Global Evidence Policy Units COLOMBIA: SINERGIA

“Using a series of performance-based indicators, SINERGIA tracks policy performance government-wide & evaluates the implementation of key programs across multiple sectors.”

Better Policies Better LivesTM

KEY FACTS

SINERGIA is the Colombian Government’s monitoring and evaluation unit.
It was established in 1994 and is one of the oldest evaluation units in the world.

SINERGIA aims to assist policymakers to make evidence-informed decisions and to strengthen the culture of monitoring, evaluation and learning in Colombia and more widely in Latin America.

It sits in the National Department of Planning (Departamento Nacional de Planeación – DNP). The unit works in conjunction with the Office of the President to oversee, develop and implement government-supported evaluations and monitor the National Development Plan (Plan Nacional de Desarrollo).

SINERGIA undertakes a range of evaluations including outcome evaluations, institutional and results evaluations, and impact evaluations. They are typically conducted by research organisations or consulting firms on behalf of SINERGIA.

SINERGIA has four departments:

Monitoring (Seguimiento)

monitors the goals and objectives of the National Plan.

Evaluation (Evaluaciones)

examines the development and impact of public policies through evaluations.

Territorial

oversees monitoring for the National Plan with municipal government.

A new department

will monitor Colombia’s progress to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

KEY FACTS

How the monitoring team works

Relevant bodies within the National Department of Planning (DNP)

Senior Government

President of Colombia

The Public

Sector (Ministry or Government Department)

Monitoring Bodies

System administrators

Actors who share data

Data users

Source: The Division of Monitoring and Evaluation of Public Policies (DSEPP) – part of the National Department of Planning (DNP), translated from Spanish.

HOW WAS THE UNIT SET UP?

Before SINERGIA was set up in 1994, the Colombian Government did not have any formal evidence-based system.

In the early 1990s, following the introduction of a new constitution and neoliberal economic policies, Colombia saw the emergence of a new climate where quality evidence started to be used to inform polices. There was a growing desire to collect data to enhance social accountability.

At the same time, in the Latin American academic sector there was a growing interest in evaluations, and particularly Random Control Trials (RCTs), to assess the impact of programs. In Colombia and Mexico, the first RCTs evaluated key cash transfer programs such as Familias en Acción.

In 1994, Colombia’s Congress passed a law to implement a new government-wide system of monitoring and evaluation to help modernise the state, improve the efficiency of public funds and democratise public administration. This led to the founding of SINERGIA in 1994, which initially sought to improve the efficiency and execution of the National Development Plan. The unit began to conduct impact evaluations and with time went on to examine other government policies and programs. The type of evaluations broadened to include methods such as cost-benefit analyses and results evaluation management.

EVOLUTION OF THE UNIT

FUNDING

In the early years, SINERGIA received much of its funding from multilaterals such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Funding for specific programs was received on the condition that an evaluation of the program would take place. This played a critical role in creating a culture of evaluation.

Today, SINERGIA receives funding through the national budget and other sources, such as the Colombian General Royalty System, to do project evaluations. It also receives project funding from international donors such as USAID.

The annual budget is 12,000 million Colombian Pesos. This is 3.21% of the annual budget of the National Department of Planning.

LEADERSHIP

Key to the success of SINERGIA has been a top-down leadership approach. There has always been a direct mandate and input from the president during each administration. In addition, the Director of National Planning, who oversees SINERGIA, has the same status as other ministers and has been integral in promoting a culture of evaluation.

THE EVALUATION PROCESS

On average, SINERGIA carries out 10 to12 evaluations per year.

The cycle of evaluations starts with setting the annual evaluation agenda. Each sector in national government is asked which policies and programs should be subject to an evaluation. Based on key criteria and budget, SINERGIA calculates how many evaluations can take place that year. To ensure transparency, the agenda is made public. The unit is continually looking at ways to improve evaluations and make them more usable.

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