Annual Performance Assessment (APA)

Annual Performance Assessment (APA) Context & Rationale :

The ISGP Project is envisaged to strengthen the Gram Panchayats in terms of getting access to additional performance based discretionary fund required to execute their service delivery functions more effectively and reduce capacity gaps in execution of their functional responsibilities along with improvement in their fiduciary and planning systems through bottoms up planning process. The ISGP Project supports an annual; performance based Block Grant to the 1000 project GPs for the expenditure on local public goods and services. GPs are required to meet minimum conditions to receive an allocation, and thereafter achieve a progressively higher set of performance targets in the Annual Performance Assessment.

The rationale for Annual Performance Assessment (APA) is to enable the Panchayats to enhance their capacities in managing their own resources and utilize funds allotted to them in a fair, transparent manner with great accountability. The development objective of Annual Performance Assessment of the Panchayats is to enhance and strengthen the institutional capacity of the local government system in West Bengal to deliver services and undertake basic administrative and governance functions more effectively and in a sustainable manner

Objectives of APA

  • To provide an independent and impartial mechanism to assess whether or not the GP is eligible for accessing the ISGP Grant for each financial year usually carried out during July to November.
  • To identify  the  institutional  strengths  and  weaknesses  of  the  GP  on  the  basis  of independent assessment.

The Key Performance Areas

In the centre of APA are four thematic areas of performance appraisal described in the Performance Assessment Manual and lists the objectively verifiable indicators for each of the four key performance areas. The four performance areas are Planning and budgeting, Project execution and service delivery, Accounting, financial reporting and audit and Participation, transparency and accountability.

In ISGPP-I, each thematic area is comprised of one Minimum Mandatory Condition (MMC) and a few Objective Assessment Criteria (OAC) cumulating to 25 marks. Thus, the APA consisted of four MMCs and a number of OACs forming a scalable assessment tool of 100 marks.

In the centre of APA are four thematic areas of performance appraisal described in the Performance Assessment Manual and lists the objectively verifiable indicators for each of the four key performance areas. The four performance indicators are:

  • Planning and budgeting: Assessment of this key area determines whether the GP plan and Budget are appropriately formulated, civic services following principle of subsidiarity are rationally and realistically prioritized so that services to be delivered maximize  the  benefit  to  the  rural  citizen,  and  minimize detrimental  social  and environmental effects.
  • Project execution  and  service  delivery:  Assessment  of  this  key  area  determines whether investments and services are procured and implemented in a transparent manner without causing detrimental social and environmental impacts, as planned and approved by the Council in the Budget. It also gives insights into the systems and processes adopted by the GP to independently take financial decisions with regards to procurement of goods and services following govt. guidelines.
  • Accounting, financial reporting and audit: Assessment of this key area determines whether the GP is in a position to adequately control, account for and report on its revenues and expenditures in order to address audit issues.
  • Participation, transparency and accountability: Assessment of this key area determines whether GP makes decisions and practice in an inclusive and consultative manner, to ensure that services are planned for and delivered in line with local needs and priorities including the priorities of women and children.

Assessment Manual:

The detailed criteria, weighting and scoring for the assessment is detailed in an Assessment Manual is part of the Full Performance Assessment. Some of the assessment criteria included in the four key performance areas as follows:

  1. Planning & Budgeting:
    1. Compliance with prescribed planning procedures, including the requirements of the Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) and its specific safeguards and preparation of the five-year plan.
    2. Approval of the plan by the General Body and concerned sub committees of the GP
  2. Project Execution and Service Delivery:
    1. Timely utilization of untied funds namely CFC, SFC, GP own fund and ISGP Block Grant Transparent and appropriate methods of procurement are followed and properly documented
    2. Compliance with ESMF safeguards
    3. Geo tagging of projects
  3. Accounting, financial reporting & audit:
    1. The  availability  of  annual  unaudited  financial  statements  (Form  27)  by  a  given timeline.
    2. The receipt of an unqualified external audit opinion from the CAG for the previous financial year.
    3. The  timely  submission  of  each  monthly  report  (Form  26)  in  the  year  under assessment.
    4. The timely submission of semi-annual Physical Progress Reports, etc.
  4. Participation, transparency and accountability:
    1. The meetings of all Gram Sansads (Ward level meetings)held in the GP twice in held in the GP twice in a year and the meeting of Gram Sabha held in the GP once in a year with adequate attendance of women participants
    2. Evidence of the distribution of GP annual report handouts to community members.
    3. The extent of compliance by the GP in disclosure of information and posting of information on its public notice board.

Performance Area Mandatory Minimum Conditions (MMC) Scores Allotted
Planning & Budgeting
[Covers issues on Plan and budget preparation and consideration of issues on environment and vulnerable group]
Preparation and approval of GP Plan and budget (form 36) within 31st January 25
Project Execution and Service Delivery
[Covers issues of procurement and investment and if they are done in transparent and non-harmful to the environment and society and approved by the Council in the Budget]
Minimum 60% expenditure performance (first 3 Quarters available discretionary funds i.e. OSR, ISGP, SFC & CFC) 25
Accounting, financial reporting & audit
[Covers issues of GP’s position to adequately control, account for and report on its revenues and expenditures in order to address audit issues.]
“Clean” external audit (not adverse or disclaimed) [last available opinion] 25
Participation, transparency and accountability
[Covers issues of GP’s culture and practice of decision taking and implementation is participatory and inclusive]
GPMS operational (Form 26 generated) and classified as “Excellent” 25
Total 4 MMCs 100

Evolution of the Annual Performance Assessment:

  • As outlined in the Project Implementation Manual, the Gram Panchayats under this project were subjected to APA to access the Block Grant from the beginning of the project. But considering all practical situations, in the first two years of the project, APA was restricted to application of MMCs only and in subsequent years full APA is being conducted which includes both the MMCs and Score-based assessment.
  • Independent assessment of 1000 GPs have been done by an external agency hired through QCBS method of the World Bank during May-September in 2012 and 2013 for identifying GPs eligible for accessing Block Grant in 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively. The participating GPs were made aware of the performance benchmarks as designed in the Annual Performance Assessment (APA) Manual, through letters and department’s own satellite based communication channel well before commencement of the actual assessment process. There were various rounds of dry runs with the questionnaire by the mentors in each and every G.P. which made the G.P. functionaries well conversant with the process and make them feel at ease.
  • However, during the conduct of full APA in 2014, the GPs were not informed about the APA Manual in advance assuming that the GPs were already well capacitated to cope with APA that took place during August-October 2014 and to identify GPs to access Block Grant in 2015.
  • During the full APA, which was started from 2012, in addition to meeting the MMCs, each GP was required to obtain a minimum score generated through an independent annual performance assessment. The minimum score, however, raised from 60 in 2012 to 70 in 2013. The minimum score to be achieved was not increased during the implementation of APA 2014.
  • Except for  the  first  year,  measurement  of  MMCs  and  performance  criteria  were subsequently conducted annually by a third party independent firm with multi-disciplinary teams of specialists with skills that covered each of the key performance areas and associated indicators in the project. Each participating GP was assessed by the team in accordance with the Assessment Manual, and a brief assessment report was produced. Each year, firms are contracted to provide assessment teams across districts, in each GP to conduct the assessment, generate the assessment report, and consolidate assessment outcomes on a district basis according to a prescribed format.
  • The findings of the assessment in each GP are confirmed by the ISGP Team following a review of the reports. Once confirmed, these findings are final and no appeals or requests for alterations of any nature, regardless of cause, are considered.

Subhrapratim De is a Data Entry Operator (DEO/VLE) under MGNREGA Scheme. He is working at the ground level (Gram Panchayat) since 2008 in West Bengal. He has strong background knowledge of computer system, network and operating system. He has knowledge of programming and databases too. Lastly he is a part time blogger.

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