The objective of this assessment is to provide tangible information on the impact of the MENA-OECD Governance Programme Centre. It should be noted that the intervention provided from the Center since its establishment in 2012 goes further than mere “training”. The Centre distinguishes itself by a high political value to support MENA countries’ institutions towards the path of good governance, a strategic priority of the OECD and of the Italian Government.
This assessment might also serve to design a tool to assess public policy frameworks and to monitor progress in policy implementation over time.
Firstly, the analysis of the initiatives conducted by the MENA-OECD Centre show a high rate of compliance with the purposes originally planned in the MOU, by SNA and OECD as well as a coherence with the socio-economic and institutional goals of MENA countries as defined in policy documents of the MENA-OECD Governance Programme (i.e. the programme’s priorities and the MENA-OECD Ministerial Conferences declarations). Thus, the Centre has been highly relevant to support the strategic objectives of the MENA-OECD Governance Programme.
Secondly, the Centre has been successful in building the needed capacities, promoting change and creating regional and international networks as conditions for policy practitioners from the region to design and implement public governance policy reforms. The first objective of the programmes (“learning”) is being met as the training has increased the participants’ knowledge on the following topics: transparency, accountability, open government, PPP, strategic planning and budget expenditure policies, public procurement – within the general focus to foster good governance in the MENA region. The assessment of the pre-training and post-training test shows that the major part of the participants have significantly improved, or have improved, the specific knowledge of topics related to the training activities. The advances in public financial management reform in Tunisia or open government in Morocco show that policy practitioners are translating newly acquired expertise in public governance reforms.
In line with the second objective, the training courses and other networking events organized by the Centre contribute to strengthened mutual awareness of being part of a supranational network in which the differences, in regard to cultural, socio-economic, political background, are valorized as useful elements for a human and professional common growth. A large number of trainees, indeed, have established permanent or occasional contacts with other colleagues from the MENA Region. In this sense, mutual learning has contributed to common approaches in the region. For example, the Regional Network of Public Procurement Officials has benefitted from the Centre’s activities. The courses also helped the participants develop a common understanding of the issues surrounding good governance, open government, public procurement, etc. Another example of the impact of the Centre’s work includes the development of a regional study on Digital Government Strategies in the MENA region which was facilitated through regional dialogue, and which identified common trends and common challenges in benchmarking countries against OECD Recommendations.
Finally, the activities organized by the Centre have tangibly reinforced international cooperation, by expanding the OECD network of mutually supportive public policy managers, generally able to produce tangible improvements in their administrations, in terms of internal organization, administrative procedures, developing of soft skills, etc. In general, the participants believe that capabilities and skills have been significantly improved or have been improved by the training activities. The data revealed that those who performed liaison functions for their institutions after having taken the training or experience were more likely to have applied aspects of the training/simulations in public policies put in place. For example Libyan public officials were introduced to OECD standards and principles and reported on the practicality of the training post-workshop. The training and networking events of the Centre have thus been crucial element of implementation support complementing the MENA-OECD Governance Programme’s policy analysis and advice – a finding which has been confirmed by the annual evaluations of the Programme in the framework of the MENA-OECD Steering Group Meetings.