Wednesday, December 22, 2010

IDEAS December Phonecon Summary


Here is the recap from yesterday's phone conversation.  Clearly there is both an opportunity and a need to step back and focus on the development arena's core problems.  Every day there is news of some decision by the agencies on structural changes, policy changes, funding changes, ideas to improve measurement -- of outputs or activities, polity and role of development, and data suggesting that the world is not flat.  I have never seen such a flurry of discussion and defense, challenge and questioning.  I refer you to the following:

1. New book by Paul Collier, well received and recommended
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done about It

2. USAID's webpages on "forward", especially Implementation and Procurement

3. web references to the comments of EU Commissioner for Development
Andris Piebalgs

4. and the expanding need and role for USAID, UN, and other multilateral and bilateral donors -- evolving their versions of...
Bureau of Crisis and Conflict Operations (USAID)


1. Research Task 

You all have received this task group's deliverables and dates, which they are doing a marvelous job of accomplishing! Thank you. Jessica Morse has joined the group (graduated student at GW) and will be working with the task team to develop a spreadsheet of categories of effectiveness.  This will be sent to the entire committee by the end of January for your review and comment.  Because of the diversity of our committee, there are several perspectives and kinds of experience which should be valuable in this review.  If you have any ideas that you want to share with the task team, please contact Ryan, Steven, or Jessica.  Their emails are included above.

This group wants more involvement, and would like more active involvement: IF ANYONE WANTS TO GET INVOLVED IN DEFINING THE RESEARCH OBJECTIVES and framework, please contact Ryan or Steven.

The critical need is to find people to conduct literature reviews, research, and networking -- networking in order to get more perspectives, examples/samples, and ideas.   Please consider contacting Ryan or Steven with ideas and information.

Lastly, at the conference in Orlando, April 2011, there is going to be a day dedicated to research.  The agenda is pretty set, AND Ryan and April and Miki have been asked to give the IDEAS committee (that is, research related to effectiveness of PI in the development context) some "face time" in front of the membership/attendees.  If you have any ideas, please contact Ryan.

2. Application of PI to Development context: certification? RfP design?  

Roger and Patrick and Klaus have drafted 2 documents or criteria, which have led to a serious consideration of the root cause of LACK or LESS effectiveness of aid strategy, programs and policy. The first document is comment on parameters and criteria that should be included in RfPs -- adding a systemic and systematic approach to identifying core issues and key solution sets.  The second is general criteria for performing PI in the context of development, that is, what is unique and required and exemplary performance.  This can be considered a basis for discussion on a special certification (included or additional) to CPTs. 

Fundamental problems or lack of basic understanding of "performance" and performance management on the part of aid administrative and organizational staff have emerged.  From the experience base of IDEAS committee members as well as recent news releases about improvement in operations and approach of USAID (and UN, UK, World Bank, etc) there does not seem to be an understanding of the difference between "activities" and "results".  
We need to go back to basics. Kevin and Roger also brought out the need to get this information to the operational level managers and decision makers.  As an organizational and industrial complex, the tool "training" has become both a panacea and a word/concept which means everything and nothing.  Going beyond that is a very difficult concept for many in the administration. I would add there is little incentive to think "systemically", and that "silo thinking" (within sectors and within sub-sectors) has blocked the staff from pursuing systemic, cross sectoral, integrated strategy, monitoring, evaluation, measurement, and understanding of results.

Local partners are both being touted as the way of the future, and yet they are not linked into these discussions or approaches. The decision makers for programming and projects are in the country missions (while the paperwork trails are developed in agency HQs).  ISPI IDEAS has got to figure out a way to get information to this operational level if there is to be any impact.

Education and research is needed!!

It was agreed that we need a conversation within the committee to probe and poke at this issue to discover core issues and where interventions would be best targeted.  Kevin, Wendy, and Roger will develop initial questions -- and put them out to the committee (in the manner of ISPI 2cents approach).  Please help by contributing to this dialog.  The conclusions and/or questions that emerge will form the basis of the next tasks this committee takes on.

3. Jim and Gay and Mari have spent some time together discussing best approaches into USAID and other key agencies. 
 Two things have emerged.  We are identifying key people in USAID who are interested and "need" an approach to reconfigure and align policy through tactics.  We have some interest from the bureau for Democracy and Governance and from the proto bureau for Policy and Programs.  This will mean presentations by ISPI staff and ISPI IDEAS committee people on value added, problem solving, measurement (design --> evaluation) of impact, etc. We will pursue this, and involve committee people as we gain access. There is a lot of flux within USAID right now.  There is also 3 additional burdens on the agency:

a. The budget is being contested, with powerful allies seeing the need to expand the role of development vis-a-vis diplomacy and defense.  This is counterbalanced by budget cutting advocates.
b. The new chair of the committee overseeing State and USAID (House Foreign Affairs Committee) is not an advocate of development, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.  She will take over the committee in January.
c. USAID key staff are formulating  the role, value, and interplay of development to argue for its survival/heightened role.

Everyone agrees that we have to get the word out MORE TARGETED about ISPI, PI and our value added (membership in ISPI and use of PI and services provided by qualified CPTs).  Presentations to key decision makes, managers whose responsibility includes a systemic approach, and CRITICALLY field officers must occur.  Plus we need to write and contribute to the discussion boards, blogs, and other places where the "inside people'  go to for information.

4.  Klaus and team are attempting to develop a list of those people to target.  
We need to get any and all suggestions about this -- as well as WHAT AND WHERE AND HOW agency staff get their information.  What do they read? Blog? How to they receive information?  These discussions will be asked both internal to our committee and constantly asking these questions as we contact agency people for discussions and presentations.

To reiterate a concern expressed in reaction to the revelations and revamping that the development/aid agencies are putting out in press releases and on blogs -- the policies and strategies are being developed BUT HOW TO IMPLEMENT is not an area of expertise that is necessarily on staff or even in the frame of reference.  There is a need and an opportunity for PI professionals, at all levels of this discourse and discharge of projects.  Documents related to this are the US's QDDR (Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review) which is the administration's policy/strategy, and which is now under fire in the new congress.  

5. It is usual to rotate committee chair and co-chair each April.
Our committee can recommend, nominate, indicate who is interested in the chair and co-chair position -- to the ISPI Board of Directors, through our liaison Carol Lynn Judge.  Please let me know if you are interested in getting more involved IN ANY OF THESE TASKS AND DISCUSSIONS....and if you are interested in taking an administrative/leadership role.  We are supposed to give our suggestions to Carol Lynn by Jan 4, so she can discuss this at the Jan 6 Board Meeting.  Please let me (or Carol Lynn) know by Jan 3.

6. The holiday season is upon us, and we all survived the Full moon/equinox/eclipse -- so hopefully we will move into 2011 in a healthy, prosperous and peaceful manner.  In early January, I will send you all a reminder of the tasks we have taken on and the consideration of questions we need to debate and explore within the committee in order to move forward.

Thank you,
Please let me know if you have any additions, changes, or comments to any of this summary.

M Mari Novak

M. Mari Novak C.P.T.

No comments:

Post a Comment