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New Monitoring Technology helps to boost PNG Government’s accountability

Port Moresby, June 21, 2016 – Timely reporting on public expenditure across PNG has improved by 41% within the last 3 months, since PNG’s Department of Finance introduced a new monitoring and evaluation tool. Before the introduction, only 9 districts out 89 submitted reports on time, now the number increased to 37 districts.

The progress is significant to the Department of Finance, which faces serious backlogs in receiving financial reports from 600 government accounts it manages, with some districts delaying reports for over 50 months.
To improve its financial reporting and control functions, Department of Finance with UNDP support launched new management system that aims to boost efficiency, transparency and accountability.
The system is an information database that captures financial reports coming from the provinces and districts and produces real-time status updates. The timeliness of submissions is reflected in three colours: green (on time submission), yellow (moderate delay – 3-6 month,) and red (critical - 7 and more month delay). The updates are reflected on big TV screens, installed across the Department of Finance, including the office of the Secretary.
Secretary of the Department of Finance, Dr. Ken Ngangan endorses the initiative: “I start my day by looking at the updates and we have a positive feedback in terms of increasing the number of reporting. Initially people were reluctant to engage, but when we publicly showed were they are, many districts started to come forward, because they did not want to look bad in front of everyone. While reporting is mandatory and required by the legislation, people have not been following this requirement. Now, when the system shows information publicly, many people feel the pressure and make efforts to perform better than before. With this tool we hope to develop the culture of reporting”.
“We feel that our performance is now being monitored closely. There is a tool that follow us. Every time we come to the office we see our information on the screens everywhere in the Department. It gives us motivation to get things done”- says Joe Warapio, Provincial Treasurer from Enga Province.
The tool is also expected to help addressing more complex issues, which are the root-cause of the delays. For example, in some provinces, the delay is caused because staff on the ground lacks technical capacity: “In the province where I worked, provincial treasurer never touched a computer. People didn’t know how to use emails, Word, Excel. They could not do the reporting and therefore the province is in red in our table”, says Kenneth Llamera, ICT Advisor at the Department of Finance.
With the introduction of new monitoring and evaluation system, Department of Finance can see the critical areas which need support and intervention. “Each province can have different problems - it can be an issue of capacity, lack of staff or attitude. Now when we can see which those critical “red” districts are, we can ask their provincial treasurers directly what’s the issue and address it”, Secretary of the Department of Finance, Dr. Ken Ngangan.
It is planned that the tool, currently supported by UNDP’s Provincial Capacity Building program, will be gradually handed over to the Department of Finance. One of its divisions has already expressed their interest in taking over the system for further maintenance.
Program’s Chief Technical Specialist, Tito Balboa says it’s a sign of success. “We are happy that the monitoring and evaluation tool is already in demand. Now we are in a pilot phase, but after we develop it, add more features, fix all the processes we will handover it to the Department”.
Supported by the Australian Government, this work is part of UNDP’s larger initiative, which works in 13 provinces of Papua New Guinea to build financial management capacity of provincial treasuries, providing them with on the job trainings, mentoring and coaching support.
In the last 6 years, the programme has trained more than 5000 staff and opened 10 computer labs in the provinces. The programme was also able to support several Department of Finance strategic priorities, including implementation of PEFA international standards; launch of cashless policy and the country’s adherence to the global “Better Than Cash Alliance”, championing “Phones Against Corruption” initiative, which was recognized by UNDP as one of the most innovative interventions in the Asia and Pacific region.

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