Chargé d’affaires ad interim Robert B. Hilton’s remarks for EvalColombo2018

EvalColombo2018, Global Parliamentarians’ Forum for Evaluation
September 17, 2018

Good evening, Honorable Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe; Professor Maitree Wickremasinghe; Minister Kabir Hashim; Deputy Speaker of Parliament; Parliamentarians; honorable members of governments; distinguished guests; and ladies and gentlemen.

It is an honor to share this evening with you.  EvalColombo2018, “Responsible Parliaments – Embracing Evaluation for Agenda 2030represents a significant milestone for Sri Lanka. Evidence-based decision making is a fundamental pillar of sustainable governance. This forum provides an opportunity for parliamentarians, the evaluation community, and development partners from all corners of the world to come together and initiate a dialogue on the greater use of evaluation and evidence-based decision-making in creating legislation.

I congratulate you all for having collaborated on this initiative and for coming together to establish better governance for Sri Lanka and for all nations, including the United States of America.  The U.S. Government has been supporting the Government and the people of Sri Lanka since this country’s independence. The United State Agency for International Development, or USAID, supports efforts to promote economic growth, advance reconciliation and good governance, and implement democratic reforms.  USAID is pleased to be a co-sponsor of EvalColombo2018 through its Strengthening Democratic Governance and Accountability Project (SDGAP) in Sri Lanka.  This initiative, which works in close consultation and collaboration with the Government and Parliament of Sri Lanka, helps to strengthen the country’s systems and processes for public accountability, financial management, policy development and implementation as well as increasing the political participation of women.

We are united in the goal of raising awareness of the role of legislatures in ensuring good governance and in driving the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030.  Strong monitoring and evaluation frameworks are a fundamental part of creating an evidence base to inform better decision making and contribute to more effective accountability and governance overall.  Evaluation provides parliamentarians with robust evidence on the performance of development, policies, and government programs and allows them to highlight successes and hold governments accountable.  When a government adopts rigorous evaluation policies, it is a bold step towards better democratic governance and accountability.  It is a sign that a government is willing and courageous enough to hold its performance up to public scrutiny, to look at itself in the mirror, acknowledge shortcomings, self-assess and improve, and celebrate and multiply successes.  This is reflective of Sri Lanka’s engagement in the Open Government Partnership, which includes working with countries around the world to share information and engage the public to participate more in their government.

In September 2016, the Parliament of Sri Lanka also officially joined the House of Democracy Partnership (HDP), a bipartisan effort by the U.S. House of Representatives to engage with partner countries around the world, using exchange programs, training seminars for members and staff, and capacity building in key areas such as budget analysis, committee operations, and research services.  Since then, there have been a series of high level and working level exchanges, including a successful HDP Congressional Delegation to Sri Lanka; and a study tour for a Sri Lanka parliamentary delegation to the U.S.  Congress.

I look forward to the sessions over the next few days and I am excited to be a part of this forum, as a representative of the United States Government and the people of America.  I especially want to applaud Sri Lanka’s steady progress towards strengthened democratic governance.

Thank you.