Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Aid Lord Perception Index

A friend recently sent me an email in which he asked the innocent question:

“Why Don’t We In Civil Society (NGOs, INGOs, campaign groups) Begin Assessing the Competence of Senior Figures on the International Circuits?”

He went on to argue that:

“International entities such as the UN, OSCE, World Bank…are hierarchies, with one or two people – almost always male – sitting at the top of the pyramid. These people hold immense power over the organisations’ staff who therefore, understandably, never criticise them for fear of their careers.

“These people at the top are virtually unassailable. They simply revolve from one top post to another, year after year after year.

“As things stand, there is no-one ‘out here’ in the wider world assessing such individuals’ performance. Their Governments go on sponsoring them, probably blind to their failures. The same names can be seen in top posts for decades.

“I suggest at the very least the world’s civil society sector should try to develop an objective assessment process for these international figures.

I think the idea is sound. I am glad someone else maintains their rage against impunity in the face of what is far too often no-outcomes, let alone poor and destructive aid/development/recovery/post-conflict programming (“Do No Harm” notwithstanding, which I think sets the bar absurdly low).

Obviously certain institutional donors, UN agencies, highly successful consultancies, and/or international organistions will probably not support this from the outset. But you never know.

In terms of means and spaces, the internet and the blogosphere is the perfect place to do this.

The funny thing about accountability is that in the majority of donor countries, there are ample precedents; think about all the municipal regulatory structures providing oversight, compliance monitoring, and professional standards supervision in the many areas of the public and private sectors. The broad aim of such regulatory controls is to circumscribe and assess the outcomes of the industry in question against wider policy, public interest, and community expectations.

Indeed, why is it that in this particular industry, i.e. international aid and development, a huge gap exists in terms of supervision and regulatory controls?

Centre Half-Forward (Welcome!) and I kicked around some possible indices for an Aid Lord Perception Index:

Salary + fringe benefits/funding raised (not including base or institutional funding from permanent endowments, compulsory member states’ contributions, etc.)

Travel costs per year/#new deals signed

Travel costs per year/new deals signed in $

Average number of reporting lines between Aid Lord in question and a project manager directly responsible for a specific project

Total headquarter costs/total funding

Total number of emails sent by him in the last six months

Recipient government perception responses (qualitative)

Donor government perception responses (qualitative)

One concern I have are outliers or anomalies. These are organizations whose business model will make them look unduly ineffective – such as organizations that spend most of their resources on policy development. The other group of possible outliers and anomalies are organizations that move huge volumes of materiel and get paid accordingly, e.g. logistics, food, etc. These organizations, particularly during emergency/disaster response, may look really effective, but this may often has little to do with their respective Aid Lord.

Methinks there are many things to consider.

Perhaps the worst perceived Aid Lord(s) could get an award. Possible awards could be:

- If not already obtained, Man of the Year in Time Magazine;
- Return business class trip to tribal administered areas in Pakistan for a speaking
tour alongside Ronan Farrow;
- Round-the-world aid convoy with British MP George Galloway;
- His own ten-acre plot in Gaza to do whatever he wants with; or
- His own hut in a Millennium Development Village with residency requirements.

The best perceived Aid Lord doesn’t need to be awarded because he’s paid well and he's DOING HIS JOB. But, if rewarding mitzvah is your thing, perhaps he could win a symbolic set of golden keys to Jerusalem or something. Or mayor of Kabul (actually, that’s taken – the ballots have spoken).

Links again:


No comments:

Post a Comment