Service Act. The central objective of the Act is to set the basis towards ensuring the autonomy of parliament staff from the Executive branch in alignment with international parliamentary best practice as well as towards establishing a sustainable human resource base required for its long-term institutional development;
  • The ICSPA project assisted in instituting critical security-related improvements of the National Parliament -this was especially needed to mitigate attacks against the Parliament and its staff.

Tag: Effectiveness Parliament Technical Support

23.

The project started work on establishing the required ICT infrastructure (local area network and media pool). The objective is to improve transparency by sharing parliamentary documentation and information with the media and the public as well as between departments and also to improve the financial, administrative, procurement and human resource work-flow processes;


Tag: Effectiveness Anti-corruption Human and Financial resources Operational Efficiency Technology

24.

The ICSPA project provided the Gender Directorates in both Houses with support to clarify their job functions and prepare workplans with realistic targets they may help the parliament to achieveby working in partnership with other parliamentary departments rather than in isolation


Tag: Effectiveness Gender Equality Parliament Partnership

25.

The project supported the National Parliament in establishing a Secretary General-led Meshrano Jirga ICT governance group. The role of this group is to plan, coordinate department needs and ensure the compatibility and sustainability of its ICT infrastructure (including budgeting);


Tag: Effectiveness Technology

26.

In the context of project implementation, the UNDP Security Unit carried out a security assessment of the Parliament, which led to the drafting of specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), staff training and the identification of security gaps.


Tag: Security Capacity Building Effectiveness Parliament

27.

To ensure greater transparency in the work ofthe Meshrano Jirga and Wolesi Jirga, the ISCPA project assisted with setting their You Tube pages, through which the Parliament’s Departments for Information and Public Relations share plenary session proceedings with the public;


Tag: Effectiveness Anti-corruption Communication

28.

4.4. Impact

Impact measures the effect of the project in meeting the outcome. By definition, the latter is beyond the scope of a particular project but a positive impact could be expected if the project outputs are achieved so that it helps to meet to wider objective. Sustainability on the other hand is a measure of the degree to which the project has a lasting effect or durability after its completion.

Impact(as much as sustainability)can only be assessed after certain period upon the end of the project. However, it is increasingly conventional in mid-term and even in final evaluations to anticipate or forecast both impact and sustainability. Therefore, the MTEanticipated and assessed possible impact of the project, after its completion.


Tag: Impact Sustainability

29.

Qualitatively, the conclusion of this mid-term evaluation is that there is certain likelihood that the project will achieve and ensure its impact. However, as presently designed and implemented there is a high probability that the impact could erode without further external support to institutionalize results of the project. Specifically, the adoption of the Parliamentary Service Act represents a critical element of the sustainability of results: its adoption will set the basis for sustainable human resources, predictable finances and independent functioning of the National Assembly of Afghanistan.


Tag: Impact Human and Financial resources Sustainability

30.

4.5. Sustainability

The fifth criterion, sustainability, relates to whether the positive results of the project are likely to continue after external funding ends, and also whether its longer-term effects on the wider development process can also be sustained at the level of the sector or country.

This means that there is a strong correlation between impact and sustainability since the explanatory variables are often the same for explaining impact and/or sustainability. In the context of mid-term evaluations, sustainability and impact are often assessed in conjunction. This suggests that challenges leadingto impact erosion could certainly apply in this case.

The mid-term evaluationanalysed the (potential) sustainability, assessing whether the beneficiaries can continue to work without external intervention that was present through the project.


Tag: Sustainability

31.

The mid-term evaluation assessed sustainability through the following questions:

i) Why is it important to ensure sustainability?

In present value terms, if there is no impact or sustainability then there is no logic of intervention in the first instance. Even if there are non-monetary benefits, these can be monetised and should show a real return on investment.

The central idea of the project is to leave a legacy of an operational system and know-how to facilitate organizational development of the National Assembly of Afghanistan in line with international standards. The project has been playing the central role in the support to the National Parliament of Afghanistan (Wolesi Jirga and Meshrano Jirga)'s institutional development "within its constitutional and legal mandate, in becoming a more effective parliamentary institution, both reflecting, and contributing to, a growing culture of legitimate and inclusive governance".

The MTE finds as the added value of the ICSPA project is a high level of sustainability: the results of the project, including development practices and methods tested within its scope, supported through the project are embedded in the operational practices of the Parliament. Specifcally, preparation and implementation of the Reform Action Plans, establishment of the e-platform and pending adoption of the Parliamentary Service Act are essential steps for building independent and competent institutions in the country. Thus, sustainability of the resultsachieved through the ICSPA project is ndispensable and essential action for the development of participatory democracy and citizens centered system governance system.


Tag: Sustainability Parliament Country Support Platform Operational Efficiency

32.

ii) Has the project employed any innovative models or approaches that may be applicable to other institutional development projects in Afghanistan or abroad?

Reform of public institutions, such as the Parliament of Afghanistan, requires full national ownership and involvement and well-planned approach to organizational development. The Secretary Generals and their associates led the self-assessment processto full extent, with technical assistance provided by the ISCPA project. The findings confirm that the parliamentary leadership was showing effective commitment and leading on the core project based initiatives. This involvement is equally evident at the operational (ref to the Efficiency part of this report) and the programmatic side of the project.

The MTE analysed if the project employed any innovative models or approaches applicable to other institutional development projects. While traditional capacity building and development interventions often result in partner-driven processes and plans that reflect externally viewed needs that are subsequently not implemented, the ICSPA project has been providing technical, advisory and secretariat support for the Afghan Parliament staff to carry out self-assessments and identify the areas requiring reforms. Therefore the ICSPA project has been highly instrumental in providing support to the direct beneficiary, the National Parliament, first to identify and prioritize needs and then to develop a comprehensive Reform Action Plans to address these needs.


Tag: Sustainability Parliament Ownership Capacity Building Technical Support

33.

This was an innovative approach for Afghanistan, with clear opportunity for replication. Efforts to diagnose institutional problems as a first step in the formulation of improvement interventions are common to many sectors and countries. But the self-driven and participatory assessment of the Wolesi and Mashrano Jirga's of the NAA to generate forward-looking reform plan and assure accountability are innovativefor the following reasons:

  • staff members themselves initiated the assessment and mapped out the entire exercise-The fact that the Secretary Generals and their teams are heavily involved in the project has created a real sense of ownership and also commitment to the improvement of operational methods increased transparency, accountability, and responsiveness of the Parliament to the citizens. The leadership ofboth houses of the NAA are shoiwing clear readiness to move ahead with the implementation of the needed reforms.
  • staff members identified the issues and indicators to be addressed, planned the retreat for addressing them, and gathered the information necessary for informed discussions and performance rating;
  • staff discussed the issues in the department-based teams and proceeded to present their findings and indicators in plenary, freely challenging the findings of other departments; and
  • the experts from the International Parliamentary Union and the ICSPA CTA were facilitating the process. Their tasks included analysis of information and data, capturing the core actions in a balanced manner, and isolating prominent institutional weaknesses and how they inform the strategy for the organizational reform.

 


Tag: Anti-corruption Parliament Public administration reform Operational Efficiency Ownership

34.

The assessment process included all the units and departments of the NAA and revealed different performance categories –sets of related skills, procedures and capabilities defining particular institutional performance areas. Certain obstacles related to the functioning of the NAA –such as weak communication between two houses; turn-over of staff including the facts that the executives frequently take over employees of the NAA, deteriorating security situation and attacks against the NAA--were considered as common to the entire institution. Still, employees, staff were able to clearly identify the strengths and weaknesses of their units, providing an effective springboard for a holistic Reform Action Plan. Therefore, the Reform Action Plan included key areas of the NAA functioning in which results and activities are prioritized: 1. Plenary Session Management; 2. Committees Management; 3. Research; 4. Library; 5. Info & Public Relations; 6. Human Resources; 7. Finance and Administration; 8. Informationand Communication Technology; 9. International Affairs; 10. Gender; 11. Internal Audit and 12. Procurement.

Furthrmore, the priority support areas identified in the self-assessment reports and the Reform Action Plans are the main focus of the ICSPA project for 2016-2019. The project's full compliance with the NAA's reform program further supports the sustainability of results.

The legacy of this project will certainly serve as the basis and model for replication for future activities in this field.


Tag: Sustainability Parliament Rule of law

35.

iii) Implications for follow-up

Reform of the governance system and establishment of the independent and functional Parliament in post-conflict countries is a multidimensional problem that requires nationally driven comprehensive and well-coordinated approach. The reform efforts are additionally affected by deteriorating security situation and turn over of staff, leaving no professional counterparts to continue work in agreed reform areas. Experts to support the Afghan Parliament. Since the attack on the Afghan Parliament in June 2015, the IPU has not been able toidentify and deploy qualified experts.

Nevertheless, the ICSPA project will remain as the central reference in institutional strengthening of the NAA and setting the basis for its independent and sustainable functioning. This is a long-lasting process and support should continue, with involvement of policy and decision makers from both houses of the NAA, and from different governance structures. The ICSPA project is well-positioned to facilitate this process; furthermore, adoption of the Parliamentary Service Act and its implementation will require support and technical assistance: technical assistance and expertise available through the project will be even more requiredto ensure full implementation of the Parliamentary Service Act.


Tag: Sustainability Parliament Public administration reform Institutional Strengthening Technical Support

Recommendations
1

Prepare a plan to advocate and lobby the President for the adoption of the Parliamentary Service Act (PSA).

2

ICSPA project should prepare a support plan for the National Parliament after the passage of the PSA. 

3

UNDP and the partners should explore opportunities to expand support to the National Parliament and for the follow-up phase of the ICSPA project.

4

The ICSPA project should explore opportunities to reestablish communication and cooperation with the IPU.

5

Strengthen the PMU through engagement of an International Technical Advisor.

6

The ICSPA project should continue with activities to enhance gender equality.

7

It is recommended to improve monitoring system for the ICSPA project and for implementation of the Reform Action Plan.

1. Recommendation:

Prepare a plan to advocate and lobby the President for the adoption of the Parliamentary Service Act (PSA).

Management Response: [Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2021/01/10]

The plan has been prepared by the project based on proposed mitigating measures to risks and issues identified since 2014. Accordingly, UNDP has provided full briefings to ICSPA partners and UNAMA to permit them to engage in political level discussions with the Government towards obtaining its support for passage of the Parliamentary Service Act.  Also, UNDP has encouraged the Parliamentary leadership in both Houses to collaborate with the Inter-Parliamentary Union whose secretariat and members are keen to lend their political support towards passage of the Act. Passage of the Act is critical to establishing a sustainable human resource for the parliament’s institutional development and ensuring the parliament’s autonomy from the Executive. Presidential support for passage of the Act would be seen as an example of his strong commitment to building strong institutions and an important benchmark of progress towards some degree of democratic consolidation in Afghanistan.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Project to prepare briefing notes for UNDP Senior Management and project donor Ambassadors clarifying that staff in the National Assembly of Afghanistan are not autonomous from the Government, and accordingly, the parliament secretariats cannot effectively support MPs to oversee government action, review the national budget, scrutinize legislation or oversee public accounts.
[Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2018/05/09]
Project CTA 2017/07 Completed History
UNDP Senior Management and project donor Ambassadors to meet with Parliamentary leadership to agree on approach.
[Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2018/05/09]
Programme Unit 2018/03 Completed History
UNDP Senior Management and project donor Ambassadors to meet with President of Afghanistan to advocate for passage of the PSA.
[Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2019/08/07]
Programme Unit 2019/07 No Longer Applicable [Justification: In accordance with the risk mitigating measure and followed up in the project TWG meeting, Political engagement on the ambassador level with the Executive/president office to obtain support for passage of the Act were suggested but it remains outside of the technical mandate of the ICSPA project and its direct control as result parliament couldn’t achieve the passage of Act. The PSA will be addressed to the next phase of parliamentary project. ]
The project will consider addressing the recommendation of mid-term and final evaluation related to Parliamentary Service Act (PSA) to the next phase of parliamentary project. History
2. Recommendation:

ICSPA project should prepare a support plan for the National Parliament after the passage of the PSA. 

Management Response: [Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2021/01/10]

The project recognizes the imperative of ensuring that technical assistance and expertise is available to support the full implementation of the PSA. In anticipation of the successful passage of the PSA, the ICSPA project began discussion with the Secretariats to determine needs. This support plan has been included in the National Assembly of Afghanistan’s Reform Action Plan.  Subsequent initiatives detailed in the plan include support to revising the organogramme, revising terms of reference, reclassifying posts, developing conditions of service, etc.  The Secretaries General have also discussed the plan at IPU HQs in Geneva and had prepared a timeframe of two years for establishment of the Parliamentary Service following adoption of the Act.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Consult with leadership of the secretariats to ascertain needs and develop a preliminary timeline.
[Added: 2017/11/21]
Project CTA with support from Governance Unit. 2017/10 Completed History
Update timeline as needed, anticipating event opportunities in 2018, eg International democracy day Sept 18, 2018.
[Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2018/05/09]
Project CTA 2017/06 Completed History
3. Recommendation:

UNDP and the partners should explore opportunities to expand support to the National Parliament and for the follow-up phase of the ICSPA project.

Management Response: [Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2021/01/10]

UNDP has taken this under consideration however it was too soon to act on this recommendation as the Parliamentary Service Act has not yet been passed. This recommendation will accordingly be implemented if the PSA is adopted during the lifespan of the ICSPA project.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Evaluate the likelihood that the PSA will be passed during the lifespan of the project.
[Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2018/05/09]
Project CTA 2017/12 Completed Partners have agreed to extend the current project for 6-8 months. DFID will undertake a political economy analysis of the parliament to determine future support following upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in October 2018. History
4. Recommendation:

The ICSPA project should explore opportunities to reestablish communication and cooperation with the IPU.

Management Response: [Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2021/01/10]

ICSPA has benefited from the support of the IPU in past years. Cooperation and discussions with IPU is ongoing without cost to the project. However, IPU experts are not willing to be deployed to Kabul due to the deteriorated security situation. IPU has been keen to facilitate additional peer support to the Afghan Parliament Secretaries General through the IPU-based Association for Secretaries General in Parliaments (ASGP) and Annual IPU Assemblies towards establishment of the Parliament Service once the PSA Act is adopted. Support will hasten when the security situation improves.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Continue liaising with the IPU to gain peer support.
[Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2018/05/09]
Project CTA 2017/06 Completed ongoing History
Seek additional technical assistance in conjunction with the IPU towards establishment of the Parliamentary Service once the Act is adopted.
[Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2018/05/09]
Project CTA 2017/06 Completed ongoing History
5. Recommendation:

Strengthen the PMU through engagement of an International Technical Advisor.

Management Response: [Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2021/01/10]

An international parliamentary development specialist is being contracted on a two-month consultancy contract (Oct-Nov) to support the Wolesi Jirga Secretary General to prepare a Code of Conduct for MPs. The specialist’s contract would also include responsibility for updating the ICSPA M&E Plan. If the specialist meets performance expectations he may be recruited for an additional year to join the PMU as an international technical advisor. Following a performance assessment his contract may be extended. However, difficulties in recruitment of qualitied international staff in support of the Afghan Parliament persist.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Follow through with recruitment of TA.
[Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2018/05/09]
Project CTA 2018/05 Completed ongoing History
6. Recommendation:

The ICSPA project should continue with activities to enhance gender equality.

Management Response: [Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2021/01/10]

Enhancing gender equality efforts are ongoing and are being jointly implemented with the Gender Directorates in both Houses, to strengthen their capacity and sustainability of the interventions.  Since the mid-term evaluation was finalized in May, the project had supported the implementation of three additional gender equality-related activities.  These activities have included supporting the parliament to organize induction programmes for women journalists and women’s based CSOs as well as establishing a database to facilitate information between the secretariat and women journalists/CSOs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Continue to develop opportunities to increase awareness and support for gender eaulity in both parliamentary Houses.
[Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2018/05/09]
Project CTA 2017/12 Completed History
7. Recommendation:

It is recommended to improve monitoring system for the ICSPA project and for implementation of the Reform Action Plan.

Management Response: [Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2021/01/10]

The international technical specialist anticipated for Q4 will be recruited to improve the ICSPA M&E plan in October and November 2017, as well as drafting of the code of conduct.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Upon recruitment, TA will begin preparations for updating ICSPA M&E system, in anticipation of the Reform Action Plan.
[Added: 2017/11/21] [Last Updated: 2018/05/09]
Programme Unit 2017/11 Completed History

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