Action Plan 2016-2019 for the Technical Secretary of the Social Cabinet of the National Government of the Republic of Panama
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This report has been prepared while performing my duties as Secretary of the Social Cabinet (SC) and Deputy Minister of Social Development of the Republic of Panama, to which I was appointed from the beginings of May, 2016. The end user of this report is the SC, whose technical coordinator is the Minister of Social Development. The report consists of four main parts: 1) The Action Plan 2016-2019 for the Technical Secretary of the SC (TSSC); 2) Logical Framework; 3) Action Plan Presentation, and 4) Video. These parts were submitted for approval of the members of the Social Cabinet on March 31st, 2016, as recorded in the Minute of the SC First Ordinary Meeting, which is attached as Annex 1 of the report. The present report originates as a response to the Panamanian Government’s necessity to activate the SC “in order to become, from the highest level, a mechanism of coordination and interaction of processes which shall promote the development of far-reaching joint proposals adopted by the Cabinet Council” (MIDES, 2015, p.3). The SC was created by Decree 477 of 1992, which was modified in several occasions; being the last of these modifications made by the Executive Decree Number 335 of 2014. The role of the SC is “to act as an advisory organism of the Executive Branch and the Cabinet Council on social development matters; to serve as a debate application in the Social Agenda; to create, coordinate operatively and strategically evaluate the government’s social policy and to act as the government’s representative before international, national, governmental and non-governmental organisms and organizations on multi-sector social development matters” (Executive Decree Number 335, article 2). The SC has a Multisectoral Committee (MC) consisting of high-level technical personnel of the institutions which constitute it, and of a TSSC under the Ministry of Social Development, responsible for the coordination, preparation and execution of related matters, in order to provide standards at an organization level, and to follow up the agreements and guidelines arising from it. The SC Cabinet and its TSSC are also responsible for the compliance of the roles, which were attributed to them by Decree Number 393 of September 17th, 2015, which adopts the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and dictates other regulations. The TSSC Action Plan was developed considering all the roles assigned by law, aligned with the goals of the Government’s 2015-2019 Strategic Plan. It was also considered the call made by the President of the Republic in his Report to the Nation of January 2nd, 2016 to “open a dialogue for the adoption of a National Strategy Plan with a State Vision ‘Panama 2030’, which shall allow us to make the 17 SDGs a reality”. These goals were approved during the United Nations General Assembly in October 2015 (Report to the Nation, 2016). The present report was prepared in March 2016 by means of a logical and organized process, and with the active participation of all the TSSC technical crew. In addition, significant actors were interviewed, such as the Vice President of the Republic, as President of the SC, Ministerial Authorities, National Directors, the Office of the First Lady, the Secretary of Presidential Goals, the Executive Secretary of the National Coalition for Development, the Multisectoral Committee of the SC, and representatives of the civic and business sector, in order to identify where we are and where we should go. The goals of the Action Plan are aimed to “accomplish an effective interaction and coordination among institutions to elaborate and execute social policies which shall grant human development from a multidimensional point of view. It considers development as the continuous expansion of human and social capital, and the access to opportunities that that promotes an improvement of the quality of life of all Panamanians” (TSSC, 2016). This Plan emphasizes on how important it is to develop and introduce tools, which allow to accurately identifying the country’s necessities, to measure the impact of policies and social programs, to facilitate the efficient allocation of the State resources, and to secure transparency. The Plan’s main outcomes are: 1) the adoption of the SDGs in line with the Panama 2030 Plan; 2) the implementation of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), as part of an action strategy against poverty; 3) the development and implementation of a social map; 4) the reinstatement of the Demographic Technical Council; 5) the strengthening of the TSSC; 6) the articulation of critical social matters (i.e. maternal mortality; the integral system for childhood and adolescence protection; youth programs; BioCommunity; conditional cash transfer programs, and the Colon urban renovation plan); 7) SC and TSSC positioning. This Action Plan shall be executed by establishing a contributory board; public-private partnerships; agreements among institutions; South-South cooperation; exchange of best practices and alliances with the media. The knowledge acquired in the courses, which are part of the Master in Public Administration, was essential for the elaboration of this report. Leadership for Non-Public Organizations provided powerful insights about the theory of Adaptive Leadership, used as a guide in the process of identifying the major adaptive challenges and developing strategies to mobilize the personnel of the TSSC to address them. Public Administration provided the technics to address inter-governmental relations; to manage personnel and diversity in public organizations; to adopt strategic planning, and to design an action plan. Evaluation of International Programs offered the ‘logical framework’ as a methodology for designing a plan in order to be able to monitor and evaluate it according to its goals. Systems Thinking has been critical as a tool to organize mental models by applying the rules of distinctions, systems, relationships, and perspectives, known as DSRP (Cabrera & Cabrera, 2015). Socially Responsible Businesses helped to open the strategy´s compass in order to include the private sector as an ally through public-private partnerships and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Politics, Policy and Public Management was useful for understanding “the complexity and dynamics of how the national agenda is set” (Kingdon, 2011) in order to frame and present the ideas to the decision-makers in a way that is relevant for them. In addition to this, the experience as an intern in Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement and Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement in Mysore, India was critical for the understanding of the relevance of the expansion of human and social capital as mechanisms to ensure sustainable human development.
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