Institutional Support to the Regional Hub of Civil Service in Astana

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Evaluation Plan:
2016-2020, Kazakhstan
Evaluation Type:
Project
Planned End Date:
12/2016
Completion Date:
12/2016
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
25,000

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Title Institutional Support to the Regional Hub of Civil Service in Astana
Atlas Project Number: 84687
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2020, Kazakhstan
Evaluation Type: Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2016
Planned End Date: 12/2016
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Democratic Governance
  • 2. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 2.4. Frameworks and dialogue processes engaged for effective and transparent engagement of civil society in national development
Evaluation Budget(US $): 25,000
Source of Funding: Project
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 23,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: Agency for Civil Service Affairs and Anti-corruption of Kazakhstan
Countries: KAZAKHSTAN
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1

The main challenge for the Project results is that the original duration of 4 years has been shrunk to 3 years.

 Hence, the Project runs a risk of coming to the end without spending considerable part of the budget.

For that reason, the recommendation is to extend the Project for an additional year – and have the total of 4 years for implementation – as originally expected.

 

2

Reporting should be improved – the existing quarterly and annual reports do not provide sufficient insight into more substantive aspects of the project. They report on the deliverables, but at least the annual report should include review of the strategic direction (and changing priorities), relevance and quality of certain activities.

3

The meetings of the Steering Committee and the Project Board ought to be made more regular. Those two structures are the only ones that provide strategic guidance and oversight of the Project and there has not been a meeting of either of those in 2016 (up to 1 October). Even on regular basis, there are not more than 2 meetings annually, which is certainly not sufficient – especially given the need for finally addressing strategic focus of the ACSH. Moreover, the Steering Committee meetings might benefit from engaging with a broader dialogue with larger number of participating countries on the strategic niche and the future of ACSH overall.

4

The project might want to support ACSH in introducing flexible, fluid processes that would contribute to streamlining and improvement of efficiency.  These could take a form of optimized “protocols” (e.g. journey maps for user relations), as well as improvement of existing databases (possibly with some automatization) and knowledge management systems. Some of those business processes might be based on on-line, open innovation and crowdsourcing, as well as strategic foresight with tools such as Futurescaper. Finally, the ACSH would benefit considerably from an integrated digital strategy, as it is further explained under the communication below

5

The Project should carefully consider the identification of activities in the area of research for 2017, including introducing more innovative methods such as prospective research, open source journal, and preparation of practical manuals/toolkits. Moreover, even translation of existing manuals/toolkits into Russian might provide a great benefit for its participating countries.

6

The Project should consider emphasizing more innovative methods for learning in 2017. Moreover, there is weak progress on some of the previously planned activities such as preparation of standard courses or use of models such as webinars, on-line courses, and labs. The topics might also need to be less conventional and to include open innovation, gaming, strategic foresight, participatory budgeting, use of artificial intelligence in civil service testing, organizational culture, or business models. Some of these might not be clearly based on the existing demand, but ACSH should complement demand-driven approach with promotion of new methods that might not be fully understood by participating countries as critical due to limited experience with those.

7

Two recent collaborations should be welcomed due to their innovative approach. The first one is with the UNDP Centre for Public Service Excellence which resulted in a joint publications. The second is the initiatives to connect several countries in a “Peer-learning Alliance”. 

These innovative partnerships initiatives should come to the forefront of ACSH efforts and spread to other participating countries and organizations. This is particularly important because the current collaborations within the ACSH network are mostly bilateral – and the intention of the Project was to support multi-lateral and multi-vector partnerships.

8

There is a great potential for growth of ACSH even in the scope of existing countries. To data, ACSH has not “penetrated” deeply into the organizations from its participating countries. If ACSH would engage with staff below the senior management, it would provide an opportunity for increasing the network manifold in terms of numbers, but also in terms of diversity of experiences and expertise. This would also contribute to creating a wide community of practice around the ACSH.With the increase of the number and diversity of countries involved in the ACSH, the project should support it in terms of developing proper user segmentation. This implies that different added values should be provided to countries with different needs – while still ensuring brand consistency of ACSH across the whole network. Moreover, different countries might need to have different roles and responsibilities in the ACSH, as well. This could lead to development of several “packages” of specific user-oriented services and partnership agreements.

9

The potential of the website (“portal”) is still not sufficiently used. It is still passive and based on one-way communications – with the forum launched but not active. The website could be used for sharing information – as mentioned above for more regular correspondence – bur also more strategically for dialogue, open research, and for sharing practices and innovations across all ACSH countries.For that purpose a comprehensive digital strategy should be developed by the Project for the ACSH. This strategy would address social media (which is currently used but not regularly) and how it should be integrated into the core ACSH business processes.

10

In terms of eventual new project supporting the ACSH, a different project design approach should be considered. Namely, for facilities such as ACSH conventional logical framework is not suitable. Instead, iterative programming with loose theories of change should be explored as an alternative.

1. Recommendation:

The main challenge for the Project results is that the original duration of 4 years has been shrunk to 3 years.

 Hence, the Project runs a risk of coming to the end without spending considerable part of the budget.

For that reason, the recommendation is to extend the Project for an additional year – and have the total of 4 years for implementation – as originally expected.

 

Management Response: [Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2016/12/20]

At the moment, the project is working on (no cost) extension of the duration until 2020 inclusively.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
To organize until the end of 2016 the Project Board meeting to discuss the project duration issue and other project related matters.
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/06/22]
Project staff 2017/03 Completed History
2. Recommendation:

Reporting should be improved – the existing quarterly and annual reports do not provide sufficient insight into more substantive aspects of the project. They report on the deliverables, but at least the annual report should include review of the strategic direction (and changing priorities), relevance and quality of certain activities.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/12/20]

In consultation with the UNDP CO M&E focal point the reporting will be improved

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
To include review of the project strategic directions and changing priorities into the annual report given the demand-driven nature of the ACSH
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/11/23]
Project staff 2017/12 Completed History
3. Recommendation:

The meetings of the Steering Committee and the Project Board ought to be made more regular. Those two structures are the only ones that provide strategic guidance and oversight of the Project and there has not been a meeting of either of those in 2016 (up to 1 October). Even on regular basis, there are not more than 2 meetings annually, which is certainly not sufficient – especially given the need for finally addressing strategic focus of the ACSH. Moreover, the Steering Committee meetings might benefit from engaging with a broader dialogue with larger number of participating countries on the strategic niche and the future of ACSH overall.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/12/20]

The Project Board meeting is planned at the end of December 2016. The next Steering Committee meeting is planned for April 2017 in frameworks of the ACSH annual conference.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
To conduct the Project Board meeting at the end of December 2016.
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/06/22]
Project staff 2017/06 Completed History
To conduct the Steering Committee meetings in April 2017 (during the annual conference) and in the second half of the year.
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/06/22]
Project staff 2017/06 Completed History
4. Recommendation:

The project might want to support ACSH in introducing flexible, fluid processes that would contribute to streamlining and improvement of efficiency.  These could take a form of optimized “protocols” (e.g. journey maps for user relations), as well as improvement of existing databases (possibly with some automatization) and knowledge management systems. Some of those business processes might be based on on-line, open innovation and crowdsourcing, as well as strategic foresight with tools such as Futurescaper. Finally, the ACSH would benefit considerably from an integrated digital strategy, as it is further explained under the communication below

Management Response: [Added: 2016/12/20]

There is always room for further streamlining and improving the internal processes. User relations, experience of participating countries with the Hub’s main service lines could be analyzed in order to further strengthen their ownership and satisfaction.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
New capacity is to be attracted into the project team in order to enhance the user relations, streamline business processes and digitalize the data base of knowledge products usage, peer learning experience.
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/06/22]
Project experts 2017/06 Completed History
5. Recommendation:

The Project should carefully consider the identification of activities in the area of research for 2017, including introducing more innovative methods such as prospective research, open source journal, and preparation of practical manuals/toolkits. Moreover, even translation of existing manuals/toolkits into Russian might provide a great benefit for its participating countries.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/12/20]

The identification of research activities for 2017 should be placed to the agenda of the Project Board meeting. Also the UNDP, key partners and government agencies should take part in identifying research directions and projects for 2017 that ensures research activities are demand-driven. While all research topics are drawn from the base line and needs assessment studies performed earlier, more innovative methods of research could be explored.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
To discuss project activities with key partners/government agencies
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/06/22]
Project staff 2017/06 Completed History
To complete translation of current research materials, especially the manuals and case studies stemming from the Innovative Solutions Scheme winners’ work, into Russian and send them to partners and participating countries
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/06/22]
Project experts 2017/06 Completed History
6. Recommendation:

The Project should consider emphasizing more innovative methods for learning in 2017. Moreover, there is weak progress on some of the previously planned activities such as preparation of standard courses or use of models such as webinars, on-line courses, and labs. The topics might also need to be less conventional and to include open innovation, gaming, strategic foresight, participatory budgeting, use of artificial intelligence in civil service testing, organizational culture, or business models. Some of these might not be clearly based on the existing demand, but ACSH should complement demand-driven approach with promotion of new methods that might not be fully understood by participating countries as critical due to limited experience with those.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/12/20]

In order to program innovative elements into our events such as to include gaming and foresight, the capacity building team needs to receive additional training in this growing field.  Not only gaming is virtually a non-existent concept in capacity building of civil servants in Kazakhstan, it is a concept that is hardly defined here.  Lack of infrastructure at our partners’ venues for artificial intelligence and other technical know-how makes it additionally difficult to weave in to our events.  However, when applicable and technically available and possible, the capacity building team will push for promotion of new methods with its partners.  One of the few examples of doing things the new way could be:

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Conducting workshops for civil servants using strategic foresight techniques, such as: Scenario Planning; Modeling or Gaming; and Future Search etc. by involving GCPSE/ UNDP or OECD etc. to develop and test methodologies for innovative planning, policy formulation and solution design methods.
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/11/23]
Project experts 2017/12 Completed History
Leveraging trainings with a long-term guest lecturer/resident expert (1-2 weeks) from the Hub’s participating countries to exchange ideas about best practices and challenges to Hub’s team. Additionally, develop an exchange or internship program with partners. Encourage/seek co-funding.
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/06/22]
Project staff 2017/06 Completed History
Conducting blended programmes for local civil servants by conducting face-to-face (traditional) courses for academics and practitioners from the Hub’s participating countries and weaving in webinars & online courses.
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/11/23]
Project staff 2017/12 Completed History
Producing at least 5 webinars with the Hub’s experts for the participating countries on current issues of civil service development. Conducting training of trainers on priority topics for capacity building and peer learning, and hence, nurturing regional trainers.
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/11/23]
project staff 2017/12 Completed History
7. Recommendation:

Two recent collaborations should be welcomed due to their innovative approach. The first one is with the UNDP Centre for Public Service Excellence which resulted in a joint publications. The second is the initiatives to connect several countries in a “Peer-learning Alliance”. 

These innovative partnerships initiatives should come to the forefront of ACSH efforts and spread to other participating countries and organizations. This is particularly important because the current collaborations within the ACSH network are mostly bilateral – and the intention of the Project was to support multi-lateral and multi-vector partnerships.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/12/20]

Project is discussing with representatives of UNDP GCPSE their research plans for 2017 and identifying possible areas for research cooperation and planning to establish more ‘peer-learning alliances’ based on the Effective Institutions Platform methodology among the participating countries.

All ACSH events are arranged, along with other objectives, in order to foster multilateral relations between expert and practitioner communities. In the meantime, it is highly important to maintain regular communication with each participating country and partner individually as well. These individual interactions lead to better collaboration, increased interest in ACSH events and project etc. 

The ACSH intends to capitalize on its growing partnership with UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence in the future too.

 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
To organize a skype meeting with the management of UNDP GCPSE and agree on research projects to work on for the year
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/06/22]
Project staff 2017/06 Completed History
Perform a regional study of the most pressing topics for the “peer-learning alliances” within participating countries in 2017. One obvious one is integrity and ethics in the civil service. Initiate at least two new peer learning alliances
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/06/22]
Project staff 2017/06 Completed History
8. Recommendation:

There is a great potential for growth of ACSH even in the scope of existing countries. To data, ACSH has not “penetrated” deeply into the organizations from its participating countries. If ACSH would engage with staff below the senior management, it would provide an opportunity for increasing the network manifold in terms of numbers, but also in terms of diversity of experiences and expertise. This would also contribute to creating a wide community of practice around the ACSH.With the increase of the number and diversity of countries involved in the ACSH, the project should support it in terms of developing proper user segmentation. This implies that different added values should be provided to countries with different needs – while still ensuring brand consistency of ACSH across the whole network. Moreover, different countries might need to have different roles and responsibilities in the ACSH, as well. This could lead to development of several “packages” of specific user-oriented services and partnership agreements.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/12/20]

Engaging the civil servants and scholars below the senior management level in the Hub’s participating countries might prove effective. Creating a data base of the director-general level practitioners from each of them and delivering tailor-made peer learning, capacity building and research activities for them might be useful.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Follow up after the finalization of the Hub’s consultant Karl O’Connor’s study of the norms and beliefs of the Hub participating countries and identify with each country of the region at least the different needs of the civil servants below the senior management.
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/06/22]
Project staff 2017/06 Completed History
9. Recommendation:

The potential of the website (“portal”) is still not sufficiently used. It is still passive and based on one-way communications – with the forum launched but not active. The website could be used for sharing information – as mentioned above for more regular correspondence – bur also more strategically for dialogue, open research, and for sharing practices and innovations across all ACSH countries.For that purpose a comprehensive digital strategy should be developed by the Project for the ACSH. This strategy would address social media (which is currently used but not regularly) and how it should be integrated into the core ACSH business processes.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/12/20]

Improve an integration of the web-portal with social networking. Now the Hub actively and regularly uses Facebook, which is a popular social network among the participating countries. Improve working on social networks as Twitter and Youtube and start working on other social networks (Instagram, Periscope, etc.). Use advertising, marketing campaigns (contests) for the website promotion

 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop and introduce email marketing products that we can produce (to promote the web-portal)
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/11/23]
Project experts 2017/12 Completed History
10. Recommendation:

In terms of eventual new project supporting the ACSH, a different project design approach should be considered. Namely, for facilities such as ACSH conventional logical framework is not suitable. Instead, iterative programming with loose theories of change should be explored as an alternative.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/12/20]

The right business model for the ACSH will be established through consultations with the Government of Kazakhstan and the Steering Committee the Hub.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Engage a consultant to facilitate the identification of the right business model for the ACSH. The most suitable increasingly appears to be the platform model
[Added: 2016/12/20] [Last Updated: 2017/06/22]
Project team 2017/06 Completed History

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