Good practices in development projects – Meta-assessment of projects within the Effectiveness and Performance Programme

Successful target-setting is of key importance to the effectiveness of the projects within the Effectiveness and Performance Programme. The NAOF recommends that the ministries prepare a shared principles-based evaluation model. Shared evaluation principles would support post-project evaluation of development projects and promote more systematic preparation and implementation of projects.

The Effectiveness and Performance Programme (VATU) implemented in 2012–2015 consisted of development projects carried out in different administrative branches and jointly monitored Government-level projects. The Programme included 238 measures and development projects, which aimed at a EUR 400 million productivity benefit by 2020.

By focusing on metal-level reviewing, the audit aimed to ensure that, when public administration is reformed, attention is paid not only to Government-level steering but also to factors enabling effective changes. In addition to good practices, the audit highlights the critical phases of development projects. Taking these critical phases into account ensures that the development is effective.

The audit identified several problems related to the preparation, targets and target-setting in the projects within the Effectiveness and Performance Programme. The connection between the target and the desired impact was seldom specified in the projects audited. The connection between the targets, set for the projects only in the implementation phase, and the strategic-level needs remained unclear. Another major problem was the lack of indicators for verifying the achievement of the targets. The problems in target-setting are partly explained by the lack of criteria supporting target-setting.

There are hardly any guidelines for the extensive project work of central government. The criteria for good performance targets described in Handbook on Performance Management (the Ministry of Finance, 2/2005) could be applied to the preparation of project work almost as such. The National Audit Office recommends that the ministries monitor and evaluate development processes from the perspective of the implementation of accountability, in addition to effectiveness, by reporting the project data produced by performance indicators.