217754 Shooting Oneself in the Foot: Is Donor-Imposed Bureaucracy Turning Civil Society Organizations into Malfunctioning Machines?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 8:48 AM - 9:06 AM

Maggie Huff-Rousselle, PhD, MBA, MA , Social Sectors Development Strategies, Inc., Boston, MA
Julien Toyo, MSEG , Social Sectors Development Strategies, Boston, MA
This presentation explores unintended consequences of donor agency regulations on indigenous civil society organizations. The findings are based on two studies conducted 10 years apart: 1) a PhD dissertation that used qualitative methods to study 7 regional- or national-level organizations dependent on different donors in the Western Hemisphere; 2) a financial assessment tool that scored 7 CSOs receiving PEPFAR funding in Cote d'Ivoire, using 32 categories of questions and a 5-point scale. Although external funding was a significant source of support for the 14 organizations and their programs, the regulations and policies attached to the financial aid also served to undermine internal systems, especially financial systems, even in the process of strengthening them: 1) fragmentation, a patchwork of mini-systems, responding to donor/project requirements, with no unified system; 2) internal inconsistencies in policies and procedures, again to comply with donor requirements; 3) donor requirements that take precedence over local laws (e.g. USAID bio-data forms completed but local payroll taxes never paid); 4) donor requirements that take precedence over internationally recognized accounting standards (e.g. project reporting trumps annual fiscal year reports; 5) project-driven system strengthening that becomes a historic artifact, filed away after the project is completed, as it was never an "organizational" system; and, 6) double-standards for local and international organizations. Findings highlight the need for organization-wide strengthening of CSOs, and a review of donor policies and practical “social justice” in the way such policies are applied to CSOs.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Explain how donor-imposed bureaucracy can cause local civil society organizations to be malfunctioning machines List specific donor policies that may undermine the development of local civil society organizations Discuss possible changes in donor policies that could diminish the burden of imposed bureaucracy

Keywords: Organizational Change, International Systems

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My doctoral dissertation included research on this topic, and I have subsequently worked on similar issues, including the program described in this abstract
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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