Synergy Sponsors SID-Washington’s 2015 Annual Conference

Synergy was proud to be a sponsor of the 2015 Annual Conference of the Society for International Development (SID) Washington, D.C. Chapter.

SID is a global forum of individuals and organizations working in international development. This year’s conference, entitled “Evolving Development: Navigating Disruptive Change,” brought together nearly one thousand participants at the Washington Convention Center.

Synergy was also an exhibitor at the event, which gave us a great opportunity to engage in stimulating conversations about monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and technology.

Ghana’s Ministry of Finance selects Synergy DAD as the country’s platform for managing development assistance

Vienna, Virginia, USA – 24 March, 2015 – Ghana’s Ministry of Finance has selected Synergy to develop the country’s Aid Information Management System (AIMS), an online IT platform that will provide a comprehensive, real-time picture of the development assistance landscape in the country. In particular, the system will help the Ghanaian government to track aid flows, align them with country strategies, and ensure that projects are implemented effectively. This project is funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The Ghana AIMS will improve information exchange on planned and actual donor resource inflows, promote aid-on-budget planning, and monitor the alignment of Development Partner (DP) assistance to the national development plan. The system will facilitate the monitoring of aid flows, absorption rates, and project implementation to assess performance and ascertain results. On the basis of projected aid flows, the Ghanaian government will be able to properly plan the national budget.

“With the help of Ghana AIMS, the Ministry of Finance will be able to disseminate information to the public on development assistance and results, thereby improving government accountability and transparency to citizens” said Synergy’s Project Manager Emilia Khachatryan, who was recently in Accra, Ghana, to carry out the needs assessment mission.

The system will be powered by Synergy’s flagship AIMS solution, the Development Assistance Database (DAD). First launched in the late 1990s, DAD subsequently became the most widely adopted AIMS solution in the world.

Synergy Developing Peru’s National IT System against Illegal Timber Trafficking

Vienna, Virginia, USA – 12 March, 2015 –  USAID Peru and Chemonics International have engaged Synergy to implement the Control Module of the National Information System for Forestry and Wildlife (MC-SNIFFS) for the National Forest and Wildlife Service of Peru (SERFOR), which is intended to become the country’s primary source of forest information management.  This project is part of the larger USAID-funded Peru Bosques project implemented by Chemonics, a major international development company.

The envisioned online system will streamline national forestry management and reduce the trade of illegal species by effectively tracking the full chain of custody of forest products. This includes forest zoning and planning, concession management, annual harvest planning, and the issuance of transportation permits to verify the legal origin of timber exports.

To effectively develop the envisioned system and improve tracking of timber products, the Peruvian government, with support from USAID and the US Forest Service, first convened all 18 institutions and regional governments involved in the timber chain-of-custody.  These stakeholders collaboratively mapped out each institution’s business processes and documentation requirements, identifying overlaps between the institutions and improving the efficiency and consistency of information across ministries. The MC-SNIFFS will build on this foundation to consolidate and automate the execution of annual operating plans, timber harvest, transport and export, and finally the inspection and export of products.

“This large-scale project is aimed at tracking the legal origin and the proper chain of custody of tree species harvested from Peru’s forests from point of harvest to point of export. The system will yield greater transparency and accountability, enhancing the provision and effectiveness of forest sector governance in the country,” said Synergy’s Project Manager Adam Watson, who was recently in Lima, Peru, to carry out the needs assessment mission in Peru. The MC-SNIFFS will allow the Peruvian government to demonstrate compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The Peruvian government initiated the development of a National Forest and Wildlife Information System (SNIFF) after signing the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement in 2006, which took effect in February 2009.

Cambodian Government to monitor WASH sector performance with Synergy’s M&E solution

Vienna, Virginia, USA – 18 November, 2014 – The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) of Cambodia, the agency overseeing rural water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), needed a Management Information System (MIS) to effectively collect, monitor, and evaluate activities undertaken in the WASH sector.

Synergy International Systems has been selected to develop the envisioned MIS, which will be managed by the Ministry’s Rural Water Supply and Rural Sanitation and Hygiene departments. The system will initially be implemented in 11 districts across 5 provinces and later scaled throughout the entire country.

The MIS is expected to support the WASH sector’s project/program tracking, follow-up and evaluation functions through efficient and systematic data collection, collation, reporting and analysis. Crucially, it will allow the Ministry to measure sector performance and progress towards national WASH targets and objectives, in line with the sector Performance Monitoring Framework (PMF). The system will also serve an accountability purpose by enabling the Ministry to provide performance information to relevant stakeholders and the general public.

“Our main objective is to successfully deploy WASH MIS, which will increase the visibility and accuracy of WASH results data, supporting government departments and international donors in evidence-based planning and accelerate the achievement of the Cambodia Millennium Development Goals and national RWSSH Strategy/PMF results metrics” said Dr. David Kocharov, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation, who recently carried out the requirements definition phase of the project in Phnom Penh.

Synergy was awarded the project through a competitive international bidding by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The company recently developed and rolled-out a similar water sanitation MIS for the Government of Bangladesh.

Synergy to develop SPIS for National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) of Maldives

Vienna, Virginia, USA – 06 October, 2014 – The National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) of Maldives faces an ambitious mission: providing vital social assistance to persons in need across the country’s roughly 200 islands. The NSPA, supported by the World Bank, will soon manage these programs with the help of Synergy’s online Social Protection Information System (SPIS) in order to improve service delivery for Maldivians while saving time and lowering costs.

The Maldives SPIS will encompass NSPA’s Social Health Insurance program for single parents, foster parents and persons with disabilities, as well as in-kind assistance for electricity access and ad-hoc welfare fund assistance for persons in need.

The web-based SPIS will automate workflows for beneficiary applications, data collection and verification, official approvals, as well as payment and tracking of financial assistance. It will also allow NSPA to set conditions for assistance and automatically calculate recommended amounts of cash transfer payments to applicants. SPIS’ built-in analytics package will enable government policy makers to analyze key trends in the provision of social protection alongside key socio-demographic attributes of beneficiaries.

The Maldives SPIS is also expected to feature English and Dhivehi language options, and an offline option for government offices on islands and atolls where internet connectivity may be limited. The SPIS will also help NSPA to verify the accuracy of data, in collaboration with institutions such as the National Centre for Information Technology (NCIT); Department for National Registration (DNR); Courts of Maldives; Maldives Pension Administration Office (MPAO); Bank of Maldives and Ministry of Transport.

“Our goal with deploying SPIS is to empower the NSPA to better plan and organize social protection programs, and hence maximize their benefit to the citizens of Maldives themselves. By improving communication with the citizens of Maldives, the system will yield greater transparency and accountability, enhancing the provision and effectiveness of these critical social services” said the Project Manager Diana Gurzadyan.

Synergy was awarded the project through a competitive international bidding overseen by the World Bank. Synergy has developed a similar national social protection management information system for the government of Timor-Leste.

Synergy to Develop Rwanda’s International NGO Database

Vienna, Virginia, USA – 04 August, 2014 – Rwanda’s process for coordinating the many international NGOs working in the country is about to get a major overhaul. Rwanda’s Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration (DGIE) has engaged Synergy International Systems, Inc., a leading Washington, D.C. area software firm, to develop an Integrated INGO Database in order to better manage efforts to fight poverty and foster socioeconomic development.

The INGO Database, based on Synergy’s IDM™ platform, will enable DGIE to manage critical data on INGO projects in the country and also automate key areas of its interaction with INGOs. With a more complete picture of NGO activities and results around the country, DGIE will be able to identify gaps and overlaps in INGO efforts and improve the effectiveness of projects. This marks Synergy’s second project in Rwanda, alongside the Development Assistance Database (DAD) Rwanda operated by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MINECOFIN), supported by UNDP.

DAD Rwanda  is now recognized as an example of global best practices in how governments can use the DAD software product to set their development agenda, and promote transparency and accountability in international development efforts.

OCD to track Government of Philippines funded DRRM projects through new M&E Information System

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) of the Philippines recently launched its online information system for reporting emergencies and monitoring government-funded projects for disaster prevention and recovery. The importance of this system, officially called the Project Monitoring and Evaluation System for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (PMESD), has grown dramatically since Typhoon Yolanda, which caused widespread and unprecedented devastation in the Philippines.

This information technology initiative was motivated by the Philippine Government’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act of 2010, which introduced a series of institutional reforms aimed at improving how the government manages and mitigates the risks of natural disasters.

PMESD is designed to provide a comprehensive picture on the implementation, progress, and results of DRRM activities funded under the Government’s Calamity Fund. This government system will streamline the reporting of emergencies by local government units (LGUs) through an efficient online mechanism. It will also support results-driven decision making by OCD and other government agencies by providing critical real-time information on DRRM projects. Furthermore, the PMESD will enable citizens to submit their feedback on DRRM activities, thereby promoting government accountability and transparency.

In January 2014, Synergy trained OCD staff on the operation of the PMESD in preparation for the launch of the system. OCD will administer the PMESD, with regional and local OCD offices reporting to it on an ongoing basis. PMESD will also be capable of speaking with other government information systems in order to exchange data in an automated fashion and thereby prevent information silos from hindering the government’s DRRM policy making.

Synergy was awarded the PMESD project through a World Bank international competitive bidding. The project is funded by the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).

PROMMES: A powerful performance monitoring and evaluation tool for MCA-Philippines

The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)–Philippines will soon use the unifying Project Management and Monitoring and Evaluation System (PROMMES) as its primary tool for performance monitoring, analysis and reporting.

PROMMES will assist the MCA Philippines in effectively managing the five-year $434 million Compact approved by the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Government of Philippines in 2011. The compact includes programs supporting policy reforms, boosting infrastructure development, expanding community-driven development projects, and investing in capacity building and institutional strengthening.

More transparent and effective management of such development programs is a major priority in the Philippines. In the 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan, President Benigno S. Aquino III states: “The Philippine record of socioeconomic development has been slow and below par in comparison with our Asian counterparts. Despite episodes of positive growth, the benefits have yet to be felt by the majority of Filipinos.” He describes “good governance and anticorruption as the overarching theme of each and every intervention.”

Synergy International Systems has been developing PROMMES to support MCA-Philippines in making evidence-based decisions with rapidly retrievable and insightful data, and ensuring the impact-driven use of MCC investments. The system will be used by all stakeholders including, MCA-Philippines management and Board of Directors, implementing partners, and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

Prior to the PROMMES initiative, MCA-Philippines relied on a basic Document Management Systems (DMS). But the evolving number of large, cross-cutting projects carried out by various agencies—and the ensuing proliferation of data—spawned a vital need to establish an all-encompassing system that would provide a comprehensive and real-time analytical picture of the Compact performance and results.

“MCA-Philippines is excited about PROMMES’ impact on making our work more effective,” said MCA-Philippines MIS Director, Ms. Claricel Yuvienco. “We are enthusiastic about working with Synergy International Systems on this information system given their expertise in delivering similar systems for other MCA Compacts in Lesotho, Mozambique, and Tanzania.”

According to Dr. David Kocharov, Synergy’s Director of Monitoring & Evaluation, “The MCA-Philippines staff is very diligent, detail-oriented, and constructive in their work attitude.”

Kenya’s e-ProMIS system to manage national development budget

Beginning in the 2013 fiscal year, the Government of Kenya (GoK) has announced that e-ProMIS, the electronic Project Monitoring Information System, will be its main platform for managing the national development budget. “No project will be included in the budget if it is not captured in e-ProMIS,” said Kenyan Economic Secretary, Dr. Geoffery Mwau on behalf of Mr. Joseph Kinyua, Permanent Secretary of the Kenya Ministry of Finance (MoF), to participants in a user training retreat in Nairobi on April 2nd, 2013.

Initiated by the GoK in 2009, e-ProMIS currently tracks budget and performance data for 2000 programs and projects from 41 government agencies, mainly supporting the realization of Kenya’s Vision 2030. Christopher Oisebe, the MoF’s Chief Economist, explained that e-ProMIS bolsters the country’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), helping to reduce delayed and incomplete projects, as well as frequent cost over-runs. The web-based platform serves as a unified project information repository, allowing coordinated monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of national, county, and Constituency Development Fund (CDF) projects, alongside development partner activities.

e-ProMIS also reinforces new transparency and accountability measures outlined in Kenya’s 2010 Constitution, by providing public access to information on government spending. Dr. Mwau stated that enhancements to the system have been substantially informed by user feedback, as well as the Constitution’s new public financial management structures.

Mr. Oisebe noted, “Kenyans are asking for results: ‘You say that you are doing A, B and C, so what?’ Through e-ProMIS we have developed M&E reports like the Annual Progress, Public Expenditure, and Project Implementation reports, to update Kenyans on where we are, and how we are spending the tax payers’ money.”

Synergy Project Manager Emilya Khachatryan observed, “e-ProMIS is a truly ‘whole of government system’ that is fully integrated into the Government of Kenya’s existing processes. High level political support for a system of this breadth is quite remarkable.”

Kenya’s ultimate goal for e-ProMIS is full stakeholder ownership. “We do not just expect you to upload and update information in the system, but also to sensitize your colleagues and clients,” said Dr. Mwau. “The system allows you and the public to send comments to relevant authorities on how to increase accuracy of information and accountability. I urge you to be the e-ProMIS champions in your respective organizations.”

Comoros begins tracking foreign aid online

The development journey of Comoros has not been easy. Formally known as the Union of Comoros, this predominantly Muslim nation of four main islands has endured decades of political instability following its independence from French colonial power in 1975. Located at the northern mouth of the Mozambique Channel between Tanzania and Madagascar, Comoros is regularly exposed to natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions and flash floods. Also, most of its food and fuel must be imported.

With approximately 45 percent of its population living below the poverty line, Comoros is now beginning to systematically track its foreign assistance funds via the Development Assistance Database (DAD). The DAD Comoros officially launched 19 March, 2013 with funding from UNDP and the European Union.

DAD Comoros empowers the General Planning Commission of Comoros to track and analyze aid information from donors, ministries, and civil society organizations on Synergy’s integrated aid management information system. Ultimately, Comoros hopes to prepare the nation’s first foreign aid report in 2013.

The General Planning Commission of Comoros discovered the capabilities of the DAD during the DAD Community of Practice conference at Synergy’s Global Learning Center in 2011. Together with participants from around the world, they learned how DAD systems were implemented in other countries to manage aid information and progress toward national development goals.

“Despite facing many development challenges, Comoros shows not only a strong capacity to absorb knowledge, but also initiative in making aid data reporting a systematic endeavor,” remarks Synergy Project Manager, Rudolph Saint Jean.