LEADER Monitoring and Evaluation
4. Governance and coordination
What is meant by the governance and coordination of monitoring and evaluation, why is it important?
This refers to how LAGs evaluation processes1 will be managed and organised systematically. This involves coordinating the interaction of the different elements (the actors and actions) to ensure that they fit together as effectively and efficiently as possible. In planning for their own monitoring and evaluation activity LAGs should therefore describe the organisation of their monitoring and evaluation system and identify the main bodies2 involved and their responsibilities. This should explain how their evaluation activities are coordinated in bringing together implementation and evaluation and embedding this in the overall delivery system to link their Local Development Strategy (LDS) with the Rural Development Programme (RDP).
What are the key considerations for LAGs in setting their system up?
LAGs have to be able to reconcile two different elements in the system and two rather different forms of evaluation.
- Local Development Strategy monitoring and evaluation normally takes place at the local level tracking and linking project achievements to the LDS. Local participation is therefore a priority here including self-evaluation which is encouraged as part of the LEADER process. LAG involvement is likely to include LAG staff, LAG members, intermediary/accountable bodies, beneficiaries.
- LAGs also have to consider where they fit in the monitoring and evaluation of their LDSs’ contribution to the RDP, what data needs to be provided, when, how, etc. This involves the other bodies involved in the (vertical) delivery system, i.e. the Managing Authority (MA) and Paying Agency (PA) roles, intermediary/accountable bodies, National Rural Network (NRN) and other actors.
For both these elements LAGs need to think about how they are going to organise their involvement, what data and how will be collected and what systems and tools will be put in place to make sure the necessary pieces are ready and in place when they are needed. Key questions LAGs should consider in the planning include;
- What are the processes?
- What are the necessary tasks and roles?
- Who needs to be involved?
- Who does what and when?
- How do these things all relate to each other?
The priority here is therefore for clear definition and allocation of monitoring and evaluation roles and responsibilities within the LAG and LDS processes and procedures.
LAGs and Mas need to keep in mind and organize a system for sharing information and reporting according to minimum output indicators related to LEADER set on European level: Population covered by LAG, number of LAGs selected, number of project supported, type of project holders supported, number of cooperation projects supported by LAG3.
How can LAGs organise all this to manage these processes and help these elements complement each other?
One of the first things LAGs should do is establish what support and guidance is available to them from their MA, NRN or more widely to help them with their monitoring and evaluation activities. In developing this support and guidance the MA or NRN should take account of the guidance and good practice examples available from the variety of sources, the EC, ENRD, Evaluation Helpdesk etc.
LAGs should also consider their own and wider experience to identify any good practice, things to avoid or other lessons from the last programming period which may be incorporated into the new system.
Experience suggests that the use of an evaluation steering group or subcommittee as one of the LAG organizational mechanisms is an excellent way to strengthen and coordinate local involvement in monitoring and evaluation and establish links to the LAG. Members can possibly be LAG members, partners, and staff. Forming such a group provides the LAG with a structure for managing these processes and this can be introduced at an early stage in LDS development to help guide the overall approach.
Representatives from national or regional authorities or the NRN may also be involved strengthening and streamlining links to the vertical evaluation governance structure and providing a basis for wider coordination.
Such steering groups also provide a mechanism for involving a range of different actors in the process and for introducing specialist knowledge and skills. They can also play an important role in contributing to the exchange of best practice. This is particularly important where LAGs propose implementing participative or self-evaluation types of approach.
A useful tool for LAGs in designing their monitoring and evaluation system is to map out the processes, timelines, structures and those involved. The use of mapping tools such as flow diagrams, swim lane diagrams or organograms are all useful approaches.
How can this be coordinated and supported at the RDP or national level?
Specific LEADER or evaluation working groups provide an important mechanism for coordinating evaluation activities and approaches, disseminating information, developing or exploring new approaches, sharing experience and providing peer support. These can be brought together as short life groups or on a regular basis either at the initiative of the MA, NRN or the LAGs themselves. MS in the past have set for example Permanent Working Groups on LEADER as part of their Monitoring Committees of the RDPs.
1 The monitoring and evaluation system comprises the actors, activities and mechanisms set up to monitor and evaluate RDP implementation, in this case including the LDS.
2 The bodies involved include Managing Authority, Monitoring Committee, Paying Agency, LAGs, National Rural Network, beneficiaries), and may include e.g. an evaluation unit or an evaluation Steering Group (at LAG or RDP level).
3 DG AGRI: WORKING DOCUMENT FOR THE RURAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE, Updated version, (May 2014)