The Infrastructure Delivery Improvement Programme is a unique capacity-building programme initiated by the government of South Africa. IDIP is designed to address capacity problems, such as those related to the planning and management of public sector infrastructure delivery. Its aim is to give the provincial departments of Public Works, Education, and Health appropriate management systems and to support them with the development of appropriate skills to plan and manage infrastructure well.
Public sector spending, which is generally directed at basic bulk infrastructure, is economically important. It creates multiplier effects for the economy and stimulates private sector investment. However, providing and maintaining infrastructure has a greater significance. The government has done much to transform the public service and improve service delivery by introducing new legislation and raising infrastructure budgets. However, the actual spending on physical infrastructure is hampered by bottlenecks, red tape and lack of skills.
The origins of IDIP lie in a review of provincial service delivery systems commissioned by the government in 2001. The review identified various deficiencies and recommebed that a framework be developed to guide the management of infrastructure delivery. A further recommendation was that provincial departments should be helped to develop their capacity to manage and sustain infrastructure delivery. The government responded positively to the recommendations by creating IDIP. The implementation approach has created a partnership between the National Treasury, The National Department of Public Works, Education and Health, The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).
The managing partners decided to implement the IDIP in phases. The pilot phase, which developed and tested the methodologies and tools used to build and sustain capacity in the host departments, started in July 2004. The second phase of rolling out the programme started in June 2005. Taking on board the lessons learnt in the pilot phase, a well conceived approach and management system was developed for the implementation of the programme.
The IDIP methodology is based on a programme cycle approach, which consists of the following interrelated phases: assessment, design (which entailed the development of a business case for the IDIP support to the targeted departments in each province), inception and implementation. The programme cycle for the IDIP is embedded in a continuous monitoring, reporting, and review process aimed at measuring progress, effectiveness and impact. It is implemented through provincial technical assitants teams with multi-disciplinary skills. These work closely with provincial officials, facilitating the transfer of skills. It is unique for a highly technical programme like the IDIP to provide experts to assist with the management of change and the intended and unintended consequences of the programme.
Programme Management is based on a decentralised programme management system with a programme Management Unit (PMU), made up of representatives of all the National partners, and a provincial management system with responsibility for managing the IDIP in the provinces on a day-to-day basis. The IDIP has shown good progress since its inception. It enjoys a high level of leadership support in both national and provincial spheres. With its focus on improving the capacity of government to plan and implement infrastructure delivery, IDIP is a well-established vehicle for promoting sustainable socioeconomic development and growth. The benefits of IDIP are:
- IDIP enables beneficiary departments to identify gaps and inconsistencies in their infrastructure delivery systems, design solutions and appreciate their role in resolving their capacity constraints .
- IDIP establishes a well functioning programme management system that ensures effective allocation and use of resources .
- IDIP enables cooperative governance and teamwork among its role players .
- IDIP provides tools to guide the prioritisation of infrastructure needs, planning and budgeting, and to ensure alignment between infrastructure priorities, plans and budgets .
- IDIP provides a knowledge sharing and lesson learning facility, and a network that provides access to building the following expertise: infrastructure planning, budgeting, monitoring and reporting, programme and project management, procurement, change management, organisational development, capacity building and service delivery management systems .
Lessons learned during the different phases of the Programme:
- The success of its capacity-building programmes is closely linked to the way IDIP originated. From the initial design phase of the IDIP, there was high level buy-in and commitment from senior political leaders and senior managers in the public service.
- The participative approach followed during the design process creates a solid base for the development of strong partnerships during the remainder of the programme.
- The programme is embedded in the strategic priorities of the government, which prevents it from 'floating' and enhances its institutionalization.
- TIDIP has clear objectives and indicators for the measurement of progress against each objective, most of which remain unchanged since inception. This has helped the programme steer a firm path through political leadership and public service management changes.
- It is important that the programme partners and beneficiaries develop a common understanding of the preferred future the programme is intended to create. This assists in the cementing of 'smart' partnerships, built around a common vision of the future.
- Transforming political support into administrative action can be difficult. The challenges posed by moving from design to implementation strains partnerships built during the design phase.
- There is benefit in strong partnerships at the National level. This ensures that the programme is aligned with national priorities and can 'protect' provincial initiatives from being hijacked by strong personalities and/or vested interests.
- There is similar benefit in having credible and capable provincial partners. These can ensure that the programme meets the needs of the beneficiary provincial departments.
- Capacity building with the aim of enhancing infrastructure management is not merely about the filling of vacant public service posts and training staff. It requires a comprehensive approach that embraces, among other things, the development of management systems and approaches and appropriate organisational designs for infrastructure delivery planning and management.
- The existing and preffered infrastructure delivery management processes need to be mapped to create a better understanding of the different phases of the process, and to ensure that different government entities have different roles to play during the process. Too often, departments adopt a 'silo' approach, to the detriment of the constitutional principle of cooperative governance.
- Enhancing infrastructure planning by government departments will have limited success if infrastructure planning is not aligned with strategic priorities for the infrastructure delivery and the multi-year budget cycle. Too often infrastructure plans are developed for the purpose of complying with legislative requirements, but are not anchored in strategic priorities and the multi-year budget. As a result they are ignored or randomly changed.
- Capacity building and exchange programmes like IDIP do not start with a clean slate, but are actually interventions into existing institutions aimed at changing the way infrastructure is managed. The development of a change management model to navigate the intended and unintended impact of the programme assists with the management of resistance and helps institutionalise the systems and approaches being introduced.