Report of DPMF/EIIPD Capacity Building Sensitization Workshop for Senior Policy Managers from IGAD and EAC Countries

Public Policy Process In Tanzania 

1.0   Introduction 

1.1    There are several definitions of the word/term “Policy” depending on different environments in which it is being defined. The Cambridge International Dictionary of English (first published 1995) defines Policy as “a set of ideas or a plan of what to do in particular situations that has been agreed officially by a group of people, a business organization, a government or a political party”. In this paper our working definition of Public Policy is that it is a course of action adopted by a Government in relation to an issue on which the Government deems it important to give guidance or direction. 

1.2    In Tanzania the course of action is initiated/conceived/designed by an institution within the Government e.g. a Government Ministry or Department. This course of action becomes policy after Government (Cabinet) approval. By and large most of the issues needing policy are socio‑economic development and political issues. 

2.0    Policy Formulation 

2.1    Policy formulation in Tanzania, like in other countries, is basically the sequential process of identifying problems, analysing them, searching for appropriate policy options to solve them, articulating the options clearly, deciding upon which of the options to take, implementing the strategic policy options and finally evaluating the implementation process. 

2.2        In Tanzania the Government has been engaged in serious socio-economic reforms starting from the mid 1980s to arrest the deterioration of economic performance due to the tremendous expansion of the public sector during the 1970s and early 1980s that resulted in putting excessive pressure on the economy for financial and manpower resources. One of the reforms has been a critical examination of the role of government under the prevailing severe budgetary and other resource constraints should be. The Government has thus grouped its functions into three categories, namely: core, critical and non‑critical. The core functions or services are those that can be provided only by Government. These are essential and represent the power and justification of society. Services under this category include national policy formulation, law and order, defence and general administration. The critical functions are services which are supported by Government but the private sector may also contribute to run them, examples being health and education. The non-critical functions are services which can be provided on commercial basis indicating that they are essential but they can be performed by any other institution outside the Government system. Among other considerations, this functional classification has also been adopted by the Government as a basis for allocating its scarce resources; first priority being given to core and critical functions. 

2.3    Since in Tanzania policy formulation is a core function of government, in this presentation we shall concentrate on formulation of public policy. A Public Policy is designed to be a statement of the government’s guiding principles and intentions with regards to dealing with an important public issue. The public policy provides the means by which the Government prioritises problems, which need to be addressed, sets objectives and allocates resources in order for these to be achieved. 

2.4    The need to have a public policy on an issue in Tanzania is determined by the changing environment in the country and the world at large. Since the mid 1980’s for example, the Government began to implement reforms e.g. the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), Economic Reform Programme (ERP), etc. aimed at solving the socio‑economic crisis facing the country during that period. An important component of the reforms has been to curtail the prominent role of the State in the economy while giving greater leeway to the market and the private sector. However, in the course of implementing these reforms it has come to light that issues of good governance, good economic and social infrastructure, increased human resource development, a well functioning legal and regulatory framework and efficient fiscal and financial systems are also necessary components for a sustainable reform programme. The Government has been formulating public policies addressing most of these problems. 

2.5    External considerations/factors may also necessitate the Government to formulate a public policy to address these issues, for example, the country’s acceptance of United Nations Resolutions/Declarations on certain issues such as human rights, environment, etc. may necessitate the need for the Government to have a national policy to address these aspects within the country as part of the strategy of implementing the resolutions/declarations countrywide. There may also be some multilateral resolutions such as poverty alleviation issues by the World Bank/IMF or other multilateral and bilateral issues etc. that may necessitate the need for the Government to formulate public policy to address the issues and to facilitate their implementation. 

2.6    After the Government decides that there is need to formulate a public policy to address an issue, normally the step that follows is the commissioning of a study on the issue under consideration. The processes of commissioning the study is the responsibility of the government ministry/department responsible for the issue. 

2.7    The study team, which will have specific terms of reference drawn up by the Ministry, will normally be comprised of the relevant experts from the ministry/department, experts and researchers on the subject matter from other ministries/departments, public sector/institutions, private sector, academia, political parties, and other interest groups. 

2.8    Donors also play a significant role in policy formulation in Tanzania because of, among other things, their substantial support to the country’s development agenda where external funding accounts for about 40% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Some of the donors are interested to see that there is broad based accountability and transparency of policy action. They are in one way or another involved in the on‑going transformation in the country in the promotion of socio‑economic and political reforms. In some cases there is also donors influence over policy agenda at a lower level through their choice of particular projects and through the technical expertise they provide to support these projects. 

2.9    The study team’s Terms of Reference may include specific tasks to be performed like reviewing all relevant studies/literature related to the subject matter and sector, have a consultation process with the main stakeholders of the issue under study, provide appropriate guidance in the preparation of the policy, articulation of the draft policy during consultation processes, seminars, workshops etc. 

2.10  Various stakeholders need to be taken on board. Effects on other policies is also considered, financial requirements hence the need for consultation with the Ministry of Finance, etc. The legal and regulatory framework for the policy being formulated is also considered in the scrutinization process so as to be able to assess whether or not there is need for new legislation, change of existing legislation, complete scrapping of existing legislation, etc. 

2.11  The scrutization of the study team’s report at ministerial level is usually done by the relevant line Division in the ministry along with the Director of Policy and Planning who is the coordinator of all sub‑sectoral policies in the ministry. In fact, the relevant line Director in the Ministry, the Policy and Planning Director and other senior government officers are responsible in initiating, organizing and managing the policy formulation processes in the ministry and/or in the sector. So the ministry concerned has actually got to set an institutional framework for drafting a policy document it intends to. 


2.12  The Preparation of a Policy Document follows after the sieving and scrutinisation of the findings of the study team. However, there may be need for more discussions, guidance and consultations between the ministry and other stakeholders within and outside Government in organized seminars/workshops/symposia. The interests of all stakeholders must be considered. This participatory approach is one of the positive aspects of Tanzania public service culture. Tanzania enjoys social and political stability. This is so vital for the sustainable development of the economy. Strategic alliance and integral approach among the stakeholders are essential for the development of a consistent policy document. The Government ensures that it promotes and stimulates dialogue among all stakeholders at all levels in the formulation of policy. This is particularly so in social services policies e.g. education, health, community development, gender, children, environment, poverty alleviation etc. The aim is to promote the exchange of views by the different actors, facilitating discussions on the policy issues under consideration and enhancing awareness on the policy issues. 

Presentation to Government 

2.13  After finalising preparing a Policy Document, the relevant ministry prepares a Cabinet Paper focusing on the policy. Once a policy paper is considered ready for submission to the Cabinet, it is sent to the Cabinet Secretariat. 

2.14  There is then a discussion of the Paper (i.e. the draft Cabinet Paper and the Policy Document) between the originating Ministry and the Cabinet Secretariat which is composed of experts in various fields/disciplines such as Economics, Finance, Social Services, Law and Order, Parliamentary and Constitutional Affairs, International Relations, Good Governance, etc. This discussion involves all members of the Cabinet Secretariat and is intended to test the proposals for feasibility, technical soundness and wider impact. The originating Ministry will invariably amend the Paper in the light of the Secretariat’s comments. 

2.15  Once amended, the paper is submitted for discussion by the Inter Ministerial Technical Committee (IMTC) which comprises all Permanent Secretaries. It is chaired by the Chief Secretary to the President who is also Secretary to the Cabinet. The IMTC is responsible for examining proposals submitted by Government institutions for Government consideration. It is advisory and therefore provides “technical” advice on all policy papers submitted to Cabinet for approval. The IMTC is a very important forum in the institutional framework for policy process. Cabinet Papers may be substantially amended or even withdrawn as a result of IMTC discussions. In most cases IMTC discussions are focussed on relatively detailed technical issues that have not been resolved between Ministries at a lower level. Hence the IMTC gives advice on how to reach a common understanding between the ministries in order to facilitate cooperation and understanding during Cabinet meetings. IMTC minutes are attached to the relevant policy paper when tabled at Cabinet. 

2.16  Once amended in the light of IMTC comments, a policy paper will finally be approved by the originating Minister and submitted to Cabinet for discussion and adoption. 

2.17  Once the Cabinet (Government) has adopted the policy, then implementation can begin. A Policy will normally have strategies and actions for its implementation. 

3.0   Implementation/Execution 

3.1    A public policy, even if approved by Cabinet or Parliament, does not make any effect if it is shelved and ignored. Policy Implementation Guidelines have to be issued to facilitate the execution of the policy. 

3.2    For sustainable and effective implementation some conditions need to be satisfied so that the intention of the policy measures are not thwarted by. Every policy approved has options which need to be clearly spelled out. This is the responsibility of the Ministry responsible for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the policy. 

3.3    Normally the Ministry and other policy executing agencies spell out the strengths and weaknesses of the various policy options and recommend specific courses of action which are relevant and applicable given the prevailing socio‑economic and political situation. 

3.4    All policy instruments have to be put in place, including the enactment of enabling legislation if it is necessary, before embarking on putting the policy into operation and action. 

3.5    The cooperation aspects needed between all parties concerned have to be spelt out in the implementation guidelines. 

3.6    Capacity to implement the plans including monitoring has to be considered. This includes consideration of the financial and manpower implications. 

3.7    There is need for Feedback from executing agencies and other stakeholders to assist in assessing and evaluating whether or not the policy is working. 

3.8    Some policies are routine in nature ‑ for example, the preparation of the Annual Government Budget as specified in the country’s Constitution. The implementation modalities of this may be a bit different from the longer‑term national policies. 

4.0    Public Policy Implementation And Monitoring 

Weaknesses in Monitoring: 

4.1    There are various ways in which the Government monitors implementation of policy decisions. One way is where the Cabinet Secretariat asks Ministries to report back on actions arising from previous Cabinet Meetings. The other way is that the Prime Minister’s Office follows up issues raised in Parliament, and the Prime Minister meets his fellow Ministers from time to time to discuss progress. These arrangements appear to be primarily focused on dealing with short term and day‑to‑day problem solving, rather than systematically monitoring the performance of Government in implementing its policy decisions. For example, it appears neither the Cabinet Secretariat, nor the Prime Minister’s Office has a good and elaborate information system to enable them systematically to keep track of progress in implementing long‑term policy objectives. IMTC does not appear to undertake any regular oversight of policy implementation.  At the moment monitoring implementation is acknowledged to be a weakness at almost every level of Government. 

4.2    At times certain public policy may seem to fail but Government becomes reluctant to change the policy or terminate it altogether. For example, the Musoma Resolution on Education in which ‘A’ Level students are required to have two year training before joining the University. Although experts have recommended to the Government that this policy should be amended or terminated, the Government is yet to act. Another example is the Villagization Policy which is now not working. These are two examples of policies which have failed to function but the Government is reluctant to terminate them. 

4.3    Policy Analyses and Review 

Through the on‑going Public Service Reform Programme, the Government has established Policy and Planning Divisions/Units in all the Ministries. The main responsibilities of these Divisions/Units is to facilitate the policy formulation process in each ministry/sector and therefore throughout Government. Among other responsibilities, their tasks include policy development and coordination, evaluation and policy‑reformulation. These Policy and Planning Divisions/Units perform a “think‑tank” role for the ministries and they are also arbiters of competing sub‑sectoral policies and subsequent resource demands within the ministries. However, it is recognised that the policy analysis capacity of these ministerial Divisions/Units is inadequate. Therefore the Government, through the Public Service Reform Programme and other initiatives, is taking deliberate measures to strengthen the competence and public policy formulation and analysis skills of the staff of these Divisions/Units through specialist formal training, workshops, seminars, on the job training and practical exposure to what is being done in some Policy Analysis institutions in the country e.g. at the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) and the Research on Poverty Alleviation institution (REPOA). This effort is also being complemented by new recruitment of policy analysts into the public service. 

Because of the capacity inadequacy pointed out above, one of the ways the Government could ensure there is proper and thorough scrutiny of public policy, analysis, implementation and review could be to supplement the Government’s available capacity by contracting out this activity to policy experts from the Universities, research institutions like ESRF and REPOA, private consulting firms and individuals. The Government would also have an added advantage from such an arrangement because it would enable it to get credible independent views from outside Government on whether or not the public policy is working as intended and possible options and/or remedial actions that have to be taken into account in reviewing the public policy.