Centralization is increasingly a trend in government management. Public problems are becoming increasingly complex and pose the need for comprehensive and strategic views. The pandemic is an example. Addressing it requires critical functions, such as planning, coordinating, and evaluating policies. Some countries – the United Kingdom, Mexico, Portugal, Peru – have been developing government plans, priority goal systems, strategic information centers, and units focused on improving policy implementation.
The Office of the Cabinet of Ministers – which celebrates this July 8th 25 years since its creation – is a central organism within the administrative structure of the Executive Power to transversally support the formulation and implementation of policies. One of the reasons that motivated its creation in the 1994 constitutional reform was to improve the functioning of the cabinet with the figure of a minister in charge of its coordination and with delegated responsibilities of the President for the general administration of the country (article 100 of the National Constitution) .
The JGM then acquired a key place and powers to strengthen the comprehensive view of the actions of the public administration. However, the analysis that we carried out at CIPPEC of the formal functions that were assigned to it in the first 25 years, shows that its role as a central area with the capacity to strategically guide management gradually blurred over time. The predominant function was that of general administration. Budget, finances, public employment and modernization of the administration occupied 40% of their work.
Political management was the second role with the greatest weight (21%), focusing on relations with Congress, institutional communication, and relations with society. In the same proportion, he devoted himself to the implementation of sectoral policies. Strategic orientation tasks such as planning, coordination and evaluation of the national public administration were relegated to last place with 18%. Only during the first years of life (1995-1997) did the JGM take on the strategic orientation with greater prominence, but then it lost weight to the detriment of the other functions.
From CIPPEC we believe that there is still space to enhance the role of the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers as a strategic guide for government management, strengthening its planning, coordination, monitoring and policy evaluation capacities.
A central piece in the strategic orientation is the construction of a government plan that defines known objectives to promote national development. This plan should articulate with a long-term strategic vision through dialogue in an Economic and Social Council. We recommend that you have a specific management unit in the Cabinet Headquarters that nuclea the conduct of the strategic agenda. And to define precise and budget-related goals, and to dialogue with a monitoring and evaluation system that provides information on policies and the achievement of the plan’s objectives.
The plan also needs to have performance management mechanisms and facilitate processes and mechanisms for accountability and data openness.
The coming years are an opportunity to strengthen strategic capacity, increase the quality of information, and generate better coordination mechanisms in public administration. This would allow, through the road map that is the government plan, the achievement of better development results that favor equity and inclusion with quality public policies.
Natalia Aquilino and Jimena Rubio are director and researcher of the CIPPEC Monitoring and Evaluation Program.