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Evaluation of EU Structural Funds information and publicity activities in Lithuania in 2004-2006 Implementing recommendations for 2007-2013 Dr. Klaudijus Maniokas Chairman of the Board, ESTEP Objectives of the Evaluation • The evaluation of information and publicity about assistance from the Structural Funds in Lithuania was commissioned by the MA (Ministry of Finance) • The main objectives of the evaluation were: – to analyse relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and utility of information and publicity activities carried out during the programming period 2004-2006 at the levels of the SPD programme, measures and projects; and – to provide practical recommendations on how to improve information and publicity activities for the next programming period. • The situation analysis provided in the Communication Plan for Lithuania for the period 2007-2013 is based on the findings of this evaluation, about 80% of recommendations have been taken into account Scope of the Evaluation • The evaluation activities started in February 2007 and lasted for 7 months (the final report was approved in August) – the right time for the evaluation results to be used for the next programming period; • For the evaluation purposes, inter alia: – a survey of beneficiaries was conducted (488 respondents representing potential and final beneficiaries); – a communication audit was done (in depth interviews with 23 communication specialists form the MA, all intermediate bodies and implementing agencies, 6 media representatives and 4 socio-economic partners) – case studies were carried out (18 projects) Conclusions A lot of positive findings: • The Information and Publicity Strategy for 2004 – 2006 and target groups met the EU requirements and were relevant in Lithuanian context; • The public awareness regarding the absorption of the Structural Funds in Lithuania was regularly measured using annual opinion polls; • Three monitoring indicators for the information and publicity activities set for the 2004-2006 period in the SPD were already achieved in the summer of 2007; • Institutional arrangements for the planning of communication activities were set (inter-institutional working group); • There were good practice examples of efficient communication measures identified at all SPD levels Conclusions and recommendations However, the shortcomings were also identified: (1) the Strategy did not properly identify the objective to increase the transparency of the financial assistance process (in 2007 25% of the society thought that the absorption of EU funds is transparent and effective) Recommendation to set a clear objective for transparency with a quantified target for the new programming period Recommendation has already been implemented: the objective on transparency is set in the Communication plan for 2007-2013 (target for the 1st year – 30% of the society consider the process of the EU assistance to be transparent) Conclusions and recommendations (2) No task in the Strategy was set to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the publicity and information process Recommendation annual planning of communication activities should be based on the needs of target groups and their feedback. The output, result and impact monitoring indicators of communication activities should be defined. The output and result indicators should reflect the tasks and objectives of annual information plans and the impact indicators should be connected with overall aims of the Strategy. Recommendation has already been implemented: on- going annual evaluations are foreseen in the Communication plan for 2007-2013; quantified output, result and impact indicators are set in the annual communication plan Conclusions and recommendations (3) Duplication of communication actions, fragmentation of information, lack of effective horizontal coordination were the main reasons for incapacity to ensure more efficient use of technical assistance recourses Recommendation more activities should be implemented in centralized manner (communication campaigns, setting of annual tasks and targets, monitoring & evaluation, implementation of capacity building measures, maintenance of centralized information source www.esparama.lt, etc.) Recommendation has already been implemented: about 67% of the annual communication budget will be allocated for the implementation of centralized activities Conclusions and recommendations (4) In 2004-2006 there were certain communication crises: information vacuum in the programming period, speculations during the political elections in the media about non transparent process of assistance resulted a negative image of the system administering the Structural funds’ assistance Recommendation a prevention plan for communication crises should be prepared for the period 2007-2013. Recommendation is under implementation: implementation of this measure is included in the annual communication plan for 2008-2009. Conclusions and recommendations (5) Due to the insufficient administrative capacities implementation of information and publicity activities lacked efficiency Recommendation to implement capacity building activities (centralized trainings, study visits, working procedures), strengthen the interinstitutional working group, use technical assistance for contracting public relations experts Recommendations have already been partly implemented Conclusions and recommendations (6) The weakest element of the information and publicity system was found at the project level. The case studies showed that most of beneficiaries do not have capacities to implement publicity measures effectively (successful cases were found mostly in those projects where this activity was subcontracted). Recommendation Implementing agencies were offered to provide project managers with more methodic assistance (to hold more trainings, provide individual consultations not only on the form of measures, but on the content of information as well), to order some compulsory publicity measures in a centralized manner. Recommendation has not yet been implemented Thank you for the attention!
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