Impact of Local Government Institutional Self-Assessment (LISA) in Palikas

LISA is a self-assessment tool driven by local governments that is supporting to understand institutional gaps persisting in the government systems. This comprehensive and analytical tool requires an excellent understanding of governments and governance work for an impactful assessment.

Purnima programme conducted LISA study in 2019 as a pilot in ten palikas, the lessons of which were incorporated in the revised indicators in the current LISA tool. Building on that, and in consultation with Provincial Centre for Good Governance (PCGG), Purnima provided training of trainers (ToT) to develop LISA facilitation skills to palika staff (two from each palika) and programme’s technical assistance staff who supported their respective palikas in applying the study.

LISA makes it possible for palikas to assess their strengths and weaknesses through ten thematic areas and a hundred different indicators to address gaps and challenges for better service delivery through strengthened inclusive planning, strong legislations, and essential training. The tool will support in connecting with performance grants and promote an environment of friendly competition between palikas.

One of the measures for self-assessment is the performance contract of government officials. It is essential for enhancing good governance and accountability. Officials in Jwalamukhi gaunpalika located in Dhading district are preparing their performance contract for all section heads which will define their work in a detailed manner and provide them a clear and strategic direction for improved service delivery. Chief Administrative Officer Badrinath Lamsal from Jwalamukhi felt the contract provided “a clear road map for daily work performance.” The office also benefitted from LISA during its pilot phase in 2019.

Seeing its efficacy and practicality for improving overall service delivery, the palika has prepared such contracts for all section heads. The contract highlights key areas like financial administration and management with the application of SUTRA (a financial software) in all wards as an indicator, and the use of SUTRA in 50% of the ward as a means of verification.

The effectiveness of LISA was seen during the ongoing planning cycle when its indicators were used for prioritizing projects as an alternative to community consultations which is one of the most important steps of the annual planning process. However, due to the surge in COVID cases and the subsequent lockdown, community consultations could not be held. Policies, plans, and budgets highlighting LISA indicators getting lower scores were used as an alternative for community consultation.

For example, Naukunda scored low (3.50 out of 9) in the Environment protection and Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) theme. To address that, the annual plan and budget has directed wards to prioritize programmes that support the theme. As a result, programmes like replantation and strengthening of ward level DRR committees have been included in the annual planning and budgeting process. The palika also scored low in Social Inclusion theme, which it is addressing through the formulation of at least three all women user committees per ward, a need assessment for experienced women entrepreneurs to upgrade their skills, and a scheme on Palika with Women Entrepreneur.

Similarly, Dupcheshwor gaunpalika in Nuwakot district is prioritizing the registration of locally-based Tole Development Organization as mentioned in LISA and operating programmes and projects through it. The Palika is also preparing an Operation and Maintenance guideline.

Likewise, Siranchowk in the Gorkha district scored 52.50 in the pilot LISA study, however, they scored 62.98 the second time. With the increase in the score, Palika has also realized the importance of reporting and documentation as these skills are required for scoring. Hence, Palika has also allocated budget for a training on documentation and report writing in the annual plan to ensure that proper documentation of work is done. This also helps in knowledge management to institutionalize successful practices.

Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) has made it mandatory for all 753 local governments to apply LISA working procedures yearly and upload the scores on the Ministry’s website. All the palikas have embraced LISA and are keen to address gaps through action plans and targeted activities. Technical assistance through the Purnima programme has been playing a significant role in explaining the need and importance of LISA, helping to create a sense of ownership of the process.

 

Text: Seema Rajouria, Santosh Bisht and Sofila Vaidya