The Directorate of Economic Affairs and Research (DEAR) was established in 1998 following the Public Service Restructuring with the main purpose of ensuring effective Policy, Program and Project implementation through a rationalized system for Policy analysis, formulation, monitoring and evaluation capable of formulating, implementing and monitoring programme performance according to the post constitutional restructuring reports of the Office of the President as revised in 2000.
Initially established as an independent Secretariat and advisory body on Economic Affairs to the Presidency in 1996, DEAR, was later transformed into a Government Directorate in 1998 following the Public Service Restructuring program
Since that time a lot of changes have taken place in the presidency and indeed the entire Government leading to role ambiguity and overlaps that warranted the Directorate with support from GIZ, to come up with a three-year strategic plan (2014/17) of which timeliness of implementation is already overdue thus the need for Development of a new five-year strategic plan. Among other recommendations, the 2014-17 strategic plan advocated for restructuring of the Directorate to enable it build capacity, better focus and align activities to the overall vision and mission of the Office of the President is pivotal.
Hence, the Directorate of Economic Monitoring and Research (DEAR) now Directorate of Social - Economic Monitoring and Research (DSEMR) changed its name following a comprehensive Review of Ministries, Departments and Agencies by the Ministry of Public Service and approved by Cabinet in 2017. In addition, a new structure of the Directorate was formed, of which implementation is ongoing, despite the existing challenges constraining its full scale operationalization.
This Directorate is expected to regularly and proactively monitor, inspect, evaluate and advise the president and Cabinet on the performance of the Economy with respect to implementation of Economic Policies, Projects and Programmes to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to achieve efficiency, effectiveness and efficacy in implementation; value for money and overall economic growth and development.
In specific terms, the Directorate’s efforts are guided by policy decisions and recommendations by government for over sight monitoring to achieve efficiency and efficacy for public resource utilization as well as elimination of red tape economic inefficiencies to promote economic growth and development.
Relationship to the Sector Strategic Investment Plan, National Development Plan, Vision 2040, Sustainable Development Goals, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
As the country looks to build on the gains from the previous years, bridge short falls as well as address emerging challenges in the economy, Uganda communicates its priorities both in terms of strategy and funding each year. These priorities must be in alignment with global commitments as well as national strategies notably the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Vision 2040 and the successive National Development Plans. Uganda’s current National Development Plan (NDP II) identifies infrastructure and human capital development as fundamental for the realization of its objectives.
Infrastructural development is indeed fundamental. The necessity for affordable and reliable energy as cornerstone for industrialization cannot be questioned. Increased use of energy supports value addition which is critical for the reduction of post-harvest losses, job creation and improving livelihoods. At a country level, adding value to Ugandan commodities also translates into increased competitiveness, and therefore better prices for Ugandan products. Investment in economic infrastructure potentially repositions the country to benefit better from its current agricultural comparative advantage in the region. At a regional level, Uganda’s focus on infrastructural development is in tandem with the country’s regional partners in the East African Community (EAC), which have all prioritized infrastructural development to boost their competitiveness as well as regional trade. Improving transport systems eases connectivity and facilitates movement of goods and services to markets within the region and even beyond.
However, to note, is that Infrastructure development should be inclusive and people centered. People-centered infrastructure takes into account the needs of the local community and the environment before the developers and policy implementers. It can be achieved by aligning the National Vision with the National Development Plan, policies, strategies and legislation with the national spatial plans and local-area plans. Therefore, the role of Infrastructure in leaping Uganda into a middle income country, cannot be more emphasized than the need to rethink a more inclusive strategy towards achieving this objective. Inclusivism requires that policy decisions should be conceived, developed, and embedded within local policy contexts.
The Second National Development Plan (NDP II) objectives for the Public Administration Sector aim at improving policy development and implementation effectiveness across all priority sectors; improving the national M&E systems for increased service delivery, efficiency, and effectiveness; improving systems, infrastructure and capacity of the sector secretariat; Strengthening regional and International Relations for development; Attracting new investment opportunities in infrastructure and mineral development and secure markets for Uganda’s product; increasing the human capital stock in the NDP II priority areas, as well as improving democracy and governance for increased national stability.
In specific terms and as detailed in the National Standard Indicator Framework November 2017, the Office of the of the President, and more particularly the Directorate of Socio- Economic Research and Monitoring (DSEMR) is charged with Oversight Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Inspection of policies, programs, and projects for improved service delivery of which performance should be indicated by percentage of recommendations implemented by Ministries, Districts and Local Governments through Monitoring & Inspection in form of Economic policy recommendations implemented.
Critical to the transformation of the country as envisaged in Vision 2040, the sector intends to create an enabling environment through provision of effective public administration and policy management, strengthening of commercial and economic diplomacy, deepening democracy and governance, as well as promoting national peace and security consistent with the priority areas under the NDP II.
In addition, the post-2015 agenda promotes the exchange of knowledge and mutual learning, as an instrumental role in examining lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals, while assessing the transition into the post-2015 agenda, considering implementation issues, exploring the scope of a renewed global partnership and inviting youth to share their views on their future; through high level political dialogues, Development Cooperation Forums, high level policy dialogues, integration segments, and other operational activities for development segment.
Hence, the South-South cooperation serves as an effective modality for the exchange of capacity building, technology and know-how among developing countries. Both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda welcome the increased contribution of South-South cooperation to poverty eradication and sustainable development.
Therefore, the justification for increased oversight Monitoring and Evaluation of key priority areas of not only the beneficiaries but more importantly the implementers; as aligned to both the national and global development agendas, in this regard need not be emphasized, if impact and uptake of such interventions as to improve livelihoods of any society is to be considered critical and fundamental to growth and development of any society.
Strategic Oversight Positioning
The Directorate is strategically placed in the Office of the President under the political leadership of the Hon. Minister of State for Economic Monitoring (MSEM). Therefore, the Directorate reports directly to Cabinet and to His Excellency the President, as regards to uptake of recommendations from various players on any outstanding issues, for either policy direction and guidance, development as well as immediate administrative action, where necessary.
The Directorate has two departments i.e. The Department of Economic Affairs, Policy and Research; and the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). The Directorate works closely with the field technical and appointed officers placed in each district to oversee effective service delivery and uptake of key policy directives, guidelines, technical guidance, as well as programme and project implementation.
It is also notable to mention that, the Directorate is charged with taking a leading role in facilitating economic policy dialogue and meetings with all players including Development Partners, Civil society, private sector players and all other state and non-state actors to address implementation gaps in liaison with other policy implementation actors.
The mandate of the Office of the President is “To take lead in Public Policy Management and good Governance for National Development “which is consistent with the functional M&E Institutional Role and Responsibility No.5 of the Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy for the 2nd National Development Plan 2015/16- 2020/21 attributed to Office of the President as being responsible for “Conducting independent result reports on performance of Key government policies, programs and projects’’.
The Directorate’s mandate is “to monitor, inspect and evaluate key government policies, programs, and projects and provide evidence based support policy reports to aid for effective implementation”
The same role is emphasized in the National Policy and Policy Sector Monitoring and Evaluation which states that the Office of the President is responsible for conducting monitoring of Key Government Programs to generate policy advice for cabinet and the President.
The Primary Functional Objective for DESMR is “Ensuring that Key Government Policies, Programs and Projects are adequately monitored and evaluated in line with strategic objective No.3 of the Strategic Plan for Office of the President which is “Improve policy development and implementation across Government” in fulfilment of the mission of Office of the President.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy for the 2nd National Development Plan (2015/16 – 2019/20) streamlines the key responsibilities of key actors in the monitoring and evaluation function in order to avoid over-laps, role conflict and uncertainty during the implementation of the NDP.
The functional responsibilities of the Directorate as sub-divided into the two departments, have been summarised below as follows;
Functions of Department of M&E
Functions of Department of SER
Take overall leadership and oversight of the plan to ensure attainment of national goals.
Convene the national M&E forum
Conduct policy dialogues for effective service delivery
Facilitating participation in accountability efforts through local government forums
Conducting independent result based Monitoring and Evaluation reports on the performance of key government policies, programs, and projects
Mobilising and sensitising the population through electronic and print media to own national development goals and empower them to give feedback on performance
Undertake oversight Monitoring and Evaluation on performance of government projects, programs, policies as well as assess the impact of Government interventions in key sectors.
Analysis of key Economic growth and development Policies while identifying new Policy trends and prospects for effective implementation;
Collaborate with respective line MDAs to analyse, initiate, formulate and review both new and existing Economic Policies to identify lapses and make actionable recommendations for improved policy implementation;
Identification of Policy bottlenecks, Policy implementation gaps and formulation of recommendations to address the challenges in form of “Policy Brief Notes” and “Cabinet information papers”;
Conducting Policy Performance Evaluation on selected Government Policies aimed at improving effectiveness.
Establishment of a sustainable mechanism for independent evaluation of selected key Economic Policies, Programs and Policies.
Take a leading role in facilitating Economic Policy dialogue meetings to address implementation gaps in liaison with other Policy implementation actors.
Responsible for spot inspection or policy review as requested by the responsible Minister on emerging social economic issues affecting communities.
A new strategy for Development
The Government of Uganda has overtime committed to respond to the requirements of different International, Continental and Regional Development Frameworks like the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development under the notion “Living No One Behind”, African Agenda 2063 which is "A global strategy to optimize use of Africa's resources for the benefit of all Africans" and the East African Community Integration Protocols. At national level, the Government strives to achieve Vision 2040, to “Transform the Ugandan society from peasant to a modern prosperous country within 30 years” and this is expected to be achieved through implementation of a series of National Development Plans (NDPs).
In order to track achievements related to the vast requirements of the development frameworks, the National Planning Authority (NPA) developed the NDP Results Framework to guide monitoring and evaluation processes. In terms of Financing, the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) migrated from the Output Based Budgeting Tool(OBT) to the Programme Based Budget System (PBBS) and the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is strengthening performance measurement of the public sector through the Government Annual Performance Reviews (GAPR).
Cognizant of these developments, it would serve a basic assumption that the operationalization of government policies and programs is improving state effectiveness. However, it is important to note that a number of challenges faced by implementing entities, and the intended beneficiaries are still out rightly prevalent thus constraining the effective actual implementation of these policies, programs, and projects.
The findings and recommendations of the monitoring and evaluation activities of the first National Development Plan (NDP I) and the independent monitoring activities carried out by this Office and several other development partners have revealed inconsistences, incomparability and gaps in the approach, methodology, data and indicators produced and submitted by MDAs to the oversight agencies for use in Policy making and eventual implementation.
Hence, the principle that research can best inform policy decisions when it is conceived, developed, and embedded within local policy contexts, is and has not yet been fully strengthened, neither is it arguable to suggest that it is being reflected in many existing policies and guidelines, for guidance and proper implementation. Needless to emphasize, is the socio- economic and financial cost of negating this principle, as evidently as has been revealed.
More so, the Monitoring and Evaluation findings and recommendations underline the need to define a national set of indicators to address this challenge and facilitate evidence based policy interventions across government key areas in form of planning, budgeting, resource allocation and performance measurement in various government policies and programmes for Inclusive Development evidenced by uptake and impact. This is critical for program and project implementing entities.
In line with this, the Government of Uganda through Office of the President has set out to take lead in establishing and facilitating evidence based research in Policy formulation, and implementation, as well as programme and project implementation across government priority areas. This is intended to facilitate the concept of inclusive growth in Policy and programme implementation for planning, budgeting, resource allocation and performance measurement for various government policies as well as track progress towards achieving the National Development Priorities and commitments to International, Continental and Regional development frameworks.
 Page 21 under the section of M&E Institutional Roles and Responsibilities of “Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy for the 2nd National development Plan 2015/16-2019/20”, 2015.
As adopted from the Directorate’s Strategic Plan 2014/15-2016/17 and the Strategic Plan for the Office of the President
 .Page 17 of the National Policy on Public Sector Monitoring and Evaluation Published by the Office of the Prime Minister, 2013.