Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz Mainstreaming Managing for Development Results in the Public Sector

Ambassador Teplitz:  Good morning.  As you can see from my career history, managing for results, strategic planning, managing in general, is what I have been doing for the last 30 years.  Honorable Ministers, colleagues, distinguished guests, Secretary, it’s a pleasure to be here and to have a chance to help you open this seminar.

We support a world in which all nations are independent, strong, and prosperous.  In the American perspective, we’re very proud to be helping with initiatives like this because we want to see governments deliver optimal results for their people.  The goal of every government should be to ensure that taxpayers receive the best value for their money, and this means providing efficient services that satisfy citizen needs.  In other words, best value is efficient and gets at the requirement.  These are the results that we keep talking about.  Results have to be judged on the value that they deliver to the people who are paying for them.

It’s not enough, as the Secretary emphasized, simply to count input.  It is essential to look at outcomes at the end of the day.  Fundamentally, have we improved lives?  Have we impacted incomes?  Have we increased levels of education or health?  These are the real results that people are expecting at the end of the day.  Citizens want to know what their funding is supporting.  Are they receiving best value services?

Ultimately, this is what “Managing for Development Results” is all about.  It’s about keeping our attention focused on the result of our work and not celebrating the mere inputs, the number of people trained, or the number of buildings built.  Impact for citizens fundamentally has to define succeed.

Managing for results is not a silver bullet.  There are many aspects to this as a comprehensive philosophy.  It is an approach.  It has a lot of practical tools as an approach.  Things like strategic planning, risk management, progress monitoring, and outcome evaluation.  These are the practices that ensure programs deliver impact, that they deliver value.

But of course these program elements have to be well understood.  They have to be seriously applied.  And they have to be seriously evaluated at the end of the day.

I think fundamentally focusing on results rather than inputs requires a very serious change in thinking.  It’s easy to count up things.  It’s very hard to assess whether you’ve got a value concept at the end of the day.  I do know from experience that asking people to approach their work differently and judging their work by different performance measures is very difficult.  Leadership at all levels is crucial to making a change like this, to adopting a framework that focuses on results.  Especially because you may find programs you felt good about in the past when they were evaluated under a different set of criteria or performance measures don’t actually deliver the results or the value you have expected.  Then hard choices have to be made.

I’m glad to see senior leaders here.  Your advocacy, of course, in managing for results is going to be vital to the success of this initiative.  I know that as one government employee talking to many others, this is my guiding purpose as I manage programs, resources, and people – those that are entrusted to me by the American taxpayers.  I owe them results and best value.  I imagine this is also your mandate, and now you have more tools to deliver on that mandate.

So the United States remains very committed to supporting Sri Lanka’s development efforts.  Efforts that will ensure the delivery of socioeconomic benefits to all citizens, and results-based management is a global best practice.  Not only do the planning, risk management, monitoring, and evaluation tools provide a framework for better decision making, they give you the data you need to understand whether the programming and the investments of taxpayer funds are making a difference, and to generate hopefully better outcomes, because you are better able to assess program impact.

They also help governments to be more accountable and transparent to the public.  I think this is a fundamental element of a “managing for results” paradigm, which is that the public does have expectations about services they will receive from government.  They do want to make sure that they’re best value services in their eyes.  They want to know if they’re really getting what they think they’re getting at the end of the day.  The data, the assessment, the evaluation.  All of these things can help the public assess the progress and efficiency of government.

In the United States, in fact, we have a law that was passed in the early 1990s and revised in 2010 that makes managing for results our public framework for managing.  All of our data and performance evaluation is put on-line for American citizens and others, who have access to the internet, to consume.  People can make their own judgment about whether they are satisfied with the value that they are receiving.

I’m sure that the government of Sri Lanka’s pilot implementation of this program is going to contribute to better value for citizens.  I have no doubt; at the end of the day this is a proven practice, and it is a best practice.  I encourage you in your efforts.

Thank you very much.