Promoting better decision-making across African Cabinets

Improving decision-making at the centre of government

As part of the Department for International Development’s Building Capacity for the Use of Research Evidence programme, Adam Smith International is working together with the African Cabinet Government Network (ACGN) to deliver a package of technical assistance, specifically targeted at improving the use of research evidence in Cabinet decision-making.

The programme, entitled the Africa Cabinet Decision-Making Programme, is working intensively with the Cabinet Secretariats of Sierra Leone and Liberia and the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs in South Sudan and providing additional ad hoc support to a number of other secretariats.

The programme has three key objectives:

  • To work intensively with various Cabinets to improve their capability to make better, evidence-based, decisions
  • To formalise and strengthen the ACGN
  • To contribute to the global evidence base on whether capacity building approaches to supporting evidence-informed policy making are  a cost-effective way to reduce poverty, and if so, how they can  be implemented to achieve the most impact 

The Programme is supporting a number of initiatives, both in terms of organisational and human capacity-building.

The organisational support includes undertaking confidential process reviews to diagnose current performance and track improvements, and revising procedures so that Cabinet is able to better manage its agenda. It also provides Cabinet members with sufficient opportunity to consider complex policy proposals and seek technical advice, to design a standard format for policy proposals, and to ensure Ministers are informed of evidence on the needs and on likely impact, as well as financial and implementation issues.

We are also supporting the Secretariats with staff development initiatives. These include establishing Cabinet liaison networks with liaison officers or focal persons in each Ministry, establishing effective standing committees to provide technical advice and improve collaboration, strengthening the analytic capacity of Cabinet secretariats, building capacity of line ministry personnel to assess evidence and prepare proposals, and helping Ministers to implement new procedures and seek evidence-based policy advice.

A first workshop was held in Addis Ababa in February 2014 on the theme of evidence based decision-making.

I am writing to thank you for the significant contribution Adam Smith International made to the success of our first roundtable workshop in Addis Ababa. Without Adam Smith International's partnership with our Network, we would not have got the Africa Cabinet Decision-Making Programme off the ground.
Dr Ernest Surrur, President of the African Cabinet Secretaries Network and Cabinet Secretary to Sierra Leone