Government of Sri Lanka Launches INDIS

On June 14, 2011, the Government of Sri Lanka launched the Integrated National Development Information System (INDIS), a web-based application developed by Synergy for the Ministry of Finance and Planning to manage the entire portfolio of development projects, be they financed by domestic or external resources. The launch was attended by senior government officials, including Dr. P. B. Jayasundera, the Secretary of the Treasury, and Mrs. Malanie Gamage, the Director General of Foreign Aid and Budget Monitoring. Synergy has been working with the Government of Sri Lanka, in close collaboration with UNDP, since the 2004 Asian Tsunami, which heavily affected the country. In 2005, the Ministry of Planning established the Development Assistance Database (DAD) Sri Lanka to track the thousands of post-tsunami assistance projects. From 2005-2010, the system went through successive stages of evolution, from initially tracking only post-tsunami reconstruction to eventually covering the entire external assistance portfolio. But the existence of multiple related but disconnected information systems imposed a serious management burden on the Sri Lankan government. Therefore, the government decided to establish a truly integrated enterprise M&E information system that would provide a complete picture of government performance and national development. Indeed, INDIS goes beyond project monitoring; it also helps assess the performance of ministries and sectoral developments, as well as being a searchable e-registry of all project evaluations.

The INDIS is, at its core, a decision-support tool designed to enable policymakers to assess project performance and results in real-time and take decisions on corrective actions and resource allocation. And its establishment comes at the right time, as the government has recently rolled out a number of key capital investment projects in water resources, energy, and road development.

A major part of the INDIS project was to integrate various government information systems into one unified system to achieve efficient information management, coupled with advanced analytical and reporting capabilities. In his remarks during the launch ceremony, Dr. Fredrick Abeyratne, Senior Programme Analyst of UNDP, thanked Synergy “for doing a wonderful job of integrating systems…and adding new features.”

Government of Iraq Launches the Iraq Development Management System

On June 16, 2011, the Government of Iraq launched the Iraq Development Management System (IDMS) at a high-level ceremony in Baghdad. The event was sponsored by the Iraqi Prime Minister Mr. Nouri Al-Maliki and attended by ministers, governors, and deputy ministers, as well as over ten ambassadors.

The IDMS is a comprehensive bilingual (Arabic/English) web-based application that manages the whole cycle of government and donor-funded development projects in Iraq. It allows ministries to plan, manage, and monitor the full lifecycle of capital investment projects from start to finish in an online environment. It is designed to help monitor the implementation of Iraq’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2010-2014, which envisages about 3000 development projects with a total value of $100 billion over five years.

At a deeper level, this innovative government tool marks a break with paper-based forms of capital investment planning and monitoring used to date, which tended to be burdensome and vulnerable to misuse of public funds. By contrast, the IDMS is an electronic tool that allows real-time collection, analysis, and reporting of development data. Also, by being publicly accessible on the Internet, it can advance government transparency and accountability by showing how public resources are being spent and what development results are being achieved.

According to Christine McNab, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, “the IDMS is a major reform of part of the public sector and an ambitious e-governance application,” and it would not have been possible without “the technical prowess of Synergy International Systems.” It was designed and developed by Synergy for the Ministry of Planning in 2010, with assistance and funding from USAID/Tatweer, UNDP, UNOPS, the EU, and the Government of Spain.

The IDMS builds upon the highly successful Development Assistance Database (DAD), which Synergy developed in 2005 for the Ministry of Planning to manage external assistance for Iraq’s post-conflict reconstruction. Following the successful federal-regional arrangement adopted for the DAD, IDMS will be accompanied by a regional application for the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the two applications will be fully synchronized.

Synergy will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Planning to ensure that all Ministries, Governorates, and donor organizations use the system effectively so as to perform their functions and meet their information needs.

Synergy Participates in Moldova’s AIMS Workshop

In May 31st, 2011, Synergy participated in a workshop on aid information management systems (AIMS) in Chisinau, Moldova. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss ways to improve the Moldovan government’s existing AIMS, known as Integrated Data on External Assistance (IDEA). With the support of UNDP, the State Chancellery of Moldova brought together representatives from the central public administration authorities, development partners, the civil society, and international vendors of AIMS. During the workshop, Synergy shared its experience and know-how in setting up long-running and successful AIMS in various countries.

The workshop reflected the Moldovan government’s commitment to promoting aid transparency and predictability and an evidence-based approach to development assistance.

Synergy to Develop M&E Clearinghouse for USAID Somalia

In April 2011, the partnership of IBTCI and Synergy was awarded a contract for the USAID Somalia Monitoring and Evaluation Project (SMEP) under the USAID Evaluation IQC (Indefinite Quantity Contract). The primary objective of the SMEP is to provide on-the-ground performance monitoring, reporting and evaluation of USAID activities. Synergy will provide the Mission with a comprehensive, Web-based M&E Clearinghouse to track project achievements against overall stabilization goals through a variety of tools for online data collection, analysis, and reporting. This will allow USAID/Somalia to manage its project portfolio, analyze program level geographic and sectoral impacts, and make informed decisions about program management.

Synergy completed an initial needs assessment from 7-20 July 2011. With the information gathered from Mission staff and implementing partners (IPs), Synergy will design and develop the M&E system, which will enable all IPs to report data directly into the online system. The system will include a GIS module for tracking activity locations, funding commitments and disbursements, project status updates and geographic and sectoral outputs. It will also track progress toward Assistance Objectives and outcomes at the Intermediate Result (IR) level, and will help USAID consolidate data to produce quarterly and annual reports.

This five year program is valued at approximately $5-6 million.

Synergy Trains MCA-Lesotho, MCA- Mozambique and MCA-Tanzania on Management Information Systems

In the spring of 2011, Synergy provided training to the Millennium Challenge Accounts in Lesotho, Mozambique, and Tanzania on the effective use of their recently established Management Information Systems (MIS). The MIS is a web-based database system that stores, analyzes, and reports mission-critical data to support results-based management.

The training served to reinforce the capacity of MCA staff on various aspects of the MIS, from data reporting and validation to analytics and reporting. As explained by MCA Lesotho’s MIS Manager, Mr. Litlhokoe Mohlomi, “MCA Lesotho has many sections with specific tasks; MIS helps bring information about those tasks together to show the bigger picture”. Using both theory and practical facilitation methods, various groups of MCA staff got to see the ins and outs of the MIS. Part of the training consisted of the interactive sessions that enabled participants to familiarize themselves with the MIS by performing analytical and reporting exercises.

It is important to note that each MIS is specifically tailored to the particular needs and requirements of the given MCA. Synergy staff continues to travel to Lesotho, Mozambique, and Tanzania to enhance the MIS capacities of these MCA, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that the MCAs will fully manage the MIS by themselves in the future.

Training to Donors on DAD Nigeria

In April 2011, Synergy conducted a week-long training in Abuja as part of the ongoing implementation of Development Assistance Database (DAD) Nigeria. DAD Nigeria is the federal government’s central information system on all external assistance to the country. The training marked the beginning of an intensive capacity development phase following the set-up of the actual online system, which is now fully operational.

Synergy experts trained about 15 donor focal points who have been tasked by their respective agencies to use the system to regularly report data on their development projects. Trainings were also provided to government users and particularly the DAD Nigeria Team of the National Planning Commission (NPC), in such areas as system administration, user management, data validation, and the production of analytical reports. Synergy will continue to work closely with the NPC, as well as the UNDP Country Office, to support the capacity of the Nigerian government to manage the system in a way that ensures the availability of timely and accurate data and that makes policy-relevant information readily available to decision-makers.

MCA Tanzania Contracts Synergy to Deliver M&E MIS

The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Tanzania has awarded Synergy a contract to develop its Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Management Information System (MIS). The M&E MIS will enable MCA Tanzania to efficiently collect, analyze, and report data on the implementation and performance of the Compact. Launched in 2008, the $698 million Tanzania Compact is the largest compact to date awarded by Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Synergy has extensive experience working with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and various MCC Compact countries to improve their monitoring & evaluation (M&E) capacities through innovative and proven web technology tools. Synergy was awarded similar contracts to the implement M&E MIS for MCA-Armenia, MCA-Lesotho, and MCA-Mozambique.

Mauritania Implementing DAD

Synergy was recently awarded a contract to implement the Development Assistance Database (DAD) Mauritania, which will be the Mauritanian government’s one-stop-shop information system on all external assistance projects and activities funded by development partners. The system will be fully customized to meet the specific requirements of the government, and it will be available online in Arabic and French.

The Mauritanian delegation of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Development recently participated in the 2011 DAD Community of Practice in Armenia, where they had the opportunity to learn about the experience of other countries in setting up DAD systems for managing and monitoring external assistance and public investment projects. The DAD Mauritania project is financed by UNDP.

The Government of Rwanda: Expanding the DAD for Better Decision Making

In December 2010, at the invitation of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) of the Government of Rwanda, Synergy staff carried out a needs assessment for the expansion of the Development Assistance Database (DAD). The DAD has been the Government’s aid information management system since its implementation in March 2006, and has continued to evolve over time to serve the needs of MINECOFIN.

The mission focused on how to best position the DAD, both technically and programmatically, to serve the primary goals of the Government in both the immediate and long-term future. These include the capture of all external assistance data within the national budget; the integration of the DAD with the Government’s Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS); as well as more effectively linking specific project results and development expenditures with national strategic goals.

Rwanda is currently a remarkable model in Africa when it comes to the relationship between external assistance management and national development results. Assisted by the DAD, the External Finance Unit within the MINECOFIN can provide institutions within the government with the necessary data on external financing and projects, thus allowing these institutions to better target their own interventions and allocate their resources.

It is Synergy’s long-held view that national ownership is paramount to the success of DAD. We aim to continue working closely with the Government of Rwanda to support its DAD Team, promote the participation of other government institutions, and improve data collection processes and the quality of information to enhance the Government’s decision-making capabilities.

Results-Oriented Governance Efforts in Iraq and Sri Lanka

In the age of global austerity, governments are increasingly interested in linking spending to results. Interestingly, developing countries are, in some ways, at the forefront of the trend toward results-oriented governance. The governments of Iraq and Sri Lanka are in the processes of setting up sophisticated systems to plan, implement, and monitor public investment projects—development projects funded under the government’s capital budget. The overarching purpose of both initiatives is to promote a culture of informed decision-making, where decisions about capital investment funding are based on performance and results.

In Iraq, Synergy is developing a new, comprehensive Iraq Development Management System (IDMS) to help the Iraqi Government plan, implement, and monitor and evaluate the entirety of the country’s capital budget which, comprising domestic as well as external resources, is estimated at around $200 billion over the next 5 years.

This project builds upon the successful implementation of the Development Assistance Database (DAD) Iraq, which, established in 2005, served as the Government’s online repository of information and analytical and reporting tool on donor contributions to Iraq’s post-conflict reconstruction and development. DAD will now be integrated into the new system.

The Ministry of Planning, which used to manage DAD, is the government agency responsible for IDMS, with the support of UNDP, USAID, and UNOPS. A highly innovative aspect of IDMS is its Business Process Management (BPM) component, which will automate key business processes pertaining to externally-funded and government investment projects. The BPM will allow ministries, provincial authorities, donors and other stakeholders to submit, review, and approve or reject project requests online through IDMS. Thus, it will serve as a standardized and open mechanism for Iraqi public entities involved in capital investment management.

In Sri Lanka, Synergy is developing the government’s Integrated National Development Information System (INDIS), which, similar to the Iraqi system, will be the unified system on development projects funded by donors and the national government. Moreover, the system will contain an advanced performance monitoring capability to track the performance and results of specific projects and activities as well as, at a broader level, of public entities and sectors. INDIS will be housed and managed by the Foreign Aid & Budget Monitoring Department of the Ministry of Finance and Planning, with the support of UNDP.

The Sri Lankan case is instructive for it describes the general situation in many countries and how governments can go about to change it. Prior to the INDIS initiative, the government had set up different systems that managed different aspects of the overall development agenda—a system for managing external assistance projects, another for public investment projects, and yet another for government evaluations of projects. But having separate systems that did not speak with each other resulted in silos of information, making it hard to get a full and clear picture of the country’s development landscape. Thus, the Sri Lankan Government decided to create INDIS in order to have a unifying platform with real-time and reliable data, which could then promote evidence-based and strategic decision-making on national development.

In both countries, Synergy is focusing on capacity development. We are working closely with the lead government agency to train its staff as well as users in other public entities to make sure they can fully use and manage the system.