Posted by Richard Allen
The PEFA Program has recently announced a new “PEFA Check” (see the March 12 PFM blog post) mechanism to enhance the quality of PEFA assessment reports. This initiative was approved by the Steering Committee at its meeting in Brussels last December and is outlined in a note available on the PEFA website. PEFA Check is in part a response to the recent independent evaluation of the PEFA program, which found that the PEFA brand “remains vulnerable until a more systematic method to guarantee quality can be established”.
“PEFA Check” focuses on the process of preparing the assessment reports, not the actual quality of the information itself. First, a panel of at least four reviewers, three of which must be independent of the lead agency undertaking the assessment, would be established. Second, the reviewers would make comments on the concept note or terms of reference used in preparing the assessment, and their comments would be recorded. Third, the independent reviewers would comment on the draft assessment report, and their comments would similarly be recorded. Fourth, a template would be attached to the final assessment report certifying that the various processes had been followed and completed, and on what dates, together with the names of the independent reviewers. The comments of the reviewers, however, would not be disclosed.
The proposed new mechanism, which will come into effect with the start of Phase V of the PEFA Program in July 2012, can be welcomed as a step in the right direction, but does it do enough to deal with the quality issue? There are several reasons for being skeptical on this issue.